Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, our ancestors rose with the sun and slept in the dark. There were no fluorescent lights, computer screens, and electricity to keep them from a restorative sleep in the dark. As the sun set, activities would wind down naturally. They would avoid unnecessarily, disruptive stimulation, preventing them from laying their heads down and gently drifting off like Sleeping Beauty.
Today, things are A LOT different. We have seven good fairies worth of comforts and technological advances to make our lives easier. Still, the eighth angry fairy of modernity is very powerful. She is more than capable of stealing our restorative sleep. However, unlike Sleeping Beauty, we need more and better quality sleep.
While some people think they can get away with less, pretty much everyone functions better by sleeping 7-9 hours a night.
Protecting your quality sleep nowadays feels almost as futile as the efforts the King and Queen took to protect their daughter from a spindle prick. Long gone are the days when only natural light drove our circadian rhythms. Fear not, princesses and princes, for the last good fairy has not yet given her gifts.
I’ve suffered from insomnia, both getting to sleep and staying asleep. My wife, Bree, clearly doesn’t do well with poor quality sleep. Since we don’t live in a time where sleep is protected and valued, it is more important than ever to have…
A Restorative Sleep Strategy For Good Health And Longevity
The right amount of restorative sleep can aid in anti-aging, detoxification, cognitive function, muscle recovery, fat loss, energy levels, and immune function.Without Sleep, There Would Be No Dreams #sleepdeep Click To Tweet
Without further ado, take these 7 gifts the good fairies give you to combat the angry evil fairy’s spell (The Curse of Modernity 😉 ) and sleep beautifully.
#1: The Gift of Beauty
Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating effects of good quality sleep. Give yourself this gift by turning in early. The restorative effects of sleep are greatest, between the hours of 10:00pm-2am. Realistically, few of you will be able to go to bed at 9:30 pm. However, if you wait until after 11-11:30 pm, melatonin production will be significantly disrupted. This can actually re-stimulate you and lead to insomnia.
To avoid waking up with puffy eyes and dark circles, practice good sleep hygiene. If you don’t, a combination of factors from collagen production to dehydration will cause more wrinkles. Do you want to be Beauty or the Beast? Be proactive, commit to a decent bedtime.
Honor your commitment by turning off all screens an hour prior to desired sleep. To increase compliance, you can plug your wifi router into a timer set to go off around bedtime. That way you won’t be in bed on your device which increase the chances of you using the bed for the things it’s meant for – sleep and sex. If you need to work on the computer in the evening, install this free extension or get a pair of orange lens glasses to reduce the blue light from interfering with melatonin production. We use both because not all our screens have the capability to be dimmed.
#2: The Gift of Wit
When you get less than 7 hours of sleep, not only are you groggy in the morning but studies have shown that your IQ actually dips, your memory suffers, your mood is depressed and your focus is impaired. In fact, doctors have noted that kids who get too little sleep mimic ADHD. The simple act of protecting a child’s sleep can avoid them being prescribed pharmaceuticals, like Ritalin.
Leading up to bedtime, avoid stimulating activities like workouts and intense conversations, like political debates. Cut out caffeine well in advance (we recommend having your last cup by 12 pm). While reading can be a great tool to help you relax and ease off to sleep, don’t pick up an exciting book, like the original Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales. Instead, choose something calming or try this free app that helps you get to sleep for the night or even just a nap. It even works offline.
#3: The Gift of Movement
Hopefully, you’ve done some physical activity which helps promote quality sleep. It is especially important to get the full benefits of your workout by allowing your muscles to regenerate with proper rest and recovery. If you don’t allow this to happen, growth hormone will be suppressed resulting in catabolism. That is the opposite of what you want if you are putting all that effort into a good exercise routine.
We recommend you take a good quality magnesium supplement to aid in muscle relaxation so your body can become one with your comfortable bed. L-glutamine is also an effective supplement to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and enhance lean muscle mass. Both Bree and I use acupressure mats. It’s like lying on the thorn bushes that grew around the castle when Sleeping Beauty fell into her 100-year sleep. It causes endorphins to be released and you drift right off into a peaceful slumber.
Gift #4: The Gift of Trim
By not getting enough restorative sleep, your body will store fat for a variety of reasons, from imbalanced hormones to ineffective detoxification pathways. In the middle of the night, your body temperature should be at its lowest. If you stay up, you’re interfering with its ability to cool and reduce inflammation through suppressed cortisol and other mechanisms.
If ice baths aren’t your thing, consider lowering the temperature in your house, opening some windows and sleeping naked for accelerated fat loss. Sleeping in a cool environment helps lower body temperature, so testosterone production is increased making fat loss easier. It worked for Elsa and Anna from Frozen.
Gift #5: The Gift of Vitality
In order for the benefits of cortisol to occur in morning wakefulness, it needs to be suppressed in the evening. If you stay up past the window of 9:30-11:30 pm, cortisol can rise. This dampens melatonin production, interfering with quality sleep. Then the chance of you singing to bluebirds in the morning sun is a lot less likely.
Set the mood; dim the lights, ideally use blackout blinds in your bedroom, or get a good sleep mask like I do because I can’t deal with any light coming into the room. Sometimes, I just can’t unwind early enough, so I drink this soothing tea which shuts down my desire to work late and has me crawling to bed.
Gift #6: The Gift of Health
Anyone who knows anything about health knows that reduced sleep reduces immunity. How often have you burnt the candle at both ends only to get sick a short while later? If you sustain this lack of sleep, it will lead to worse bouts of illness and possibly disease. By shortening your sleep duration, your gut flora is adversely effected. The gut bacteria are as responsible for a healthy immune system as biting into a poison apple was for Snow White’s collapse.
Avoid eating energy producing foods after dinner and before bed. If you need a snack, chose something that doesn’t spike your blood sugar. Try a few strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, fresh apricot or a grapefruit. Or, try Bree’s Thirst Quenching Minty Citrus Salad. It is full of vitamin C which is a precursor to glutathione, the “Master Antioxidant”.
Gift #7: The Gift of Detox
Your endocrine system is dramatically affected by the quality and duration of your sleep which supports your body’s amazing, innate ability to detoxify. It’s like Cinderella’s fairy godmother turning her rags into a ballgown. Cellular turnover cannot happen effectively if sleep is not protected. If you think that you are living toxin free, think again. Enough restorative sleep supports all your body systems by aiding the regulation of circulatory, respiratory, digestive, liver and renal functions.
The whole idea behind restorative sleep is to detoxify and optimize your body. Don’t interfere with this process by having toxins in the bedroom. Start with a bed that is toxin-free or at least, lower in chemicals. Avoid chemical detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets and replace fire-retardant, endocrine disruptor beds and bedding with better options.
We recently moved and threw out our old mattress which was probably full of toxins and ready to be pitched. After a lot of research, taking into consideration toxins, price, quality, comfort and convenient delivery, we chose to buy a Casper mattress. Now we sleep better than the Princess and the Pea.
Finally, avoid alcohol consumption, if you truly want a good night of restorative sleep.
Here’s a visual to use as a reminder so you can be a Sleeping Beauty and sleep like our ancestors, happily ever after.
How’s your sleep hygiene? Are you getting all 7 gifts of sleep? Or, can you get away with less?