Sleep is our fundamental biological ability to maintain the homeostasis of rest, digestion, regeneration, and healing state at night. Every human body is designed and capable to sleep naturally. So then, what's happening inside of your body when you cannot sleep well naturally? Here are the potential reasons why sleep doesn't come to you naturally.
Have you heard about the circadian rhythm in your body? The Circadian Rhythm is one of two critical ingredients for sleep that controls the timing of your sleep as well as the quality of your sleep. The other ingredients it's, so-called the sleep wake homeostasis, which is the automated self regulatory function of relaxing and sleeping and when to wake up and when to be alert. And what part of your body controls the circadian rhythm and asleep awake homeostasis? It's Your brain, but in specific, your optic brain (eyes), hypothalamus, brainstem, thalamus, and pineal gland.
Let me quickly explain the anatomy of sleep to understand what part of the brain function we need to improve, in order to sleep better and live better. First. I'd like you to imagine your brain and imagine a peanut sized half gland, half nerve cluster called hypothalamus in the center of your brain. This is the central command center in your brain affecting your sleep and other biological functions such as controlling and adjusting your home productions. The response to the stress sexual function, regulating the blood ow temperature and so much more. But the goal of hypothalamus is to adapt the body to the environment, to help you survive better. us to control the brain signals between wake and sleep, which I've mentioned earlier.
Hypothalamus is a fascinating organ, in a way, a mysterious part of the human body that holds many keys to our healthy life and the longevity we will discuss later what you can do to optimize your hypothalamus function. I know this is getting sounds like a neuroscience class and unrelated to your sleep, but believe me, if you can understand how our brain works even a little bit more, you'll be able to activate your brain function and improve the communication between the brain and nervous system, hence improving not only your sleep but overall health and cognitive ability. Next I'd like you to imagine a cable hanging from the base of your brain that communicates with hypothalamus.
That's a brainstem inside of the cable that brainstem there is a sleep promoting cells inside for sleep. Reducing a fundamental chemical for sleep called GABA. Gabba reduces the activities of arousal centers in the hypothalamus and the brainstem so that the GABA signals your body to chill. Relax. When it's about for you to go to sleep people with insomnia, don't produce enough Gabba in the brainstem and therefore the sleep wake homeostasis would be compromised. The next is Thalamus. (See the image above). The thalamus is a part of our brain, sits in the middle of the brain and performs multiple functions. But in short, it acts as a sensory information delivery system, relaying information between different parts of your brain. Why thalamus so important for sleep is because thalamus is the one regulating the states of sleep and the wakefulness during the most stages of sleep, when the thymus becomes quiet, calm, and the resting state, so your body automatically switches to the sleeping/resting state, so you can fall asleep naturally, and stay asleep without effort. However, during the REM sleep, thalamus becomes active again, sending the cortex of visual and sensational signals. We call the phenomenal dreaming and there are endless debates, whether dreaming is a, just a projection of our imaginations or perhaps our consciousness driving into another dimensions, which I would love to talk about that one day.
But for today, let's leave the debate along and move on to the next critical anatomy of sleep, the pineal gland.
If you have a some kind of sleep disorder, it could mean that your pineal gland is not producing the correct amount of melatonin or the timing of producing melatonin during the day might be interrupted. And we will discuss later how you can quickly detox and stimulate the pineal gland for producing the right amount of melatonin at the right time for better sleep. Now we're going to share what you can do to improve your brain function, to improve your sleep as soon as tonight!
Here are a few natural herbs that you can try that either contain sleep inducing properties, such as tryptophan serotonin and melatonin, or that increase the production of those in your body, and also counteract the effects of cortisol. Valarie and root is also effective for mainly for muscle related issues, because it's a bit of a sedate of, and it also promotes deeper relaxation. And because of that, it also has the benefit of quieting racing thoughts at night, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep. Another one of my favorites is ashwagandha, which contains a lot of sleep, promoting properties. It smoothest the nerves, eliminates stress and reduces sleeping anxiety. And it also acts as a sedated or relaxant and regulates your sleep cycles, which is a great side effect. And then we have HTP also called hydroxy tryptophan, which is a natural amino acid that helps with the metabolism of tryptophan, into serotonin and melatonin to regulate your mood and sleep. And this supplement is actually used for depression as well because of that chemical reaction in the brain that helps with mood regulation. Of course, there are many other herbs that can help with sleep. Also supplements to increase your amounts of GABA that Heather mentioned earlier, but you'll just have to choose a few that resonate with you the most and give them a try because what works for one person might not necessarily have the same or another. And if you're taking any prescription drugs, then please consult your physician first.
The good news is there are so many proven natural sleep remedies, such as warm oil belly massage, warm bath with salts, or meditation. But today I'm going to introduce a quick brain trick. You can try tomorrow morning and start producing the right amount of serotonin and melatonin right away.
So, the trick is the sunrise sun-gazing. I've learned this technique from Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and the neurobiology professor at Stanford University and the host of the science-based life enhancing podcast, Huberman Lab, which I highly recommend to have a listen. He suggests that the sunrise gazing upon waking for two to 10 minutes for better sleep. He claims that absorbing the bright, natural light upon awakening triggers that neural circuit that controls the timing of the hormones, such as cortisol, melatonin, serotonin, which affects sleep. This brain trick helps to reset your internal clock and your brain does that rest for you to fall asleep faster and easier at night. He also suggests that viewing a sunset for a few minutes without sunglasses would help your brain enhance the timing of releasing melatonin for the evening so your body can restore the natural circadian rhythm so you can sleep well at night. The simple sunrise or sunset gazing can enhance all the brain function that controls sleep that I have mentioned earlier, the circadian rhythm, regulatory function, sleep, wake homeostasis, GABA chemical production, melatonin production, and its timing. So I highly highly recommend giving a try. I use the first 15-20 minuets of my day
absorbing the early sunlight naked and meditate at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone, lol. Who knew a simple sunrise gazing could improve one of the most important human health and longevity. The sunrise or sunset gazing is free, and everyone has access to one of two options somehow, and a good news is, even if you miss one day, it is guaranteed there is another sunrise is on horizon. But the inability to sleep well comes with other factor which is the mental or emotional blockages. Taking care of the mental or emotional part of the sleep issues is absolutely necessary. When we incorporate the mind power towards what we want for our health, happiness, career, relationships, family, we can accomplish amazing things in such a short period time and the results stay almost permanently unless you give the power back to repeating negative patterns.
Other Sleep Remedies:
Box breathing: Inhale in 5 counts, hold the breath for 5 counts, exhale in 5 counts, hold the breath at the bottom for 5 counts, and repeat for 5-10 rounds.
Stop using electronic devices at least 30-60 min. before your bedtime. Set a reminder on your phone. If you must, either wear a blue-light blocking glasses or dim the brightness of your electronic device down. You can get them from Amazon for less than $20.
Eliminate artificial Blue Lights in the evening. Use lamps instead of overhead ceiling lights. Avoid LED lights. Stop eating at least 3 hours before your bedtime.
Intermittent fasting 2-3 days per week can promote deep, beneficial healing sleep for your brain and body. Intermittent fasting is known as intermittent energy restriction, can promote the body's autophagy state which is the body's natural way to clean out damaged cells and promote regenerating new and healthy cells. The autophagy helps the body to regulate the circadian rhythm back to normal.
Move your body regularly along with some eye movements. You don't have to hit the gym or go for running everyday but it's important to maintain light physical exercise at least 3-4 times a week. It could be stretching, walking, dancing, yoga, qigong, walking meditation, bike ride around the block. Set a reminder on your phone every hour to stretch or carb out a block of time to go for a walk daily. I use a jump rope to give my body a Other Natural Sleep Remedies
Stock up some Herbal Teas. My favorites are: Lavender Tea, Chamomile Tea, Varelian Tea, Rose Buds Tea, Lotus Flower Tea. Lavender helps calming the nervous system hence promotes better sleep. Camomile has a natural sedative substance called apigenin to relax muscles and nerves. Varelian root boost levels of a neurotransmitter called gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces stress and increases the quality of sleep. Lotus flowers are known for anti-inflammatory and digestive enhancement, however, lotus ower can help regulating the mood, relax your nervous system, hence helps your circadian rhythm of sleep cycle.
Take Chronotype Test to see what your sleep type is. It is not worth of beating yourself up for not being able to wake up early in the morning and perform your best while your sleep type is Wolf (the night owl), because your biological functions are based on your natural circadian rhythm. I am not associated or funded by the organization for suggesting this test, it is simply good to know your type so you can plan your daily schedule to maximize your best performance, so you can achieve your goals better and faster. https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/
Evening time routine could be a great way to let your mind and body know you are getting ready for bed. My evening routine includes a warm salt bath, foot soak, herbal tea, listening relaxing music, putting blue light blocking glasses, relaxing breathing exercise, candle light meditation, warm oil belly massage. Of course, I don't do all of that every night, but at least one or two every evening. Your brain likes a predictable routine especially for bedtime routine. Try a few things to see what works best for your bedtime routine, modify the routine as needed.