How to Sleep Better
Even if you have years to accomplish something, if you don’t master your daily sleep cycle, you may never get anything done.
Here are some of the best tricks for fixing both short term problems and improving your sleep long term.
Why is it Hard to Sleep?
You’re actually built that way! Your circadian wakefulness rhythm starts about 8 hours after you wake up and gets stronger and stronger until it is overtaken by the hormonal sleep cycle. It’s designed to keep you awake until it’s overtaken by your hormonal sleep cycle.
Yup, you have to OVERCOME your circadian cycle to sleep! That’s why people can stay up for many hours, and why it can be so difficult to GET to sleep when your hormonal cycle is off and fails to effectively silence the circadian cycle, which will otherwise keep going, and going, and going…
Prescription drugs suach as Xanax and Halcion work by boosting a neurotransmitter called GABA but you can do this yourself.
Watch What You Take!
Use a sharp knife and if it’s possible to cut any pills you take into quarter pieces or so, consider it. It’s a good idea to have as much control over your dosage as possible, particularly when starting out.
Anything you put in your mouth can have side effects, from cause allergic reactions to other sensitivities. You might simply benefit from a much smaller dose than other people, for example. Or you can even have the opposite reaction, and feel stimulated instead of sedated. So start small and read the warnings before you take anything you haven’t taken before.
Also, your liver and or kidneys may need to filter out some of what you take out of your bloodstream, so if you have had other things that need filtering—such as alcohol—take extra care. You may feel drowsy the next morning if your body didn’t get rid of enough of what you took the night before, so dosage is something everyone should experiment with.
but your hormonal wake cycle ends about 7.5 hours after waking, and then after a bit (the midday sleepiness period)
When You Can’t Fall Asleep
Short Term Solutions
In the short term, consider a strategy to knock you out a bit, but immediately start resetting your sleep cycle to help get it working again.
If you have regular sleep problems, particularly if a sleep study has determined that you have sleep apnea, ask your doctor about Modafinil. It’s a wakefulness drug that most people find milder than things such as coffee, nicotine or things like Adderall or Ritalin, and it’s much less addictive for most people, and hard to abuse. Militaries around the world are the biggest buyers of Modafinil due to it’s effectiveness, lack of addictiveness, and inability to abuse (abusers can’t modify it to be snorted, smoked or injected effectively). It also gives your brain a boost.
Long Term Solutions
Give your evening sleep cycle what it needs, plus a bit of a push from time to time. When it gets thrown off it can prevent falling asleep. Here’s some short technical info to help you see where some things fit in
How to Give your Sleep Cycle a Boost.
Remember this order: 5-HTP > Serotonin > Calcium > Melatonin
5-HTP is a necessary precursor for the brain to produce more serotonin. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is altered to yield melatonin, with the help of calcium. Melatonin is the key hormone of sleep (I bet you already knew that). So, for example, you can take 5-HTP and Calcium (take in a formula with Magnesium, and also take Potassium if you get cramps) before bedtime, you’re giving your body what it needs to help knock off the circadian cycle that’s keeping you awake.
For many people, taking things that help your body get into the right rhythm is the best long-term solution, rather than taking things to “knock you out”.
When you Can’t Stay Asleep
Misc info to sort
take your main sleep aids 1.5-4 hours before trying to fall asleep (experiment) to force sleep onset. Take a Calcium at the same time. You may also want to take some potassium if you ever get muscle cramps. Cal/Mag alone can throw off your electrolyte balance a bit, and potassium is a cramp stopper. With insufficient calcium, it will be both hard to fall asleep, and hard to stay asleep, so for some people, this alone makes a big difference.
Take a 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP, also known as oxitriptan) non-sublingual 30-90 minutes before sleep. You can buy 5-htp products everywhere.
Take a 2mg-5mg melatonin sublingual after you get into bed, or a non sublingual at the same time as your 5-HTP
Switch screens to yellow/orange light or inverted for 90 minutes before bed.
Keep light as dark/yellow as you can for 30 minutes before sleep.
Consider using a breathing gif at bedtime such as this one
Cut back first on the melatonin once things seem to be working again. You can then cut back the dosage on the main sleep aids, e.g. less doxylamine succinate or switch to diphenhydramine. If you want to cut something else, cut 5-HTP. Keep taking the Cal/Mag (and potassium).
If taking Modafinil
You may read a typical dose is 200mg. But I take 10mg-20mg at a time, so realize you may want to start small.
Only take modafinil ten hours or more before expected sleep time, ideally immediately on waking.
Get some Swiss water (actual) decaf and use it strategically to cut back on caffeine and let modafinil fill in. Modafinil is much less addictive than caffeine and causes less problems for most people.
You can take it only when needed after a bad night’s sleep, you don’t have to take it regularly
For sleeping through the night successfully, the first step is to plan your water intake starting around 4pm. Easiest for most folks is to drink a quart or more of water after work, then limit fluids drastically until sleep. Being well-hydrated helps your hormonal cycle a bit, but you have to get the fluids out of your system so you’re not getting up more than once during the night if you can manage it. But you mentioned falling asleep as an issue, so I won’t go on about other things 😉
I buy from Swanson Vitamins, VitaCost and Amazon mainly, in that order, for low cost. Always use a coupon with Swanson.
Methylated xanthines (methylxanthines) such as caffeine and theobromine (in tea) can complicate things, so if you can cut back it can simplify solutions.