Trouble Getting To Sleep At Night? Stop Tricking Your Body Into Thinking That It’s Daytime.
Okay, there are many many reasons that one may be having trouble sleeping at night. I’m not going to be able to solve this one in one blog entry. If you’re really having trouble sleeping you could be dealing with stress or you could have had too much coffee. Or any of a number of things in between. It could be more serious – you might have issues with your thyroid or adrenal glands.
If you were to come to me as a client with insomnia we would look at your entire lifestyle, habits, and diet to see what might be leading to your eyes being open long after your head hits the pillow. Everyone is different, but we can get to the root of your issue and correct it.
Having established that no two cases are the same, there are two tips that I tell everyone who describes any kind of insomnia. They both have to do with circadian rhythms, sunlight, and how we trick our bodies into thinking it’s daytime when it’s actually night.
For thousands of generations we have risen with the sun and bedded with the moon. There was good reason for this: We couldn’t see after sundown, so we went to sleep. This just changed in the last hundred years or so with the development of electrical light.
Our body and many of its systems are set and run by this natural rhythm of the sun going up and down on a daily basis (circadian rhythm). One of the processes our body ties to the sun is the production of neurotransmitter serotonin to keep us happy (triggered by exposure to the sun, mainly through the eyes) and the hormone melatonin (at night, in a complete absence of light) to help us sleep and rebuild tissues. If we went to bed when it got dark and woke up when it got light we would wake refreshed and feel good and well-spirited all day long due to this well-functioning bodily process tied to the sun. If we allow our body to miss these sun-based signals, then the production of serotonin and melatonin cannot be expected to be carried out.
Our high tech habits have tricked our bodies into thinking that it is daytime at night and nighttime during the day, creating a host of health problems. Here are my two basic and inexpensive tips to correct this problem.
- Stop looking at the computer or smartphone before bed. Again, it used to be when the sun went down we went to sleep because there really was nothing else to do. Today we have lights we turn on after dark, tricking our eyes into thinking it is still day time. The body tries to keep making serotonin, but it can’t make it 24 hours per day, and it becomes fatigued. This causes depression and other problems I won’t get into here. Even more destructively we now have computers and smartphones directlyshining light into our eyes, just like having a bright sun shining on them. We often use these devices right up until we go to bed, and we hold them closer to our eyeballs than any overhead light or a TV situated on the other side of the room. If you can quit the habit of using a device that directly points light into your eyeballs in at least the couple of hours before you try to sleep, you will find it easier to have slumber. But eternal light isn’t our only problem, we also block out the sun’s natural rays that we need with another relatively modern invention.
- Stop wearing sunglasses. The body picks up the sun’s rays on the skin, but especially with the eyeballs. If we wear sunglasses to block out the sun then we never truly get the signal to produce seratonin and melatonin. That means depression during the day due to low seratonin, trouble getting to sleep, and no rested feeling upon waking because there was no melatonin production.
We are essentially tricking our bodies in the daytime to think it is night (sunglasses) and into thinking it’s sunny when it’s past our bedtime (with electronic devices in close proximity to the eyes). This miscommunication with the world around us may be a contributor to the issues so many have with thyroid and adrenal fatigue.
It will cost you nothing to stop doing these two things and your life will improve. Consider this change and see what else changes around you for the better.