The Simple Bio-hack that has Transformed my SleepAugust 28, 2017 9:16 am
During the last two years, I have had major issues with sleep. Until very recent weeks, it was rare for me to be able to fall asleep before midnight despite severe exhaustion, and many nights it wouldn’t be unusual for me to still be laying awake, at 6am.
I felt like I had tried everything. Relaxing bedtime rituals such as taking a warm lavender bath, sleep meditations … I even went to a sleep clinic earlier this year and was wired up to lots of machines before spending the night in hospital (it was zero help to me and they didn’t offer any productive advice at all)
As you can imagine, this lack of a regular sleep pattern has really hindered my healing and recovery. Experiencing not only insomnia, but electrical shock type sensations as I try to fall asleep, as well as a host of other unpleasant symptoms has been horrible.
However, this last two weeks, things have changed for me. For the first time in years, I am consistently falling asleep by 10.30pm and waking at around 8am and I am going to share with you exactly what I have done to turn things around and finally begin getting good nights sleep.
We need sleep to function, to heal and basically to feel good! Sleep is when our body repairs itself, which it ultimately what we need if we are healing from any sort of health condition. So when we don’t get the sleep our body so badly craves, it can drive us to tears of despair and feeling like we just don’t know what to do or try next.
Over the past few weeks, the term ‘bio hacking’ has come into my world via articles that have popped up here and there, but until more recently, I didn’t really know what it meant. Another thing that came into my awareness, via Instagram mainly and some of the health pages I follow, was that people were wearing yellow glasses called ‘blue blockers’. I kind of just scrolled on past these posts without thinking too much about it. But then began to get curious when I heard these people mention ‘sleep’ and ‘mitochondria’ and that these blue blocking glasses could support and help with both of these.
So, I began to do a tiny bit of my own research and quickly realised that these glasses may be worth a try …
As humans, we are designed to work with the natural rhythms and cycles of nature.
Only a few hundred years ago, once it got dark, people had no choice but to stop what they were doing and begin to wind down for sleep, maybe doing some gentle quiet activities in candle light at most. There was no electricity and definitely no such thing as TV or the internet.
Things have changed in recent years, and often right up until the moment we sleep, we are looking at screens. Be that the TV, our phones or a laptop. The blue, bright light that shines into our eyes from these devices, confuses our body and brain at a time of day when light is supposed to be fading.
The body relies on signals from the outside world and our environment for many things, and one of then is sleep. By making sure we have dim lighting before bedtime, and avoid bright light, we signal to the body that it is time for sleep. This in turns supports the release of Melatonin (a hormone that our body releases in the evening to help us drift off to sleep)
Each night, I have a bedtime routine. I have a warm bath at around 8pm, usually with a few drops of lavender essential oil to help me relax and unwind. Then I go downstairs, light a candle and have low lighting in the room I sit in. Then – this is where the magic comes in…. I pop on my blue blocking glasses.
If you are anything like me, you may like to watch a TV programme in the evening. By wearing yellow tinted blue blocking glasses, the bright light that disrupts our natural sleep hormone is filtered out. Now, I must admit, I was so skeptical when I first tried these. My sleep situation was absolutely awful and I was highly doubtful a pair of glasses with a yellow tint were going to do anything.
The first night I wore the glasses two weeks ago, I went up to bed at 10pm and was asleep within minutes. I didn’t wake until the following day at 8am. I couldn’t believe it! It was such a big deal for me, after so many months and ultimately years of struggling with insomnia. This lovely sleep pattern has continued ever since and I am so grateful I have discovered this incredible bio hack.
Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology,” ~ Dave Asprey
Light is key for sending signals to our Mitochondria. Our Mitochondria are the little powerhouses inside each of our cells that produce energy. I have had my own Mitochondria function tested and levels are extremely low, as they are with many people with ME/CFS, so using light to help send the Mitochondria signals (i.e dimming lights in the evening and getting daylight during the day) is an important thing to do to help energy levels.
Obviously it is early days, I am only two weeks in to wearing my blue blocking glasses, but I just had to share this revelation with you. I know there will be some of you out there having similar sleep issues, and if this could possibly help any of you too I just needed to tell you about it. Sleep is fundamental for healing, so as you can imagine, I feel incredibly relieved to have found something so simple that has, so far, made such a profound difference to me.
We are all different, so what works for one of us, may not work for another … but in my opinion, anything is worth a try when you are desperate for sleep right?
Other things that can help to support sleep are…
- Have a similar wind down routine each night. This is another way of signalling to our body that its time for sleep. So as I said above, I have started having a bath at around 8pm. This signals the start of ‘bedtime’.
- Avoid scrolling on your phone or laptop in the evening. It’s stimulating for the mind and nervous system, even with blue blocking glasses on using your phone can inhibit sleep.
- Use essential oils to calm and soothe. Lavender is a good one as its known to help the body and mind relax. You can add a few drops to your bath, pop a few drops onto your pillow or diffuse some in an oil burner.
- Play a relaxing meditation when you get into bed, to help you wind down and drift off to sleep.
- Journalling. Each evening before bed I write in my journal. This helps me get any remaining thoughts from the day out of my head and onto paper.
- Drink a herbal tea half an hour before sleep. Clipper Teas and Pukka Teas have some lovely bedtime blends.
Info on Blue Blocking Glasses (links etc!)
The glasses I got were off amazon and cost around £17.99. The link to them is here.
There are so many brands though and also more expensive versions of these glasses too, but I started off with the cheaper ones incase they didn’t work for me. The ones I would eventually love to purchase are these ones.
I wear prescription glasses to watch TV/use the computer etc, so I just pop the blue blockers over the top of them and this works fine for me! However, I think there may be blue blocking lenses you can buy that you clip over your own glasses, if you prefer that option. Have a search around and see what you can find.
A great article with a lot more information on using light hacking to improve your health is by Dave Asprey (the founder of Bulletproof Coffee) and you can read that here.
Wishing you all lots of peaceful, restorative nights sleep ahead …
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