Focus on These 4 Things to Get the Natural Sleep You Deserve.
Are you in the 40% with 6 hours of sleep?
Sleep is a secret weapon for billion dollar teams
You may be surprised that NFL teams have sleep coaches that travel with the teams. These coached mandate players on when to train, practice and eat depending on their sleep and game schedules.There are many ways and methods to get healthier physique with diets (Paleo, Keto, etc) or fitness regimens(Zumba, Cross Fit, etc) but not much is expounded on its connection to sleep. This such a key variable in weight loss and to sustain muscle building that some of us just ignore and even abuse slumber.
Lets look at 4 things you can focus on to get that right amount of recovery-
A. Temperature: The warmer you are, the lesser you sleep
This is your internal body heat that is a key variable in your sleep cycle. Essentially, the core temperature of the body is in a cycle with the sleep-wake rhythm, it falls with the nocturnal sleep phase and increases during the wake phase repeatedly in a 24-hour circadian rhythm.
A closely connected but not the same element is the room temperature. As Dr. Christopher Winter who works exclusively with fitness professionals, says he has never seen a single athlete who does not sleep in a cold room.
It is not just being in a cooler room but its also about variations in the temperatures. If you are the type that only relies on data, feast on this research below with 765,000 respondents that plotted night time temperature anomalies.
The skinny of this research- any drastic variation in temperature is even worse, it will result in insufficient sleep. While there are studies trying to link with this climate studies, this is more related to what you can control.
B. Sleeping surface: More natural is better
You can be resting on a 10” deep mattress or like parts of Asia, spend an entire night a straw mat. Gone are the days when you walked into a mattress store and are reminded of Will Ferrell in the Internship. Given the multiplicity of options on the internet, its difficult to not be influenced by all the ads and noise.
Research has shown that natural materials is a time tested choice and probably pairs well with a clean diet. Wool in specific was found to significantly reduce movement during sleep, this was attributed the versatile temperature regulating property of wool. Sleep movements are a key part of getting in and out of sleep states.
In general, anything that is made from polyester foams should be treated with caution as you don’t want to inhale VoC or any other off-gassing substances. Most of these surfaces have come up in the last 40 years timing with prevalence of allergies and cancer, with multiple research trying to explore this connection.
Another natural choice is cotton fillings which is used by about 30% of humanity in India, Japan, Africa, etc. From the middle ages, cotton mattress along with animal hair have been prevalent that served the hard lives of people. In the picture below, cotton filling is paired with wool creating a better hypoallergenic marriage to a futon style sleep.
Another natural layer that is gaining in popularity is latex, though again there are a lot of artificial latex sources. Every layer has its own innate temperature and firmness, so depending on how your body reacts ensure that the surface is the right one for you.
In the end go for a comfort, the one that suits your body profile the best at the least risk ensuring you do not fall victim to marketing gimmicks.
C. Sleep wear: This is the least ignored of all
A forecasted expectation for 2018, is that pajamas will become common wear and not just used by college campus all-nighters. Given most of Americans use polyster based fabric, this not exciting news just from a fashion perspective.
Thermoregulation, is essentially managed through the skin and its a key portion of both circadian rhythm and sleep regulation. If your skin is being enveloped with a fabric that cannot breathe or does not have features to support sleep, it can be dangerous. There is more organics and breathables entering fitness wear but its not the same volume of support for sleep wear.
Research in Australia found that if you sleep at 63F using wool, this promotes a greater ease of sleep onset. When the temperature is close to 72F, sleeping in cotton was found to promote Stage 3 sleep than wool.
Eliminate all fabrics made in a lab unless there is a longitudinal study backing up on any illhealth issues. Overall, any natural material-based sleep wear like cotton or silk is better so it breathes normally and does not emit any chemicals to your resting skin.
D. Lighting – More is better, but during the day.
The founder of chronobiology indicated that there are a lot of zeitgebers, external cues that impact our internal clock. One of the most important one is light, the strength of luminosity that we absorb and use during the 24 hour cycle.
Easier thing first, you already know that being around blue light before sleep is a big no-no! Simple avoid electronic devices at least an hour before sleep and don't leave your smart phone on your night stand as it emits light and waves.
The lesser known fact is the connection between natural lighting during the day to get better sleep in the night. Researchers have confirmed that being in natural light during the waking hours helps one sleep far more quicker at night. It also helps reduce sleep disturbances compared to those who had lesser exposure.
Practically, it means you need to get a mid-afternoon walk when at work or take the dog out while at home. Use the weekend to spend more outdoor time unless its frigid. Even then, having a sun-room to get that natural light will be better than under artificial fluorescent lights.
Stick to natural, thats what has worked for centuries
Besides the above there are other aspect that are more variable depending on your lifestyle and situation. Elements like stress, work or study requirements, neighborhood, social pressures, etc will wildly vary and its difficult to provide universal guidance. These are things also sometimes beyond our control.
As long as you start recognizing the need for a better sleep ecosystem, are conscious in some of your decisions and want to multiply your investment in the regimen you have underway- that should get the right outcomes progressed.