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21 tips for great sleep (and sharp mind and forever 21 look)

21 tips for great sleep (and sharp mind and forever 21 look)

This article has been automatically translated from German. While our little team is working hard to provide you the best quality and resources, our multilingual capacity is still limited. Don't judge us by the Google translation please and head over to the original version in German instead.   

Why someone who regularly sleeps well and enough, is up to 50% more cognitively powerful and just looks younger? Why is chronic fatigue so widely accepted? We don't know any other way, do we? Our performance society demands it from us! Donald Trump boasts of only 4 hours of sleep, we see what comes out of it. Today we know that 4-5 hours of sleep is enough for a few people. These people have a genetic mutation (what an advantage! - the X-men of sleep). Everyone else needs 8 hours of eyes. Basta! Sleep costs nothing and is the most important lever for more health, productivity and beauty .

Since you already know a lot about the topic of sleep and maybe implemented some of the articles Sleep hacking: Counting sheep or trying these 7 hacks , we will concentrate on the practical and lesser known aspects of sleep.

Just keep in mind: sleep is an output of everything that happens in the active hours of the day. So the quality of sleep is closely related to daily activity, diet and emotions. And vice versa: slept well? So a good mood, less cravings, more energy and better cognitive performance. You will even become “slim in your sleep” if it is deep and relaxing. This is because the fat cells release the hormone leptin, which is important for weight loss. A dilemma. Read here how you can master them in 6 minutes .

Our 21 top tips for great sleep

and related sharp mind and Forever 21 look:

Correctly use the hormone adenosine and avoid substances that disturb the quality of sleep

1. If power naps, then before 3:00 p.m.

2. Do not go to bed before (eg sleeping on the sofa)

3. No sleeping pills (usually harmful to healthy sleep)

4. No caffeine after 2 p.m.

5. No or reduced nicotine and alcohol in the evening (alcohol makes it easier to fall asleep, but massively reduces the quality of sleep!)

Adenosine is our hormone, which is responsible for the so-called "sleep pressure". The higher the adenosine level, the more tired you feel. Adenosine is released as soon as we are awake and builds up continuously throughout the day. At a certain level, we get tired and want to sleep. Adenosine is continuously broken down during the night. If we get too little sleep every night, adenosine cannot be completely broken down. We wake up tired and feel little rest. That means we should make sure that we get enough sleep.

There are substances that block the adenosine synapses (receptors). These dock onto the adenosine receptors and prevent us from feeling tired. This includes caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of around 12 hours. But be careful: caffeine is not only found in coffee. Cocoa and chocolate also have caffeine. Black tea also contains caffeine or caffeine-like substances that block the adenosine receptors.

Take advantage of the Cyrcadian rhythm

6. Give the body the chance to sleep 8 hours every day

7. Go to sleep at the same time every day (+/- half an hour), even on weekends

The cyrcadian rhythm is our biorhythm.

The problem when we go to bed extremely late or get up early and have less than 8 hours of sleep is that we sacrifice a lot of either non-REM or REM, the deep sleep phase. If we sleep only 5 hours and get up very early, we may have only spent 1 hour in REM sleep instead of 4. So we lost 75% of important REM sleep. Although we only sleep 38% less overall. The same applies to very late going to bed for non-REM. Both phases are very important and mostly one phase is particularly badly affected.

At the same time, people also have different bed times. You have probably heard of the lark and owl sleeping types. These are the two extreme examples on the scale: extreme early risers who go to bed early for this, and late risers who are often still very active at night. In evolution, it made sense to minimize the time everyone in a group sleeps. Today owls are particularly disadvantaged. Optimally, we can organize our day and our work so that it corresponds to our biorhythm. Unfortunately, it is not easy in our society.  "How do you get to the office until 11:00 am ?!" You have awesome commitment issue! ” Ralph, 34 (absolutely wants to become a partner).

However, we can still make sure to go to bed at regular times (+/- half an hour). The body gets used to it to a certain extent. Studies show that life expectancy is up to 15% higher for people who always go to bed and get up at the same time. And treat yourself to 8 hours of sleep. This can increase cognitive productivity the next day by up to 50%! Whoa!

Activate sympathetic nervous system and melatonin

8. No blue light (cell phone / TV screens, many lamps) go 2 hours before sleep (if you still work on your PC, download the free F.Lux filter )

9. Relaxation routine before going to bed (meditation, breathing exercise, short walk)

10. No pressure: do not look at the watch. If you cannot fall asleep for a long time, it is usually better to get up again briefly for 15-20 minutes

11. Dark room / (possibly use sleep mask)

12. Cell phone off / silent, switch off WLAN, switch off electrical devices and light sources in bedrooms

13. Balance fluid intake: Drink a little before going to bed so that you don't wake up thirsty, but you also don't have to go to the toilet

14. Only light food before bed and no sugar. Don't overeat. Healthy light diet helps you sleep

15. No heavy physical activity / workout 2 hours before bed. Exercise and training 2 hours or more beforehand help you fall asleep well and improve your sleep quality

16. Apply lavender or chamomile essential oil to the skin

Humans have two nervous systems. First, the parasympathetic nervous system (parasympathetic), which works when there is activity, and next to it the sympathetic nervous system (sympathetic). In order for us to fall asleep, we have to activate the sympathetic nervous system or the nervous system for resting. So it helps us if we put in a relaxation routine after a stressful day. This can be a warm bath, a short meditation or breathing exercise. Unfortunately, television is not really recommended.

Something else is important for sleeping: the hormone melatonin. Melatonin should not be understood as a hormone for a better sleep. You have to think of it as a starting signal for sleeping. A higher melatonin level helps you fall asleep, but does not lead to better sleep in itself. It is therefore only advisable to take melatonin in exceptional cases. However, we should make sure that our bodies produce enough melatonin at bedtime.

Blue light, which comes in particular from TV sets, cell phone screens or PC screens, should be avoided at least 2 hours before going to bed. Blue light signals the body that it is day and inhibits the production of melatonin. You should also pay attention to dimmed light in the apartment. If you can't do without a cell phone or PC, install the free F-Lux software as a time-controlled blue light filter for the PC, and use the default setting on smartphones that filter out the blue light in the evening.

The room we sleep in should be as dark as possible. Ideally completely dark. This helps you fall asleep, but also increases the quality of your sleep. A quiet place to sleep is also important for activating the sympathetic nervous system. It is best that we have almost no electronic devices in our bedroom. Especially when they emit light.

When we breathe in a fragrance, the fragrance molecules migrate through the nose directly into the brain to the amygdala, i.e. into the limbic system of the brain. The molecules of an essential oil are so small that they cross the blood-brain barrier and actually get directly into the brain. In contrast, most drugs are prevented from doing so by the blood-brain barrier. One study showed that lavender essential oil applied to the skin is detectable in the blood after only 5 minutes and has a relaxing effect.

Cool down body

17. Wash face and hands (whether warm or cold water) / take a warm bath

18. Keep room cool, do not heat

19. Choose the right duvet for temperature / season. Rather on the easy side. Breathable duvet, e.g. made of linen

Studies have shown that the body has to cool down in order to fall asleep optimally. In the sleep phase, the body temperature is cooler than in the wake phase. It is advisable to wash the face and hands before going to bed. It doesn't matter whether it's warm or cold. The body then emits heat better and can cool down faster. If you have the time, a warm bath in the evening will of course also help. Furthermore, it is recommended to sleep in a possibly cool bedroom. And don't choose the blanket too thick: it should also be breathable so that the body doesn't get too hot quickly.


20. Dietary supplements: magnesium, fish oil / krill oil, ashwaghanda, GABA

21. Carbohydrates: put consumption in the evening

Which meals we eat and when do affect how tired and fit we feel. When it comes to sleep and carbohydrates, one has to ask the question: which and when to eat?

Protein stimulates orexin production, carbohydrates inhibit it. Orexin is a neuropeptide that is formed in the brain, more precisely in the hypothalamus, and that has an influence on sleep behavior and energy metabolism: the more of it that is formed, the more alert and alert we become.

For example, we can see the effect very well at lunch: if we eat turkey breast with salad, we are still fit in the afternoon. However, if we eat pasta, we get tired. Does that mean you should choose pasta for dinner to get a better sleep? Under no circumstance. The type of carbohydrates is crucial. For the question of which carbohydrates do we have under carbohydrates: to eat or not to eat? That is not the question. Which to eat? That is the question written.

It is important to understand that carbohydrates - both a deficiency and an excess thereof - can affect sleep quality. The more restless and, above all, the shorter the sleep, the higher our stress hormone cortisol, which among other things favors fat storage in the abdominal cavity (visceral fat). A light, early dinner with vegetables containing fiber and supplements such as magnesium helps you sleep well.

What helps you sleep better?

From Egle with love…


Why we sleep, Matthew Walker







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