Dear Sleep, I miss you. Please come back to me.
How many times have we thought this or written it down in a journal? Sleep, it’s one of those natural human needs that somehow gets tossed to the wayside. Thanks to work, family, friends and the internet webs, it seems like we just can’t get enough shut eye these days.
But instead of thinking of sleep as an optional activity, where we can shortcut our snooze time in order to make way for other priorities, the act of sleep itself should be regarded up there with eating and going to the bathroom.
Various studies show that sleep is one of the top natural performance enhancers we can ask for, even over caffeine. Brain function (Xie et al., 2013), immune system (Bryant, Trinder, & Curtis, 2004) , decision making (Newell et al., 2009), consolidation of learning (particularly in teens) (Potkin & Bunney, 2012), will power (Pilcher et al., 2015), and a host of other vital human needs are greatly increased and enhanced when we get our proper 7-8+ hours of sleep per night. Notice how much more irritable and less motivated you feel when you only get 4 hours of sleep?
In order to stay on our A-game, here are a few tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, naturally.
We here at TERIMIYAHIRA have been self-experimenting with L-Theanine for a few months now, and it works like a charm every single time. L-theanine is a natural occurring amino acid, derived from green tea (Nobre et al., 2008), and our favorite Jarrows L-Theanine supplement is a very natural vitamin source. It took a few days at 2 pills/day, but the effects were much deeper and restful sleep. It won’t knock us out, but it keeps us under.
Here we go with water again! A big part of our founder Teri Miyahira’s sleeping problem was that she wasn’t drinking enough water during the day, and thus kept waking up multiple times in the middle of the night just to drink water. When she increased her water intake from 16 oz to 125 oz daily, not only did she get a better night’s sleep by being sufficiently hydrated, she also saw a decrease in facial wrinkles, too (double score!).
A journaling technique known as brain dumping simply involves you physically writing down everything that’s on your mind in a paper journal (yes, with a pen). Getting all of your worries, frustrations, anger, annoyances, anxieties, and otherwise bothersome thoughts out of your head and onto paper significantly increases your chance of more restful sleep because the conscious mind isn’t keep you awake with these thoughts, and subconscious mind isn’t processing all of them while you sleep (to create nightmares and the like).
Decompression can be thought of as a time (30 min or more) before bed where you do nothing but prep. It’s the time when you can relax, allow yourself to let go of the stress and frustrations of that day, and focus on going to bed. It’s also a great time to set a nighttime routine so that you are going through the same actions, in the same order, each night so that the decompression steps become second-nature. Some great night routine ideas include reading a book, taking a bath, doing light yoga or stretches, writing in a journal, meditation, or gratitude practice.
Scheduled Rest Time
It’s a fact that we are putting in longer hours at work than ever before. While it’s very tempting to keep checking email at dinner, or do a few hours of work on the weekends, it’s important that we literally and physically give our brain a rest in order to recoup. Neuroplasticity (our brain’s ability to create new neural pathways, which translates to a stronger and more resilient brain) is vitally important for our health, and one of the easiest ways to create more neuroplasticity is to do non-work activities. Think exercising, sleeping, reading, and other “hobby” type of activities that we need to schedule in as “rest” or “relaxation” time. And this scheduled resting period, done on a daily basis, helps regulate our overall sleep.
Bryant, P. A., Trinder, J., & Curtis, N. (2004). Sick and tired: Does sleep have a vital role in the immune system? Nature Reviews Immunology, 4(6), 457–467.
Newell, B. R., Wong, K. Y., Cheung, J. C. H., & Rakow, T. (2009). Think, blink or sleep on it? The impact of modes of thought on complex decision making. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(4), 707–732.
Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17:167-168
Pilcher, J. J., Morris, D. M., Donnelly, J., & Feigl, H. B. (2015). Interactions between sleep habits and self-control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9
Potkin, K. T., & Bunney, W. E. (2012). Sleep improves memory: The effect of sleep on long-term memory in early adolescence. PLoS ONE, 7(8), e42191.
Xie, L., Kang, H., Xu, Q., Chen, M. J., Liao, Y., Thiyagarajan, M., & Nedergaard, M. (2013). Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain. Science,342(6156), 373-377