I’m sitting at my desk in a wooden chair. There is a computer monitor in front of me stacked on top of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and a Wissotzky tea box. The monitor is hooked up to my HP laptop a little bit to my left on my nightstand that’s been converted into a lamp/computer smallish table. It’s 6:02am and there is a window to my left, just past my bed that I made around five. That’s not the important part. The important part is that I sat down to write my morning journal about half an hour ago and I’ve kept looking out my slightly white paint-stained window. Over the course of a half an hour I’ve seen the guy go from pitch black to slightly tempered by navy blue. The navy blue crept up the sky and invited white, then yellow, then a faint orange to join it. It’s a hell of a way to start a morning.
I tried to do the same thing yesterday except I couldn’t drag myself out of bed until 5:30am. Still early, but only enough time to drink a cup of coffee, read, then head out of the house.
Not only could I not drag myself out of bed until 5:30am, but tiredness persisted throughout the entire day. To me, that’s nothing unusual. My base state is tired. I’ve accepted it as a fact of life. But I’ve been reading a book called “The Paleo Manifesto” and it’s changed my way of thinking. The premise of the book is that modern civilization lives in a way that has outpaced the evolutionary biology of our bodies. Our bodies haven’t had the time the adapt to having lights on at all hours if we wish. Our bodies haven’t been able to process industrial processed foods and the like because for millions of years we ate something completely different from what’s in our supermarkets today. It’s only in the past hundred years have we been able to genetically modify foods, take out carbs, remove fats, add in preservatives, what have you and our bodies don’t know what to do. But that’s for another post.
The the important part is I started wondering why I was so tired all the time – it’s honestly ridiculous. And “The Paleo Manifesto” had an answer. It said that humans nowadays have completely changed how we sleep. In the past, humans would sleep roughly from dark until light the next morning. But not in one setting. The night sleeping would be interspersed with necessary chores of the time like tending the fire, talking around the campfire, and sex when hunter-gatherers inevitably woke up in the night – usually in between sleep cycles.
Nowadays, we live by the clock with no regard for the biological nature of our bodies timing. We are not mechanical. We sleep in cycles with about an hour an half roughly amounting to a human’s sleep cycle from light sleep to deep sleep to REM sleep, and then non-REM sleep. Also, nowadays we have external stimuli that tricks our bodies into staying awake.
We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t use your phone before bedtime but why is that? It’s screens like laptops, tablots, and cell phones emit blue light which your body associates with morning. If it’s 10:00pm and you’re staring at something that to your body mimics the start of the day, your body is going to be confused.
So with all that laid out, here are a few tips to improve the quality of your sleep.
1. F.lux software for your laptop
F.lux is free software that reddens your screen as night time approaches. This negates the blue light effect that screens typically have that disrupt your circadian rhythm.
There is an app called Twilight that does the same thing on Android.
Sleepbot is a free app that you can set to track the sound and movement you make at night and then wakes you when you’re closest to wakefulness. I used it last night and I’ve never gotten up so easily at 4:30am. It’s astonishing.
This is a free app that generates binaural beats when you tap on the start button to put you to sleep and give you calming/deep naps or night time sleep. There are two modules, power nap and sleep. Each is calibrated to make you feel refreshed after a short nap or a night of sleep. I’ve used it a couple times in the past few days and I’ve never had a more refreshing nap.
So there you are! These are applications that I use and am very satisfied with. I hope you enjoy them too.