How we Fall Asleep

Falling asleep seems obvious, but most our common habits disrupt our natural biology and health

Audio Transcript Below

We are charting a new path to health, one that’s dedicated with a focus to wellness, not athletics. Here we break free from common standards and redefine healthy living by following the REBELs Oath

The REBELs oath says

  • Reject extremes
  • Energize ourselves through healthy habits
  • Break free from common standards
  • Excite ourselves about our potential, and finally,
  • Love ourselves and act accordingly.
Health REBELs Oath. A framework that helps guide health coaching

I got a random question for you. Do you know how we fall asleep? Do you? Do you know how we fall asleep? Look, I know,

I know. That’s a ridiculous thing to ask because it seems really obvious. It seems really remedial to ask someone how they go to sleep. “How do we fall asleep? Well, I don’t know, Steve, I just turn off the lights lay down in bed and then like sleep happens, right?”

Not quite, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

And, unfortunately, that’s probably why we see in statistics that 70 to 80% of Americans report not getting enough sleep or not getting enough quality sleep, not waking up feeling well rested. Right? Most people are having sleep issues.

As a health coach, I firmly believe that sleep is one of the most important habits we can have to improve our health. There is not a single biological function in the human body that is not impacted by sleep, either made wildly better by getting good sleep, or made demonstrative ly worse by the lack of sleep.

when we can understand sleep a little bit better we can do the things that facilitate sleep that allow us to get more sleep allow us to fall asleep faster, and allow us to get better quality sleep. So that you don’t have to be one of the 70 to 80% of people that complain about their sleep.

Remember, here at Health REBELs, we want to break free from common standards. And unfortunately, not given a rip about sleep is one of those common standards that we do need to get away from that we need a break free from.

So to understand sleep, let’s break down the mechanisms of sleep. Did you know that the body actually has three different systems that regulate sleep, you’ve probably heard of the first one the most common one, that’s going to be the circadian rhythm.

Do you know what that means? Like we’ve heard that it’s kind of this thing that helps us wake up and fall asleep. And it’s it’s like the body’s natural clock or something. But the circadian rhythm just refers to the entirety of your bio rhythms throughout your day, different points in the day, your body is going to do different things, it’s going to release different chemicals at different rates. It’s going to regulate your blood pressure at different rates throughout the day.

There’s just a multitude of different biological functions that are upregulated and downregulated throughout the day, and the circadian rhythm, some of those bio rhythms that impact sleep is the balance of melatonin versus cortisol, your core body temperature and your sympathetic state, which we’ll talk about a little bit more in the third part.

But the big ones that contribute to sleep is going to be not only the melatonin, which we really I know there’s a lot of melatonin supplements. (I don’t recommend that for most people, unless you’re really trying to get over some jetlag.) But the melatonin is a thing. The big ones though, are going to be temperature.

Your core body temperature usually goes down before you sleep. And we can we can kind of hijack this we can biohack this if we want to get better quality sleep by controlling the environment in which we sleep in controlling the environment in which we sleep in and having your bedroom temperatures to cool somewhere around 63 to 67 degrees. That kind of facilitates that falling asleep. It’s it’s an external signal to the body to And to kind of tell you that you’re in that go to sleep mode.

Another way to kind of hijack the bio rhythms in the circadian rhythm is through lights and habits. Right? If you have, if you have really bright light before you go to sleep, that’s essentially the same as telling you the body that is mid day that you want to stay awake that the sun’s out that it’s time to be active and watch out for predators. But it’s when we’re when we’re in dark situations. This the parts of the circadian rhythm that facilitate sleep, the melatonin release and the cortisol inhabitation.

Those those start to get triggered in darker environments. So when we’re in the evening, if we can dim lights or have fewer lights, that can help facilitate the circadian rhythm. And the circadian rhythm’s also impacted by routines, routines and habits.

So if there’s a regular pm routine that you go through, that can start to signal different things throughout the body, and regulate that circadian rhythm and put you into that sleep mode.

The second system that facilitates sleep is going to be called “sleep pressure.” In your brain, there’s a chemical called adenosine that accumulates throughout the day. And when it hits a certain threshold, when it hits a certain amount. Your brain gets the signal that we’ve completed the day. It’s time for recovery. Right. Now, adenosine is a chemical you might have heard back in high school biology class, you might remember that the body’s energy molecule is called ATP. That stands for adenosine triphosphate. And as you go through and do various activities throughout the day, no matter what it is, everything requires ATP, digestion, thinking, moving, reproductive health, everything takes ATP.

And as you go through, as you use ATP, your body will split the phosphates, that splitting helps create some energy. And then the Adenosine is going to make its way up to the brain. And as more and more that accumulates, then you’ll get a heavier and heavier signal to fall asleep. Right.

I was talking to this about I was talking about this yesterday with a colleague of mine, Ryan cortinas, he runs cortinas holistic fitness in Spokane. And we were talking about this. He said that makes so much sense. The one time he did a marathon, you know, a lot of activity, a lot of ATP use, and he had no problem falling asleep 5pm In the evening, right, early sleep,

but it was just he did so much activity that day, he hit that threshold sleep pressure was pushing to him. How can we take advantage of this? Now I’m not suggesting you do a marathon. But having some activity every day being non sedentary, whether that’s doing your 10,000 steps, whether that’s doing an exercise, whether that’s doing a harder workout or training session, being active every day can help accumulate that sleep pressure in the brain. Unfortunately, with the rise of with the rise of Microsoft Windows in 1985, most of our works and become a lot more sedentary.

We don’t do much throughout the day, which means we’re not accumulating as much adenosine in the brain. And we’re not getting that pressure to fall asleep. We’re not getting those signals that we need to recover and recharge from the day. Because we haven’t done enough in the day. The third system in our body that that can help regulate sleep is your autonomic nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system has two different states. There’s your sympathetic state. And you’ve probably heard of this before with a fight or flight. And then there’s this parasympathetic state. This is the opposite of fight or flight. This is your rest and digest mode.

Now oftentimes in our in our world, especially with digital distractions, especially with smartphones, streaming and all the TV interactions we get, we’re constantly bombarded by flashing lights and sounds and beeps. And all of these stimuli in the environment. They put us on alert mode, they put us in that slight fight or flight mode. Right. When there’s a lot of signals in the environment. Our brain has to stay attuned to that our our sympathetic nervous system activates our autonomic nervous system goes into sympathetic state just on the lookout in case something jumps out in the environment to try to eat us. And that’s, it’s a good defense mechanism. But it’s not good for sleep. As a health coach, I want you to set yourself up for sleep by being in that parasympathetic nervous system by being in that rest and digest mode. So how do we do that?

Well, we already talked about pm routines for circadian rhythm. But if we do the right routines, that can help set us up for for sleep, right, relaxing routines without the flashing lights, stimuli. Without flashing lights can help put us in a parasympathetic state. I always recommend and love recommending reading a little bit before bed, not TV, but reading before bed. Right? That’s it’s calm. It’s very quiet, its present. There is nothing about the pages of a book that are stimulating to the sympathetic nervous system. There’s nothing that will put you into that sympathetic state. Depending on the books that you read, it might be a little bit too entertaining, and you might get sucked in, you might not want to go to sleep, you might have to choose your books carefully. But that’s one of the big recommendations I that I often make.

One of my clients love Sudoku puzzles before bed. My ex girlfriend loved jigsaw puzzles. Maybe there’s something calming, relaxing there. You know, an old fashioned recommendation might be knitting or crocheting something calm and relaxing that doesn’t have a ton of external stimuli to turn on that sympathetic state. We’ll help you relax and go into that rest and digest mode, which you might imagine. If you’re gonna go to rest, you want to be in rest and digest mode. So those are the three systems that facilitate sleep, and how in some tidbits we can do to take advantage of them so that we can have a better job of falling asleep, so we can fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and have better quality sleep. On Monday on the Health REBELs podcast, I’m going to talk about the opposite side. What’s the best way to wake up so that you’re the so that you’re able to do the exact opposite in get into awake and Rise and shine instead of slugging through the morning, always being kind of trying to fall back asleep and not quite ready and energetic for the day.

On Monday, on the episode we’re going to be talking about how to wake up. That was today’s episode on how to fall asleep. I hope you’ll catch Mondays. And until I see you then you know what to do REBEL. Keep the oath

I hope that episode helps give you some steps you can take to break free from common standards so that you can live a happier, healthier life. I’d love to continue to support you on that path to redefining healthy living. So I want to invite you to join my free Facebook group, the Health REBELs community. There we post daily content to redefine what healthy living means. By following the holistic wheel and the REBEL load. You’ll also get community support with like minded Health REBELs. If you’re not already a member, search for the Health REBELs community on Facebook or go to REBELs. I look forward to seeing you in there REBEL

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