Excerpt From:The Medical Librarian’s Guide to Better Natural Sleep
By William Jiang, MLS
A good night’s sleep can be elusive these days. Why are we sleeping worse than ever before? There are a few simple answers to this complicated question. Light at night (LAN) is not supposed to be in our environment before sleep. It is unnatural. If you look at a computer screen after dinner, you are shifting your circadian rhythm strongly due to the light from the computer monitor, iPad screen, or smartphone screen. All these screens work like light boxes. Before all our technology, indeed, before electricity, primitive societies sleep cycles followed the rising and setting of the sun strongly. They slept as much as we do, but they went to sleep easily and insomnia did not exist. Also, the light from televisions and our house lights can keep us up and activated. Luckily there are alternatives to these lights I will mention later in the book. The further we go from following the natural cycles of the day, the further away from healthy sleep we travel. Long time night-shift workers notoriously have really serious problems with sleep, anxiety, and depression many times.
In this book there is a great article titled “Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep” that has many nutrients that can help one go to sleep from chamomile to hops and beyond. That article needs to be be read as there are so many natural interventions to aid sleep that they would not fit in the article summary. Also, most of the articles have links to full text articles for further exploration and learning.
Most of the text of this book is culled from MEDLINE.
There are many medicines that help with sleep, but I feel that one should do everything on one’s power to get sleep naturally before resorting to medicines. Also, if one takes medicine for sleep, why not do everything one can for better natural sleep.
Good Sleep Hygiene Dictates that One Should..
- Go to bed about the same time each night.
- Eat and drink in a healthy way throughout the day, and not too close to sleep.
- Limit Caffeine after noon as it has a long, seven hour half-life, so if you drink a cup of coffee at 3pm, you will have half a cup of coffee in your system at 10pm.
- Create a dark, quiet place where you can really relax for sleep.
- Limit long daytime naps
- Include Exercise in your day. Even a little exercise will help you to sleep better.
- Limit Stress in your life.
- Increase exposure to nature, decrease exposure to technology.
About The “Hot”, New Technique for Sleep
About number 8, we live in a modern world, and most of us cannot totally avoid technology. I bring good news. The “Hot, new technique to sleep better” is to turn up the temperature of the light on our screens when we don’t need things like photorealism. See below for a list of helpful links to turn up the temperature on your screen.
Why turn up the temperature on your screen? So, when your screen looks more red, it has less blue. Why? All screens are made of Red, Green, and Blue pixels. This is why when designers create graphics for the screen in programs like Photoshop, they work with the RGB colorspace. If you turn up the intensity of the R for Red the longest wavelength, you will decrease the amount of B or Blue, the shortest wavelength reaching your eyes and activating your brain when you are trying to sleep at night. What does this mean? In short, your screen will have a reddish tint, and you will sleep better if you use the apps below. The good news is that we can reduce our exposure to the blue light from screens using the free settings, apps, and plugins below, thus making sleep much easier and decreasing our daytime stress. That’s the theory anyway, you would have to see how it would work out for you, personally. Some might “See Red” like a bull!
Anyway, how can we increase our red and decrease our blue light from the screen?
- From the Google Chrome App Store for the Chrome Browser get the Extension called the Blue Light Filter Guard and add it to your browser.
Red light is not for everybody, but it may be for you, at least in theory.
William Jiang, MLS
William Jiang, MLS is the Author of 63 books, including the bestselling books Guide to Natural Mental Health , 3rd ed and his critically-acclaimed autobiography A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope. You can see a selection of his books about mental and physical health nicely laid out on his blog at http://www.mentalhealthbooks.net