How to Get Better Sleep

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By Rob Archangel, staff writer

Recently, Matt’s been riffing on the topic of childhood obesity and possible causes of it.  One of the factors is getting enough sleep. According to this article, both obese kids and lean kids tend to get insufficient sleep during the week (around eight versus nine or ten hours per night), but lean kids sleep in and make up some of their sleep debt on the weekends, whereas obese kids don’t. The researchers in the mentioned study say that just about all kids would be better off with more and more regular sleep. I’d say that goes for adults too.

So what to do about it, for both kids and grownups? I want to offer a few strategies and outlooks that have been helpful to me for getting good sleep.

  •  Turn off the screens- Television, computers, tablets, smartphones, the whole shebang. Yeah, it’s tough, especially when it’s so central to how we pass our time and relate to others. But, it you can manage it for the last few hours before sleep, especially as the sun starts to go down, you give yourself a chance to unwind from the stimulation they provide. Added benefit: these technologies help speed up our nervous system and prime us for constant stimulation which make ordinary experiences duller in comparison. Being judicious about using them helps us enjoy regular, everyday life more.  If you do find yourself on the computer later, consider a program like F.lux which adds more of a red tint to your monitor as the sun goes down, simulating dusk, and making the transition to sleep easier.
  • Sleep in a dark room- Our bodies are highly photosensitive, and ambient light affects us and our sleep patterns. Use some blackout curtains or quilts to cover your windows, turn off electronics that glow, maybe throw on one of those night-time eye masks. If you’re having trouble sleeping, better approximating a dark night in nature helps.
  • Change your lights- If possible, let ‘em go altogether, and shut things down as the sun goes down. Since that’s not usually practical, try to use red-tinted lights or lower watt lights, and try to use area lighting rather than overhead lighting. Basically, you want to not give your body reason to think it’s still the middle of the day with the sun overhead. Approximating dusk light and light at a sharper angle helps that.
  • Exercise- I find playing basketball or doing some weight training or other high intensity activity does well to knock me out good for some pleasant shut eye.  You don’t have to go crazy with it, but just move your body in a fun way and work up a sweat. I imagine that part of why folks have trouble sleeping and feel antsy is they didn’t get a chance to use their body going from home to the car to work to the car to home to the couch, with maybe a stop or two thrown in there. Humans used to walk. Sitting around all day probably bugs our bodies out. Getting a little exercise in seems to help everything else function well, sleep included.
  • Segment your sleep-Maybe not practical for most folks, but this article points out that the pattern of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep has not been the historical norm, and seems more related to the needs of industry and long hours of uninterrupted work. In the past, we would nap at our leisure, and also frequently head to sleep soon after sundown. Then, we’d get up a few hours later in the middle of the night, maybe eat some food, play some music, and have sex and conversation. Fun times. So if you find yourself getting tired at an early hour, but you keep yourself up so you’ll sleep through the night, try experimenting and see what happens if you sleep intuitively. You might find the segmented sleep pattern comes naturally and works well.

Those are some of the things that help me. Others include sleeping in a cool room, taking a warm bath or shower beforehand, having a notepad nearby to write down racing thoughts so they don’t keep you awake and anxious, reducing jarring noise, and avoiding night time stimulants.

And one crazy idea: sleeping without an alarm. I’ve read stories of folks who decided they were not going to use alarm clocks anymore (since they’re awful), and just made the decision to get up when they needed to.  They were able to do it.  I had an extended trial run of this last sumer when I had to be awake and at my job by 7am most mornings. I too did it.  Knowing that I had to get up and had to project my awareness in that way seemed to make it easier for me to go to sleep at a good hour.  It’s bold, and might not work for everyone, but there it is.

Getting good rest is important for health in general, and maybe for obesity prevention and treatment in particular.  Those are some ideas to get started.

What are some of your strategies for getting good sleep?

– I find playing basketball or doing some weight training or other high intensity activity does well to knock me out good for some pleasant shut eye.  You don’t have to go crazy with it, but just move your body in a fun way and work up a sweat. I imagine that part of why folks have trouble sleeping and feel antsy is they didn’t get a chance to use their body going from home to the car to work to the car to home to the couch, with maybe a stop or two thrown in there. Humans used to


  1. And don’t send your kids to school. Aside from the ridiculous diet, there are few things more unnatural than waking a kid up well before he’s ready.

    …and it’s a different issue, but school sure as hell hasn’t been working. Kids are naturally curious and want to know things. You don’t have to teach them to walk or talk – they’ll learn if you encourage curiosity and let them sleep, as opposed to waking them up and forcing memorization on them.

    • You sound like John Taylor Gatto. That aside, a friend of mine just got a job at one of the only Montessori high schools in the country.

        • His whole book has been available for free on my books to read list for like eight years!

    • Homeschooling has let us let our kids sleep in so that they aren’t hurried and harried little zombies being shuttled off to start learning inside factory hours.

      • One of many good reasons to think about homeschooling. Yeah, y’all!

    • Thanks- good to hear.. I homeschool my son in the unschooling fashion. Its always good to have support for the underlying concepts!

      • With home-schooling, how do you teach your kids chemistry or other topics that require expensive lab equipment? What if the child reaches a level of, say, Math, that you are not able to teach? For example, s/he reaches Calculus but the parents either have never done Calculus or have forgotten. I can see this working for the wealthy and/or highly educated. I cannot see it happening for the working poor or those where the parents are not well educated themselves.

        • Very few people need chemistry or calculus. Most people probably will not be interested in high math and science so their kids probably won’t get exposed to it. I went to a science, math, and engineering high school and I really liked those things. Maybe 2 or 3 of the other kids in my class liked them at all. The rest were only there because they had to be.

          If someone is really interested in these subjects, the internet is full of free places to get started. I forget the name of the popular guy who has the free website with lots of introductory and intermediate lessons. It’s the children of the working poor who need to be out of public school the most. You just have to have time to give to your children. And it’s an opportunity for the parents to learn too. What better than learning a new subject along with your children. And if new subjects are of no importance to you, they probably won’t be important to your kids.

          • Yeah, I think that a motivated kid (and parent/s) can learn what they need if he will is there. Schooling often undermines that motivation. On the other hand, having some accountability and prodding to do stuff we might not otherwise can be valuable. So I wonder how to strike an appropriate balance- encouraging kids to follow their curiosity and passion but also pushing them in a good way and holding them to high standards. I’m sure people are doing it.

          • I wonder if you guys have kids! :) (I have three) Yes, I am all for my kids following their passion, but sometimes they need the help of adults for a little discipline. A lot of times you have to get good at something before you start to like it. And to get to that point, you need some structure.

            I would say that the move to sustainable energy and sustainable economics is going to require even more technical/mathematical knowledge, not less, albeit aimed at working with nature, not against her. I would agree that the Internet is a good place to start. I just don’t think that it is going to replace entirely the transmission of knowledge that you get from a teacher.

            The working poor are going to have more or less the same problems with home-schooling as they do in bad schools. Finding yourself on the wrong end of the crumbling socio-economic order is the problem: violence, broken families, etc. I don’t see home-schooling as a solution in those circumstances. Maybe the way to go is to look at countries, like Finland, which have an excellent educational system.

          • Thomas-good points. I was trying to get to that above- having inducements to pursue new things is probably really valuable.

            I don’t have any kids but some good friends are teachers. I don’t want to hold on to some Pollyanna notion of how education works best and ignore their experience. In some cases it probably does make all sorts of sense to have requirements or something like that. My aim is mostly to educate in a way that rewards and capitalizes on natural curiosity, and doesn’t foster resentment toward the learning process.

          • I also want to point out that children, much like adults, are not biologically capable of constantly learning. It’s sort of like being plugged into a computer all day–humans are meant to have variety in their day, to learn in spurts, and sometimes deepen that knowledge.

            School is a very new concept in human history and an institution that mainly serves the rich (in preparing the work force for the type of force they want!). Structure should be a part of every childhood, but school isn’t where it’s at (in most of western countries today, and it’ll only get worse). Thomas, I suggest you check out John T Gatto’s books. I know you’ll agree with him. There’s been a lot of recent coverage of radical unschooling lately in the news, and I think perhaps that’s what you have in mind when thinking of homeschooling. We don’t need to choose between two extremes, there are plenty of fun, structured and healthy alternatives out there.

          • Josefina, perhaps I should check out his work. While I am critical of our current educational system, I associate home schooling with philistine Tea Party types. I probably shouldn’t do that and am just confessing my prejudices in this regard…not saying the prejudices are justified.

          • I sure had lots of weird misconceptions about homeschooling before I tried it myself. The homeschooling people I’ve encountered while living in the US didn’t seem to the kind you’re referring to, simply very passionate about their kids’ well-being, some with previous bad experiences with the school system. My son’s been in school since 2010 and we’re pretty unhappy about low academic standards, awful school lunches (and no option to bring own lunch, so he’s literally starving every day when coming home), and intrusive teachers. My son is normally a very happy, creative and outgoing boy, but since starting school, he’s been much more restrained/subdued when in public and around other kids his age. But for now, summer is here and he’s his normal self again! Just hoping we’re back in the land of the free before next term begins:).

          • No, Finland doesn’t have an excellent education system. Good test scores don’t make it excellent. Compared to Swedish children, Finnish children are much less satisfied with school, even though test scores in Sweden are pretty low. Room for creativity is sorely lacking in Finland. However, their kids do retain some of that old-fashioned respect for adults which I say is healthy, but obviously something isn’t right.

  2. I have white noise going in my room, so that incidental noises in the night don’t wake me up. At the moment, however, I have a 2 month old baby, so my sleep is not the greatest!

    • Hey Bonnie,

      White noise is often helpful. I’m thinking more stuff that’s stimulating, like the TV or certain types of music (you know the type that’ll keep you up) or disturbing environmental noise (car alarms, garbage trucks, screaming in the next apartment over, etc.)

      Stuff like a fan or AC running, or gentle muzak type stuff can be really helpful.

      • I know it’s awful to fall asleep with the TV on, but what’s weird is that usually when I’m having difficulty falling asleep, turning a movie on very quietly and setting the sleep timer to shut the tv off soon after I fall asleep is the only thing that helps me go to sleep. It’s like focusing on the movie quiets my thoughts and lets me fall asleep. I’ve always had trouble staying awake during movies – my husband and I were watching a “thriller” a couple of weekends ago and I fell asleep right during the climax of the movie. I do this even in movie theaters if I’m not careful. Weird, I know. The other odd thing about it is having any other source of light in the room, either from windows or any electronics, will keep me awake, or will keep me from really feeling like I’ve slept at all. So it doesn’t make any sense.

        One other thing that has helped my quality of sleep is taking diatomaceous earth right before bed. It didn’t help immediately, but maybe a week or so after I started taking it regularly, I noticed I was falling asleep more easily and sleeping more soundly. Also drinking a little bit of an herbal infusion with celtic sea salt sprinkled in seems to help me fall asleep and stay asleep.

  3. Also check out Chris Masterjohn’s article on the subject. Something I continue referring back to:

    Getting good sleep in the modern world is actually a lot harder than it should be. I know so many people that complain about sleep issues. It seems, at least in my world, I have to choose between sleep and social life. It’s so common for people to be up until 11 or 12 on weeknights (for happy hour, to see bands, whatever), but the 9 to 5 world just rolls right on.

    Segmented sleep has never worked for me either. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a nap in my life ever, no matter how tired I felt. That just puts undue pressure to get it all in the evening. A lot of factors affect my sleep though so I just have it tougher in that respect, I think.

    • Agreed it’s tougher than I wish it were. I kind of like the idea of segmented sleep to help deal with some of the social opportunities. Like work 9-5, come home, eat, catch some rest til 10 or 11, then head out for some socializing.

      Dunno if it works out that way, but I like the idea of it.

    • Interesting comment by Chris about the B6. I’ve noticed that ZMA supplementation (which includes b6) also works but does leave you fairly groggy the next day. I yearn for my old totally unsegmented sleep !

  4. I don’t know what we’re talking about here. Is it people who don’t sleep enough because of poor sleep habits or people who have real sleep issues? If the former, then these suggestions might work. If the latter, they won’t.

    If you have real chronic sleep issues, the best advice so far: Don’t fight it. If you TRY to get to sleep, your sympathetic system kicks in and you are only defeating your purpose. Get out of bed and do something that is not stressful. People who have sleep issues don’t want to hear that and end up staying in bed. In fact, there has been some success with sleep restriction as regards insomnia.

    • That’s interesting. Or find the underlying cause and fix it. I have had trouble sleeping for years and years (since I hit high school basically, and I wasn’t the best sleeper even as a child). Never great, but much worse during times of stress, with any sort of noise, etc. Even though I tried really hard to dedicate plenty of time to sleep, and have good sleep habits. I had mentioned in a recent post I have been taking a homeopathic remedy (constitutional) lately and having success. The biggest reason I knew it was really making changes in my body was I’ve been sleeping like a baby. FINALLY. It feels amazing.

      My personal theory is my sleep has been off due to hormonal stuff that’s coming back into balance but who knows. I’ve heard stories of bio-identical hormone treatment revolutionizing people’s sleep, too. I think if you can actually get at the underlying causes of sleep problems, that is key. High cortisol levels can be a huge factor, too.

      • Often the underlying cause is evasive…and you can spend a lifetime chasing after every idea somebody pulls out of their ass on the Internet :)

        Consider yourself lucky Amy that you (it would seem) have found a solution with homeopathy. My encounter with homeopathy has not been so fruitful. I lived in Europe for 10 years (in my 20s) and tried several different “schools” of homeopathy. Can’t say that I found it to be helpful in my case.

        • I’m sure finding the right practitioner/treatment is really key. Outside of homeopathy there are other fixes, too, but I agree that a life spent chasing ideas is not good. If someone doesn’t want to do that, just plain de-stressing, meditating and tuning into the body will probably help a lot.

          It’s definitely been working for me because aside from the sleep I saw a recurring kidney infection clear up overnight, anxiety decrease, skin clear up, brain fog clear and decreased PMS symptoms. I do not believe there is any possible way that could all be placebo effect. I think my body had gotten out of balance and it just wasn’t clearing up with the other stuff I was doing, lifestyle-wise. Maybe if I’d had time/money to go on a long vacation and just sleep and de-stress it would have, but that was not an option. I’m only about a month in so not sure I can vouch for a life change yet, but I’m happy so far. I would advise anyone else considering homeopathy to be really careful to choose the right practitioner.

  5. I’d be totally down with segmented sleep if my schedule would allow it. When I’m off work for a couple of weeks, I naturally gravitate towards a sleep 2-ish hours, awake 5-ish hours pattern.

  6. Thanx 4 the recommendations Rob. Ive incorporated them a while ago already,it does help a bit but i still suffer from irregular and unrested sleep patterns.
    Sometimes when I’ve had sugary processed stuff i can lay&sleep knocked out in bed and other times i cant sleep at all. In both cases i usually dont wake up with an energetic refreshed feeling or positive feelings. Still havent figured out where that key lies.

    Also a really weird thing that i’m having for years,is that when I lay in b3d all kinds of songs start playing over&over in my head and i cant get them to stop. As if my mind never wants to go to sleep and/or starts/is still processing stuff,songs in my case:s I also seem to notice this happening when i eat,especially processed sugary stuff. My mind can go berserk with songs and i really have to concentrate and focus to pay attention to eating/satiety.

    • Yeah Dutchie- I haven’t payed close attention either to the patterns. I know big starchy or sugary eats before bedtime seems to have both helped and hurt my sleep in the past, so I didn’t comment on eating patterns in the article. I’m not confident in what contexts it makes sense or not.

      I like the comment made elsewhere on the thread that forcing yourself to sleep only gets you more anxious and is often counter-productive. Some friends have claimed success taking he opposite approach, and willing themselves to stay up, which knocked them out. Could be. In any event, it makes sense to me that getting worked up over how you’re not sleeping won’t help.

      • I agree,getting worked up about it doesnt help either. However staying awake and then having to get up and feel lazy/sluggish and carbcraving leads to a vicious cycle too.

      • Dutchie. Don’t think everything can be fixed with food. If you want to try food, then you might try the “Weird Ray” diet. Some people claim to have had success fixing their sleep with that. I am skeptical, but you can give it a shot.

        That said, you might seriously want to try sleep restriction. Here’s the way it works: you set a very late time to go to bed and a time to get up. You want to choose a time to go to bed when you are pretty sure you will be completely sleepy. So, say you go to bed at 2 AM (or whatever), you then set your alarm at, for example, 6AM. YOU STICK TO THAT SCHEDULE FOR A MONTH. You don”t lay in bed past 6AM. Will you be tired? Yes! But if things go well, you will be sleeping in one continuous block at the end of the month. You can then try to move the time you go to bed to 1:45. Try that for a week or two and then maybe you can move the time back another 15 minutes, etc. This requires some discipline, but it has helped a lot of people. It’s worth a try.

        • That is an awful suggestion. The only reason that works for some people is because those with slight sleeping problems will become so tired after a month of not getting any sleep that of course you can sleep sooner. However, the worse the sleeping disorder, the less trying to tire yourself out will work. A year ago I had the worst kind of sleeping disorder i could imagine a person in an industrialized nation having; non 24 hour sleep wake syndrome. No matter how hard I tried to go to bed at a certain time or wake up X amount of hours after finally falling asleep it wouldn’t budge.

          Sleep disorders are 100% due to stress, like everything else in the body. First of all, you bunch need to stop staring at flickering sources of light (computer monitors, cell phones, TVs, CFL light bulbs). LED computer monitors are the absolute worst. I went through “withdrawal” when I switched to an old school CRT. I’ve toyed with older LCDs (2006 model) and those seem to not bother me.

          Secondly, start eating sugar like it is going out of style (you WILL feel like shit, this is good. How is this good? No clue the science behind it, just that when it comes to healing a sleep disorder, you are going to feel off for weeks because you are no longer using adrenaline and other stress hormones to propel you through the day). Personally I started with malt o meal brand cereal and when that became ineffective, I started eating brown sugar right out of the bag, washing it down with skim milk. In general, do what you can to relax, as well.

          Lastly, and the hardest to pull off, I know, is to sleep when you are tired until you can literally no longer sleep. I have had numerous arguments with my roommate over how he can nap at will and when he does it is for maybe an hour at a time. Until you get used to sleeping however much you want, whenever you want, your body will fight the new routine because it is not used to it. I currently sleep twice a day; once for 2-3 hours during the day, once again at night for roughly 7. I usually fall asleep around 11 or 12. I do not feel this is ideal. I want to experiment with sleeping with no artificial light/noise (AKA living in the woods) some time.

          AT LEAST, this is what I did to fix something my doctor called incurable.

          • I am glad that someone, in this case Dragon, knows the cause of all sleep disorders.

            The idea of sleep restriction is not that the person gets no sleep. It’s to start getting the person to sleep in consolidated time blocks. Over time you go to sleep gradually earlier and earlier. Those for whom it works eventually get into restful sleep patterns. It takes time and the strength to persevere, but it does work for some people. I have seen this directly.

          • I have to agree with Dragon – doing the kind of sleep restriction you’re suggesting would backfire for me. My sleeping issues come in cycles – and once I’m in a cycle of not getting enough sleep, it’s really hard to break out of it, because my body gets used to it. My body is very routine oriented (like most people’s), so forcing myself into a routine of inadequate sleep would be seriously bad news.

          • Why skim milk?

          • skim milk because I tried RBTI for a while and found that fat in milk causes a stress reaction. Raw and skim milk do not. I have seemed to have “healed” to the point where it is much less of an issue.

            I am not saying I KNOW ALL, nor that your intentions are any different than mine, but when you look at the cause for all sleep disorders it is either A) Your circadian sleep rhythm gets all funky or B) you are under some sort of stress that does not allow you the proper level of relaxation for when your body starts sending you signals to sleep. Further depriving people of sleep simply tires them out to such a degree that they are now able to sleep “normally”.

        • Thanx 4 the advice,but i really cant pull that one off bc ill become even more of a lethargic zombie and probably kill myself immediately.

          I suspect that some of it also has to do with the lyme/parasite cycle and maybe the adrenals/thyroid. As of next week id want to start going to the gym again and starting Stronglifts and eating 3square (paleo)meals a day. The latter actually scares the shit out of me,cause the gaining fat process will negin and theres no turning back anymore cause i feel i can never get the discipline again to di3t in order to lean out. I guess my body has been ‘starved’ for so long,due to mineral disbalances,crappy gutflora,lyme&co etc. That once it feels its getting food regularly its gonna want to pack on the pounds by increasing insatiating appetite. That scares the fuck out of me and wants me to fall back in my old gym pattern of 5to6timrs a week,especially when cheating/major addictive binges,bc im so scared ill grow fat and not feel energetic and still lots of mental disorders.:( especially with paleo slogans like “youre getting sluggish/tired nc youre getting fat”, “forcefeeding/eating 3times a day isnt normal”etc.

          I wanna be able to trust my body and hunger/satiaty however i dont want to undiliberately over or underfeed it.

    • Hey Dutchie,
      I used to have the same thing happen to me, especially right when I went to bed and if I woke up in the middle of the night. My mind would be jumping all over the place, one blog writer calls it “monkey mind”. Anyway I started trying to learn to meditate using some guided imagery CDs from this website, (they also provide downloads for MP3 players)
      and it’s really helped. From what I’ve read, meditation helps train your mind so that eventually it works without any conscious effort and I can definitely confirm that. Now when my mind won’t settle I just focus on my breathing which clears out the songs/thoughts and I fall asleep much easier.

      • Thanx Carla. I actually have a dozen meditation cd and exercises. I tried it back in the day when i had a portable stereo but there was no timer function on it. Then ive tried it with my ipod,but i always sleep on a side so laying like that with headphones/earplugs on isnt comfortable or when id lay on )ack fall asleep and then roll over id wake up again bc of it.
        Apart from the fact that i dont want any electric apparature in my bedroom. My therapist gave me a sheet of paper with some sanskrit symbols on them to ward off radiation….no idea if it really works,but they look nice though.
        One thing i do seem to notice is that since ive moved a couple of months ago to ! More suburban/familyfriendly neigjborhood,much smaller appartment though,my sleep seems to be improved. Before i lived in the city next to the trainstation withh lots of electric cabling,a busy street with lots of smog from the cars so i could never sit on my balcony bc everthing had this black layer of dust from the smog

        • However it was very good isolated so noise wasnt a factor,which is way less in my current home so i can actually hear kids playing,hear the churchbell ringing etc. However that still has a different feel to it. In the 2years i lived in my former place i never really felt like ‘this is my home’ and i struggled with a lot of depression. I guess i truly am a highly ssensitive person,not just emotionally but it really works quick on the physique too regarding emotions,but also outside radiation,vibes etc.
          I just still really dont know how to handle/balance it all in a western society….
          It really healthwise would be most optimal to live somewhere off in a rural place outside society bc thats one of my problems i get overwhelmed too easily by everything in society,but im also a highsensation seeker so i keep pushing myself into these vicious plleasure&downfall cycles.

  7. Just read an article on Mercola about this. However, I’m wondering if it is lack of sleep or whatever is causing the lack of sleep, such as stress, that is harmful. I find that during high stress times I only manage to sleep 4-6 hours a night, and this being very difficult to do. I try to sleep, but I just cannot get rid of the thoughts in my mind. Maybe some EFT or other technique might help with this.

    I also think it’s funny that kids need more sleep to help prevent obesity. While I was growing up, the whole idea was that the longer you stay in bed, the lazier you are being and you are not burning calories. This way, I would always get yelled at for sleeping in and usually get woken up early to go out and exercise. Oh, fun times!

    • I think maybe it ends up that staying in bed longer gives kids energy to run around and do the fun stuff they like to do. Dragging themselves out of bed prematurely gets them up but maybe only at partial speed and not really engaged.

      It seems to fit with the idea that if we’re working, we should really be working. And if we’re resting, we should really be resting. I think Frank Forencich talked about this pattern at common for early man. None of this half-hearted, have it both ways business. Haha

    • I think Dr. Mercola is an excellent indicator of the direction you should take with your health: whatever he says, do the opposite!

  8. Getting off caffeine was one of the best health decisions for me (inspired by Diet Recovery). It helped with my sleep too and my emotional life.

  9. Powerful Sleep by Kacper M. Postawski is a really good read, in case anyone’s interested.

    • I don’t like webpages that are set up to sell themselves that way. I know it’s a common sales method now (Sean did the same thing for his Real Food Summit) and it doesn’t mean you won’t get good info, but it just fosters a lack of trust. If you say it’s a good read, I’d like to know if you used the techniques in it and how well it worked for you and if you think they’ll work for other people as well.

  10. According to Ayurveda there are six 4 hour energetic cycles through the day, arranged thusly:

    10 AM – 2 PM and 10 PM – 2 AM = Pitta/Fire & Water Elements
    2 PM – 6 PM and 2 AM – 6 AM = Vata/Air & Space Elements
    6 AM – 10 AM and 6 PM – 10 PM = Kapha/ Earth & Water Elements

    Pitta time is best for working/metabolizing projects, food, toxins, etc., so is the best time to have your big meal of the day (so digestion can occur thoroughly, thank you RBTI) and be asleep at night (so liver and kidneys can detox);
    Vata time is best for creative pursuits and working with others as it is the “mental” time, hence a good time for meetings/brainstorming with coworkers and starting new projects during the day and integrating in the brain/Mind during the REM sleep time of the night/early morning hours;
    Kapha time is best for winding down, relaxing in the evening, and trudging along through more mundane tasks in the morning. It is a productive time, but more about maintenance activities than initiating new projects.
    If you pay attention you may notice sleepiness between 9 and 10 PM, but if you ignore this cue and stay up past 10:15 PM you will often get a “second wind”, which is Pitta time starting. It will be more difficult to fall asleep then until the Pitta cycle starts to wind down after midnight. (I find it helpful to think of the cycles as a 2 hour uphill/2 hour downhill phenomenon).
    I find my clients with difficulty falling asleep have physical fatigue (sluggish detox, taxed liver/kidneys), while those with early morning waking are frantic with “insomnia” that impacts their mental state (due to lack of refreshment during the Vata cycle).
    Retiring around 9:30 – 10 PM and waking between 5 and 6 AM will have you falling asleep during a Kapha cycle and rising during a Vata cycle, thereby falling asleep easily and sleeping more deeply and feeling more alert, inspired, energetic in the AM. This makes it a good time for meditation, writing, problem solving, etc. I sometimes have great ideas/powerful dreams in the hours between 4 and 6 AM! If I fall back to sleep without writing them down they are gone! Sleeping in (past 6 – 7 AM) can aggravate feelings of sluggishness and fatigue since you are rising during Kapha cycle, an energetically more slow and grounded time. It is like you are fighting gravity.

    Chinese medicine also has a clock concept, with energy cycling through the elements and corresponding organ systems. Our ancestors understood a lot about this stuff!


    • thanks for your post – i learned this years ago and it has worked for me. it also explains why nightclubs don’t even start playing music til 10 pm (ah, the fun years in san francisco).

    • Thanx,yeah i think chinese clock also has to do with organfunctions…
      It is said that if you wake up between 3and4 at night your liver is having to work too hard and between 5and6 it has something to do with adrenals. I do find that,no matter how less ive slept i could better get up before 6 bc if id fall back asleep at 6 and havw to get up at 8/9 im completely broken. I think unconsci9usly thats why i could get upand feel more energetic togo to the gym really early in the morning on some days compared to others in the past.

      Then theres another school of thought,the one from the horror community,that waking up between 3and4 is the hour of the devil/beast/evil;)

  11. I also wonder if this might be a hereditary genetic disorder since my grandma(moms mom) wad a true nightowl. Shed sleep till 1 in the day but also went to bed at 4o clock at night.basically after sjed get up and easily read the newspaper and chatted with the neighbor it was ab9out time to start dinner and by 11at night she started doing chores and sewing all night which was her hobby and talent i have to say. Bc of this she easnt the typical mom who made lunch 4 the kids in the morning and sent them off to grandfather did all that,whic& my mom took as an offense by my grandma later on. I find,especially in summer i start to live later on in the day and am most calm&positive being able to reetavate more at night.:s

  12. Some things that have helped me get better sleep:

    Magnesium Oil. Lots of it. I aim for 50 sprays per day, and even if I don’t get that much, I usually get 30+ — This alone made a huge difference in the quality and continuity of my sleep.

    Warm-hot(ish) raw milk before bed. There’s a reason it’s an old home remedy: it works. I only drink raw milk, so I make sure not to boil it, just get it hot.

    f.lux on every computer in the house. I also have my tv hooked up to a laptop so that if I watch something at night, it is “color corrected” to the right hue. This is a simple step that everyone should take, especially those who know they aren’t going to switch off everything when it gets dark.

    Dimming lights when the sun goes down. It kind of bugs my wife at times, but I make the house very, very dim once it gets dark.

    Never going to bed hungry. If I do any kind of intermittent fast, I’ll make it from dinner to dinner instead of breakfast to breakfast like I used to do, because I developed some sleep problems from going to bed in a fasted state. I quit IFing for over a year, but I am dabbling in it again.

  13. run of the mill. that’s 180D at the moment.

    • I don’t know what you mean by that, but I will assume, in the case of the present thread, that you mean these are ideas that you hear all over the web. That’s true. Whenever the topic of sleep comes up, wherever, people say pretty much the same thing and, evidently, little of it really works, or works but not completely. At least Ray Peat gave us a thrill there for a moment in terms of sleep strategies: drink milk to downregulate parathyroid hormone, keep your sugars up, eat gelatin, eat salt, darkness causes stress, etc. Don’t know how much success people had with that one. Mine was minimal. In any case, Larry, if you have anything new to share with us that’s not, “run of the mill”, please do so.

  14. I have had no success whatsoever with any of these tips haha. XD But I’m a severe case I guess. :P

    I’ve tried melatonin, valerian, a bunch of herbal sedatives, but the only thing that ever really seems to do much is progesterone. When I first started taking that stuff, I could really sleep for the first time in years. I was never able to take a nap before that. It just wouldn’t happen. But after taking it, I was able to sleep when I was tired enough to lay down during the day. Pretty amazing.

    Anyway, severe insomnia can be a symptom of brain problems (like Bipolar Disorder, and Depression), which, according to my doctor, are often related to Low Metabolism and Copper Imbalance. Testing indicates I have a pretty bad case of copper toxicity. My doctor recommended a book on Copper Imbalance called “Why Am I Always So Tired?” by Louise Gittleman. I’m just beginning it now. Pretty interesting stuff.

    I’d encourage anyone with endocrine, brain, and mood related insomnia to look into the copper thing. Cause sometimes we need just a little more help. XD


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