184690 Last update: : 2017-08-18
Advice for Sleeping Better (3 of 3)

To finish the subject I would like to review all the good reasons for getting to sleep earlier, ideally - let us repeat it – around 10.30pm.

First of all, it is certainly the best way to benefit from the maximum darkness and I would like to remind everyone that this definitely provides the best quality of sleep, even if one can always cheat by blocking out the light that comes through the windows.  We know that we typically sleep for 7.5 hours, and that getting up around 6am coincides with daybreak, as long as they don't continue to sabotage us with that damned extra hour for summertime that disrupts our internal clocks.

When travellers come close to the equator, they realize that in these regions of the world, the sun rises at 6am and goes down at 6pm. Take Ethiopia, a country whose southern tip is situated at latitude of 3-degree north.  They express hours in two chunks of 12, the one for day and the one for night.  When people plan to meet at 6, they are talking of midday and certainly not midnight because, during the night, the Ethiopians are sleeping….

Moreover, they are right because the beginning of the night is when hormonal syntheses take place, whether it is growth hormone, adrenal hormones, or sex hormones.  Furthermore, according to some recent trustworthy scientific publications, we are even starting to recommend that patients undertaking thyroid hormone replacement treatment take their thyroid hormones just before going to bed.

Current exploration of physiological and biochemical pathways by Western science is confirming what the oldest medicine of the world (prior to Chinese medicine) has already told us from the height of its 4 millenniums of experience.  Ayurvedic medicine sets 11pm as the start of one of the three cycles of energy under which we are all subjected.  If one is paying attention, it is noticeable that we are indeed invaded by a legitimate torpor around 10.15 or 10.30pm: dear friends it is then time to go to sleep because it is the end of one natural cycle…

If we ignore this and we fight against sleep, we can then we feel, just like a breath of pure oxygen, a noticeable boost in energy.  If you then look at your watch, you will usually see that it is almost always exactly 11pm.  I have often been shocked by this precision.  The re-start that takes place leads us to around one in the morning, and that period is often referred to as the "second wind”.

It would be a shame not to take advantage of the natural cues for going to sleep around 10pm – just at the right time - and thus avoid fighting against the surge of energy one or two hours later.  Why not listen to our body?

It is well known that the second wind can lead to great intellectual performances, inspiring and creative thought, but it is a high price to pay.  The bill comes the following morning when we lamentably idle while the world is going at full speed with or without us, cosy under the duvet…

Even more concerning, the second wind is riding a wave of adrenalin (thus explaining some of the feats achieved), but at the expense of the adrenal glands. These glands, two little flabby pointy hats on top of the kidneys, are not intended to give such a boost of performance every evening. It is a “luxurious” mechanism intended only to be used in emergencies: let’s not prevaricate just because we would like to assuage some kind of melancholy that encourages us not to go to sleep… when the time has come!


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