I’m speaking at SOMNEX The Sleep Show 13th/14th Oct 2018

During the writing of my NEW sleep book I was also contacted by SOMNEX The Sleep Show, and invited to speak as The Sleep Coach, and to offer one-to-one walk-in sleep clinic during the show! I will be there throughout the event, if you go to their website below you’ll be able to find out more details about the show, who all the speakers are including myself, what days they are speaking and when, I hope to see some of you there on the day. 

As a speaker I can offer you a fantastic 40% off. Visitor tickets are currently £20 but if you enter the promo code: SPK40 when you book herehttps://bit.ly/2MdFI21you can get a ticket for just £12!

Visit SOMNEX | The Sleep Show on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 October (10am til 6pm) at The Old Truman Brewery in London.

Get exclusive access to expert advice, innovative new products, specialist exhibitors, multiple interactive workshops and immersive classes – all designed to help you understand how to improve your sleep and give you and your family a fun day out!

 

Visit www.somnexshow.com

Instagram: @somnexshow

Twitter: @somnexshow

Facebook: @SOMNEXshow

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/somnex-the-sleep-show

 

As always I wish you a great night sleep,

Max

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

Ear plugs are like cars, there are just so many different types!

Not all insomnia and sleep problems are caused by anxiety. When I go through my MOT Sleep Survey to identify the root causes of a clients sleep difficulties, it will often identify either hyper-sensitivity to sound, with an external stimulus issue like the sounds outside; cars, trains, or even aeroplanes; or their neighbours above or next door, the dawn chorus, or their partner’s snoring, or just the sounds of their breathing and so on… babies, children and pets etc… This leads me often to my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs

If hyper-sensitivity to sound is at the root of their not being able to sleep deeply, or for as long as they would like because they keep being woken by sound. I usually recommend a variety of sleep earplugs based on various relevant parameters. Often my clients say they have already tried earplugs and that they didn’t work either because they didn’t block out the sound they wanted to block out. Or, that they were too big and uncomfortable, and often, they said that they didn’t like wearing earplugs because they live alone (most often women living alone with safety issues), or that even though outside noises bothered them, because they have a baby, child or even several children, that they weren’t comfortable blocking out all noise in case of a child based emergency.

All of these reasons of course, are totally valid, although not in my opinion the end of the conversation. There were still essential reasons to explore the various possibilities and solutions to help noise sensitive poor sleepers.

In my deep and varied Sleep Coach tool box, I keep a variety of different earplugs and much more…

My A to Z of Sleep Earplugs collection includes:

1, Very narrow foam ear plugs ideal mostly for people (usually women) who have narrower ear canals or tunnels – excellent sound reduction 36db.

2, Parental ear plugs. These are special attenuated ear plugs which reduce the outside sounds of traffic etc, but still allows the sound of babies and children for parents wanting better sleep but also needing to be able to still hear their children and babies if needed – sound reduction 24 db

3, Various shaped 3-tier Silicone ear plugs (hyper allergenic – medical grade) with various noise reducing densities 22 db upwards.

4, And a vast array of earplugs that vary in shape, size and sound reduction. I also have thicker earplugs of various foam densities that can totally block out up to 46 dB of sound – making lorries, noisy neighbours, or being under the flight path of noisy planes… to lying next to the worlds loudest snorer.

5, There are also a number of hi-tech solutions with incredible noise cancelling properties or even a sound bubble gadget with a noise exclusion zone containing and blocking out your partners snoring that are also most definitely worth exploring if quietness is a priceless commodity. Some of this kit can cost a lot more than good foam ear plugs though!

6, For snorers in a relationship sharing the same bed, there are also a number of other very simple nasal options worth considering if you and your partner want to achieve better sleep. There is a special plastic insert that opens the nose channels wider. There are also a number of pillows and sleep positions that help to reduce problem snoring. There are many options to explore before surgery, sleeping next door or even eventually spitting up.

7, For noisy neighbours there are a number of sound insulation boards for floors, walls, ceilings and doors to explore as well.

So visit a good sleep coach to help you to explore all the various possibilities to reduce or eliminate unwanted sounds.

I hope you found my A to Z of Sleep Earplugs useful to solve any sound issues.

As usual I wish you a really great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten

Blinkist interview with The Sleep Coach

Blinkist Podcast Bonus: A “How-To-Sleep” Talk with The Sleep Coach – Max Kirsten,

In this special bonus edition of the Blinkist Podcast, we talk to sleep specialist Max Kirsten. Max is a clinical hypnotherapist and an award winning sleep coach, and he’s worked with stars like Adele and Ewan McGregor.

In the podcast, Max and Ben delve into topics like the right position for optimal sleep, how one even becomes a sleep specialist, the problems some of his most difficult patients experience, and much more. This is a perfect follow-up to the first sleep-themed episode, which featured Arianna Huffington speaking about her new book The Sleep Revolution, and how we’re killing ourselves with bad sleep hygiene.

(P.S. if you don’t already know, Blinkist is an app that condenses the key ideas of 1,500+ nonfiction books — the best ones in the world, actually — into beautiful, powerful little mobile reads that help you learn more, read more, and explore more than ever).


Blinkist Podcast with Sleep Expert Max Kirsten

Transcript

Max Kirsten: Hi Ben, thank you for inviting me to come on the show.

Ben Schuman-Stoler: Thanks for coming on the show, this is great. This is our second sleep expert!

MK: How’s your sleep, are we going to talk about yours or are we going to avoid that?

BSS: We can try, but I have to say, especially in the past few weeks, I’ve been pretty good. I’ve been bringing a lot of stuff home, of like, getting the cell phones out –

MK: You’re doing your sleep hygiene!

BSS: I am, I’m all about it.

MK: That’s good! And have you got any devices? We’re in the 21st century so I think devices are kind of cool to have but the people that sleep the best don’t need devices, they don’t need anything, just sleep don’t they?

BSS: Which kind of devices do you mean?

MK: Well, there’s a whole bunch of these gadgets, you know, you can be wearing your fitbits, or you can have things actually fit to the bed under all the pillows. I’m fascinated by all this stuff but I have to say I’m quite keen to keep the technology to a minimum, generally. That said, when I get some of this stuff I’ll be trying it all out and my room will be like a techno jungle.

BSS: I actually did write down, one my questions is, do you use any of the new tech for sleep? And then I wrote down besides your own app, but your app isn’t a sleep app, right? It’s for quitting smoking.

MK: Actually my sleep app — which I took down last year — I had two — I took them down and I’m re-packaging them at the moment. I also have a free one that people download which is 20 minutes to fall asleep. Really nice thing to listen to. But the real question is — I don’t listen to myself. There’s something a bit weird about listening to yourself.

BSS: You mean you don’t put yourself to sleep?

MK: I do, but I don’t listen to myself to do it.

BSS: Who do you listen to?

MK: I don’t listen to anyone. I do a sequence and you can ask me about that.

BSS: You have your own routine, right?

MK: That’s true. Before I became a sleep coach I suffered from sleep difficulties, I would hesitate to say insomnia but I certainly would say it looked like insomnia, it sounded like insomnia and probably was. It was semi-infrequent but I found that going to bed was beginning to be something that I didn’t look forward to. I treat lots of people with insomnia now, anxiety-related sleep conditions. And I would lie in bed trying to figure out how can I fall asleep? Why am I still awake? What do I need to do? So I originally set out to conquer that for myself and in the process of looking at everything, listening to everything, I was also training to become a clinical hypnotherapist and in the process of all of this I discovered how to relax at a very deep somatic level and that became a part of it. I then created a blend of techniques that I’ve distilled into something that I call the ABC of Better Sleep but is basically a sequence that you can do not to try to sleep — because that’s always the thing with people with sleep difficulties, they try to sleep, and people who sleep well never try to sleep — trying to sleep is the worst thing you could ever do. Same thing as trying to relax or even trying not to think of the color red. It’s not helpful.

You know, I used to be a person that woke up in the night. Lots of people either have trouble falling asleep, which was one of my issues — thinking too much — but I almost invariably used to wake up in the middle of the night and it would be like UGH and it can be the loneliest place in the world. You wake up in the night and you feel like everyone on this side of the planet is already unconscious. And then I now have this thing that I do and I think of it more as a game, it’s a technique but it’s a pleasurable process that feels like a game. So that even if I get out of bed if I’m not annoyed. I actually look forward to getting back into the bed, and getting comfortable. that’s the starting point of the sequence that I teach people.

BSS: So let’s break this down. You mentioned suffering. You said you were suffering, you didn’t wanna call it insomnia but it looked like insomnia. It’s an interesting word because Arianna Huffington also used that word a lot and said there’s so much unneeded suffering that we’re doing to ourselves, so why did you use that word in particular?

MK: Arianna’s great — I wish I could talk to her with you I’m a big fan of her book — but I agree. We’re doing this to ourselves. We’re not even aware of the effect of everything coming in. You know, caffeine is interesting. I like caffeine but there’s a time we should be phasing it out (and there are some people it doesn’t agree with). Towards the evening the last caffeine most of us should be having should be approximately eight hours before bed at least. Because otherwise the effects of it are going to still be there when you want to sleep. And I can think of plenty of times when I sat in a nice restaurant with some nice friends, maybe it’s Friday night after a busy week and someone says would you like to have coffee now after your meal and someone says, “Oh yeah,” and before you know it we’re all ordering espressos! I think maybe people in the US are a little bit ahead of that now but I have to say a couple of my friends quite happily have a coffee before bed. These are the things we do to ourselves, I think at our peril. I mean look, coffee and devices is only two small elements of what can lead to having sleep difficulties. But I think anxiety, the worries of all that’s happening in our ever-changing world, and I think if sleep hygiene is a new kind of subject, I think veering away from most of the national news towards bedtime is no bad thing.

BSS: So say something about what sleep hygiene really kind of is, because it’s a weird term. I don’t think everybody — or people who aren’t familiar with your work or this trend of talking about sleep — what is sleep hygiene and how do you make a good one?

MK: Well you’re right, Ben, it isn’t what everyone’s aware of. Perhaps only the people with sleep difficulties. I assume everybody’s a sleep coach or everyone is seeing one and of course there are lots of people who sleep wonderfully. They get into bed and can even sleep in a car park or in a queue — some people can sleep anywhere — and there are people who have difficulties. And the first thing is to eliminate the externals, which can be contributing to sleep issues. Sometimes it’s the last thing that people realize. I’ve just been doing a sleep clinic in London here, in Shoreditch, something called a pop-up nap station as sleep ambassador for Eve Sleep who –

BSS: You know, they sent us a mattress!

MK: Oh they did?!

BSS: Yeah we had a little nap station in the office. They’re great.

MK: So that would be one of the sleep hygiene questions: What do you sleep on? What’s the room like? What’s the light like? That’s a big one. Do you have a dark room? How dark is it? Some people have, they like the light to come through the window at dawn. Some people rise at dawn and sort of go to bed when sun sets except they don’t because they’re on devices. So you know, limiting lights — ideally black. The brain makes melatonin as the evening progresses — it’s the hormone that regulates the main sleep cycle and that’s why coming away from screens, reducing light, lowering the light down so that the eyes which really do two things, of course we see with our eyes but they’re one of two parts of the body with multiple function, the eyes are also a light meter and we’re not aware of this but the optic nerve is regulating and measuring the amount of light that’s coming through and as it senses that it’s getting dimmer and dimmer it’s telling the body that it must be the time to begin to make melatonin, more and more of it, for sleep. So winding down is important but I think having as much black or at least very darkened room — I personally go for total, extreme black I like to put on an eye mask, it has this foam edge around it so that zero light comes around the side of my eye mask. If someone opened the blinds and there’d be streaming light around me, I’d be in total black, unaware of the new day until I decide that I’m ready for the new day.

BSS: Wow, I have a colleague who says he sleeps with the curtains open because the sun wakes him up naturally, he doesn’t use an alarm –

MK: Well I think that’s actually wonderful, the romance of that is wonderful. As a parent and as a hard working adult, and I do work hard, and I struggle, and if I was to just have no curtains and be waking up at, I don’t know, at the moment sunrise in London is around 4:30–5:00 in the morning. If I’m up at that time and yeah I’m an early bird but I think I’m more of an owl. I could force myself to do it, all the things to get ready to do, my son to get to school, and then work. I’m not quite sure what happens later in the evening! I certainly can’t go to bed when the sun sets, that’s for sure, and I can’t live by the circadian rhythms of just sunrise and sunset. But there are those who can do it and if they’re sleeping well and they can get up at the sunrise, I admire that.

BSS: So what about somebody like a snoozer, someone who has trouble getting up or is always groggy, or constantly hitting the snooze button?

MK: OK, I think it’s interesting with snoozing as opposed to napping, napping is something you take in the afternoons and preferably for no longer than 30 minutes, 20 minutes tops. I’d love to talk to you about napping in a moment. But the snoozer is wanting that little more, is not quite satisfied, maybe they weren’t sleeping that well earlier and they just wanna try — the ones I see anyway — they’re the ones who kept waking in the night and lay there for extra hour, tormented, and finally when they do fall asleep they so don’t want to get up if they can help it. It’s usually a sign of an unsatisfied night’s sleep. I now have come around to the realization of just how extraordinary sleep really is so you know I’m all for napping I’m all for snoozing but you know I think napping is an area now and certainly in business, I do more and more lectures with corporations and the city and companies for their staff and this whole new era of napping — the idea of having 20 minutes at work would have been unthinkable 10–15 years ago. Bosses would’ve thought just forget it, it’s an interruption with the work day. But now that there’s some real research, people who take short naps perform at a much higher level — are you familiar with the coffee nap?

BSS: I’ve only read about it. I haven’t done one.

MK: Ok it’s something that came out of some research and this is one of the reasons why we set up the nap station in East London — although part of it was so that people could come see the various beds and things as well — but these pods, and they’re setting them up more and more and I was reading about it in Arianna’s book as well — the zeitgeist really is to make this time for staff it’s better for their overall health, you know a 30-minute nap boosts your immune system and some extraordinary things happen. It’s counterintuitive, but the idea of having a small coffee before taking a nap. I mean I wouldn’t have even thought that — it’s madness — there’s research about how if you have a little coffee and then a nap, it takes time for the caffeine to be absorbed, and during the nap your brain is having a chance to do its cleansing process — I’ll talk about that in a second — and then the caffeine sneaks it in about 20 minutes and by the time you awaken — as long as long as it’s not more than 20–30 minutes — you feel more refreshed and more able to do whatever it is you were going to do. Your cognitive function is improved. They were doing this research and the purpose of it was to see if a light sleep if you’re driving would make you a better driver, whether having a coffee and then a break would make you a better driver. It turned out that having a coffee and a short nap made you a better driver and that’s where the research comes. But it’s very interesting, and someone’s just recently coined this — I wish I had said it but I’ll say it to you first because I’ve doubt you’ve heard it: nappuccino.

Although personally I think I prefer something like a flat nap.

BSS: Right, a flat wink.

MK: Exactly and you don’t even necessarily need to nap everyday but for those who’ve been sleep deprived, let’s say you’re jet-lagged or you were up all night at a party, a nap is going to reset you. It’s a very powerful thing.

BSS: So when I mentioned to my colleagues that I was talking to a sleep coach, a sleep expert, and someone who does it professionally, they were like, that’s impossible, that’s not a real thing. And I said of course it is, you know, why not? There’s mindfulness training, there’s all sorts of training to make us better people. How did you do that? How did you end up being a sleep specialist? What do you call yourself? Do you call yourself a sleep specialist? A sleep coach?

MK: I refer to myself as a sleep coach, I’ve been called sleep expert, I mean I’ve learned how not to sleep to become expert at that. But as a sleep coach, part of my training I did here in London with the London Sleep Center with the help of Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim, the consulting psychiatrist for sleep there, and I’ve been on various courses, I looked at CBTI, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, I’ve looked at various methodologies, sleep medicine — I am generally against medications although sometimes people come to see me with all sorts of things they’ve been taking — but the goal to me in my ethos is to help people get natural sleep. To get away from all the pills and to get into a much cleaner way to approach sleep and to relax and to then enjoy it.

BSS: So you studied it. But why was it so personally interesting to you?

MK: Well because I came from a position of having had insomnia myself and then in the process of my work as a clinical hypnotherapist — I was seeing more and more people for anxiety-related sleep difficulties and insomnia that I found that just hypnotizing people to have better sleep wasn’t broad enough to help them to overcome the full issue, the full picture. So then I started to blend teaching people how to do self-hypnosis and combined it with some of the other things that I’ve discovered, autogenic sleep training, and a mindfulness-based one that I like to teach. And I developed these in the course of developing my sleep programs that are on my website. And I had several apps, the sleep programs I was developing several years ago, that have won awards both in the US and over here for helping people sleep –

BSS: I listened to The ABCs of Sleep.

MK: You did? You didn’t tell me that.

BSS: Well yeah, that’s how I got all my questions, you know?

MK: So you’ve been learning the A and the B and the C?

BSS: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about relaxing the eyelids but you know you got to let the conversation flow.

MK: Well let’s talk about it.

BSS: We can talk about it. But I’m curious about both. I like hearing about your techniques, but I’m also really interested in the patients you see — and what’s the most difficult sleeping case you’ve had? Can we talk about that, too?

MK: What was great about doing the thing at the nap station actually is that it was the first time I’ve ever had like a walk-in sleep clinic. So you know people were queuing up on the Saturdays I was there and I had people who had parasomnias, people who would wake up in the night paralyzed and terrified they couldn’t move, that was a usual one, because you know some people don’t sleep very deeply for a number of different reasons that have to be identified but when we sleep there are different phases of sleep and the REM phase, which is the dreaming and rapid eye movement phase of sleep, is also interestingly when we are the most physically disconnected, paralyzed, from hurting ourselves in bed while we’re dreaming. So you don’t knock things off the table or punch the wall. So when people are in this sleep state, this phase, it is possible, particularly if they’re not going into deep state at all in the first place, there are things like, even alcohol interferes with sleep architecture, but some people just pop up almost mid-dream. They’re still dreaming but they open their eyes and they know they’re in bed but they also find that they don’t seem to be able to move. And for some even, bits of the dream are seeping into their waking experience it’s very unusual but it can be quite alarming.

BSS: What’s this called again?

MK: This is one of the parasomnias. It’s a waking paralysis and rather than being completely alarmed by it, which is easy if you never had it happen to you, is to understand it first of all. To know am I dreaming am I awake and to know that you can go back to sleep or even — I’ve had it, it can be in a nightmare, it’s not one of the best — we’re talking about some of the more unusual and extreme ends of what I do. Another lady who’s seeing me at the moment awakes every half an hour and we’ve eliminated almost everything that it could possibly be and she’s been to see lots of people before she came to me and the only thing that we can truly identify is that she has a lot of anxiety, very low level, all of the time. And it means that she finds it almost impossible to get to deep sleep because she’s got very higher levels of adrenal stress cortisol that makes it very difficult to fully truly completely relax and let go. The autonomic nervous system is in two parts, and the sympathetic, which sounds wonderful, has all to do with stress, fight or flight and life’s challenges, and the parasympathetic is when we feel safe and relaxed. Sometimes people see me for IBS or digestive problems and they often have these problems because they’re constantly in the sympathetic stress state and teaching people how to relax and let go and to re-set the autonomic nervous system back to the middle really, because some have autonomic nervous system imbalance which is if you like why this lady was finding it so hard to sleep — because of her physiology. So she’s going through a relaxation program daily as well as at night so she can begin to create regularly, throughout the whole day, a training for her to get physical relaxation and also I’m helping her to overcome her anxious thinking, because thoughts are the ones that cause the chemicals in the first place.

BSS: So let’s take this case again. Can you use your — I wanted to talk about eyelid relaxation that you talk about in The ABCs of Sleep — so like can you use that for this kind of case, this woman? Or is it the kind of thing that’s too kind of general to help her.

MK: Absolutely, and I taught her to use the ABC technique which in its cutdown version is to relax your eyelids to the point where they feel so relaxed they won’t work and then to spread the relaxation through the B, the breath, through the body. To take her to the point where she’s beginning to feel more and more deeply calm and relaxed. That’s the first place to get to. If, on the other hand, your mind is constantly in a circular motion looking for things to be worried about, the next thing to go wrong, then it’s probably highly likely that these people take that to bed with them. If they’re already in a sort of hyper-vigilant state and dreading going to bed because of another night of waking up every half an hour — doesn’t make you want to go to bed does it — so the combination of sleep dread (or not-sleep dread actually), there need to be a re-programming. Learning how to relax is part of it. Learning mindful you know CBT, really, mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to understand and to recognize when one is thinking this stuff again and again and to observe it rather than just be in it and to see these thoughts like clouds and to be more interested in the sky between the clouds and to recognize that these thoughts are what make us feel let’s say negative and therefore anxious and the feelings that go with that.

BSS: It’s like you have to take a step back, be objective about your own thoughts?

MK: Step back, and see almost as though your thoughts are coming in a loop by habit rather than even just consciously deciding to have anxious thoughts. Half of my work is to get people to wake up and to snap out of negative loops and mind patterns, to become more present. And the other half of my work — and this is how I became a sleep coach — is helping people to let go and become unconscious. It’s the most wonderful process. It’s so undervalued, sleep, I mean I think of sleep as a spiritual experience, it’s a subjective thing, but I think of sleep as when we let go into the universe, I think of sleep as well as the letting go process about getting out of the way, it’s nothing to do, it’s just a wonderful opportunity to just release and to let go into the safety of relaxation that takes you away to let’s just say the C of dreams. I say the C of comfort that leads to the sea of dreams.

BSS: Right and it’s very calming, unfortunately I listened during the day so I couldn’t go all the way into relax mode if you know what I mean.

Well let’s see what I got. We could do a quick-fire round? You want to do a quick-fire? Let’s do five.

MK: OK.

BSS: Alright here we go, quick-fire round, number one: what’s the most common lie about sleep that we see in our daily lives?

MK: Wow, what’s the most common lie that we see in our daily lives?

BSS: Or what do you find yourself most commonly having to debunk?

MK: Ok that’s interesting. I’m trying to think of the best way to answer the question. That somehow there’s some magic trick to sleep. Some people are ritualistic. I mean, I think routine is good, but the idea that you’ve always got to do one thing — I think sleep is effortless. There’s nothing to do!

BSS: There’s no silver bullet.

MK: There’s no silver bullet and in fact we’re all different so anyone who tells you the best way is this, it’s flawed from the moment they say it because we’re not all the same.

BSS: Number 2: is there a healthiest sleep position, like side sleeping, belly sleeping?

MK: Without a doubt the side is the very best way both for the position of the spine but also it seems that when we sleep or even nap that the side position is the side that helps for the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain to cleanse itself better.

BSS: OK — does it matter left or right?

MK: It’s an interesting question, I think it doesn’t really matter because nobody just sleeps on one side. If you look at any time-lapse photography people are on their back or side, all those things but I think predominantly that the best side to sleep on from a physiology point of view, I understand, is on the left side and that has to do with the blood pressure and the fact that your heart is slightly to the left and by sleeping on your left side predominantly, it is better for your physiology and I believe it means you’re slightly less likely to have things like heart attacks and strokes. Not to worry anybody.

BSS: All these stomachs sleepers just had a freakout.

MK: It’s interesting about stomach sleepers. Stomach and on-their-face sleepers are the ones who are most likely to grind their teeth.

BSS: Really?

MK: Yeah because they’re kind of putting their head onto their jaw, into their face. When I work with people who have you know tooth grinding, one of the techniques is to get people to sleep with their airwaves open, head slightly tilted back so the jaw naturally falls away from the teeth. It seems completely unnatural for someone who’s not used to that but between that and I like to use hypnotherapy for teeth grinding as well, I find that’s the best way of making the change so they don’t destroy their teeth.

BSS: Alright, number 3: pillows. Best pillow, does it matter?

MK: Well I think pillows are very subjective, I think if you sleep on your face, if that’s the way you have to do it, you want to have a soft pillow because you don’t want to be having your head completely tilted back if you’re sleeping on your face, but I think that side sleepers would benefit from a reasonably firm pillow — the Eve Sleep ones are unbelievably amazing, but there are others.

BSS: Alright, number 4: how does it affect us to sleep outside? Is there a difference between sleeping outside or inside?

MK: That’s a good question, I like that. I recently went camping with my son and I certainly think there’s a big difference and I was sleeping in this tent and I haven’t been camping for decades and it wasn’t quite summer yet so nights were very very cool and the coldness of the air on my face at that time of year wasn’t for me ideal but I did vaguely sleep. Honestly I couldn’t wait to get home to the luxury of my bedroom. I personally think sleep is for sleeping, the less disturbances there are, minimum light, definitely the room should become slightly cooler as the evening progresses when you fall asleep. Ideally a cooler room when you fall asleep. I mean sleeping out on the patio or on the roof if you’ve got a roof terrace, at a certain part of year in the middle of a heat wave, could be fantastic, but I wouldn’t recommend it all year.

BSS: Sub question: when you went camping did you bring your mask thing that closed out all light?

MK: Very good question. You know what? I so did.

BSS: Yeah?

MK: Here I have a sleep box with a number, not all my masks are the same. I have probably ten different kinds, not all ear plugs are the same I have more than ten. There are even ear plugs for women, different sizes and widths, you know channels are usually narrower for women or when they want to hear their kids or certain sounds but the one I like, with the foam, that one I took with me and I was definitely glad when I was in my freezing cold tent with my son. That was the one luxury, other than the fact that I like to wear sleep socks which I know is odd but I’m very tall and it helps circulation to my feet. It’s one of the things that people with sleep difficulties — and they actually have cold feet! Sometimes I go through all the different questions around the environment and physiology just to find out people have cold feet when they sleep.

BSS: There’s a Seinfeld episode with George and Jerry are in a hotel room for some reason and Jerry likes to, he’s a feet tucker, he likes to keep his feet tucked, and George likes to kick off the blankets. You can add that in your next book or do some kind of deep analysis.

MK: That’s great. I’ll have to research it. Did you say George was the feet tucker?

BSS: I think Jerry was the feet tucker.

MK: So George likes to kick his feet out, so George probably then doesn’t want to wear sleep socks either because he likes the air circulating.

BSS: Right.

MK: My wife is warmer than me, she likes to kick the covers off but I still like to keep the covers on the lower half of the bed so my feet stay warm. GOD we all have these weird variations! It’s amazing anyone can sleep the night with anyone else!

BSS: Alright so last one: what’s the one rule for sleeping? Like, Huffington has one rule: no phones in the bedroom. Hands down.

MK: Let’s just assume that’s a given. Although there are lots of people who like to have their iPhone apps measuring and Fitbits and such and I’m not sure how to reconcile that but ultimately good sleep you don’t need devices. You can use them to learn to sleep better but it’s like nobody should listen to recordings every night, it’s just learning. Once you get past all of that, and assuming there’s no phones or electronics around you then I would say the number one rule is never try to sleep. Sleep is effortless, you never try to sleep, you relax, you get out the way and by getting out of the way, that’s the way sleep happens: you relax and let go.

BSS: That’s a perfect ending!


Very Important Links

More stuff to read on Sleep, Productivity, The Future, and more over onBlinkist Magazine, and our treasure trove of 1,500+ nonfiction books-in-brief at Blinkist.com.

10 Better Sleep Tips

10 TIPS FOR QUALITY SLEEP THIS WORLD SLEEP DAY

We teamed up with award-winning Sleep Coach and Eve World sleep Day ambassador Max Kirsten, to help you master the art of quality rest and find 10 Better Sleep Tips.

Max says:

“A good night’s rest is invaluable for both mental and physical wellbeing, so good sleep practices are vital. By monitoring what you consume in the evening, clearing a busy mind and ensuring you have a comfortable and supportive bed, you can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep and regulate important body functions so you wake up feeling refreshed and engerised in the morning”.

Here are Max’s top 10 tips, vital for ensuring the quality of your sleep…

1. Reduce caffeine. Basically caffeine can keep you awake, and believe it or not stays in your body much longer than you would think, I recommend reducing your caffeine about eight hours before bedtime will help you fall asleep easier. You will find caffeine not only in coffee and tea, green tea and many carbonated soft drinks. Also be careful of eating too much chocolate which contains cacao (which acts very similarly caffeine as it’s in the same family). If you’ve already had too much caffeine, try eating carbohydrates like bread or biscuits to help reduce the effect.

2. Drink alcohol in moderation. Although alcohol may help you to fall asleep, it can also cause symptoms like dehydration, nightmares, headaches and sweats. If you must drink alcohol before bed, I recommend that you also drink water, but be careful not to drink too much water because that alone will have you waking in the night. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep architecture. During the evening drink less water. A glass of water right before bed may cause you to wake in the night disrupting deep sleep. In bed, I recommend the only sip water minimally as needed.

3. During the day get tired. It’s important that we use up energy, at least go for healthy walks whenever possible. Have a a 21st-century sedentary lifestyle were most of our time is spent sitting on a chair is going to lead to a slow unfulfilled energy feeling. Being active, and going, or doing something that pushes your physical body regularly to the limit means that in the evenings when you climb into bed you are ready to relax and let go. However going to the gym in the evenings before bed can increase your heart rate making it difficult to relax. in the evenings, if you must do something try stretching, yoga or a relaxing swim. Learn how to relax.

4. Control your environment to sleep. Ideally your bedroom should be dark, comfortable and quiet. Optimise and control your sleep environment (the bedroom). Evaluate your bed, and of course the mattress upon which a third of your life is being spent. If your bed is uncomfortable – too soft, to hard, or just unsupportive – invest in a better bed.  If you haven’t changed your mattress for between 5 to 8 years look into replacing it with something like perhaps an Eve mattress. Also the temperature of your bedroom for sleep should ideally become lower by a few degrees which has been shown to improve deep and restful sleep. The Bedroom for sleep should be as dark as possible, ideally switch off electronic devices. Ideally keep the TV out of the bedroom.

5. Reduce late-night exposure to blue LED light. Sleep research has shown that bluelight from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens reduces the production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is produced in the pineal gland in your brain. Blue light through the optic nerve tells your brain that it is still daytime. Either switch off all devices a few hours before bedtime. Television however is still fine, as the screen is far enough away so as not to cause this problem. Or get filter for your screen that reduces bluelight, I recommend f.lux. Or get some glasses that filter out bluelight instead.

6. Develop a good sleep routine. Ideally go to bed at the same time every night. Obviously there will be times when you break your routine, such as a late-night, or travel. It’s useful to begin to wind down work-related emails many hours before bed, take a hot bath, or if not a hot shower before bed as this has been shown to improve the speed at which you relax.

7. Avoid large heavy meals and alcohol late at night. Digesting a rich heavy meal makes it harder to fall asleep. Eat light and clean. Vegetables like tomatoes, fruit, even a bowl of cereal is better than going to sleep on an empty stomach which can also keep you up. Although alcohol in small doses can be helpful for sleep, the downside is that it also can interfere with your sleep architecture. Meaning that you will probably be waking feeling dehydrated in the middle of the night, so at least keep a little water by the bedside.

8. Clear your mind before sleep. If there is a lot on your mind get into the practice of writing things down so that there then the morning. Then when you turn out the light, learn techniques that help you to relax physically and then mentally so that you can begin to drift off. I recommend you take three deep slow breaths and after each breath relax your body and mind just before going to sleep.

9. Avoid exposure to disturbing films, gaming, and even watching the world News. These subjects can cause disturbance, anxiety, adrenaline and are not conducive to winding down and relaxing before bed. Ideally you should have sent your last email or text communications should.

10. Work out your pre-sleep routine. Poor sleep preparation can lead to having poor sleep. Research shows that taking a hot bath, is helpful, in fact better, more effective at helping you to relax than taking a shower. Feeling clean, with a hot body that cools slowly in bed with a wonderful feeling. Comfortable bedclothes, pyjamas or whatever makes you feel comfortable in bed, some prefer to sleep naked with a T-shirt. Some prefer sleep socks (low-cut socks) that help keep the feet warm during sleep – usually more for the older adults.

 

*Note: This post originally appeared on http://blog.evemattress.co.uk/10-tips-for-quality-sleep-this-world-sleep-day

Discover Sleep Insomnia Sleep Coaching with The Sleep Coach London

Sleep Insomnia breathing techniques

If you can’t sleep? If you suffer from sleep insomnia? If you just have difficulties falling asleep? Here are two simple breathing techniques that can help you to relax and begin to drift off…

Firstly, learn how to use the “4-7-8 breathing technique”.

The 4-7-8 sleep breathing technique

Originally developed and pioneered by Dr Andrew Weil in the US. The technique is very simple, in fact deceptively simple. It involves your breathing to various counts of 4, 7 and 8. It enables your lungs to fill with oxygen, and helps to calm the mind and to relax the muscles in your body, and your nervous system helping to reduce tension as you exhale.

This technique has been described as a natural tranquilliser. The technique is simple, takes almost no time, requires no special equipment and can be done almost ANYWHERE!

In order to do this technique correctly it’s important to understand that the key elements.

Firstly when doing the 4-7-8 breathing technique you will always be breathing in through your nose.

Then while you are doing this, you will have placed your top of your tongue against the front of your upper palate just behind your teeth, held against your upper gum. With your tongue held in position for 4 and 7 you will breathe in through your nose for four seconds, and then keeping your tongue in place, you will hold your breath seven seconds, and then with a “whooshing” sound you then exhale, pushing the breath out powerfully through your mouth for eight seconds. so that your lips make a “Phhhh” sound.

Then you will repeat the 4-7-8 technique again placing your tongue back against the back against the upper gum, and breathing in through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath of seven seconds your tongue still against the back of your upper gum behind the teeth, before releasing the breath with the wooshing sound “Phhhh…” from your mouth slowly for eight seconds.

*Note: you always inhaled quietly through your nose, hold and exhale audibly through your mouth with a “Phhhhhh…” whooshing sound.

Repeating this 4-7-8 breathing technique three or four times will be enough to relax and slow you down completely if done correctly. It helps to release all inner body tension.

Doing this in fact relaxes the para-sympathetic nervous system, the oxygen calming you, and helping you to feel more connected to your body – whilst at the same time distracting you from your everyday thoughts that can disrupt falling asleep.

This technique is also very good for reducing anxiety. Dr Weil says that if you practice this technique twice a day, for six weeks until you’ve mastered enough to be able to fall asleep in just 60 seconds.

Here’s another simple breathing technique to help you fall asleep. This one is called the Bumble Bee sleep technique, it’s very simple but really only works if you sleep alone as you’re likely to annoy or disturbed whoever is with you whilst doing it.

The Bumble Bee Sleep Technique.

This technique is very simple, easy to do, and really quite extraordinary.

1, You just close your mouth, and breath in through your nose.

2, Then while keeping your mouth closed, you then hum like a bumblebee as you breath out through the nose for as long as possible for about 5 mins.

The vibration that you create whilst humming and exhaling both at the same time is very relaxing to the nervous system. It can help reduce your blood pressure, and help rebalance serotonin levels, you will begin to feel more relaxed. It also helps you to stop reacting to all your thoughts.

The Bumble Bee Sleep technique helps change your brain waves from lifestyle busy beta moving towards relaxing nourishing theta brainwaves. This is definitely the most unusual breathing techniques that I have ever found to help you to naturally fall asleep and overcome any insomnia. Research says that if you practice this for at least five minutes continuously, the body’s nervous system will start to settle down. Most people don’t sleep because they are “overthinking the overthinking”, and are unable to unwind and relax with a busy mind.

These two techniques I hope will be enjoyable and useful for Zzzz…

I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max Kirsten

Max Kirsten guide to getting a perfect night’s sleep

 

Sleep Insomnia London

 

 

The Sleep Coach and Hypnotherapist explains how to sleep without counting sheep.

Anxiety and sleep are not great soulmates. This means that when we’re regularly confronted by a global climate of anxiety, as we are at the moment, increasing numbers of people start the day feeling exhausted.

I know this is happening because in recent months more of my clients have been seeking help for sleep problems.

It’s time to make some changes, not least because poor sleep damages our health – one consultation in ten with a doctor relates to sleep difficulties.

A recent five-year study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health indicated that people who suffer from anxiety as a result of stressful events can have disturbed sleep for at least six months afterwards. Feeling irritable and unable to concentrate, common symptoms of sleep deprivation, are unhelpful.

If you’re tempted to count sheep, take note of last year’s report by Oxford University scientists who found that imagining a relaxing scene is considerably more effective. But first I’d like you to take some practical steps to create an environment that will induce a relaxed state of mind.

  1. Make sure you’re tired

A child who has been running about will sleep better than one who has been playing computer games. The same is true for adults. Regular physical exercise counteracts depression and anxiety – as studies have shown – and helps you to sleep. You don’t have to work out – a brisk walk, some gardening, a swim or a bike ride are all beneficial. If you’re less mobile then do some gentle stretches.

  1. Create a sleeping room 

You need an atmosphere of peace and quiet. TVs and computers are not conducive to sleep: keep them out of the bedroom. You need curtains or blinds to make the room dark and it should be ventilated. If you have an uncomfortable mattress make changing it a priority.

  1. Dealing with worries

Don’t talk about your anxieties just before you go to bed. Do something relaxing instead, like reading, listening to soothing music or have a bath.

  1. Get up early

Set an earlier wake-up time on your alarm. Research has shown that consistently getting up half an hour earlier than usual helps to reset faulty sleep patterns.

  1. Things to avoid before bed 

Caffeine less than five hours before. More than a glass or two of wine. Nicotine – including patches and gum. The late news or any action, suspense or horror film.

10 things that stop a good night’s sleep

No one wants poor sleep, difficulty falling asleep, waking repeatedly in the night, or having chronic insomnia. If going to sleep has become something that you dread, here are 10 things to keep in mind and to practice before turning out the lights.

Work out your pre-sleep routine

Most of us enjoy getting ready for sleep. But, poor sleep preparation can lead to having a restless night.

So here are some things that you can do.  Research shows that taking a hot bath is very helpful.  In fact, it’s more effective at helping you to physically relax than even taking a shower. Feeling clean, with a hot body that cools slowly when you get into bed, is a wonderful feeling, and should help you to settle after a hard day of work.

Snuggly bedclothes, pyjamas, an old t-shirt or whatever else makes you feel comfortable (hey, you’re never to old for that favorite stuffed animal!) will also help.

If you are prone to cold feet (most older adults are), sleep socks (low-cut socks) are also a good option, keeping your feet warm during the night, without cutting off your blood’s circulation..

Uncomfortable bed and/or pillows

If your bed is uncomfortable – too soft, to hard, or just unsupportive – invest in a better bed.  Now you’re probably going, “Max!  Why would I throw my hard earned money at something I’m simply going to lie on, doing nothing for hours?” Well, the answer is that we spent half of our lives in our beds, recharging our batteries so we can perform to our best ability each and every day of our lives.  So if you can, you better treat yourself to a good one! It’s a health investment!

Find the right pillows. Not all pillows are the same, so find the ones that work for you – you’ll be glad that you did. Some people even like to travel with the right pillow as part of their ‘sleep religion’. Hotel bedrooms rarely feel as comfortable as your one at home (although they might smell fancier), so bringing a few supplies with you can make the difference between an ‘OK’ night and a great night’s sleep.

 

Too much light

Light can be really impairing when it comes to sleep. Whether it’s from street lights outside your window, or your blinds letting in morning light, light makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. A good pair of curtains or blinds that block out light is ideal. Even the light from your digital clock can make your sleep erratic.  Ideally switch electronic devices such as mobile phones off, or set to silent, some even have a sleep setting.

A disturbance, argument, unresolved issue, anger

Most of us know that having a disturbed mental state before bed will usually result in a poor night’s sleep. Techniques such as writing things down, list making, discussing it with someone, talking it through, all help to process the disturbance, event, argument, unresolvable issue, what have you. If none of this works, remember, tomorrow is another day.

Exercise just before bed

With the exception of bedroom love-making (of course) intense exercise such as a late-night gym session, can have a negative effect on sleeping.  This is due to your heart rate and metabolism being increased, making it harder to unwind in bed later. It is always better to do exercise in the day or early evening.

An uncomfortable or noisy environment

Noise is a big interference when it comes to sleep.  An old boiler, your neighbor’s dinner party, the student rave upstairs, a domestic argument in the street, doors slamming, floor boards creaking, traffic, ambulances, or just the noise of your partner snoring, can all stop you from obtaining that beautiful, well deserved, night’s sleep.  These noises are often even louder in the summer when the hot weather forces us to leave our windows open. Although not ideal for every night, I recommend having a good pair of earplugs (foam, silicone, wax earplugs, there are many different types) to help tune these sounds out and lock into a good night’s sleep. NOT all earplugs are the same, so shop around.

An irregular routine

Sleep research shows that most people benefit from keeping to a regular sleep routine. The body’s natural circadian rhythm responds best to regular day/night routines. Obviously if you are a shift worker, or an international traveller crossing time zones, your body’s natural clock will not be working as it wants to. Research also shows that most of us are getting less sleep than our predecessors.  This is probably due to all the extra stimuli, such as 24-hour TV, the Internet, computers and smart phones with blue light (read my blog on the matter here). Most of us could do with going to bed an hour earlier, and certainly our health would improve as a result.

Stimulants – coffee, alcohol, food, nicotine

Sleep is often impaired by stimulants such as coffee.   Most people should have their last cup 5 to 8 hours before hitting the pillow. Other caffeinated drinks such as tea, fizzy drinks, and even eating chocolate late at night (cocoa is a stimulant just like coffee) can also affect your sleep.  Certain foods, which are particularly rich and difficult to digest should be avoided altogether before bed. Many people are still surprised that alcohol, which may seem a good idea before bed, inevitably leads to waking in the night, dehydration and restlessness!

Finally, let’s not forget ‘ye’ old classic’: the cigarette. Nicotine is in fact a powerful stimulant so it can often reduce deep sleep quality (particularly if nicotine is absorbed without tobacco’s other ingredients). Now, we have nicotine with a twist – as it’s often now ‘vaped’ with the ever increasing use of e-cigs. As a result, nicotine is absorbed directly into the body in a much purer form, and often at a much higher dosage.  This makes sleep more difficult, and leaves the user exhausted, and un-refreshed after a night of crazy dreams in the morning. Much better to drink a little water, and eat healthy natural foods that are easy to digest, before jumping into the hay-sack.

 The wrong body temperature

A bedroom that is either too hot or too cold can make sleep less comfortable. Ideally the room and your bed should reach body temperature. Then, as you’re falling asleep, your bed should be cozily warm, and the air in your room slightly cool to the touch.

A busy mind

Of all the things that can stop you having a great night’s sleep, a busy mind can be the worst. Sleep is for sleeping. Of course, a little time preparing for sleep, and relaxing in bed to process the day’s thoughts is healthy. But, when you’re ready to sleep, letting go of daytime thoughts, and allowing yourself to relax and let go is key. Some of us, particularly the light or anxious insomniacs, need some help to learn how to get ‘out of the way’ of our sleep.

Seek help for sleep

As a certified sleep coach, and as a self-confessed fully recovered insomniac, I love to teach techniques, and practical tips that make falling asleep effortless and delicious.

However if you live far away, thanks to modern technology, you can now access and download my 2 sleep apps, the ‘ABC of better sleep’, and my ‘Insomnia cure’. Both of these contain wonderfully relaxing ambient recordings to drift off to…

I’m proud to say these hypnotic sleep audio programs have won a number of sleep awards!

You can find them on my website thesleepcoach.co.uk or on iTunes – search for Max Kirsten to find all my apps for the iPhone and iPad.

I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Max

It seems that living in the city improves your sleep

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It is hard to believe, but some new sleep research shows that many people who live in the city are getting a better night’s sleep than those who live in the wild countryside. It seems that the natural sounds of far away open spaces, the wonderful broken silence of a sleepy night by the dawn chorus at the end of a quiet twinkly starlit night, and all that fresh air, may not in fact be as good for overall sleep quality as we originally thought. Wendy Taylor, 46, who lives in rural Norfolk agreed that the countryside can be a very noisy place particularly at the break of dawn.

According to their sleep survey, urban Britain sleeps far better than those who live in rural areas and the soundest sleepers appear to live in London. The poll found that 38% of Londoners claimed to be unable to sleep for at least seven hours uninterrupted. Whereas 63% of people living around Nottingham were dissatisfied with their sleep followed by those living near Norwich, with 59% dissatisfaction, and Southampton with 50% sleep dissatisfaction. Who would have thought that the city dwellers would be leaving the way in quality Zzzz…

Apparently the early morning sound of distant cockerels, farming equipment and noisy birdsong were named as the main annoyances for those frustrated sleepers who live in the countryside.
Who would have thought that homes in cities, insulated from most street sounds, away from the fresh air and wild countryside, would be so conducive to more satisfying sleep than many dwellers living and sleeping in the countryside.

These findings contradict previous evidence about the effect and extent of emotional disruption and stress caused by living in cities. One study found that 39% of people living in an urban city environment had a 39% higher probability for mood disorders and 21% greater risk of anxiety disorders. Figures from the office of National statistics released last year also suggest that those living in the countryside were more likely to be happy, with residents of the Orkneys, West Somerset, East Devon and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland reporting the highest levels of life satisfaction.

It is a fact that sleep is vital to not only the way we feel, but also the way we function in our personal and professional lives .If you’re struggling with sleep, get into a natural routine by setting regular sleep and wake up times and remove any distractions like electronics or outside light. Best to avoid caffeine after about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, to take regular exercise (but not at night) and to have warm bath just before going to bed are all shown to improve the quality of sleep.

The research also showed that adults between 25 and 34 were found to have the greatest ability to rest, with 71% saying that they regularly got a good night’s sleep. By contrast, only 46% of the over-55’s said that they were satisfied with their sleep.

And it seems that there is some foundation to the cliché that women are more prone to lie awake at night thinking than men. Just over a third of men said they were unhappy with their sleep compared to 46% of women. It seems that men sleep sounder than women, and most women will agree that their partner usually falls asleep almost as soon as their head hits the pillow.

However, if you are one of those who finds that sleep is difficult in a city, or living in the countryside there are many things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep without succumbing to the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Understanding that sleep hygiene and powerful relaxation techniques, and there are many which combined with sleep routines can have a phenomenally improving effect increasing the restorative effects of natural sleep. I teach the ABC of better sleep at my clinic or you can download my iPhone iPad apps or MP3 sleep programs at http://www.maxkirsten.com/bettersleep/
I wish you a great night sleep, every night!
Zzz…
Max Kirsten

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Boosting your Melatonin hormone levels for better sleep

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The pattern of waking during the day when it is light and sleeping at night when it is dark is a natural part of human life. Only recently have scientists begun to understand the alternating cycle of sleep and waking and how it is related to daylight and darkness.

A key factor in how human sleep is regulated is exposure to light or to darkness. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the retina in the eye to an area in the brain. There a special center that initiates signals to other parts of the brain that control the key sleep hormone called melatonin, but also body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or wide awake.

If you are finding it difficult to achieve good sleep it may well be because of the fact that, as we age, our bodies seem to produce less and less amounts of this sleep hormone called melatonin (which is created in the pineal gland located in the front of the brain), or because your natural circadian body clock’s rhythm has been disturbed by either jet lag from travelling across international time zones, or you may be a shift or night worker and therefore probably not getting enough natural sunlight which also contributes to intermittent sleep problems, reduced melatonin also increases the risk of long-term health problems like cancer etc.

In the US and other parts of the world outside the EU, it’s possible to buy melatonin over the counter as a food supplement, although it’s important to note that the synthetic form of melatonin seems to work far less well than the completely natural form.

However in Europe, particularly the UK, unless you have a prescription from your doctor, it’s illegal to be able buy melatonin ‘over-the-counter’ in the chemists or health food shops unlike in the US.

However this need not be a problem. There are in fact completely natural ways of boosting your levels of melatonin production naturally. There are a number of melatonin boosting fruits and foods. Top of the fruit list is the pineapple. Amazingly researchers have found that pineapples boost melatonin by 266% and next at the top of the list are bananas that boosts melatonin by 180%, followed by oranges that increase melatonin by approximately 47%. Other foods that boost melatonin are oats, sweetcorn, tomatoes, rice and barley.

So not only can you boost your melatonin by adding these fruits and food elements to your daily diet, but you can also improve melatonin production by getting enough natural sunlight in the daytime and then by also reducing screen time from the use of computers, iPads and mobiles that emanate ‘blue light’ which interferes with the production of melatonin late night by fooling.

And when you go to bed is important of course that you have darkness, ideally complete darkness which also helps to encourage the natural production of melatonin in the pineal gland in the brain. So if your blinds let into much light, either replace them and or use a sleep mask to achieve real darkness.

It is also important to consider the fact that some prescription drugs inhibit the production of melatonin, these include beta-blockers, anti-anxiety drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and some SSRI antidepressants. If you are taking one of these medications I recommend you avoid taking them in the hours just before you go to bed if possible.

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.
Zzzz…
Max Kirsten

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Practical Sleep Tips for Achieving Better Sleep

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This week I thought I would try to solve some of the practical sleep tips for achieving better sleep, because some of the most recent research into the nations sleep habits shows that 45% of us are sleeping for less than six hours (which is not good). Ideally most people need between 7-9 hours sleep (although as we age though we begin to need less as our bodies produce less and less melatonin. I will cover all the issues of hormone Melatonin in a later blog).

One of the simplest things that we can do to improve the quality of our sleep is to eat and drink the right things at the right times of the day.

So firstly:

the last meal of the day should be ideally eaten at least two hours before bed, this make the digestion process easier for the body.  So make it a rule to always try to eat dinner early, and avoid heavy rich foods, spicy and acidic foods that can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. A light salad, perhaps and some chicken or steamed fish is ideal. If you are vegetarian then eat a salad more nuts, super foods and pulses etc….

Second:

for those who drink alcohol, whenever possible, avoid drinking several hours before bed. It may help you to fall asleep BUT it is more likely to wake you up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated.

Third:

begin to reduce your intake of caffeine 6-8 hours before bed time. This can be anything from coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks. Caffeine is both a stimulant and a diuretic (which means that it encourages the body to flush out water from the body) causing both dehydration and extra unwanted trips to the toilet in the early hours of the morning. I also recommend reducing the amount of fluids water, juice, tea etc’s before bed time.

Fourth:

if you haven’t quit smoking already for all the usual worrying health reasons, I recommend that all insomniacs quit nicotine as soon as possible to improve the quality of their sleep. Get rid of those e-cigs! Nicotine is a stimulant (not a relaxant) causing the heart to beat faster, and if you are still smoking real tobacco –  the carbon monoxide in the smoke makes the smoker’s sleep very heavy, and feel very un-refreshing in the morning. Get free of smoking tobacco ASAP. It’s hazardous to the quality of your sleep.

Fifth:

taking regular exercise is proven to improve the quality of your sleep. Taking breaks at work, 5 – 10 minutes or even longer can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. And the more bright natural sunlight that you get on your face in the daytime the more balance your natural regulation of melatonin will be in the night time.

Although exercise in the evenings before bed can in fact have a negative effect. The increased heart rate and metabolic rate before bed can make it harder for the body to wind down before sleep. The only exercise should be taking the evenings is relaxing, perhaps with some yoga or stretching or deep some breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.

Before bed, if you’re still hungry, eating either chicken or turkey, or a bowl of whole grain cereal, or granola with low-fat milk or yoghurt, or eating a banana, or avocado helps to improve levels of the neurotransmitter Tryptophan which combined with any simple carbohydrates seems to allow for better sleep.

Above all- after creating the best environment to sleep, consuming the best foods for sleep, the most important thing about sleep is to never try to sleep. Sleep should be natural effortless and easy. Learning how to get away from the washing machine of the mind is simply annex size inputting your attention elsewhere. I recommend learning how to relax and let go… I teach the ABC of Better Sleep technique. I teach how to get out of the way so that sleep just… slowly creeps up on you without your even noticing its arrival.

As always, I wish you a great night’s sleep.

Zzzz…

Max Kirsten

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