Recovering from adrenaline dominance is not possible without sleep, but sleep is nearly impossible when the fight-or-flight response is raging. That is why an all-hands-on-deck approach is required to get the ship sailing straight again. This means all Core 4 imbalances must be addressed at the same time. The sleep cycles and how sleep affects the brain were presented in the chapter Core 3, Lifestyle. Here, I want to offer some tips that may help sleep until the Core 4 are all back in balance.
- You are not a Night Owl - The brain clock synchronizes with the morning light and starts counting the hours we are awake. For most people, after being up for twelve hours, the brain begins to gently nudge us into a more relaxed state, so that soon we can go to sleep.456F If you tend to have more energy at night, it is because your entire body clock is out of rhythm from Core 4 imbalances. You need to create a new sleep schedule. Do everything listed below.
- Set a schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. The body benefits greatly from routine (it also needs variety, but that comes later, after your nutritional reserves have been built up). As stated earlier in the Balanced Body Plan, I recommend a twelve-hour daily cycle wherein the three meals of the day are eaten and exercise has taken place. I then said that sleep should be no later than three and a half hours after the last meal. This is to make sure there is plenty of stored glycogen in the muscles and liver to be used by the brain during sleep. Going to sleep four or more hours after eating will trigger an adrenaline surge during the night, disrupting the sleep and destabilizing blood sugar levels.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed - There are some people who can drink a pot of coffee and fall asleep a few minutes later. These folks have low dopamine levels and are stuck in chronic fight-or-flight. This is the primary topic of Part III – Adrenaline Dominance. For the rest of you, caffeine at dinner or before bed will keep adrenaline surges pumping resulting in significant negative effects on sleep.
- Relax before bed – try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine. Your body will start to come down and calm down when signaled to do so through daily habits.
- Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom. This is a big deal. Most people like to watch television right up until the moment they go to sleep. Some have the TV on every moment they’re home, perpetually playing in the background even with guests in the house. If this is you, deciding to shut off the brainless box will be liberating and empowering.
- Don’t lie in bed awake - If you can’t get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired. Sleep research is showing that going to bed tired and for the purpose of sleep (not watching TV or browsing social media) is a strong trigger for brain relaxation and sleep-hormone release. Many people never get tired because they never make their bodies tired during the day with exercise.
- Get Tired - Exercise is one of the greatest sleep aides if done properly and at the right time. I will explain what “properly” means in the next section, Restercise. The right time is usually later in the day, but not after 8 p.m. Just before dinner works well. Early morning workouts are often too excitatory and can spike adrenaline. There is also a shortage of stored glucose (glycogen), since it has been used for fuel all night. This makes it easy to over-exercise in the morning and again, spike adrenaline.
- Count your blessings - So many people can’t stop their minds from thinking about the day’s activities. Think instead about all the good things in your life—what you have, who you know, who you love, and who loves you, etc. Often the worries of tomorrow fade away when we remember the blessings of today.
- Practice tension release - As you are lying in bed, think about whatever area of your body is holding tension. Then, while concentrating on it, breath in slow and deep and when you exhale, imagine the tension leaving the tissues. Repeat these steps until the tension is gone. Now, do this for any other areas you discover. The mind has a powerful ability to remove pain and tension if we put it to proper use.