When it comes to falling asleep FAST, the temperature of your extremities is key. And it just so happens that hot eyes, give you hot feet and hot feet, put you on the fast track to dreamland.
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Use a little biology to fall asleep faster
You KNOW sleep is a keystone of health, but you struggle to fall asleep. It is SO FRUSTRATING to climb into bed, ON TIME, caffeine “free” and then toss and turn, for what feels like FOREVER. Please help ?
Well, a team of researchers based in Japan have “heard” your plea and come up with an ingenious solution, based on biology.
WARNING : They’re hoping to hit it big with their little invention, but you can hack it at home.
Cool rooms and warm toes
It’s an established fact, that temperature impacts sleep.
And cool rules.
This is why on a hot summer night, sleep often does not come easy, while on a cold winter’s night, as long as your toes and things are not like blocks of ice, you tend to sleep better.
But if your toes are cold………………. EISH !
Falling asleep can feel IMPOSSIBLE.
The recipe for sleep
The sandman knows this, his recipe for falling asleep quickly involves a synchrony of hormones, with melatonin playing a starring role, environment and behaviour all coming together to puts the parasympathetic nervous system in the driver’s seat.
Step number one is to relax blood vessels.
And this is what the sandman and his team arrange. Blood vessels are relaxed all over the body. In the extremities this brings a flush of BLOOD….
It turns out the temperature of your extremities i.e. your fingers and toes, is the swing factor, when it comes to “FALLING ASLEEP”
It’s the DPG
The official name for the temperature of your bits and pieces, is your distal peripheral temperature. When this rises – you’re ON YOUR WAY to dreamland. In fact, it is seen as the best physiological marker for rapid onset of sleep. The term used to quantify this process is the distal proximal gradient or DPG for shot. It’s calculated by measuring the difference between your “core body” temperature and the temperature of your extremities.
Speeding this up is “the ticket” into dreamland…..
So how do you warm those toes and things ?
Bundling up on a winter’s night – definitely helps. Another way you can speed things up, is enjoying a hot bath, prior to bed.
NOTE : If going all in is not something you feel comfortable doing, a foot bath works just as well. Click here to learn more.
A hot drink, can also do this too. Having something warm to drink before bed, is a tradition that has been passed down through generations …………… it works. But, those hot beverages are typically full of sugar, so it’s not a strategy I would recommend if you’re metabolically challenged.
The hot causes vasodilation.
Eyeing another solution
The Japanese researchers have found another way to activate the DPG. There hack is to heat the region around your eyes, a little, just before bed……………
It doesn’t HURT, in fact, eyes LOVE it.
By heating the region around the eye, officially described as the periocular skin, the DPG is triggered.
How does it work ?
Well by definition…………. your head is an extremity. Lol. But there is probably more to it than that.
There are lots of nerves running around/through your head.
The team speculate there are thermosensors that connect from this region, directly to the brain.
At this stage, they don’t know, exactly which nerves/senses get their knickers in a knot, to do this, but they do know it works. It works if you do it in the daytime. And, it works particularly well if you do it at night.
Masking up to fall asleep faster
In this study, the team had 39 volunteers try out two sleep masks, each night for a week and then on the final night, using portable technology, they measured the quality of their sleep and skin temperatures.
On both occasions the sleepers used the fancy mask they had designed.
The disposable eye mask has an HSG sheet, embedded in it and when a chemical reaction, between oxygen/iron and water, is triggered the mask heats up. The temperature rises to 38°C within 5 minutes and this temperature is maintained for around 20 minutes.
But only on one occasion was the super power of the mask activated to warm the eye, and it made a difference…
Falling asleep faster
On average the participants fell a sleep quicker.
The effect is seen in people with both minor sleep difficulties as well as hard core insomniacs. For the record to get this diagnosis, the person’s sleep difficulties had to have persisted for more than 3 months.
On average, there were a few notable exceptions. It’s hard to say whether it just doesn’t help these individuals or whether something else was to blame. Blame it on the burrito ?
And we have a winner
On all sleep parameters tracked, the warm mask was superior. And when interviewed, most participants given a choice, preferred the heated mask.
But if you take a careful look at the data, you might notice that the non heated mask also improves DPG.
So there is a mask effect…..
One of the things wearing a mask to bed will do, is it will decrease exposure to ambient light, which will facilitate melatonin release. Remember, melatonin your night valet, is a bit of a whoos, even low levels of light keep him hiding away in the pineal gland.
Adding the heat, just kicks it up a notch.
Warming up to sleep
Warming your eyes is not a new thing…….
The use of warm eye compresses is on the list of things to do, to help manage dry eye syndrome.
So there are lots of paid options, but it’s easy to do it yourself at home . Here is a website which gives detailed explanations for two DIY options. One uses a basin, the other a microwave.
No matter which option you try, the most important thing to remember is ….warm NOT HOT.
Watch the temperature !
“Burning” the skin around your eyes will NOT be conducive to sleep.
How long should you apply it ?
20 minutes was the time used by the Japanese team – probably because this was how long their mask remained hot for.
It will be hard to achieve with a DIY option.
The DIY options will lose their warm after 10 minutes or so, but 10 minutes should be long enough to get the blood vessels surrounding the eye……….. DILATED.
And the DPG triggered.
Why not give it a try ?
Create your own sleep ritual to help you fall asleep faster :
so you jump the line and enter dreamland effortlessly. Better sleep will create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY. And help you lose weight ! Interested in discovering more biology based tips & strategies that will help you lose weight, that go beyond “Eating less & Moving more”. Enrol in The Zero-to-one E-course, it’s FREE. Click here to sign up.
Periocular skin warming elevates the distal skin temperature without affecting the proximal or core body temperature. Scientific Reports (2019) 9:5743. Tomohisa Ichiba, Masahiro Suzuki, Sayaka Aritake-Okada & Makoto Uchiyama
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