Conquering sleep!

Conquering sleep!

How to get a good restful sleep? In general, the causes are sought everywhere, except in one’s general and dietary habits. So here is an essential vademecum in order to ensure a good sleep, especially if, for needs that are anything but pleasant, you are forced to stay awake at night ..

Conquering sleep!

Sweet sleep .. (maybe)

REM sleep is, for many people, regardless of age, sex and social class, a real mirage. The Italians who regularly spend sleepless nights are estimated to be over 20% of the population while in America 50%.

Insomnia is more and more frequent, especially in young people who, by leading a totally unregulated life, perfectly prepare the ground to undermine their health in the best possible way. “I sleep all night” someone will think. But, are you really convinced that closing your eyes is equivalent to having a high quality sleep? Personally I don’t like statistics very much but the International Classification For Sleep Disorder gives us some alarming data. 

If you wake up in the morning and take time to get going, then it means that something is wrong during the night. Naturally, the “black list” also includes professionals who, for reasons that are anything but funny, must necessarily stay up at night, medical staff, police officers, etc. .. cannot choose to go to rest when they want.

In this article I will also explain what to do if you are forced, for work or for pleasure, to stay awake at night.

Insomnia, the function of drugs

The first consideration is that sleeping is a complex process and there are no pills or drugs that allow you to sleep, they allow you to close your eyes, of course, but as I said before, true sleep is something else.

Sleep consists of four phases: Alpha, Beta, Non-REM and REM and, especially in these last two phases, it is not recommended to get up. Personally I do not recommend waking up before 04.00.

Drugs, such as benzodiazepines and imidazopyrine derivatives, have the particularity of creating, like all psychotropic substances (natural, vegetable or synthetic), a “cumulation” effect. In a nutshell, it happens that within a few doses, the brain realizes the drug invasion and, therefore, reacts by ordering the liver to inhibit it.

The more an active substance is taken on the brain, therefore, the less it works, often to the point of being rendered ineffective in any dose . Another very negative effect of these drugs, as well as drugs, is toxicity. When the active substances are single molecules, they have the particularity of being “concentrated” and therefore do not respect the metabolism, creating imbalances; memory, concentration, sex and, consequently, removing them often becomes very difficult.

Even more important, in synthetic sleeping pills, is the fact that they cause dreamless sleep , which lacks the fundamental part of catharsis . These drugs induce sleep by increasing phase 2, which is not a “dream” phase, and therefore work on deepening sleep, but not on its dream implementation (which is in phases three and four: non-rem and rem) .

The ultimate effect of sleeping pills is to inhibit the non-rem and rem phases, canceling the moments of near awakening that we have several times every night. These moments can cause insomnia, but they are also the only ones in which we are allowed to react to an alarm : canceling them, therefore, can be risky. And, of this, there is no trace on the package leaflets. 

From the above it is therefore clear why it is better not to take hypnotics. Yet sometimes they are needed and necessary, especially in the short term (two to four weeks). However, it is necessary to take them ONLY on the recommendation and under continuous supervision of the specialist doctor, do-it-yourself is particularly dangerous.

There are also classes of drugs which, although marketed for other therapeutic effects, have somniferous properties. Anti-nausea and anti-kinetosics have a strong and particular effect on type 1 insomnia (sleep delay). Desclorfeniramina, one of the most common preparations still today, has even revealed an antidepressant action, so much so that it has become the progenitor of a whole series of tricyclic drugs.

Finally, it should be remembered that antidepressants, contrary to what one might think, have a direct effect of dream stimulation and would therefore be excellent solutions for sleeping while dreaming . However, they also have very strong consequences on metabolism and primarily on hunger: they make you fat, permanently modify your mood and have a series of side effects, more or less harmful depending on their chemical structure. The same can be said of lithium which, despite being a mineral, has shown a greater antidepressant effect than many complex drugs . 

REM sleep

So, basically, taking psychotropic drugs you close your eyes, but you don’t produce real REM sleep. In fact, whoever stimulates real REM sleep in the morning wakes up mentally clear and refreshed .

REM sleep is necessary for the brain as it is the only method it has to cleanse itself of the waste produced (consider that the brain consumes a quarter of all the energy available in the human body). Without REM sleep it is impossible for the brain to carry out its recovery operations through the Cephalus-Rachidian fluid .

Rules for good sleep

For the achievement and maintenance of “good sleep” there are some rules that must be followed as carefully as possible. The first rule is: never have dinner after 20.00 .

If you come home late it is better to skip dinner rather than tiring and busy your organism until late, consider that: by having dinner at 21.00 you would finish the whole digestive process no earlier than 02.00 at night and, in that phase, your brain, your liver and many other organs, must necessarily perform other functions. 

I remember with what bewildered expression my mentor, Dr. Paolo Speciani, when I discovered that, due to a delay at work, I had dinner at 22.00. I was electrocuted with four words and then explained to me why you should never, ever eat after a certain time and, of course, wait at least three hours before going to sleep . 

Having high levels of histamine makes you awake, active, unstoppable. So what are the rules for a proper dinner? Let’s say that for a perfect dinner you can prepare the classic minestrone(vegetables allowed to your immune system without adding rice or pasta-bread) and consume turkey meat, fresh cod, or some foods listed below and avoid certain food combinations (which we will discuss later).

In any case, unless you manage to have dinner by 8.00 pm, the classic diet of the beggar, with little lunch and no dinner, is the most suitable.
Always remember that there is a close correlation between brain function and intestinal function , the concept is by no means abstract, as the most present hormones in the brain are those of digestion. In fact, it is the VIP (Vasoactive intestinal peptide) that grants permission to sleep.

Changing sleep / wake rhythms not only change behavioral and / or eating habits, but also the habits of bacteria that are not always in the same place at the same time, but depending on the circadian cycles, their function and position vary.

For this phase to occur, histamine must not be in circulation: but where is histamine found? In food , for example, we count first

>  soy : legume very rich in histamine
> gluten-free pasta that is “held together” by Lupine flour (very rich in histamine)
> tomatoes
> sauerkraut
> spinach
> sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring Smoked and / or canned
fish> crustaceans and seafood,
fermented and aged cheeses
> vinegar,
> spirits, wine, beer,
> spirits,
> yeast, etc.

There are also foods that can release histamine directly in the body

> cocoa
> strawberry
> banana
> walnuts
> hazelnuts
> almonds
> cashews
> pork
> coffee, etc.

This is just a list of histamine-containing foods that will help you achieve REM sleep if you take care to avoid it.  

Insomnia, the preferred foods for dinner

> Meat (adapted to your immune system) fresh or frozen poultry deprived of visible fat;

> Fresh or frozen fish, such as cod, trout etc. Storing fish at low temperatures allows you to slow down the synthesis of bacterial histamine;

> Leafy vegetables (lettuce, chicory …) but also carrots, cauliflower, courgettes, cucumbers, broccoli, preferably fresh, raw or cooked. (except those indicated above);

> Raw extra virgin olive oil in the right quantity to season food.

As you will have understood, what you must not do is hinder REM sleep by crossing off all the foods containing histamine from your list and, with this guide, you can improve the quality of your sleep. A further chapter should be opened on physical activity and sleep quality, but I will address this correctly in another article. As a good rule, activities that require excessive physical effort should never be carried out after 18.00 . Remember that

The colonies of bacteria present in the intestine vary according to the time , they literally move along the canal during the arc of the circadian cycles, even the mucus inside the small intestine changes. For example, at night, it is much less.

I’ll give you an example: think of the market in your city which takes place regularly one day of the week from 07.00 to 13.00. The streets are closed, there are people and stalls. Imagine that, without any kind of warning, cars start to circulate freely. All of them would panic because all this is not foreseen. Similarly, if the merchants gathered without any kind of notice, for example, on Sunday at 16.00, there would be clutters and delays. The same way our gut works with our bacteria. If we eat at 22.00 we create a great confusion in our organism with very deleterious consequences in the long run.

If you are forced to work shifts, if you have to change the pace, do it for at least five to seven days, changing shifts every day is really stressful for your health but, in case you can’t choose, try never to have dinner after 20.00.
An old friend of mine who has just turned one hundred and six has three basic rules:

Get up at the same time every day,

Eat at the same time every day,

Go to sleep at the same time every day.

If you like, and you have difficulty sleeping, comment below this post and tell me how your food day is composed, always remember that there are no magic pills, the conquest of your health depends only on you!  

The only effective therapy is the short one .

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