We need to sleep to be awake


Insomnia is for many a true enemy to defeat: anxieties and worries of the day often come back and haunt us at night, when we should put them aside and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

How to fight it? There are a few natural remedies as effective as sleeping pills, with no side effects, that can help you to fall asleep faster and above all to enjoy good quality sleep and health.


How important is good sleep?

Lack of sleep not only causes fatigue and irritability during the day, but also can contribute to many diseases, including:

  • Diabetes: studies have found an increased rate of 46% among those who sleep less than five hours per night
  • Obesity: increases by 55% in adults who sleep less than five hours and by 89% among children who sleep less than ten hours. In fact, the quality of sleep affects the production of leptin, a hormone linked to satiety, and ghrelin a hormone which is connected to the sense of hunger
  • Cardio-vascular disorders: lack of sleep creates inflammation, the initial stage of cardio-vascular diseases
  • Immune system disorders: resulting in autoimmune diseases or even allergies
  • Cognitive disorders and memory impairment: studies have shown a close link between brain aging and insomnia
  • Increased stress: sleep helps to inhibit the levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, in the blood.

What is sleep for?

When 80 years old, a human being will have slept about 26 years, more than 30% of his life! While we sleep we do not eat, we do not drink, we do not reproduce, we are vulnerable to attacks  Why then do we sleep?

Sleep is vital: it allows us to regulate emotions and process information, make sense of the countless experiences of the day, adjust the autonomic nervous system, strengthen the immune system and stimulate neurogenesis, beyond the countless physical body benefits such as muscles, tissues and cells regeneration.

It is therefore best not to procrastinate, and try to solve the problem of insomnia as soon as it manifests itself.

 A few hints to overcome insomnia

Sleeping pills do not provide a genuine sleep: in the long run they lead to a flattening of the various stages of sleep, and depress the central nervous system by stimulating the receptors of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits neuronal activity, as pointed out by Mehdi Tafti, co -Director of the research center on sleep in Lausanne, Switzerland. Sleeping pills may therefore cause, when awake, drowsiness and difficulty in concentration and memory.

However, there are several natural tricks,  to help you achieve a good sleep:

  1. Laugh! American journalist Norman Cousins in his Anatomy of an Illness[1] tells how only 10 minutes of laughter can lead to two hours of deep sleep.
  2. Avoid using technological equipment before going to sleep: the blue light of mobile phone screens, tablets, TV and computers inhibits the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone
  3. Limit coffee: caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, the hormone that makes us feel the urge of sleep. Eventually the body gets used to caffeine, and you fall asleep regularly. However, the most refreshing phase of deep sleep is disturbed and when you are awake you do not feel as if you have really rested.
  4. Before bed, drink a glass of water, it keeps you away from restless dreams
  5. If you cannot sleep, do not just stand in bed, but get up and do something, for example, a short walk: lying tossing and turning constantly can worsen the situation and your relationship with the bed.
  6. During the day have a short nap, if you have the opportunity. 15-20 minutes are enough, so as not to affect the regular sleep-wake cycle (circadian clock in adults).
  7. Try meditation, it has been shown as having a key role in regulating sleep patterns and its phases, in people who practice it regularly. Want to get started? Read these tips.
  8. Experience this simple exercise: hold your right nostril closed and breathe deeply for a few minutes only through the left nostril. Do it before bed, it will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, that part of the autonomic nervous system that is active when we are relaxed.
  9. Sleeping on one’s right side also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

[1] Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness

Alessia Tanzi – Giacomo Ciampoli