A question from a friend. “I would like to improve my sleep. Are there any herbs you are taking?”
I’m still trying to figure that out. It is a work in progress. A journey of trial, error, and course correction. I am suspecting that quality of sleep is more about behavior and practices that ultimately affect our internal chemistry than what we are supplementally putting in our mouth to alter that chemistry. We really shouldn’t have to add something supplemental to our body to improve the quality of our sleep, but first, figure out what is going on in our immediate internal and external environment that is disturbing our sleep and then, make that correction. As I continue to grow in my knowledge about human physiology and disease pathology I am finding that our body’s own chemistry is what best determines how well we sleep; good or bad. Good chemistry leads to good sleep while bad chemistry results in bad sleep.
To me, it is abundantly clear that the way we are eating is ultimately determining or at least heavily influencing what kinds of bacterial populate our gut and ultimately determine our internal chemistry that affects our sleep. Whether it be related to our gut bacteria producing chemistry that overly stimulates us or by interfering with the signals that would normally tell us when to recline is irrelevant. Bad sleep is bad sleep and nobody needs that if they want to thrive.
And so it is because of these colonies of gut bacteria, yeast, fungi, virus, and archaea that we should be respecting that they also have a time and place to, in some sense, rule the roost we call ourselves. You see, we are not a simple single entity or intelligence but a whole host of intelligent activity that is called a holobiont.
“A holobiont is an assemblage of a host and the many other species living in or around it, which together form a discrete ecological unit, though there is controversy over this discreteness. The components of a holobiont are individual species or bionts, while the combined genome of all bionts is the hologenome.” –Wikipedia
All of these micro-organisms that live in, on, and about our being have rhythms that they follow regardless of when we decide as to the human part of the holobiont. They don’t change their waking and sleeping times simply because we want to work the night shift or be a commercial airline pilot that is constantly jogging across timezones in order to earn an income. They follow the equatorial sun and we should learn to follow their lead. If not, we may find that we will suffer because of their inability to function properly because of our shortsighted behaviors.
Regarding the times and amount of hours per day that we are putting our food into our bodies, we should be following the equatorial sun. 12 hours on and 12 hours off. We should only be letting food kiss our lips if it can first be kissed by the equatorial sun. That means only eating between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm. No matter what latitude one lives at. That in some sense, our body is beholden to a circadian rhythm, not only for sleep but also for eating.
I find that when I do this I sleep better. Give it a try for a couple of weeks and let me know what you think. I’m pretty sure it takes a couple of weeks because we ultimately have to allow time for our microbiome to shift in our gut to start properly synthesizing the right body chemistry as a result of this better practice.
Here’s to better sleep in both quality and quantity.