How to deal with insomnia. Perfect day schedule

Chronologist Michael Breus believes that every action – whether it’s taking medication, eating, chatting or sleeping – has its own time. In other words, everyone has their own biorhythms, and ignoring this fact leads to big problems.

In Always On Time, Breus divides people into different chronotypes. His theory is more complex than the theory of “owls, pigeons and larks.” For example, he calls those who suffer from insomnia Dolphins. How do they deal with shallow sleep? Should I sleep during the day? When to drink coffee, eat and have sex? These and other questions are answered by a detailed daily routine that Breus created specifically for those suffering from insomnia.

Why Dolphins?

In these animals, the cerebral hemispheres sleep alternately (such a dream is called one-hemispheric sleep). One half of the brain is awake, keeping the animal afloat and controlling the appearance of predators.

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“This name is ideal for insomniacs and intellectuals with neuroticism with shallow sleep and low sleep cravings,” writes Breus.

What a dream Dolphins have

People with the Dolphin chronotype do not sleep deeply, they are easily awakened by the slightest sound and anxiety. They have a low urge to sleep and often wake up at night, which can cause anxiety-related insomnia.

At night, the Dolphins go through the mistakes they made, the wrong words they said and ponder how to fix everything, what to expect from the future and how to achieve at least something with so little rest. When Dolphins fall asleep, they do not fall deeply into sleep, but rather slide along its surface and, as a rule, cannot say for sure whether they slept at all or not.

Is it about you?

Dolphins usually wake up tired and stay in this state until late in the evening, when their health improves dramatically.

People with the Dolphin chronotype do not sleep deeply, they are easily awakened by the slightest sound and anxiety.
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Maximum activity: Late night.

Maximum productivity: in the afternoon, for short periods.

Daytime sleep: try to take a nap to catch up at night, but they rarely succeed.

Two rules

If you are a Dolphin and want to improve your sleep, follow two simple rules:

  • Get active in the morning to be more productive.
  • Reduce anxiety in the evening for a more effective night’s rest.

And now in more detail …

The timetable below is based on an ideal world. But in real life, not all situations can be controlled, which means that they can adhere to the schedule exactly. This is fine.

All or nothing is the wrong approach. Any changes will improve your health.

Perfect day schedule

6.30. Get up and move. Your blood pressure, body temperature, and cortisol levels are low, and you need physical activity to raise them. Most likely, this is the last thing you would like to do in a state of sleepy inertia with a clouded mind upon awakening. But do it anyway. Breus recommends that patients roll straight out of bed onto the floor and do a hundred abdominal crunches. Then roll over and push up twenty times. In the first five minutes of your day, you will cheer up, forget about fatigue and feel a surge of energy.

7.20-9.00. Take a cool shower to stay awake and eat a protein-rich breakfast. After a cardio workout, you will have to freshen up in any case. This is the right moment for a little meditation: while standing under water, do not think about anything for a minute. This will bring you back to the here and now state and focus. Drink a glass of room temperature water before breakfast. After a night’s sleep, everyone is dehydrated, especially the Dolphins, whose metabolism remains active even at this time of day.

You may be tempted to eat a sweet bun or sugar-laden cereal, but morning is not the right time to eat carbs. They promote the production of serotonin, the “calm hormone,” and that’s not what your hormones need. It is better to have breakfast with food rich in proteins. For example, scrambled eggs.

9.30-12.00. If you decide to resort to coffee, then drink only one cup. Two cups make you nervous (but if you are addicted to caffeine, you shouldn’t jump to one cup too quickly).

If you decide to resort to coffee, then drink only one cup.  Two cups make you nervous
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Since you are not yet ready for action, it is best not to focus on anything. Try using your morning to brainstorm. Let thoughts wander and bump into brilliant ideas. With a little fatigue, your hyperactive inventive mind is tuned in to what it does best – to establish relationships between facts, no matter how fragmented and incompatible they may seem.

If you like keeping a journal or writing down ideas, this is the perfect moment. Many Dolphins do this at night, trying to sleep.

But it is much better to do it in the morning or at any other time, but not at night.

12.00-13.00… Eat something! Dolphins are generally lean and slender. They are not dieters or gourmets, they eat in order to live, and sometimes they just do not feel like eating or they forget to do it, especially when they get carried away with something. Set a reminder on your phone and have lunch every day at 13.00. Nutrients – a third of carbohydrates, a third of protein, and a third of fats – will energize your body and brain and keep hyperexcitation at a stable level. Don’t forget about water. If you already drank coffee today, you should not do it a second time. An excess of caffeine will not invigorate, but will only add nervousness, reduce appetite and prevent you from falling asleep at night (yes, even many hours later).

13.00-16.00. Cheer up. Do not sleep! Sleep during the day reduces the need for sleep, and it will be more difficult to fall asleep in the evening, which is already a problem. In your case, sleeping during the day means harming yourself. Exercise can help cope with sleepiness. Just walk around the block, office, walk anywhere, but best of all on the street.

16.00-18.00. Logic and intelligence are ready for intense stress. If your morning brainstorming session, when you were in an unproductive state after waking up, suggested an idea, now is the time to tackle it in earnest.

18.00-19.00… Retire. Set aside time after work to strategically reduce activity: 15-30 minutes to calm down and slow down. As night falls and cortisol levels rise, your overactive mind will gradually increase your anxiety. Starting the evening with solitude and peace will prevent or reduce this hormonal and emotional response.

18.30–20.00… Have dinner. Now is the time for carbohydrates. Skinny Dolphins do not need diets. Eat a large plate of mac and cheese or baked potatoes. Such food is called soothing, and for good reason. Serotonin levels rise and cortisol levels fall, leaving the hyperexcited body and mind at rest.

Skinny Dolphins do not need diets.  Eat a large plate of mac and cheese or baked potatoes.
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20.00–20.30… Have sex. It’s a little weird to make love at eight in the evening, but sex in the afternoon and before bed is good for two reasons. It not only has a beneficial effect on the physical and emotional state by increasing oxytocin – a relaxing “love hormone”, but also helps to redefine the concept of “bed”.

You begin to perceive it as a place of pleasant pastime, not longing.

20.30-22.30… Take some time after dinner to relax. Channel your evening burst of energy into something useful that doesn’t require too much concentration. Watch TV with your family or go to the movies. Disassemble the dishes or do other household chores, but expect to finish at 10:30 pm.

22.30-23.30. Go to rest mode. If you feel like watching TV, turn down the brightness and make sure the screen is at least three meters away from your eyes. It is best to dim all the lights in your apartment to stimulate the production and release of melatonin.

You can take a hot shower or bath to lower the internal temperature. Talk to your family. Hug. Stretch lightly. What makes you deadly bored? This is what you need to do. And stay away from things that make your blood boil!

23.30. Go to bed. You shouldn’t go to bed earlier. Actually, after sex at 20.00 and before that time do not go to bed at all. Don’t sit in the bedroom and watch TV. Don’t read in bed. It should only be associated with sex and sleep.

In bed, count from 300 to one, subtracting three. If you don’t fall asleep in twenty minutes, sit in a chair in the dark for fifteen minutes, and then go back to bed and try again. Repeat the cycle “20 minutes under the covers, 15 minutes in the chair.” This is called stimulus control. The key is to prevent the anxiety of lying awake in bed. It may not work out right away, but in the end, anxiety and blood pressure will decrease as soon as you go to bed, and you can enjoy quality rest.

0.30-6.30.  This is your sleep time.
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0.30-6.30. This is your sleep time. If you follow your chronological rhythms, you will learn to fall asleep within half an hour after going to bed. This will not happen immediately (from a week to ten days, subject to regularity).

Change your perspective to short-term awakenings. They are quite expected – they are part of healthy sleep. If you consider them normal, then you will stop worrying or consider it a sleep disorder. Anxiety will decrease and periods of awakening will become shorter.

Tips for people with insomnia are based on Always On Time.

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