Yes, it's true that some people have a
mutation in a gene called DEC2 that allows
them to sleep very little, around six hours, and be healthy with no fatigue. 
There are even reports of "hypersomniacs" that do well on less than an hour a
night. But chances are, if you're reading this, you're not one of them and
you're tired and you need some way to get some more sleep. In fact, maybe
you read about how some extra sleep will boost your testosterone,
increase your libido and improve your erectile performance. Regardless of
your reason, I've
got a number of suggestions, mostly from the research, that show you how you can more easily
fall asleep and also improve the quality of your sleep while you're at it.
NOTE: If I don't say so myself, I have a great page that documents
Many Benefits of the Relaxation Response. It is simply one of the most
powerful things that you can do to increase your "maleness" or "manliness".
I know it's hard to believe, but you can improve your hormonal profiles,
increase memory and job performance and, obviously, improve sleep.
If you are a quasi-insomniac for some reason, try to get to the root of the issue
which is probably stress, anxiety and/or caffeine. In the meantime, you can rotate
through the these short term to get you back on track:
- Exercise. A 2009 study showed
that, on average, every hour that a child was sedentary added 3 additional
minutes required for them to fall asleep. 
Results for adults, at least with moderate exercise, have yielded excellent
results as well. 
Some researchers argue that there is no more safe and effective sleep aid than
good ol' fashioned exercise.
- Lose Weight. Being overweight is associated with a variety of sleeping
disorders and often dropping those pounds will help substantially.
Weight gain has been strongly associated with Apnea.
And one set of researchers wrote that "A weight gain of as little as 10% has
predicted a six-fold increase in the odds of developing moderate to severe
sleep-disordered breathing"  based
on the results of this study. 
- Melatonin. Melatonin has been
shown in numerous studies and a variety of populations/cohorts to help with
sleep.  I have friends, as perhaps to you, for whom melatonin has been a
life saver. But we should keep in mind that this is a hormone and should be
treated as such. If you are getting very poor quality or limited sleep, this is
probably whacking your testosterone, neurotransmitters, raising your stress
hormones and so on. So, in this case, Melatonin may be a godsend in the short
term to get your sleep rhythm back on track. Melatonin is now frequently sold in
doses less than a mg - 300 micrograms is now quite common - and most experts
recommend these lower doses, something I disucss in my link on Melatonin Therapy. Also, it is not
usually recommended in people under 45 at any dosage, simply because their dosages have not usually lowered enough due to aging.
Again, I have
a friend who was a quasi-insomniac: Melatonin gave her her life back.
But please read the following cautions as well:
CAUTION: There is also a study on quail that shows that Melatonin increases
GnIH which in turn will turn off GnRH. This is potentially bad for us
vertebrate males since GnRH effects Leutenizing Hormone and Follicle Stimulating
Hormone. However, Melatonin has been extensively studied and, as far as I know,
there is no correlation between lower testosterone and melatonin (except in
CAUTION 2: Melatonin is associated with lower seratonin levels. Of
course, if you are low on melatonin from caffeine usage, aging, etc., then a
small amount of melatonin may be beneficial. But this issue has not, as
far as I know, been extensively studied. (See NOTE on tasimelteon below.)
- Magnesium. Many people
are low on
Magnesium and this can cause sleep disturbances. If
you eat well, low magnesium is probably not an issue for you, but many people
swear by taking supplemental
Magnesium right before bed.
- Green Tea. CAUTION: Studies have shown that Green Tea, primarily through the action
of an unusual amino acid called L-Theanine, raises dopamine and seratonin levels
all the while inducing alpha (deep wave) activity in the brain. This
produces a calming effect, an almost "meditative" state of mind. In fact,
you will read on the web that some are even suggesting that green tea be taken to induce better quality
sleep. And it's true that caffeine does not seem to cause wakefulness in daily caffeine users
as a certain "tolerance" seems to be built up. But I know of no
study that shows that green tea or any other product taken right before bed
gives one better sleep. There is a Japanese study that shows that
L-Theanine taken before bed gives better quality sleep, but this is a far cry
from pumping your blood stream with a 100 mg of caffeince shortly before bed!
- Stretching. Stretching the major muscle groups
before sleep relaxes the entire body.
- Yoga. Regular yoga practitioners were found in one study were found, not
necessarily to fall asleep more easily, but to have improved "sleep
architecture".  As you age, your slow wave and REM cycles shorten and (male)
yoga practitioners showed significantly better results in this area. In
fact, in the case of slow wave sleep, yoga actually completely eliminated the
age related decline. (fyi: Vipassana meditation helped with REM cycle
maintenance but not slow wave preservation.) Slow wave sleep is the restorative,
non-REM part of your sleep and it has been found to be key to blood sugar
control.  Yoga has also been shown to increase nighttime melatonin levels, which
may explain its sleep-inducing powers as well. 
- Glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that the body can manufacture from other amino
acids or, alternatively, can be obtained through diet, mostly meats.
Several studies  have shown that 2 or 3 grams consumed before bedtime induces
deepened sleep. Glycine appears to be involved, for example, in
disconnecting the body from outside stimulus during sleep.
- Benadryl. Generic Benadryl is
cheap and will knock (most of) you out cold. If you're sensitive, it may even
leave you feeling groggy the next morning. This is NOT something I recommend
every night as any drug, no matter how safe, can be psychologically addictive.
CAUTION: These older style medications cross the blood-brain barrier and
decrease acetylcholine levels. (Acetylcholine is a key brain
neurotransmitter.) Studies have shown that repeated use can lead to mild cognitive
impairment.  Again, this is just to get your sleep cycle back on track.
- Lavender. Lavender has been shown in numerous
studies to be a mild sedative with no side effects. For example, the
prestigious journal Lancet (9/9/1995) published a preliminary study showing that
patients smelling Lavender had both longer and deeper sleep. Caution: Do
not apply lavender directly to the skin. You want to vaporize it or put it onto
the four corners of the mattress, etc.
- Socks. I know it sounds weird but Dutch researchers found that putting socks
on at night triggers much more restful sleep. Roy Raymann, lead researcher
of the study, wrote that "increases in the temperature of your feet signal neurons
in your brain that cause you to fall asleep". 
- Caffeine and Alchohol. Be
careful about these two. Common sense tells you, and your common sense would
be right, that too much caffeince (which is highly variable among individuals) can
keep the Z's away. Alchohol, on the other hand, will put you to sleep but
has been shown to lead to
poorer quality sleep.
- Intercourse. Intercourse, for reasons unknown, pumps out four times the
prolactin  as masturbation into your system, and prolactin is the "sleep
hormone", i.e. it results in drowsiness and likely improved REM sleep. 
Oxytocin is also released which lowers stress and can help the onset of sleep.
- Doxylamine. This antihistamine is just behind Benadryl is
sleep-inducing power. You'll find it many OOC nightime, "sleepytime"
preparations. Again, this is anticholinergic, so it's not something you
want to do all the time. However, every once in awhile can give you restful sleep.
CAUTION: Only use these short term. See Caution for Benadryl
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This technique, which involves
sequentially contracting and relaxing the major muscle groups, will put you out
like a rock. Again, this is a proven strategy to produce a classic relaxation
response and is also known for reducing cortisol as well. There are numerous sites
with excellent descriptions on how to do this - it is not hard - and it
produces solid results with minimal effort and time.
- Melatonin, Zinc and
Magnesium. A recent study found dramatic improvement in a group of senior
insomniacs through supplemental melatonin, zinc and magnesium.  The
researchers found that participants fell asleep faster, had higher quality of
sleep and felt better upon wakening. Not bad for taking three cheap
supplements each day! CAUTION: The actual daily dosages were 5 mg of
melatonin, 225 mg of magnesium and 11.25 mg of zinc. The dosage for melatonin
was relatively high and there are some concerns about copper depletion with
supplemental zinc. See my link on Zinc Cautions for more details.
Milk Peptides. These are widely used in Europe to improve sleep quality and,
according to several studies, can result in dramatically improved
cardiovascular and cognitive outcomes. For example, one study on men using
milk peptides found that sleep improvement was so profound that cortisol and
blood pressure rises from stress were significantly blunted.  For more
information, read this article from LEF.
Cortisol Manager. Anecdotally, this herbal-based product can
significantly help with many sleep-related issues. For exammple, I just
had a reader who struggled with insomnia write that melatonin helped him fall asleep
and Cortisol Manager
helped him stay asleep. The primary active ingredient is the ancient Ayurvedic herb
called ashwagandha. Ashwagandha alone can produce a relaxing effect, but a couple of
other herbal extracts are added along with a little phosphatidylserine (a proven cortisol
controlling compound) and L-Theanine. The company provided an in-house study and research
for those interested in reading more about it.
Meditation. It is no secret that meditation increases midnight melatonin
levels.  So a great, and very natural way to raise melatonin is simply
to meditate. The accompanying study specifically looked at TM
(Transcendental Meditation) but very likely works for anything that produces a
Relaxation Response. Other studies
have also indicated that meditation can increase melatonin levels in the long
term.  One study of Zen meditation documented its profound changes in brain
wave patterns. 
NOTE: There is a new drug, tasimelteon, supposedly with few side effects,
that is a melatonin agonist, i.e. a chemical that mimics melatonin. As of this
writing in October of 2009, it had successfully passed Phase III trials and
seems to have the "green light". Of course,
this begs the question: why not just take melatonin? I don't have a
good answer for that, except to say that some critics of the supplement industry
point out that melatonin supplements are not controlled and some tested samples
even contain the quantity of melatonin shown on the label. Personally, I do not
see this as much of an issue, especially if you are taking melatonin short term,
but my job is to inform.
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