Tips for Better Sleep: Best Reading Light, Inexpensive Silk Curtains, and More

Monday’s post included a series of videos from a lecture by neurologist Stasha Gominak on vitamin D, sleep and healing.  This post is a continuation of that discussion.

Sleep is a subject I want to learn more about because I believe it is a critical aspects of our investigation. I know the lymphatic system is more active at night but I don’t understand why or how. I would also like to learn more about what the body is doing while it’s asleep.

In an attempt to fill this information gap, The Promise of Sleep by Dr. William Dement is next on my reading list.  If you have any other recommendations for informative resources on sleep, please let me know.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas I’ve come across recently for improving sleep quality. I’d love to hear your thoughts/suggestions in the comments below.

Improving Sleep with Supplements: From D to HTP

Dr. Gominak, of course, emphasizes the need for adequate vitamin D levels in her sleep patients.  She also mentions that a deficiency in B12 can cause problems with sleep, too.

Another supplement known to improve sleep is 5-HTP.  I first read about it in The Mood Cure by Julia Ross.  The book includes a resource kit for treating sleep problems and 5-HTP is the first treatment she recommends.  She says it cures a large portion of her patients and recommends it over the more common melatonin supplements.

Two of my close family members with sleep problems tried 5-HTP within the last few months.  They both said their sleep was immediately improved.

Adjusting Light for Better Sleep: Best Reading Light, Inexpensive Silk Curtains

Adjusting the light level in the evening before you go to bed also seems to have a dramatic effect on the hormones that regular sleep.  This sounds bogus at first, but it makes sense when you consider throughout human history, we didn’t have light bulbs or computer screens.  Our bodies are accustomed to sleep when it’s dark and be awake in the light.

There is a lot of research to support this which I won’t go into here, but it’s amazing how something as simple as dimming the lights or turning off the computer an hour earlier can effect the quality of your sleep.  It’s a free, no-risk treatment so it’s worth a try.

I remember a sleep expert recommending this LED book light on Oprah a while back.  It casts the majority of the light on the page instead of in your face, as common reading lights tend to do.

During our discussion of Lunaception, we talked about the theory that sleeping in total darkness can help regular your hormonal balance.  You could use duct tape and trash bags, but a friend at work highly recommends this company in India that specializes in silk curtains.  They have a black-out option and will custom make the curtains to fit your windows for a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere.

My friend has discerning taste and she loves how her curtains turned out.  We are going to order these for our bedroom.  I can’t wait to see how they look.

Do you struggle with sleep?  What are your best tips for improving sleep quality?


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Erin (Pretty In Primal) says:

Some other suggestions for better sleep:
Vitamin B-12 can really help improve sleep cycles and insomnia. Methylcobalamin lozenges are a good form.

Reducing blue light exposure at night is important for melatonin release. Most light bulbs are in the blue spectrum and this is the spectrum of daylight, so it fools the brain into thinking it’s earlier in the day than it really is. TV and computer screens are also a major source of blue light.
You can buy light bulbs with a warmer color spectrum so that you have less blue light exposure after dark. There is a free download called F.lux that will automatically tint your computer screen a peach color to reduce blue light. As for TV after dark, you could wear orange sunglasses while watching (this actually helps a lot!)

I now read by candle light in bed:) I’d recommend that over an LED book light because LEDs are very blue. Candle light will not interfere with sleep and it’s very soothing.

For an in-depth look at circadian rhythms, I recommend reading Dr. Jack Kruse’s latest blog post:

Jack is a neurosurgeon with a holistic bent who has been extensively researching the effects of light, temperature and seasonal changes on human metabolism, inflammation and the endocrine system. His work is fascinating and I’ve been really benefiting from his Leptin Rx and Cold Thermogenesis protocols.


Thanks, Erin! I’ve read Dr. Kruse’s blog before (perhaps on your recommendation?) and it’s such an inspiration. This particular post is fascinating. It’s amazing how complex the human body is. Can’t wait to read my sleep book to learn more!

The blue light info is much appreciated. Great tips, too!

So I was going to ask you about your experience with cold thermogenesis, but I decided to see if you wrote about it on your blog first. Then I saw your post about beauty products with totally distracted me and before I knew it, I was on amazon buying the eco dent tooth whitener you recommended (thanks for that, by the way). So…. what was my original question? Oh year, how is the cold thermogenesis going? Has it improved your sleep quality? I’m working on improving my fiance’s sleep. The full protocol sounds too complicated for me to recommend to him. Is there a simpler version?

Erin (Pretty In Primal) says:

Hey Melissa!
The cold thermogenesis (which I’ve been doing about a month now) is going really well. I do think my sleep has improved in that I’m a life-long night owl with a tendency for cortisol spikes (second winds) in the later evening. I now get super sleepy right around 9pm, which is amazing to me!

Other cold thermogenesis benefits I’ve experienced are: much softer skin (even on the non-submerged parts), my first non-painful period in ages (a huge miracle!), more frequent days with good energy, higher body temps and, best of all, loss of stubborn body fat- so far, an inch around my belly button and a 3/4 inch around my natural waist while only losing 3 lbs. I’ve been using Igloo ice pack sheets on these areas and it’s truly shrinking my waist without losing weight in areas that I don’t need to! I haven’t been working out, either!!

One thing to note: cold thermogenesis definitely can cause some detox symptoms, mostly of stored estrogen and toxins as they get released from fat cells. I had more PMS than usual and a giant zit in the middle of my forehead right before my period. Many people report loose stools and I did have some of that, too (but nothing severe.) For women, esp., I recommend using something to support the liver. I used castor oil packs and liver herbs.

The protocol is fairly flexible and works best on a lower carb diet. Some people use mostly ice packs, some do cold baths and some do cold air exposure if they live in cold climates. I think daily cold facial plunges (which stimulate the mammalian diving reflex in the brain) and a few cold baths/ice pack weekly might be enough to trigger changes.

PS- I’ve seeing some good results on my legs with the Bellabaci cups. It took at least a month, but the dimpling is a lot less and between the cups and the cold thermogenesis, I feel like I finally have a shot at looking decent in a swimsuit;-)


That’s awesome news, Erin! I’m glad to hear the Bellabaci cups are working for you. I haven’t received one negative review about them so far. Everyone seems to be pretty happy with them. It’s amazing.

Thanks for the info about the cold thermogenesis. It doesn’t sound nearly as complicated when you explain it! Do you use a temp to measure the bath/facial water or does anything in the “cold” category work. Also, does it matter what time of day you do it? I’m really intrigued by this. We all know about the healing benefits of heat, and it’s always interesting to me when a hidden opposite like this comes to light.

Erin (Pretty In Primal) says:

I do measure my bath water. I’ve been using a meat thermometer, which gets a quick reading.
Ideally, the water be 50-55º but mine has been in the 58-62º range and I think I need to start adding ice, since it’s not feeling as cold. But, I still got benefits due to the overall thermal exchange that happens in colder water. I leave my hands and feet out of the water, as they get too cold (some people use neoprene aqua socks) and I only submerge from the ribcage down. I don’t want my boobs to shrink because I don’t have a lot to spare, and so far, they’ve maintained their size:)

As far as the best time of day, it’s pretty flexible but Dr. Kruse does recommend doing it after a meal rich in omega 3 fat and protein and not on an empty stomach. Some people love to do it at night because it makes them sleepy and others report too much energy to sleep if they do it in the evening.
I usually end up doing mine after lunch and then walking or working out after because it radically increases muscle power, so you have an easier workout! I really haven’t been working out much other than walking, but the times I’ve done pushups or kettlebells after soaking or icing, I notice such a difference in how many reps I can do! People who have been working out have reported much faster muscle development.

PS- omega 3/6 ratio is important during cold thermogenesis. The more omega 3 fats we have in our cell membranes, the better we cold adapt and the better our circulation will be during submersion. Some people experience circulation problems and/or have a hard time warming up after. This is usually due to their O3/O6 ratio being off.
I made sure to up my intake of cod liver oil and fatty fish when I started doing it.


First off, you’re kidding about the boob shrinkage, right? Just checking. 🙂

This is great info, Erin. Thanks again! I’m curious to try this. I remember reading about these ice pack shorts that are supposed to help get rid of cellulite (I forget what they were called). I was intrigued but doubted they would really make a difference so it was not one of the treatments I pursued. I like the idea that this is something you can do in your own bathtub, and Dr. Kruse is a respectable source. Another question for you: how long do you have to stay in the cold water? I am coldphobic (can barely take a cold spritz in the shower!) so this will have a direct effect on whether or not I think I can handle CT. Fingers crossed it’s only a quick plunge!! …

Erin (Pretty In Primal) says:

Not kidding on the boob shrinkage, LOL! Whatever parts you submerge, WILL start to lose some fat! The white adipose tissue (a.k.a. flab) cells dump fatty acids and toxins during cold exposure. If the exposure is cold enough, they actually die (this is how Zeltiq works).

I usually stay in the tub about 30 min or up to 45 min. I’m actually more cold once I’m out of the tub! Again, I don’t put my feet/hands in (yet!) You do have to work up to it. Most people start with the face plunges and ice packs on problem areas and then start cool baths and work up to colder baths.

Dr. Kruse would say that the reason we hate being cold is because we’re not cold adapted due to our artificially warm environment year round (as well as eating out of sync with seasonal cycles). We wouldn’t feel nearly as cold if we were adapted to it;)
Since becoming “cold adapted”, my body is running a lot warmer these days- I was always a cold person. I can’t sleep with as many covers anymore and I find myself able to take a walk in 55º weather in a tee shirt. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s not miserable anymore and I don’t find myself dreading cold temps like I used to.


Oh no, you lost me at 30-45 minutes! I’m not too concerned with fat loss (just cellulite) so I don’t have the motivation I would need to go to this extreme. I like the detox aspect of it, but after reading your comment, I just decided to try the opposite route first: saunas! They are much more appealing to me than cold water baths! Please do keep us updated though on your progress with CT, especially in the cellulite department. I’m eager to learn more about it, but not brave enough to try it myself!

Erin (Pretty In Primal) says:

I’ll keep you updated!
For me, the main reasons for doing cold thermogenesis is spot fat reduction, inflammation control (I have an autoimmune disease), amazing exercise recovery/faster muscle development and overall health/improved immune function. I find them extremely detoxifying, too!
Even quick cold showers have a ton of benefits (Katharine Hepburn took cold showers daily and loved swimming in cold water). There is also a cold sitz bath version that you do for 10-20 min. that would still have a lot of the same benefits:

My legs are starting to look really toned and I have hope that I can finally be proud of them!


Thanks for the link, Erin! I just downloaded the first two chapters of the book. This is much more my speed. Because of our conversation (and an article about hydrotherapy someone posted on the CI Facebook page), I started swimming in my cold pool in between dips in the hot tub. It feels so refreshing, like a mountain spring. It’s encouraging that you are seeing a difference in your legs! How long did it take before you started noticing changes?

Teresea Carson, LMP says:

Kava Kava. Induces physical and mental relaxation. Acts as a diuretic, genitourinary antiseptic, and gastrointenstinal tonic. Relieves muscle spasms and eases pain. Helpful for anxiety and anxiety disorders, insomnia, stress-related disorders, menopausal symptoms, and urinary tract infections. CAUTION: Can cause drowsiness. If this occurs, discontinue use or reduce the dosage. Should not be combined with alcohol. Not recommended for persons under the age of 18, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or individuals who suffer from depression or take certain prescription drugs, especially antianxiety drugs. (Source: Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch and Balch).

I LOVE this herb. I take a capsule right before bedtime and melts away any stress, tension or anxiety to help me fall asleep. When I first started taking kava, the drowsiness was intense and almost immediate. But I now can take it every night with just enough relaxation properties so as not to render me useless.


Thanks, Teresea! Is it mainly used for people who have difficulty falling asleep? Or will it also reduce interruptions in sleep throughout the night?

Sessie says:

Our bedroom has sheers & dark red curtains, it gets really dark at night.
My partner and I keep our own blankets so that we can toss and turn without waking the other one up.

I wear plenty of clothing & socks to stay warm all night.

We our WiFi signal automatically turns off at 11pm every night (until 5am)

We turn our cell phone signal off at bed time.

If I really want to fall asleep and I don’t feel sleepy, I’ll take tri-salts (cal/mag/potassium powder) or a cal-mag formula. That always works.


Interesting about the WiFi signal. What resources do you recommend for learning more about that? Also, how did you program your WiFi signal? Do you simply use a timer on the outlet or is there a better way? We make a point not to have electronics in the bedroom. It feels so much calmer.

Soli @ I Believe in Butter says:

I’m sorry to be getting to this post a few days after it would have been handy. My sleep hasn’t been great recently, plus I had a relapse of the fatigue I was dealing with last fall. This week my goal has been to get at least seven hours of sleep each night and I did. One thing I take to help is melatonin. Vitamin B6. It’s supposed to help with the sleep, and certainly does for me. This time of year is also difficult for me sleep-wise, because the transitions into spring and fall always mess up my rhythms. Summer, no problem, I need less sleep then. Winter, again no problem, since I want to hibernate.


On the upside, it’s probably a good thing that your body is so in tune with the seasons. I never stopped to notice if my body needs more sleep in the summer or when I’ve lived in tropical climates. I just recently realized why I slept for such long hours when I was in Scotland. My body naturally slept for nine solid hours a night and I woke up feeling like I was on a different planet.

Have you tried 5-HTP? In The Mood Cure, she recommends it in place of melatonin (5-HTP is the building block for melatonin).

Soli @ I Believe in Butter says:

I took 5-HTP for many years to help with my depression issues, and just took myself off it last December. Had read that taking it for too long (and oh yes I did for many years) it can lead to the brain not able to produce the amino acids for itself. There has not been much change in my sleep issues with its removal, and thankfully am managing just fine with the depression issues

I really want to read The Mood Cure, because I am sure there are other amino acids I can use in the short term to help out.


Yes, it’s THE book to read as far as I’m concerned for that sort of thing. She takes depression and divides it into different types of depression (anxious feeling, listless feeling, etc) and then talks about specific amino acids for each type. There is a questionnaire that helps you figure out which type(s) is relevant for you. The book is very practical, with detailed instructions for the treatments and several “resource kits” for specific problems (i.e. sleep issues, hormonal imbalance). She does advise that you don’t have to use amino acid supplements for a long time. I came away with the impression that you would only need them for a few months until the body is rebalanced.

Maria says:

Has anyone tried hypoxi treining?


Hi, Maria. One of my fellow cellulite investigators had good things to say about it. You can read her comment here. Have you tried it or are you thinking of trying it?


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