Tom Middleton is a pioneering electronic musician, DJ producer, sleep coach and creator of scientifically based music for health, wellness, motivation, concentration, relaxation and sleep. He is a functional music creator for Calm and Breathonics, a sleep scientist and certified in first aid for mental health. Watch as his Wanderlust TV debut with Richie Bostock celebrates World Sleep Day on Friday March 19, 2021.
Sleep is the cornerstone of mental, physical, and emotional health and wellbeing. We spend a third of our lives sleeping and it is an evolutionary adjustment to naturally reset the mind and allow our brain to recover, repair, and rebuild our bodies while strengthening the immune system. This is critical to peak performance.
The world is experiencing prolonged periods of chronic stress that lead to mental health problems, with increasing levels of anxiety, stress, burnout, depression, and sleep loss.
This is triggered by insecurity, scarcity, fear, separation, isolation, and worry.
It’s an evolutionary response to potential danger known as the fight or flight response, but many of us have been in this state since March.
The fight or flight response triggers the body to release cortisol and adrenaline, which increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. We can handle brief bursts of these hormones (eustress; such as exercise), but if they last longer then all of the negative side effects of that stress will occur. Even reading a headline can trigger this mechanism. As screen addiction increases, this is almost inevitable. We need simple self-care tips and techniques to reduce anxiety, calm, ground and relax, and help us sleep well.
1) Routine and ritual: Set regular wake-up and sleep times with reminders – aim for at least 7.5 hours. Each person has different sleep needs depending on their chronotype. Create your own relaxing ritual before bed. Try gentle yoga or meditation with candles or incense.
2) Daylight: Go outside for 20 minutes in daylight (no shade!) In the morning to reset the body clock.
3) Exercise: Take breaks from standing if you sit a lot. Likewise, it is unwise to exercise too close to bedtime.
4) Diet: Eat lightly at night, two to three hours before bed. Be aware that spiced foods can stimulate and energize. Magnesium and 5HTP can aid sleep. Aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
Caffeine: Avoid after noon as it takes 12 hours to leave the body and is the worst sleep disruptor.
Alcohol: Impairs the quality of sleep, blocks REM sleep for memory, mood and crucial emotional first aid.
5) Sleep environment: remove the technology and replace it with plants. The bedroom is intended for sleeping and intimacy, it is not an office, dining room or cinema!
6) Digital Detox / Dopamine Fast: The “blue light” on screens blocks melatonin. So, avoid scrolling, swiping, and reliance on toxic screens for at least an hour before bed.
7) Sleep kit: Buy an eye mask, earplugs to reduce noise (best made to measure) and nose strips. These can reduce snoring and help you get a deeper sleep. A tiny piece of stamp-sized surgical tape over their lips can train them to stay closed for optimal nasal breathing.
8) Light and Temperature: Avoid bright, white light that blocks melatonin. Red, orange, or soft lights are ideal. Set them to hide and turn off. Use low orange / red lights for the bathroom. Himalayan salt crystal lamps are a great option. Keep the room cool at around 18 degrees. Ventilate for 20 minutes or leave something open if necessary.
9) Empty Mind = Happy Mind: Avoid late night arguments, write down to symbolically “remove” negative thoughts and worries, and then throw them away. Then write down a to-do list. Then, focus on three things that you are grateful for and smile. This establishes you in the present moment as you are not thinking about the past or future.
10) Breath work: Try 4 x 4 box breathing or 4, 7, 8 breathing work patterns. Breathe in slowly through your nose, being aware that you are filling your stomach deeply, holding your breath, and then exhaling out of your mouth. If these are too complex, the key to bringing your awareness to your breath is deep, slow diaphragmatic nasal breathing and a longer exhalation. Breathing to slow relaxing music is an effective technique.
Tom Middleton is a pioneering electronic musician, DJ producer, sleep coach and creator of scientifically based music for health, wellness, motivation, concentration, relaxation and sleep.
He toured the world performing in front of millions of people over three decades to see the positive effects of sound. He has shared the stage with Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.
After a radical re-evaluation of his creative motivations, he has embarked on a new mission to bring the soundtrack back to life and positively promote our wellbeing.
Applying principles of neuroscience and psychology of sound, listening, and breathing to create meaningful, transformative soundscapes, music, and immersive experiences that aid with stress, anxiety, burnout, and sleep deprivation. Tom believes the science of sound can help us be happier, healthier, and more productive.
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