Well, this is it. Time to power down. You’ve just finished crushing the day and just like a high-performance race engine, you too, need to cool down. This is your time to relax and recharge, so you can prime yourself to enter deep sleep. Trouble sleeping or not, this is the most basic, yet essential period that will insure you come out of the gates running with the power you need to crush yet another day.
The National Center of Health Statistics reports the tripling of sleep aid prescriptions since the late 90’s. With up to 80% of the population impacted by transient insomnia, and 15% by chronic insomnia, there’s no doubt we’re facing a serious problem. Sleeping pills are given out like candy, coming with shopping list of side effects and ultimately masking the underlying issues.
Research from the University of California, San Diego, has shown that it’s not the number of hours of sleep you get that matters – it’s the quality of those hours. They looked at the sleep patterns of 1.1 million people over 6 years, tracking the amount of sleep each subject averaged compared to their longevity. The results?
- Sleeping as little as 5 hours per night can be better than 8.
- Insomnia is better for you, long term health wise than taking sleeping pills.
“You need to get 8 hours of sleep” is a complete myth and is totally wrong. It’s all in the quality of your sleep.
How Sleep Impacts You
- Increases athletic performance
- Improves hormone health
- Increases serotonin secretion
- Promotes skin health and a youthful appearance
- Increases healthy cell division (prevents cancer)
- Improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 50%
- Ability to gain new insight and solve complex problems by 20%
So if sleep is so important, how do I take control of my sleep and improve the quality of those precious ZZZ’s? That’s where biohacking comes in. Lets take a look at what a successful evening routine looks like…
Hacking Your Sleep Check List
- Starting 2 hours before bed, be sure to wind down the temperature. Generally, the cooler the better.
- Eliminate all blue light. Sorry to say, but yes that means your phone. In the morning we exposed ourselves to as much light as possible to jump start our biological clocks. (Read “The Morning Routine for Proven Success”.) If we don’t eliminate sources of light in the evening it counteracts our bodies natural release of melatonin. Our circadian rhythm gets all messed up and our body thinks it’s still day time – keeping us awake!
- Shut down all electronics. Out of sight, out of mind. You need to start winding down your brain into a relaxed state.
- In a journal or note pad, write down your to-do list for tomorrow and whatever else is on your mind. This will allow you to clear you mind so you’re not thinking about tomorrow while trying to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. This includes blocking the small lights on your electronics or just removing the devices all together. Putting small pieces of electrical tape over the LEDs works well. Blackout blinds are absolutely essential.
- Add plants to your bedroom. The more oxygen the better. My two recommendations are English ivy (NASA’s top air filtering plant) and Perennial Snake Plant. (releases oxygen nocturnally, rather than in the day).
- Be sure you’re well hydrated before bed but try not to drink anything 1 hour before you actually hit the sack. Waking up in the middle of the night is disruptive and sometimes it’s hard to get back to sleep. If you do wake up thirsty just don’t over-do it.
- Turn your phone on airplane mode. This will eliminate distractions and EMFs given off by the phone. This is surprisingly effective.
Tracking Your Sleep
There are many sleep tracking apps out there, but the problem is they’re not very accurate. The Oura ring is the slickest tracking device on the market which processes the biometrics needed to give you an accurate look at your sleep cycles. It’ll show you how much you were awake, in deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep. Giving you a very clear picture of what your sleep looks like. My only word of caution is to not completely rely on any sleep tracking system including the Oura ring to tell you whether or not your sleep was good. Listen to your body and how you feel. No sleep tracker is 100% accurate.
Prepare To Sleep Like a Bear
Living a well balanced life includes quality sleep. You can’t be happy, energetic and joyful without good quality sleep. So what are you waiting for? Grab some plants, turn down the temp, eliminate blue lights and transform your room into a bat cave.
Statistics reports the tripling of sleep aid: Chong, Yinong, et al. “Prescription Sleep Aid Use Among Adults: United States, 2005–2010.” National Centre for Health Statistics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Aug. 2013, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db127.htm.
Research from the University of California: Spurgeon, David. “People Who Sleep for Seven Hours a Night Live Longest.” PMC, US National Library of Medicine , 23 Feb. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1172056/.