Sleep is the secret sauce for optimal health.
Sleep is a priority. Neglect it, and you set yourself up for lots of trouble.
Sleep is the glue that holds our health together.Without it, your life isn’t in your control
So why do only a few people pay attention to sleep? Many people know full well enough rest will not only make you more productive. You will look younger, have better focus, more emotional resilience, more energy, happier, and so on.
We still see sleep as something optional. So what’s going on?
I think people don’t put much emphasis on sleep because there isn’t a sense of urgency. Sleep isn’t in the same department as food or drinking. We can perfectly get by with one lousy night. However, It doesn’t stay with one night. One night turns into many. Eventually, people develop sleep deprivation. Get used to the feeling of being tired. And find themselves one day wondering why they are always exhausted or moody.
For the record, sleep isn’t optional. The body needs sleep more than food. You can go for weeks without food. Humans can’t even go for ten days without sleep. After about ten days, things start to get nasty, and we die.
Wearing lousy sleep as a badge of honor wasn’t planted into our heads by ourselves. The lousy marketing around sleep comes from the people around us — more from society. Society isn’t particularly sleep-friendly. It’s all about working hard, play hard.
I can see this attitude in my environment. My parents are entrepreneurs who work day and night, giving my sisters and me the best life possible. But because they work so hard, their health suffers. My mother doesn’t experience the consequences yet. My stepfather, however, that’s a different story. He has insomnia. He is sleeping somewhere between and hours a night. Recently, he took a sleep test at the hospital, but I’m afraid nothing will change. Not until he faces the truth. The way he sets up his sleep.
Sleep suffers from a bad PR problem and desperately needs rebranding. . That’s why I’m here to spread the word: “Sleep is a superpower.” It influences everything in your body.
Sleep might not be sexy. Nevertheless, It is a necessary part of life. Just getting by won’t cut it. We need to stay in tune with our evolution. Here are five tips that helped me with building better sleep quality
5 Tips To Improve Your Sleep Quality
Tip 1: Get Sunlight first thing in the morning
It may seem counterintuitive that getting more sunlight during the day can help you get better sleep. But science has proven it.
Humans have evolved with a predictable pattern of light and darkness that has controlled our sleep cycles. Your sleep cycle or circadian timing system is heavily impacted by the amount of sunlight you get. I will get into more detail a little bit further.
Besides your sleep/wake cycle. Light exposure also produces optimal levels of daytime hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. Ever wondered why you feel so down during the winter period. Well, here’s your answer. Less sunlight equals less happy feelings. That’s why many antidepressant drugs are centered on the function of serotonin, because of its incredible effect on mood and cognition. Also, serotonin is crucial for regulating your body’s internal clock. Most serotonin isn’t found in the brain but actually in your gastrointestinal tract.
Tip 2: Cut out coffee consumption before 2pm
For all the coffee lovers out there. This section may be hard to hear. But facts are facts. Coffee isn’t good for sleep. There’s no dispute in science.
Coffee stays in your body much longer than you will perceive. You might think your cup of coffee is no longer working after 2–3 hours, but coffee negatively influences your sleep quality for over 12 hours.
By the way, the notion that coffee” gives energy” isn’t necessarily correct. Not in the way people think it does. All-day long, your neurons are firing and producing a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Over the day, Adenosine builds up. After a certain point, it tells the body it’s time to go to sleep.
What caffeine does is binds to the receptors sites between the neurons — making it impossible for adenosine to act. The real issue is, caffeine stays there for a long time. So even though your body is producing adenosine, telling you it’s time to sleep, it can’t work because of caffeine.
The other part caffeine does, besides affecting your nervous system, is your endocrine system. By helping to release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, your body becomes even more active.
Bottom line: cut out coffee early in the day. Try to cut it out at least before 2 pm.
Tip 3: Make sure your bedroom is fully dark.
Light is perhaps the most misunderstood when it comes to sleep. Yet it’s the most important. Light can disrupt your sleep pattern. Our body has a system known as the circadian rhythm. The master clock of the body. What’s essential is that light exposure guides this system. I’m not talking about indoor light. More about sunlight. In particular blue light.
When light hits your retina, it signals the hypothalamus, your body’s hormonal master gland, inside the brain to produce daytime hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your biological clock — also, one of those neurotransmitters that play a vital role in the production of serotonin.
What makes serotonin so special is that it is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. Serotonin transforms into melatonin. Melatonin is the star of the show for great sleep. Serotonin is like the hype man for melatonin, getting the cellular crowd ready, and getting everyone lined up for an impressive sleep performance.
Another hormone that drives you to stay awake is cortisol. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, has been labeled as the bad guy these days. It has become a big catchword for health issues. Cortisol plays an essential task in your body, and with the healthy rhythm of cortisol production, everything is fine.
As you can see from the chart, Cortisol is high in the morning and gradually reduced during the day. The same with the day/ night cycle.
The biggest takeaway is that cortisol and melatonin have an inverse relationship. When cortisol is up, melatonin is down. Also, the other way around. Encouraging the right production of the right hormone at the right time is vital.
Researchers at Brown University have discovered that your skin has cells that make rhodopsin, a light-sensitive chemical also found in the retina(your eyes). Your skin can see. As a result, your hypothalamus still thinks it is daytime. It will produce daytime hormones.
And as we already know, Melatonin is suppressed when Cortisol is released. Melatonin isn’t only famous for sleep; it’s proven to be good for:
- Improve immune system function
- Normalize blood pressure
- Reduce tumor growth and prevent cancer
- Enhance DNA protection
- Decrease the risk of osteoporosis(a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both.)
Better keep your room dark. Wear a sleep mask, or buy some blackout curtains. Your bedroom should be dark — no lights allowed in your bedroom after sunset. If you need lights, use a red light bulb. Remember that light can have immense consequences for your sleep.
To optimize sleep, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Remove any device or light source.
Tip 4:Train Hard(But Smart)
Exercise is a great way to improve your sleep quality. However, only if you do it right. In our modern culture, however, most people shouldn’t exercise so intensely or frequently, especially too close to your bedtime. Why? Most people are already too stressed. And Cortisol isn’t a good friend of sleep.
You’ll raise your body temperature and release hormones as noradrenaline and cortisol. Research has shown that your body temperature takes a dip in the evening. You need a more comfortable body temperature to sleep optimally.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to exercise. I go swimming for 2–3 times a week for 1,5 hours. I have been doing this for a year now. But during that time, I also made sure I recovered very well. You won’t get your maximum performance if you aren’t getting enough sleep.
I would recommend exercising first thing in the morning. Sure, it’s challenging to do. But remember the feeling you get afterward. You will feel great. Fully ready to take on the day.
When it comes to the type of exercise, I would recommend doing weight training or sprints. Running for long distances can increase muscle loss through a process called gluconeogenesis — something down the lines of HITT training. For bonus points, do your weight training or races outdoors in sunlight.
Tip 5: Get To Bed At The Right Time
This one is perhaps the most difficult. However, before you dismiss this part, I let you in a little secret. Around 10:00 P.M, there’s a natural rise in melatonin for most people. The body wants to repair and strengthen itself, so it will increase its internal metabolic energy to improve. For example, it will correct your damaged DNA, as well as brain function, and more.
This natural rise in melatonin sets into motion repair mechanisms. And to get the full benefit, you want to get to bed between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM. Hormones such as Human Growth Hormone(HGH) are at their highest dose during that period. Side note: The HGH is famous because it’s called the “youth hormone.”
So If you want to stay young, better get into the blankets between 10 PM and 2 AM.
Also, your circadian rhythm is essential here. Your internal biological clock that tells your body when doing stuff. The rhythm depends on a central “clock” in your body that keeps track of time. Each cell in your body has its clock, which is connected to your main body’s clock.
Your body’s primary clocks can only handle a change of 10–15 minutes each day. Your circadian rhythm runs on a 24,2-hour schedule. But the moment (sun)light hits your eyes, your “clock” is set 10–15 minutes back. Any change that’s bigger than 15 minutes creates problems.
Your body’s clock works best when its 24-hour cycle runs smoothly.
All your body’s biological processes are dependent on your circadian rhythm. For example, Your master clock tells your body when your bowels should be activated. When to become more sleepy or when your temperature needs to increase or decrease, and so forth.
Don’t think you can trick your biology. Here’s an example
Let’s say you’re in your bed at 22:00 during the weekdays, and 4:00 on Saturday and Sunday night. That’s a 6-hour difference in time. Saturday night creates a mini jet-lag in your body. During Sunday, you still have to adapt to your new rhythm.
When Monday comes around, you’re going to sleep at 22:00 again. Your rhythms back take a few days to re-adapt to the 22:00 sleeping time.
In essence, your body’s clocks are set forward for a few hours on Saturday night and then need to be reversed for few hours as a correction on Monday. Resetting the time on your clock is very hard for your body because almost all biological processes are timed based on that clock.
The solution — if you fully want to optimize your sleep — is going to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
Yes, getting up the same time every day includes weekends. Weekends are where most people do not get up early.
If you get up at 7 AM on Monday through Friday, it’s also wise to stick to that routine at the weekends. The only reason people feel like crap when Monday hits it because their circadian rhythm has messed up. Stick to your rhythm. And I promise you your sleep immediately improves.
But of course, we aren’t robots. There are always occasions where you can’t follow your routine.
Does that mean you should never attend nightly parties anymore? No.
Be mindful of the price you pay for staying up late. There’s a toll on your body when switching your sleep schedule. If you thus party at night, you need to compensate with other sleep tips displayed in this article.
So, what if you’re working night shifts?
There’s just one shift work solution: switch jobs as soon as possible. Or at least try to switch shortly.
Studies show that shift work gives you higher risks for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Avoiding the negative consequences of shift work is impossible.
Your body will never adapt to night shifts. You’ll never get used to them. The health consequences will only become worse. In the end, you always have a choice.
Bottom line: Go to bed on time! Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep. Try to get rest and wake up at the same time.
Biohack Deep Sleep: get 10%+
When I look at the data from my Fitbit, I find that my deep sleep is low sometimes. Which means I’m sleeping but not recovering, repairing, or consolidating memories. So I found some specific tactics to raise deep sleep :
- Exposer to red light at night(no artificial light low or no blue spectrum display). What you could do is replace all the lights in your bedroom with red lights. So you won’t get exposed to blue light
- Take CBD(a non-psychoactive component of marijuana)oil before bedtime; it enhances deep sleep. There’s some debate that CBD isn’t beneficial in the long-term for sleep quality. Nevertheless, in the short-term, it can do wonders.
- Track your sleep with a Sleep Cycle app, Fitbit, Jawbone, or OURA ring(most accurate for tracking sleep, but expensive). Tracking your sleep helps you spot trends. I’ve placed many patterns in my sleep through tracking, and have altered my habits to obtain more deep sleep and REM. I’ve improved from an average of 10 minutes — yes, only 10 minutes! — of deep sleep and an hour of REM sleep every night.
- Alen Air Purifiers: Toxins ruin your sleep. It doesn’t matter whether these toxins come from overflying airplanes, air pollution from a nearby factory, or mold toxins, pets, and dust in your house. With an air purifier, you can remove toxins from your bedroom.
- Easy magnesium: Magnesium is perhaps an essential mineral for your overall health. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical processes in the body. Even ATP, most known for giving us energy, can’t work if magnesium isn’t sufficient in our body. And today, Magnesium deficiency is the number one mineral deficiency in the world. Estimates show 80% of people in the US alone are deficient in magnesium. Especially for the processes that happen in a deep sleep such as DNA repair, Hormone balance… Magnesium is highly essential. Because these processes require energy, and energy can’t be created without magnesium. The best way to do this isn’t by food but by putting it on your skin.
Before you go…
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