3 Easy Biohacks and 2 pro hacks for getting to sleep on time and staying asleep all night!
On this site, we talk about sleep at lot, and you can read my article about sleep importance here. A quick rundown though: Sleep may be the most important factor in staying healthy, and is where most Americans are lacking. Sleep is when our body recovers, and is the only time when our brain detoxifies. It’s also been shown that our efficiency and performance declines greatly when we are running low on sleep, and there is no adaptation. You can’t learn to perform underslept. With all that said, the best amounts to sleep for most people are between 7 and 9 hours, and to get as much sleep before midnight as possible.
Consistency is also key. If you go to bed at 10, try to do so every night of the week. If you’re anything like me, your sleep schedule may already be seriously jacked up. If you’re used to watching tv til 1 am, tossing and turning all night, waking up at 5 in the morning and then not being able to go back to bed, then these tactics are for you. Even if you don’t struggle with going to bed early, these tips should allow you to optimize your night.
First, we’ll start with the cheap and free tips. These are things anyone can do, without investing in specific equipment or gear.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Drink 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, mixed in warm water, before bed. The many healthy benefits of apple cider vinegar have made it a classic go to for the american health-conscious, and one of them is helping you fall asleep more quickly. You could also use simple lemon water, but ACV is better.
Inversion: AKA, hang upside-down. The best way to do this is with something called an inversion table, such as the Teeter inversion table www.teeter.com or a pair of gravity boots hooked into a pull-up bar (also sold by teeter) but you can get a lot of the same benefits for no cost at all. Simply find a wall, and lay down with your legs pointed up the wall. Basically, your bum should be at the base of the wall, your feet should be facing the ceiling with your hamstrings running up the length of the wall upwards. Inversion allows your body to decompress, and activates the lymphatic system which detoxifies our bodies. Full inversion with a teeter or gravity boots has extra benefits by allowing decompression of the spine, but even simple doing a headstand, handstand, or that wall technique I mentioned will activate the lymphatic system. All of these also have cardiovascular benefits, and increase blood flow to the body and brain. I recommend working up to 20 minutes of inversion a night before bed. If pressed for time, do at least 5 minutes.
Hot/Cold Showers: I have found hot/cold showers to be the single most powerful free biohack, period. I specifically use cold showers in the morning, after workouts, and at night to get a host of benefits. You see, humans were made to be exposed to the elements, but in modern society we lack that exposure. Long story short, our biology has a host of positive systems that keep us healthy but they only activate in reaction to extreme heat or cold. This is why sauna work is great too. For falling asleep, specifically, the technique is to take a shower and switch the temperature between as hot as you can bear, to as cold as you can bear. Switch the temperature every 2 minutes, and do 3 or 4 rounds, ending on cold. You can also just do a cold shower, but the switching helps you feel tired faster. The reason why cold is special is because our body naturally relaxes in reaction to the cold. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but in reaction to the cold water, the body realizes it may have to deal with this temperature for a while, and when you get out of the shower, the body relaxes into a deeper state of calm than before you entered. The relaxation comes as a result of removing the stressor. The cold also causes an endorphin release, making you feel happy and positive as you go to bed.
Okay, now for the top gear for sleep hacking. These 2 items cost a bit of money but are game-changers for getting good sleep.
Dr. Kirk Parsley’s sleep remedy: Kirk Parsley was a navy seal who then became a medical doctor after he served. Between these two gigs, he couldn’t help but notice that many of the navy seals, men who toughed it through hell week and some of the hardest training on earth, were suddenly not performing. He’d seen the same thing among medical students, and eventually made the connection that all these underperformers were severely sleep deprived. He went on to make sleep his primary focus of study, and he is considered one of the world’s leading voices and advocates for the importance of sleep. You can learn a ton about the importance of sleep on his website: www.docparsley.com but more importantly, you can get his sleep remedy. This blend is a month’s supply of the exact stuff your body needs to sleep well. Basically, instead of hoping you’ve optimized your day right for your body to create the necessary sleep hormones, you take his remedy and start that process yourself. I love this stuff, and it is one of the only things I’ve tried that makes me feel sleepy in a healthy way, minutes after taking it. It’s a bit pricey, at about $60 for a month’s supply, but often it helps people get into new sleep habits that they can then continue on their own without the remedy.
The Chilipad: I don’t personally own a chilipad, but it is the most gifted item among Tim Ferriss’ interviewed guests on the Tim Ferriss show. If you don’t know what that is, it is a show interviewing only the world’s top performers. The chilipad is a bed pad that lets you set a temperature and cool off before bed. The reason why it is so effective is because our biology activates our sleep systems in reaction to temperature change, and specifically in reaction to cooling temperatures at night. Now, chilipads are expensive, but I just looked at the website, and they have a small, square shaped mini-pad that only costs $40. I can tell you, this is a steal! And the reviews back it up as a quality product. I can’t say for sure since I do not own one, but from what I’ve heard, a chilipad is probably the best thing you could own for improving your sleep. It’s summer here in Texas, and my sleep has become restless and difficult in reaction to the heat. I know I wish I had one of these things right now. Preferences will vary for everyone, but most people sleep optimally in a room that is 62 degrees fahrenheit. You can find their gear at www.chilitetechnology.com/chilipad
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