Human beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep, for no apparent gain.
Let’s be real, we all want more sleep. There are millions of “sleep hacks” and “sleep supplements” that claim the Holy Grail of 8 hours of sleep. The question I ask is, do we really need 8 hours of sleep? If so, how can we?
Based on evidence from over 100,000 studies, the number of people who can survive on 5 hours of sleep or less, without showing any impairment, rounded to a whole number and expressed as a percentage of the population…is 0
According to the research we have now, we, at least, need more than 7 hours of sleep to properly function. Without an adequate amount of sleep, everything begins to fail. We get fatter, our life span gets shorter, have more accidents on the road or at our jobs, or have a hard time focusing.
If you wake up tired or wish you could get in some more Zs every night, this post is for you.
“Every major physiological system in your body and every operation of the mind is incredibly dependent on sleep, wonderfully enhanced when you get it, and markedly impaired when you don’t get enough”
Here are some things to avoid + begin to incorporate to enhance your sleep:
1. Don’t check your phone first thing. Sleep expert Matthew Walker says, “When people wake up in the morning, the first thing they typically do is a swipe and unlock. It unleashes a wave of anxiety, that cascades into your day, in a way that we haven’t evolved to handle. Just by knowing that’s how you’re going to wake up in the morning when you go bed at night, a “micro-dose” of that anxiety is created right before bed, so your sleep just isn’t as deep.”
It’s a terrible thing, to wake up expecting the activation of your fight or flight nervous system.
One hour of iPhone use before bed will delay the onset of melatonin production by about 3 hours (your peak melatonin levels will also be about 50% less)
The solution? : Try to go just 5 minutes without looking at your phone (specifically social media) first thing in the morning.
If you consider yourself someone who “auto-scrolls” throughout your day on the iPhone, check out my 5 Things That Happened When I Stopped Bringing my Phone to Bed post
2. If your goal is restful sleep, ditch the Cannabis and Alcohol. Marijuana certainly puts people to sleep quicker, but its debatable whether it’s naturalistic sleep. It has been shown that Marijuana and alcohol inhibit REM sleep.
3. More darkness. This lack of darkness in our society is destroying our quality of sleep. Incandescent light bulbs suppress melatonin, screen usage on top of this suppresses the release of melatonin even further. We are all connected to our devices and this impacted more negatively than we know. Instead of supplementing with Melatonin, give your body the chance to produce it naturally and ditch the light. What I like to do: when the sun starts to set, I don’t turn the lights brighter. I turn off a few, have flux on my devices, and only have a light on where it is necessary. I notice that this also improves my baby Grant’s sleep as well. If we play with simple toys and turn off the TV, he goes to bed easier and sleeps longer.
4. Give Lavender oil a try. Several studies demonstrate the effectiveness of lavender for relieving sleep issues. A randomized controlled trial published in The Journal of Science and Healing noted the effects of lavender on college students with self-reported sleep issues.
The students were divided into two groups. One group received a lavender inhalation patch while the other group received a placebo inhalation patch for five consecutive nights. The results showed the positive impact of the lavender intervention on daytime energy and vibrancy along with improved nighttime sleep.
What I like to do: I find that rolling on Lavender oil is the easiest. It’s not overly pungent and perfectly rolls onto my wrists, the bottom of feet and pillow. I will roll some on my breast as Grant is nursing and I can absolutely tell a difference. His eyes roll in the back of his head; its the perfect night time “sleep trigger.” I have tried dozens of oils and the one I like the most is this one.
5. Bye, bye coffee. I really didn’t like reading up on this but I want to give you the truth. Caffeine has a quarter-life of 12 hours – So if you have a cup of coffee around noon, 1/4 of the caffeine is still circulating around your brain at midnight. This is the equivalent to drinking a quarter cup of coffee right before bed. Studies have shown that even a non-caffeinated hot drink in the morning, will help wake you up. If its nearly impossible to ditch the coffee, at least try having just one cup early in the morning so it doesn’t affect your sleep.
6. Have a regular routine. Our bodies love predictability. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
7. Keep your room cool and get naked. Studies have shown that our brain needs to drop its temperature 2-3 °F in order to sleep. Also, sleeping naked has been proven to help sleep. Personally, sleeping naked is just the best 🙂
8. Avoid sleeping in hotel rooms (if you can). One half of your brain won’t sleep as deeply as the other when sleeping in a foreign environment, (like a hotel room). Check out David’s Bulletproof diet hacks video on how he supports his sleep when traveling.
9. Get at least 30 minutes of natural daylight before 10 am. Whether you are traveling or have just had a hard time sleeping lately, getting outside has been proven to reset our Circadian Rhythm.
10. Don’t stress about it. You can’t be rigid when it comes to forcing yourself to get “enough sleep.” What you can do however is set up your environment. Keep it dim, keep it cool, and keep the stimulants/ depressants at a minimum. If you follow these 10 tips, I can guarantee you will get more restful sleep.