The less you sleep the quicker you die, and there’s a mountain of evidence to support that. – Kristen Holmes (VP of Performance at Whoop)
Quality sleep is something I struggled with for a few years. So much so that I made some very adverse decisions that lead me down a very dark rabbit hole. I initially went to my family doctor who threw every medication he could at me to try and get me to sleep. Nothing worked. He eventually handed me a bag of every sample he had and said come back if one of these works and we’ll get a prescription written up. Nothing worked, so the next step was a referral to a psychiatrist to specialized in sleep and PTSD. She eventually got me dialed in and sleeping, but it wasn’t without side effects. I was taking medication on top of medication to combat the side effects. Although I was ‘sleeping’ I felt disconnected from life every day. After seeing the psychiatrist regularly I soon realized there was no end game to this. I was a prisoner of the pharmaceutical world. No thanks! I ended up dumping them all down the toilet and quitting cold turkey. Not the best of ideas. If you want to start the process of getting off of prescription mends, then I suggest weaning yourself off any meds that you’ve been taking for any amount of time.
After detoxing my body of the prescription meds and doing some research on healthier ways to enhance sleep, I finally got back on track. Still had an issue with sleep consistency, but at least I was getting sleep with the help of some over the counter sleep aids when needed.
I recently had the opportunity to listen to human performance coach, Jairek Robbins, talk about sleep and how all other aspects of human performance will suffer if you’re not sleeping. Not only did he provide us with some great tips for better sleep, but he turned us all on to the Whoop wearable tracker. Whoop measures strain, recovery and sleep 24×7. Needless to say, I had a Whoop on the way to my house and now on my wrist. More to come on that after I’ve collected some analytics.
Here are some tips I learned from a few sources (listed at the end of this article).
- Keep your bedroom cool. Between 64 and 68 degrees. When it becomes time for your body to sleep there is an automatic drop in core temperature to initiate sleep. If your bedroom is too warm, your body will take longer to ge into the proper state for quality sleep.
- Wear socks. If your feet are already warm then you may not need to do this. Cold extremities will create sleep disturbances and result in inefficient sleep cycles.
- No napping past 3:00 pm. This will adversely affect your sleep cycles throughout the night.
- Alcohol and caffeine. Obviously, these two are bad for sleep for obvious reasons. Alcohol will turn to sugar as its digested and cause your body to not enter REM sleep or Slow Wave Sleep. I’m not saying you need to stop drinking, but at least remain aware of when you’re drinking and when you plan on going to bed. It does have an effect. I never have coffee past 3pm in the afternoon either.
- Blue light. Blue light blocks the natural production of melatonin. Blue light is emitted from pretty much any electronic device with a screen. Tablets, smartphones, laptops and televisions. If you have an iPhone and/or Macbook, you can enable the feature called Night Watch which changes the screen color output reducing blue light emission.
- Consistent sleep schedule. Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time regularly. This will train your body to start waking up and shutting down at bedtime.
- Movement and exercise. Maintaining a regular fitness regimen will encourage better quality sleep cycles.
- I prefer some type of white noise such as a fan. Plus it helps circulate the cooler air in the room.
- Make your bedroom dark. Get blackout curtains if necessary. Some choose to wear a sleep mask, but that’s not my cup of tea either.
- Educate yourself on the importance of sleep and start trying a few things at a time to see what works for you.
- BONUS tip – Stay hydrated! The body functions better when fueled properly. When hydrated it’s a well-oiled machine.
For me personally, what I’ve found that works best for me are staying hydrated, regular exercise and no naps during the day. I also have a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake up at 6:00 am. When I go to bed, I typically read for 15 to 20 minutes, then it’s off to sleep.
- Whoop podcast and analytics provided by the Whoop wearable on my wrist
- Jairek Robbins
- Becoming Ageless by Strauss Zelnick
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