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Sleep like a dream: 5 Surprising Hacks to Master your Zzz’s

 

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

Have you ever heard the expression “I slept like a baby” ?

Well, my wife is still pregnant with our first child and I can already tell you that’s totally wrong.

Sleeping is often called:

The healing of the nature

However, it’s the last thing doctors recommend when you are in need of healing. And it’s the last thing people research in their wellness and fitness journeys.

This has to stop.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleeping is your body’s first and foremost tool for recovery. So whether you are an athlete, someone doing manual labor, a professor, a software engineer, a CEO, or the president of the united states, you are putting a strain on your body everyday, be that physical or phycological.

I was recently gifted a WHOOP band which analyses your body, including the strain, sleep and recovery. And the main thing I noticed what that on the days when my workouts were not going great, when I was tired, fatigued or could not focus properly, my sleep score was bad.

So, whether you consider your sleep to be optimal or not. There is definitely room for improvement which might change your life.

5 hacks for unbeatable sleep

Establish a regular sleep schedule

In preparation for sleep, your body is secreting a hormone called Melatonin.

Melatonin is not just a supplement or a magic pill. It’s actually something that your body produces every day, in preparation for sleep. And it’s actually the one responsible for your dreams.

The secretion of melatonin is part of the cycle your body does before it’s supposed to go to sleep. Now, in the medieval ages, this was the day cycle. When it was getting dark, your body would secret melatonin, knowing that people were going to sleep.

However, in the modern, illuminated society, with 24/7 electricity the day cycle is not viable anymore.

This is why, my advice is to establish a schedule, such as always going to bed at 10PM or 12PM or whatever works for you. It just needs to be consistent.

Do it every day at the same time, whenever possible, and your body will regulate and start producing melatonin for at least 1 hour before that time.

Create a Restful Environment

Prepare your room for a good night’s sleep.

Similar to when you prepare for a HIIT workout and you gather all the kettlebells, dumbbells, and mats you need, do the same with your bedroom.

  • Make it as dark as possible (blackout curtains, unplug devices that have resting light)
  • Comfortable mattress, pillows, blankets (worth the price)
  • Cool temperature (cooler than the living room)
  • Minimal noise (use earplugs or white noise machines. I use rain sounds.)

Facilitating a more restful sleep will also get you in the mood and make you fall asleep earlier.

Limit Screen Exposure before sleep

I’ve talked about melatonin earlier. What else I need to add here is that:

Melatonin production is reduced and affected by exposure to light within the last hour before bed.

Exposure to light (especially blue light from your phone, TV, iPad, laptop, etc.) will signal your body that the light cycle is not done, and it’s not dark yet, so we’re still going.

This will get into a long cycle of spending time on your phone in bed, then you cannot fall asleep because the melatonin was reduced, then you pick up the phone again because you can’t sleep and before you know it, it’s 3 AM.

Believe me, been there, done that, fixed it now.

Mind your diet and exercise

There is a wide spread and very true rule:

Do not eat 4 hours before going to sleep.

Although it aligns with the intermittent fasting ideology, this is not something invented by a fasting guru.

The reason is that your body consumes calories and thus energy, by digesting food. This keeps the body active, and doesn’t allow time for the body to slow down in preparation for sleep.

Also, exercising with less than 2 hours before sleeping has a similar effect.

However, follow the next rules and you should have it under control:

  • No caffeine for the last 8 hours before you go to sleep
  • No alcohol for the last 2-4 hours before you go to sleep
  • Regular activity promotes better sleep, but not 2 hours before you go to sleep
  • No food for the last 4 hours before you go to sleep
  • The last meal should be very nutritious because you need it for recovery but not very heavy for digestion

Develop a pre-sleep routine

The routine you have before sleep, ties closely with the other advice about scheduling your sleep.

This routine can be used as a cue for your body that it’s time to start producing melatonin and prepare for sleep.

Also, there is a wide range of activities that you can introduce in your evening routine that promote better sleep:

  • Engage in calming activities such as reading
  • Take a warm bath
  • Meditate or practice relaxation exercises
  • Drink a hot tea
  • Bonus: take magnesium (studies show that Mg promotes better sleep and profound resting)

There are many tips and tricks for your wellness and performance. It just depends how far do you want to go.

Whether you are an athlete, an avid biohacker or simply a busy individual, these tips and tricks will help you get the rest you need.

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