An extensive guide on how to master the art of sleep and 5 tools to get you there.
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
The single greatest tool you will find is your bed.
You are probably a killer and know how important getting good quality sleep is. You probably also notice the difference in a single day on how having a bit of sleep deprivation destroys your routines.
The goal with this little post is to explain how sleep works, and what tools you can start using to start owning the sleep game.
Sleep 101, why is it important?
There is a lot of research out there supporting sleep (obviously), with infinite benefits. Here are some of them:
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, by not allowing your body to reduce inflammation levels. Another study showed that sleep also played a big role in fat loss, people who were well-rested lost more than 50% of fat when compared to those that had sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep makes training harder too, a study showed that it depresses our thermoregulatory system by reducing our ability to sweat during exercise. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to change blood biomarkers drastically.
Sleep matters, right?
How many hours should you be getting?
When scheduling your sleep, think of it as going through waves. Each wave is around 90 minutes long, where your brain transitions between different stages (REM, light sleep and deep sleep)
The key is to schedule your sleep so you wake up at the end of your last wave, that is why we have been told to sleep 8 hrs, approximately 30 min to fall asleep and then 5 complete waves of 90 minutes, totaling 7 hrs and 30 min.
Here are the top 5 sleep tools that were my game-changers:
-The first one is scheduling and fixing your routines.
Pick a time that works for you, and make sure you are in bed by that time. Start your pre-bed routine 10 to 20 minutes before your desired time and make sure it is something you can do every night.
Example: turn off the TV, go out and read fiction, brush your teeth, go to bed. Or, brush your teeth, take the dog out, drink tea, meditate, go to bed.
Once it becomes routine, whenever you start it, it will be a behavior your brain will recognize as getting ready to turn off you will start falling asleep faster by signaling specific neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in down-regulation.
This is really important. You want data on what is working and how is it working. Getting good amounts of sleep is college football, getting good quality sleep is Pro Football. You want to track your sleep because you want to make sure your sleep practice is working ( routines and tools) and that you are getting good quality as well.
Good quality sleep means, feeling rested when you wake up, and not waking up in the middle of the night multiple times.
There are different devices and apps that help you track your sleep. The best ones are the ones that work with HRV (heart rate variability) and resting heart rate markers. The app that I found most helpful was the pillow app. It syncs with your apple watch so it constantly measuring your heart rate when going through different sleep waves. It gives you a score when you wake up so you can compare it with previously recorded data.
Other apps and devices I tried where the polar m400, the whoop strap, and the sleep cycle app. The m400 and the sleep cycle app work with motion sensors, so they are not as accurate as the pillow app or the whoop strap, but it is a good start. The whoop strap is the best one yet, nothing comes close to it. Just google “ Whoop recovery strap” - it has tons of data on how you are recovering, how much strain is your body handling, it gives you recovery scores, it asses each night and gives you minute-by-minute data one each cycle, etc.
-Nutrition and Supplements
First thing is, limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, especially 8 hrs prior to your scheduled bedtime. Also limit your fast carbohydrate consumption at night like bread and pasta, as these will create an insulin spike and you will feel energized and not ready to sleep. Once you get rid of these amateur mistakes then you can start thinking of supplements.
This is what worked for me after trial and error with many brands, I take these every night and it works great, it usually knocks me out in 5 minutes.
200mg of magnesium
25mg of doxylamine succinate OR 200 mg of L-theanine
Tea: Yogi bedtime tea, 1 tbsp of raw honey, 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
Your room should be pitch dark. Your brain gets confused with blue light and the brightness of the sun, this makes your body to stop producing melatonin, which is a crucial hormone to falling asleep. Blue light comes from the sun, but also from screens and LED lights. Make sure you don’t are exposed to receive blue light prior to bedtime.
Blackout curtains work well, and you can find them for 25$ in amazon. For those that use computers late at night, F.lux is a free app you can get that adapts your computer display to the time of the day, so you don’t look at blue light at night.
Finally, if you like reading, read a good fiction book before bed. It will help take your mind off of your busy life.
If this helped you, please share it You may help someone sleep better. If it didn’t, you are a Jedi.
Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 2015;38(6):843-4. Published 2015 Jun 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.4716
Bellesi M, Riedner BA, Garcia-Molina GN, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Enhancement of sleep slow waves: underlying mechanisms and practical consequences. Front Syst Neurosci. 2014;8:208. Published 2014 Oct 28. doi:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00208
The material on this blog is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.