Does it drive you crazy that no matter how many hours you sleep, what sleep pills you take, and diet changes you make, you never seem to wake up feeling rested?
Have you ever wondered why some people can sleep 5 hours a night and feel like a million bucks?
Have you ever dreamed of waking up ready to take on the day, without a sip of coffee or 12 hours of sleep, even on your hectic work schedule?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve stumbled upon your all encompassing solution. Something that will not only affect how well rested you feel in the morning, but:
- Your Mood
- Fat Loss
- Muscle Gain
- Sex Drive
- Mental Performance
- Mental Clarity
- Overall Health
Optimizing your sleep affects nearly every waking moment you experience throughout the day. Plus no one wants to meet your grumpy side, right?
So what are you doing wrong?
What Your Sleep Has Been Missing…
No, this isn’t just another post preaching you need 8 hours of sleep. I’m not gonna force you to hit the sack at 10pm or dictate your life. See you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing, total sleep time. Something that most people simply won’t change no matter how many studies prove it affects every other part of your life…
So here I am, thinkin’: “ If you never listened to your parents no way you’re going to listen to some absolute stranger on when you need to hit the pillow.”
How else can I optimize your sleep and your life without changing a minute you dedicate to those capital ZZZZs?
Luckily that’s exactly what I’m about to reveal to you, right now.
So you hear something on the news how “better” sleep correlates with sustained energy improved health and life expectancy. And most of the time these experts or sleep specialists go off on tangents about why you need MORE sleep. We get it already, more sleep helps. But HOW?
What can you do today, tomorrow and next week to get your sleep under control? Asking you to get more sleep is like pulling a tooth. You push it off till tomorrow. Then the weekend comes, you forget all about it and start back at square one.
You know I’m fed up with these “specialists”, aren’t you? They share stories how their clients changed their lives getting more sleep. So what are you suppose to do, sit in a room with some PhD trying to rationalize why you need to scrap every other important event going on in your life? NO.
These people have blinders on and that’s enough. So I’m not going to ask you to sleep another hour. Instead, I’m going to unlock a formula right here, right now to optimize the quality of each and every minute you spend in bed.
Imagine, you wake up feeling refreshed even on 5 or 6 hours a sleep. You head to work, forget your morning coffee, and it doesn’t even phase you. After lunch you don’t feel sluggish, only more energized to take on the second half of your day. I know it sounds like a dream, but the action steps below will turn what seems like science fiction, into your reality.
Don’t sleep another night without reading this article twice. Okay maybe that’s pushing it, but you get the point.
Sleep Quality > Total Sleep Time
We all get it already. If you sleep 9 hours you’re going to feel more refreshed than 3… So they keep telling you to invest more time to your sleep schedule but…
So if you can only sleep 5-7 hours a night then you’d better make every minute count right. See the problem for most people isn’t just time in bed, it’s time to fall asleep, time in light phases of sleep and overall poor sleep quality. Beyond misinformation and bad habits here’s what you need to know…
Instead of focusing on time in bed, focus on shortening time to fall asleep, increasing time in deep sleep (where our body’s recovery is on overdrive), and improving hormonal profiles during sleep.
3 Major Keys To Improve Sleep Quality
When we try to make a change it generally goes something like this:
Day one: hours and hours scrolling through blog posts, YouTube videos and even magazines. Piece together an action plan of a dozen different things you “need” to try tonight to improve your sleep quality. Mind you, these are miniscule habits that may have little to no affect on your sleep.
Day two: Follow through on maybe half if you’re lucky….
By the end of week one: You might be clinging on to one or two actionable steps if you’re lucky.
Another few weeks go by: Little to no results because you’re focusing on the little stuff, and it hasn’t changed your morning coffee craving in the least bit.
So what can we do to fix this annoying sequence of events? Start with ONE major change guaranteed to improve your sleep quality and work your way up. Start with the most important stuff first, and soon when you start seeing results you’ll be motivated to add more habits.
Remember, the key to long-term progress is to create habits so you don’t need to withdraw from your motivation bank every day to get things done. I’ve identified 3 major categories that will have the greatest and quickest impact on your sleep.
In the next 3 sections, I will set you up to optimize each category one-by-one. Are you ready?
What Hormones Affect Your Sleep?
You could say this is the most important hormone for regulating your sleep cycle. With improper release of serotonin, your sleep will suffer. During sleep, your body will switch between serotonin and norepinephrine release, which is the pattern of deep sleep and REM respectively.
I’m not here to teach you about serotonin, just how you can make it more effective for better sleep. So the easiest way to boost serotonin is to get more sunlight, laugh more, and maybe even throw in some messages from time to time. If you aren’t enjoying life, your sleep will suffer.
Also, if you’re deficient in vitamin b6 serotonin levels can be compromised. So I suggest taking a sustained release b-complex. Also, try not to cut out carbs drastically, or if you’re on a lower carb diet, first I have to ask why, and secondly save some carbs for the end of the day. A tablespoon of honey or a small amount of carbs will help boost serotonin and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
Why do people tell you avoid working on the computer late at night? Because it stops natural melatonin production.
The golden rule would be to avoid all screens 60-90 minutes before bed. Listen I know that’s not practical, so instead make sure to install f.lux on your computer and use night shift on your iphone. I believe android has something similar.
Another way to increase melatonin at night is to get direct sunlight when you wake up. Vitamin D3 is a great alternative to sunlight to keep your hormones regulated.
Cortisol is always labeled as negative, yet it’s an amazing hormone. It helps you stay alert during the day. Your mid-afternoon lull has to do with low cortisol levels, which is why a lot of people take naps mid day. Unfortunately for most people, cortisol cycles are messed up. They’re tired most of the day and alert right when they need to hit the pillow. Random consumption of stimulants and daily stresses don’t help either..
If you can’t seem to get off the stims late a night, and chill out at least 30 minutes before sleep you’re going to have a hard time falling asleep. So make the effort to turn off the worry 30 minutes before bed minimum. Hormones such as oxytocin, prolactin and serotonin combat cortisol. So the best way to reduce cortisol beyond what I already shared is to boost those hormones.
Is Lighting Ruining Your Sleep?
The reduction of light when you’re close to hitting the pillow is very important to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. But actually getting sunlight right as you wake is just as important. Actually, the more sunlight you absorb, generally, the better sleep you’ll have.
Your body clock is the real deal, the receptors in your eyes will send signals to your brain and gut. These signals turn on and off hormones. Without the signal, it’s like your hormones are shooting in the dark causing problems like insomnia and tiredness mid day. Surprisingly most of the hormone serotonin is released by your gut, which is why I mention it along with your brain.
Serotonin is known to be the sleep hormone as it sets the stage for how much melatonin you’ll produce. The stomach has been touted the second brain and for good reason. It contains neural tissue and controls how you feel quite like your brain.
So let’s get to some action steps: Immediately upon waking you should absorb direct sunlight to your eyes. And the opposite goes for nighttime. You’ll want to dim the lights and start using tools I’ll share below.
Make sure you get outside as it’s important to absorb both UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, UVB doesn’t usually make it through glass due to its short wavelength so you need to get outside as much as you can. UVB is the contributor to helping your body produce Vitamin D naturally. Another reason why most people are recommended to take a supplement during the winter.
And the last tip is probably the most important which is why I’ll cover it more later. Do all you can to black out your room during sleep. You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of you. Instead of mentioning this study and that study confirming its drastic effect on sleep quality, try it out for yourself. I can guarantee you’ll notice a difference the next morning.
What’s The Best Temperature To Sleep In?
There are two ways to control your temperature at night. The first one is obvious and the second one is probably nothing you’ve ever heard before…
But it will make a huge difference in your sleep quality, especially on warm summer nights. So number one is environmental temperature. It has been shown the colder the better, up to a certain point. When your body is cold it ramps up the time you’re in deep sleep which is where most of the recharging takes place. It’s like taking the highway, you can sleep less as long as deep sleep consumes most of your night.
So what’s the optimal temperature? Anywhere between 60-70 degrees, preferably 65 with a light sheet. A cold night is like a tranquilizer. Think about it, your time to fall asleep in the winter is normally a lot easier than those warm summer nights… Right?
Keep it around 65 degrees and you’re deep sleep will skyrocket.
Next way to keep you cool at night is a little body hack. The warmer your body temp gets during the day the more it drops during the night. For optimal sleep, you want your body temp low so you can fall into deep sleep fast and for longer periods of time.
So how can you get your temperature up during the day?
One way is working out. And I’ll talk about that in the next section. Also, when you eat and even shower are important to keeping your body temperature low at night. Both of these are covered under major keys to optimize your sleep. Titled late night snack and shower before bed?
So again the 3 are showering, training, and eating. When you optimize all three you’ll be hibernating like a bear except in hyper speed.
Exercise To Improve Sleep Quality
Training to optimize your sleep, I love it because anyone who tells me they don’t have the time to workout no longer has merit. Now we know that training properly will increase sleep quality thus allowing you to sleep less.
But I’m not talking any old workout. For this to work, your heart rate needs to be high for a sustained period. None of those typical bodybuilding routines work well, except for maybe a high volume leg day. There are countless options to achieve a high body temp during your workout. I’ll share with you my favorite.
One is pyramiding rest times if you’re using straight sets. So as you go through your workout you rest less. For example, you may rest 3 minutes between sets of exercise 1 then 2 minutes between sets of exercise 2 and 1 minute between sets of exercise 3.. And so on.
METABOLIC INTERRUPTS: Add explosive bodyweight movements in between exercises or even sets such as burpees, jump rope, box jumps, box pushes, sprints or any cardio machine using quick bursts of speed.
Dumbbell Row —-> 10 burpees —–> Repeat X 3-5
Start sweating and don’t get caught in the lax approach to the gym cause everyone else is talking about last weekend’s bar crawl…
So what’s next?
The Best Non-Habit Forming Sleep Supplements
Experts claim that around 80 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. Not only will it affect your sleep and mood but it will stress you out big time.
Magnesium is a major part of over 300 processes in the body. So you better believe when it’s lacking, so are you. Especially your sleep. As I don’t like transdermal magnesium, because it’s just uncomfortable. I suggest taking around 400mg of any magnesium ending in -ates.. For example magnesium citrate. The brand I use is here.
Here’s a list of other benefits of magnesium:
- Increase insulin sensitivity/Reduces insulin resistance… EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT DEFICIENT!
- Decrease depressive symptoms.
- Decrease ADHD symptoms especially when combined with fish oil .
- Increased performance in endurance sports… This study shows a reduced stress response and increased glucose utilization.
- Decreases anxiety .
- Reduces stress (Stress causes overutilization of magnesium) Stress is hard to avoid in a high-stress environment like college.
- Reduces blood pressure.
Kava Kava is most easily found as a tea. If you like the taste I would recommend making it a habit at night. It’s not quite as strong as valerian root, but they both are considered sedatives. Kava Kava is most notably used as an anti-stress drink reducing anxiety.
Just like magnesium, chromium is another mineral many individuals simply don’t consume enough. Beyond sleep, it helps you better utilize carbohydrates so you don’t become insulin resistant, which causes diabetes if you didn’t know. And no supplementing with chromium alone won’t bulletproof you from diabetes but it sure would help.
Most people think you fall asleep from because of the turkey during thanksgiving. That theory stemmed because tryptophan is naturally occurring in turkey. Although the amount of tryptophan in turkey is so low it’s not plausible. What’s causing you to pass out is most likely the heaps of stuffing, potatoes, and sweet desserts.
Anyway, tryptophan is the precursor of 5-HTP. I would not take 5-HTP if you have the choice because it’s much easier to overdose than tryptophan. Tryptophan is broken down by the body and there it will be decided how much can convert into 5-HTP. A lot safer in my opinion. In either case only take either if you must. And yes I’ve taken both and the sleep was incredible.
Instead of having you simply take vitamin b6 which is most notably helpful to calm your nerves, why not cover the bases? If you’re deficient in any of the Bs you’ll notice with a lack in energy, high stress, and poor sleep. Either of these two are good bets:
Remember Vitamin D3 is a hormone, it’s not actually a vitamin. So playing with your hormones with little data can get tricky. I simply won’t take over 5000iu a day. In most cases you should stick to 2-3 thousand IU. Other than normalizing your sleep cycle and improving sleep quality, vitamin D3 has a host of other benefits.
Here’s a list below:
- Reduce depressive symptoms
- Greater insulin sensitivity
- Reduce risk of catching the flu
- Increase calcium absorption
- Reduce risk of asthma attacks
- Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce risk of multiple sclerosis
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s
- Reduce risk of prostate cancer
- Reduce risk of colon cancer
- Reduce risk of pancreatic cancer
- Reduce risk of Ovarian cancer
Remember when I mentioned the importance of gut health earlier. Well, an excellent yet simple way to improve your gut health is with a probiotic. Unfortunately, most probiotics you find on shelves are almost worthless. There are few probiotic products that are properly made, and absorbed by your body. The brand I trust is Ultimate Flora and you can get it here.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHICH SUPPLEMENTS YOU SHOULD BE TAKING, GO HERE.
Download These Apps To Improve Sleep Quality Now
Sleep Cycle App
For a couple bucks you can track your sleep. So instead of blindly trying new techniques to improve your sleep, you can track it. If you feel energized during the day, sleep cycle will most likely confirm it was due to sleep quality. It’ll track time it takes to fall asleep, your sleep patterns, total sleep time, and sleep quality. You can also input notes like I drank coffee late, or was out drinking. So obviously you’ll know what affected your sleep beyond the time in bed.
Night shift is the apple version of flux. It’ll tint your phone screen orange because we know the light from phones, tv, and computer screens keep you up. Unfortunately, it’s only for the iPhone. As I’m writing this, there isn’t an option for Android. The best bet is dimming and inverting your screen.
First, F.lux is free. As the URL says, just get flux. I work into the late hours of the night and without F.lux I’d be halting natural melatonin production. Then I’d be staring at the ceiling eyes wide open for hours when I finally decided to put the computer down. We’ve all had those nights, no need to have more. Sure it makes your screen tinted orange, but who cares you’ll eventually get used to it.
Your Action Plan
Alright here’s the order:
- In 5 minutes or less you can have all three apps up and running on your computer and phone. They’re free so go do it right now, before you forget.
- Go to Amazon and at the very minimum, purchase a chelated magnesium, I highly recommend this one
- While you’re there pick up a B-Complex
- Oh and pick up some black out curtains if you don’t have some already
- Don’t worry about going to sleep at the same time, but try to make it a habit to wake up at the same time (you’ll eventually not even need an alarm clock)
- Set your room temperature to 65 degrees tonight
- Start training more like an athlete, include exercises and training techniques that both save you time and get your heart pumpin’
- If you have less than 7 hours a night to sleep follow one of these protocols
- Add a TBSP of honey before going to bed
- Include these hacks to further take control of your sleep quality
Cheers to your sleep serenity!