Just 5 More Minutes…
SEVERAL STEPS TO ENGINEERING PERFECT SLEEP
Lack of sleep has become a SERIOUS problem. People just do not understand that sleep deprivation doesn’t just make you feel crappy, it actually destroys your body, your performance and your health.
“There is no favorable adaptation to sleep deprivation. Those who sleep less die younger.”
Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution
Just for fun, let me throw some more stats at you:
- There were 60 million sleeping pill prescriptions given out in the USA last year,
- More than half the adult population report trouble sleeping every night and,
- 43% report that tiredness interferes with their regular daytime activities.
…And it appears to be getting worse.
From 2000 – 2004 the number of adults using sleeping pills has in fact DOUBLED.
And even more worrying,
…the proportion of CHILDREN aged 1-19 taking prescription sleeping medication has risen 85%.
This isn’t surprising:
Our culture is productivity obsessed – time-eating activities like checking facebook, watching youtube are on the rise, and our attention is becoming increasingly segmented.
Most people know we need sleep, but not many understand the extent to which sleep affect bodily functions.
If you don’t get proper sleep or control your stress levels it will simply destroy your body. You will even die of sleep deprivation before you die of starvation.
Below you will find several steps on how to engineer the PERFECT sleep.
1. Get to sleep by 10:30pm tonight
Most physical repair is done in the first half of the night and psychological repair and memory formation in the second half. (This is due to change in REM cycles, which I won’t get into here). If you need to get up at 7am like most people, in order to fit these repair cycles in you need to get to sleep by around 10:30pm.
2. Sleep in a completely dark room and avoid blue light before bed
Light exposure to the skin and eyes makes your brain think it’s day time and increases cortisol and suppresses melatonin. Screens (from computers/TV’s/Phones and so forth) and bright lights make your body think it is daytime and time for activity. Cortisol levels rise and melatonin is suppressed. Dim your lights 1-2 hours before bed.
3. Avoid Stimulants in the afternoon after 3pm
Remember the half-life of caffeine? Having coffee, coke, or tobacco after 3pm will suppress your repair hormones well into the night.
4. Avoid alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime
Alcohol cuts into deep wave sleep (responsible for your recovery, muscle regeneration and system regeneration). Just 2 standard drinks in the evening has been found to significantly decrease deep wave sleep.
5. Avoid sugar just before bed
Sugar spikes your blood sugar and the crash (stressor!) a few hours later will wake you up. Eat something higher in good fats and protein.
6. Cool your room – no higher than 70* F
Do you find you sleep better in winter? Most of the people in my office do. It has been found that people sleep best at temperatures of around 65-70*F.
7. Stretch, foam roll, do yoga daily. And time your workouts.
10 minutes of foam rolling before bed releases tension, lowers cortisol and improves sleep.
We also know that yoga, either in the morning or evening, lowers cortisol, improves core strength and maintains joint mobility (just to name a few benefits!).
Exercise also increases serotonin production and lowers cortisol levels when done in the right way. Avoid long cardio sessions over 50 minutes (Long cardio actually increases cortisol and inflammation!), and training too late in the evening.
Keep your workouts:
- Short (less than 1 hour is best)
- Functional (Squats, lunges, body weight exercises, sprints etc)
8. Take a hot bath (OR ice bath!)
The Japanese have used hot baths for thousand of years to improve sleep. It is believed to increase melatonin production. Paradoxically, cold baths also do the same thing. Ever find if you go swimming in winter you feel exceptionally relaxed afterwards and tend to sleep well that night? It is well known that swimming in cold temperatures or having an ice bath is in the words of Tim Ferriss ‘like being hit with an elephant tranquilizer’.
9. Turn off all electronic devices – Put your phone on airplane
Electromagnetic radiation is well known to disrupt sleep cycles.
10. Keep as regular a sleep schedule as possible
Train your body to produce the correct hormones at the correct times. Changes in sleep rhythms are also a stress on the body.
11. Use a wake-up light to feel better in the morning
Wake-up lights mimic the sun rising and prepare for body for wakefulness.
12. Sleep in the correct position
Sleep in a position that prevents movement and supports your body. Sleeping on your back is best. It supports a neutral spine with the least stress on the joints and ligaments. Side is second best. Tummy sleeping tends to put strain on the neck and ligaments. There are many different opinions on this topic but in my experience back sleeping, or side sleeping with a pillow sitting under the top leg (to prevent rolling onto the stomach)is best.
For a photo and good tips on positioning check out number 11 in this article by Tim Ferriss:
13. Use the right pillow
Contour memory foam pillows are without question the most supportive pillows and most conducive to side and back sleeping. Contour pillows can take a few weeks to get used to but they are fantastic and provide incredible support.
14. Meditate: Focus on your breath for 5-10 minutes
Practicing regular mindfulness and body awareness significantly reduce cortisol levels.
15. Get a good dose of sunlight during the day
Again: Train your body to produce the correct hormones at the correct times!
16. Keep your spine and Nervous System healthy
Getting adjusted by your chiropractor will ensure your nervous system is clear to do it’s job and your body will function the best that it can. Spinal imbalances also cause added stress in the body and nerves, which affects your ability to get quality sleep. The fact is you live your entire life through your nervous system. It is the coordinating system whereby countless billions of body cells interact in harmony to express mind, body, spirit, emotion, artistic talent, speed, stamina, coordination, health, every level of performance and even the actualization of one’s potential. Innately people recognize that the connection between the brain and the body plays a key role in living an extraordinary life. But they fail to realize it needs to be cared for and safeguarded. Chiropractic maintains the function of the spine and nervous system through gentle spinal adjustments that reduce tension and pressure on these vital systems.
Most people believe Chiropractors are back doctors, bone doctors or spine doctors, yet Chiropractic is none of the above. Chiropractors in a Life By Design office have one objective – to optimize and maintain the integrity of the nervous system so you can heal, sleep, move and experience the best life you possibly can. Period.
*Sourced from the Primal Sleep Kit