The Last Guide You'll Ever Need For Sleep (How To Get A Perfect Night Of Sleep)
By Christopher Walker
Here’s the truth...
Sleep is the best way to supercharge your day and improve your health.
Most humans spend about ⅓ of their life sleeping.
Sleep is so important as it accounts for our solidification of knowledge, repair and recovery from physical activity, and the ability for our bodies to prosper day in and day out.
- Quality Vs. Quantity For The Perfect Night's Sleep
- The Real Reason Sleep Is Important
- How Your Hormones Influence Your Sleep
- The Real Reason Why People Can't Sleep
- Sources of Stress Keeping You From Sleeping
- A Day In The Life Of A Perfect Sleeper
- Tactics For A Perfect Nights Sleep
Our society too often takes this for granted. People brag about getting by on a few hours of sleep.
“Dude, I only slept for like 3 hours last night, time to power out this day.”
It almost seems like we want it to be manly.
But, Less sleep is anything but manly.
Actually in most cases getting less sleep will make you less masculine, as you slowly start to produce less testosterone & growth hormone.
Instead we are going to venture into the land of blissful, priceless sleep. Something that has been sought out for thousands of years.
From ancient tribes using poppy seed and Valerian root to induce sleep, to the modern man living in a hyper-stimulated world, we will break down how to achieve perfect sleep.
Without compromising your way of life. This is a practical guide.
Without making you stress more about getting perfect sleep, we will be introducing some easy to use concepts that will boost sleep and the beneficial hormones that control it.
Is this for everyone?
Instead of making you get halfway through this program wondering if it is for you, let's clarify who this is for.
This program is for anyone looking to take their sleep, health, and hormonal profile to the next level.
You have to be willing to take action and follow the program to see results. Do not fail yourself by sparingly using these protocols but instead, use the pyramid of sleep successfully and learn to master sleep.
Sleep will allow you to finally not only master your night but take full advantage of your day and your life.
Quality Vs. Quantity For The Perfect Night's Sleep:
When it comes to sleep, we’ve all heard the great debate on how much sleep you truly need.
Some experts say between 7-10 hours seems.
Others will proclaim that as much sleep as possible is going to elicit the best results, and still, another camp says that you can oversleep by sleeping too much.
But, they all are missing out on one crucial detail.
Quality Vs. Quantity
While you do need a certain amount of sleep each night, it means diddly squat if that sleep is not high quality.
If your sleep quality isn't good, then it doesn't matter the duration of sleep you get, you won't be fully rested and regenerated.
Humans developed complex sleep cycles for a couple of reasons.
(We are about to dive into some science so hold onto your pants.)
The body likes to function at 24-hour cycles following the Circadian Rhythm.
This quite literally means that when it is dark, your body starts to cool down and release melatonin to help you sleep.
When the sun comes up, you have an immediate spike of cortisol and adrenaline from the full spectrum of light emitted by it.
Your body is woken up as you get ready for the day (more on this later in the article.)
The brain has a component called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.
The SCN helps to transcribe light through the eyes and signal the pineal gland activity. (1)
In the center of the brain, lies the pineal gland, what Rene Descartes described as the "seat of the soul", but in reality is a heavy regulator of hormones associated with our internal biological clock.
When the light starts to go dim, and slowly decreases in wavelength, the SCN signals the pineal gland which begins to help produce melatonin.
And melatonin, as we know, is the chemical responsible for contributing to the calming of the body, helping you fall asleep.
That is why as we continue to stress ourselves out it seems almost either impossible to fall asleep, or impossible to not fall asleep pending on our bodies natural reaction to over stressing.
And that is how the body helps to activate your bedtime sleepiness and mellow you out before bed.
Along with melatonin comes GABA, which follows the dopaminergic pathways (melatonin uses the serotonergic pathway) and the calming effect the body's experiences.
Actually, in one recent study, it was shown that increasing GABA (even supplementing with around 100mg) improved sleep and growth hormone production (2.)
(end of science)
In reality, we evolved to sleep not only because of the 24-hour rhythm we function on but also for the fact that our bodies do three main things during sleep.
The Real Reason Sleep Is Important:
Sleep was developed for three different activities, making it an evolutionary advantage and reason that humans have developed as far as they have.
Of course, when we think of sleep we attribute it to resting.
Sleep is a period of rest for our body, but not for our mind.
When we sleep, we can take the raw components from what we ate and utilize them within the body.
That is why typically you see charts like this:
This chart clearly illustrates the body's ability to use this relaxing time.
We produce a majority of our growth hormone and testosterone during proper sleep, and when we mess that up, our bodies don't have the ability to assess properly and create proper hormonal functions.
Which explains why studies on male hormones and sleeping show a major testosterone reduction with diminished sleep. Sleeping for 6 hours or less consistently results in the body skipping over the testosterone-producing part of sleep. (3)
Another major reason for sleeping is that with humans, the prefrontal cortex and overall brain evolved, making us take in a lot of information.
Every single day.
And what happens is an over-stimulation to the point of the brain not being able to absorb all of the information.
But, evidence shows that when we sleep, we end up transferring over 50% or more of the information we learned throughout the day from short-term memory into our long-term memory. (4)
Yes, half of everything you learn each and every day is solidified during the night.
As your axons fire and your body rehearses certain information and patterns, certain muscles twitch based on what you are rehearsing in your dream.
You are practicing certain skills while falling asleep.
Conservation of Energy:
Lastly, we have the most logic-derived answer to why we sleep.
To simply conserve energy.
It only makes sense when you think about it.
Humans can’t see at night, while many other predators can.
So during the times in which it would cost the most energy to result in the least energy gained, our bodies performed the following two functions: rest and reinforcement.
We learn skills and repair at night, making us vibrant agile creatures during the day.
Although, a lot of our current habits and environment are not structured to replicate what made us thrive in the past.
We have blue lights everywhere, a significant lack of sunlight and vitamin D, improper diets, bad sleep habits, and so much stress that it becomes impossible to sleep with good quality.
And that is why this will be your guide to surviving the impending future.
Actually no that's wrong.
Your impending future will thrive by using these sleep techniques to boost your mental, hormonal, and all-around physical health.
Get ready and let’s dive into the good stuff.
Hormonally Sound Sleep: How Your Hormones Influence Your Sleep And How You Can Control Them
Sleep is so important.
But what we many times overlook is that hormones directly tie into the ways that we can quickly fall asleep.
Most people don't realize that the reason they can't sleep can be attributed in many cases to one or more specific hormones.
In that case, I am going to briefly break down the major hormones involved in sleep and give you the ability to have control over these hormones.
One of the evilest things ever to exist on the planet is cortisol, right?
I'm a good friend of cortisol, and we know when not to step into each other's boundaries.
Which is exactly the reason that, in many cases, cortisol is so defamed by the media.
Yes, cortisol is one of your primary stress hormones, and when overdone it can immediately lead to an overstressed, taxed adrenal state.
But on the other hand, a lack of cortisol results in the inability to work hard in the gym, and even worse, it makes it difficult to wake up in the morning.
When you wake up every morning, the culprit is cortisol.
In fact, that feeling of waking out of a dream or sleep state is precisely an acute spike in stress.
When cortisol spikes, it leads to wakefulness, using the sun and its light spectrum as an acute cortisol spiking metric.
But what happens if you don’t have enough cortisol?
During the resting state of sleep, your body wants to stay asleep, so it doesn't produce cortisol in the morning to wake you up.
Making the acute stress response from your alarm clock gives you that boost.
And even worse, in many cases, your cortisol production times are the opposite of what you want.
Releasing cortisol at night and subduing melatonin makes it almost impossible to fall asleep.
And the endless reinforcement cycle goes on and on.
Don't worry, there are a couple of ways to help bring back cortisol, which we will talk about later.
Note: one may involve drinking coffee immediately in the morning, so you're welcome.
Do you know that bottle sitting near your bed that says 5 mg of melatonin?
Well, throw that out!
Melatonin is the primary sleep hormone that comes from 5-HTP, Tryptophan, and serotonin.
This is also the reason you feel tired on one Thursday every year, after ingesting an incredible amount of tryptophan via TURKEY.
Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin on its own isn't inherently evil. Although when producing too much, there is evidence of it leading to an increased risk of depression and even schizophrenia. (1)
Then why does the mass media say that serotonin is the god molecule?
Using studies that interpret an acute, short response on serotonergic state and its benefits, while not measuring chronic surplus of the stress hormones, is the reason why it seems to be a GOD molecule.
Instead, we need to focus on a couple of things when it comes to melatonin.
Namely, allowing our bodies to only produce as much as it needs, and not overdoing it in any other manner like supplementing orally with it.
And RARELY use a melatonin or 5-HTP supplement to induce sleep.
Think about it this way.
You know when you eat that huge turkey meal and feel like passing out, then you wake up the next day groggy?
Well, this feeling is similar to one when exogenous melatonin is used (which if anything should only be around .3-.5 mg.)
Dopamine is probably one of the most amazing molecules that can be seen in the brain.
It allows us to associate pleasurable experiences with certain foods and activities we conduct.
Doing cocaine, eating chocolate or sugar, and having sex, all have a huge spike in dopamine, and subsequently, this leads to addictive tendencies.
But why is dopamine so addictive?
Well, we are an overstimulated species.
With that comes overtaxing of adrenal glands and in response, an acute release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
In cases of an excessive release of these hormones, our bodies fight to ensure that we can down-regulate in any way possible.
Which leads to dopamine and the fact that it is amazingly anti-stressing.
That is why when we have chocolate or sex (or both at the same time ;) ) we have the ability to become "addicted," using it to literally de-stress ourselves.
Knowing this, we can use dopamine to influence how we sleep.
And that will be covered when we dive into some of the foods and activities we can use to master sleep.
Testosterone is the primary steroid hormone in males.
Most people understand that a man isn't a man without testosterone, but even worse is that without testosterone a man can't sleep.
Then without sleep, they can't produce testosterone, and they continue on this path until they are burned out.
Testosterone helps to keep stress down and the body in a perpetual state of anabolism (meaning growth).
Sleep is, of course, the most anabolic time during the evening, while on the other hand, your day is mostly catabolic.
For a quick refresher; anabolic means that your body is growing, cells are multiplying and there isn't much stress or energy breakdown, while catabolic is precisely the opposite. You are using nutrients and energy, breaking down fat and carbs, and doing activities.
Although, when depleting your body of testosterone it has been shown that the brain’s testosterone starts to decrease. (2)
And with it so does your sleep.
You become unable to reach deep sleep, which leads to sleep quality suffering.
As the quality of life slowly dissipates, stress amps up, and a huge messy cycle of unhealthy living kicks in.
No sleep, no testosterone.
Although, when we get into the section of food and some other fun activities, we see some excellent ways to increase both testosterone and sleep, and make them stronger synergistically.
When it comes to the other major stress hormone that can interfere with sleep, adrenaline rears its head.
In fact, when our bodies are constantly in fight or flight mode we physically can't get to rest and digest.
We are unable to be both ready and relaxed unless we are performing one activity.
But we will get into that later.
Adrenaline is great at certain times when we need eustress (compared to bad distress) like when working out or learning new skills.
Neurons work better when under some stressor, showing that fear induction can have benefits in memory.
But, when adrenaline is elevated during bedtime we do not foresee sleep.
The funny thing is that to down-regulate the adrenals we can do a couple of awesome things, like gravitate to the evil sugar and salty foods.
No, they are not evil.
That is a story for a different section, though.
Prolactin and Oxytocin
Lastly, we have prolactin and oxytocin.
Both of these hormones are linked to not only the reduction of stress but also human bonding and connection.
Oxytocin is released when a baby gets milk from its mother, and also during any sexual encounter.
While prolactin works with oxytocin in creating a healthy human connection and also relaxing you.
After that big moment, most people become tired and want to sleep.
Cue the imagery from almost every movie where the girl or guy falls asleep immediately post-sex.
Well, that is prolactin speaking.
It is released in a pretty hefty dose post-sex and with it comes an influx of stress reduction and relaxation.
So having some sex before bed might be one of the most hormonally beneficial activities to do.
An interesting point that comes about when sleeping with a partner is that sleeping naked can help to keep a consistent amount of oxytocin-releasing.
The reason that children cry and want their mother when they are hurt is that it literally can contribute to diminishing the pain.
Oxytocin is one strong chemical, and busting stress is what it is made for.
So use it wisely.
Breaking Down Your Hormones
As we make our way through this program and to amazing sleep, keep these hormones in mind.
They will appear sporadically throughout the text.
- Dopamine is great and will help induce sleep
- Testosterone makes men masculine and contributes to deep sleep
- Serotonin is fine when naturally produced, but too much leads to bad ramifications
- Melatonin should never be supplemented externally and instead, you should focus on allowing your body (and circadian rhythm) to produce it naturally.
- Adrenaline and Cortisol, if improperly used, will not enable you to go to sleep
- Prolactin and Oxytocin are perfect for keeping you and your partner sound asleep (if you want to be)
The Real Reason's Why People Can't Sleep:
When it comes to sleeping, it doesn't happen much anymore.
Flashback 100 years and having problems with sleep wasn't terribly familiar.
At night people went to sleep, and sometimes they would wake in the middle of the night, for a quick meditative hour (or a couple of hundred years ago, some intimate experiences), and then they would sleep until the morning.
Thus, there wasn’t the common conundrum of “I can’t sleep because I am thinking too much” or even waking up to pee in the middle of the night.
Yes, waking up to pee in the midst of the night is something that you really should not do.
It means your adrenals are flushed, you have too much water, and your stress system is off the charts.
The common thing we see in society today is that non-interrupted sleep is rare. In this case, let’s jump into some of the reasons sleep seems impossible today.
Foods That Are Keeping You From Sleeping
When we indulge in foods that are stressful or activate the adrenals what happens?
An acute stress response and the body's sympathetic nervous system kicks on.
We know that we need to avoid certain foods around bedtime to ensure that we have adequate time for our bodies' stress system to come down.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)
When it comes to being able to sleep, we don’t want stress.
PUFAs don't allow for us to maintain an entirely non-stressful state, especially in the doses we get using the SAD (standard American diet.)
PUFAs slow down our metabolic rate and increase inflammation within the body, which leaves the immune system trying to fight all the inflammation (1.)
In turn, this causes superlative stress within the body.
And it comes down to the fact that PUFAs are very unstable as they have an oxygen double bond, and can break apart easily when heated.
In order to get amazing, restful sound sleep we need to ensure we minimize PUFAs.
The primary sources are:
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil (canola oil)
- Sunflower oil
- Fatty Fish
- Nuts and nut oils/butter
- Vegetable Oils
Ahh, one of the most complicated fantastic molecules around...
1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (caffeine’s scientific name) is something that so many of us truly love.
Coffee is fantastic, but it acts on some specific molecules that may seriously impair sleep.
You see, coffee is an adenosine receptor binding molecule (2), which restricts adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes us relax and calm down, giving that boost of adrenal catecholamine and subsequently making you feel alert.
It's not a bad thing if used properly and not used in too high of doses, but when using caffeine we need to keep a couple of things in mind:
- Caffeine activates an acute stress response as it binds adenosine receptors, and with that releases cortisol
- The alertness we feel can persist for a long time (up to 8-hours)
- Which is conveniently caffeine's half-life - 8 Hours, the reason that I suggest stopping 8 hours before bed
- Caffeine can be used strategically
I do not want you to stop using caffeine and coffee completely, just make sure you start to use it smartly and not in any crazy amounts.
When humans eat spicy foods, there is an intricate reaction.
Our lips swell, our throats burn, and we love it.
This is another type of painful pleasure that we as humans enjoy (or at least us manly men). Similar to the feeling of caffeine, spicy foods elicit an acute response.
That sense of loving the burn is a release of endorphins, caused by a painful pleasure and the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. (3)
So by eating spicy foods before bed, we end up driving our cortisol up and keeping ourselves awake for prolonged periods of time.
Although spicy food has more of a minor sleep effect, all in all, you just need to pay attention to yourself individually.
If you seem to be overly hot, stressed, and unable to fall asleep after downing some ghost pepper sauce, now you know why.
Certain Types Of Light That Are Keeping You From Sleeping
Wherever you turn, you see phone screens, TVs, laptops, and radiant blue light.
You can’t get a break!
Our stimulant-filled, fast-paced, thrilling days are continuously flushed by copious amounts of blue light.
And that is exactly what we should try to avoid.
But, even worse, we are missing out on good light, unintentionally blocking it, and causing ourselves to fall into a rabbit hole of worse and worse sleep.
Why We Need To Focus On Beneficial Light
The sun emits a very wide spectrum of light.
Everything from red to blue, and when our bodies absorb this light through the sun all at the same time it seems that we seriously benefit.
One of the primary benefits is that we are able to create vitamin D, feel relaxed, and thrive from the sun’s energy.
While in contrast, our lights at the office, house, bedroom, and everywhere else do not emit beneficial light.
And when we are outside, we are constantly wearing sunglasses making us miss out on that beneficial sunlight.
The eyes (as we talked about earlier) contain the SCN which regulates circadian rhythm and helps to influence the creation of melatonin and cortisol (which have inverse effects.)
When we are constantly wearing sunglasses, especially poor UV blocking ones, we stop the real light from reaching the SCN and instead do not activate our biological clock.
The body becomes confused, and our sleep is dampened.
What sucks is that it turns out to be even worse than that.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB
UVA And UVB
UVB is a good type of sunlight that allows the body to generate vitamin D and is great for helping to produce beneficial energy from the sun influencing biological rhythms in a positive way.
While UVA is not as good and can actually be harmful.
UVA rays are still able to penetrate the skin through the clouds and polluted air, meaning you can still get sunburnt even though there are clouds covering the sun.
These rays are ones that can penetrate through glass, clouds, and see-through material (like your sunglasses).
UVA rays are not our friends.
Exposure to the sun through a windshield or glass does not give you any beneficial vitamin d but instead emits UVA and increases the risk of skin cancer.
UVA rays are so harmful, that weather advisories in your area will warn when they are strong, as they influence asthma in children (Bad light-induced asthma attacks).
On the contrary, going outside in real sunlight, and not sitting in the sun through windows while at work or in the car are simple ways to avoid UVA.
As for your sunglasses, stop using them or upgrade them to ensure they contain better UV filtering (more expensive) which is fine to use if you need something to cover your eyes.
Light also has another beneficial effect on your eyes.
Light And Your Eyes
Light strengthens the ciliary muscles in the eyes and allows our actual cells within the eyes to become nourished. (1)
In fact, a study looking at children and the prevalence of needing glasses came to an astonishing conclusion.
Children in today’s society need glasses simply because they are not getting enough sunlight, which is only two hours of being outside a day.
We don’t even get outside two hours a day!
On the other hand, even looking outside through a window can help strengthen these ciliary muscles, as there is some evidence that looking at mainly close distances is stress-causing while long distances are relaxing.
This explains the reason that we love to stare at nature in the distance, it relaxes the nervous system and the mind.
But, worse than anything is the constant blue light we are exposed to past sundown.
This is where it is slowly killing our sleep, influencing the reduction of melatonin in our bloodstream, and negatively impacting our natural melatonin production.
What Is Blue Light And Is It That Bad?
I am going to start with the answer.
Yes, Blue Light is that bad.
It keeps you awake, keeps you stressed, and doesn't do anything beneficial for you (although similar to caffeine, if we need it, we can use it in the morning.)
Blue light is one of the light waves emitted by the sun naturally, and it is also what makes our screens bright and keeps us awake. (2)
When using blue lights our brain triggers the feeling of being awake.
I mean if the sun emits it, and we are seeing it at midnight, the sun still must be up, right? Obviously not. And since we can't trick our biology, our body still thinks it's sunny out even late at night.
Our body reacts similarly to blue light as to sunlight, we even have photoreceptors on our skin which can be influenced by light.
Although, I like to preach moderation with every approach.
If you can’t get away from all light two hours before bed that is fine, just know it might be better if you can (at least blue light.)
You see what this blue light does is disrupt our natural production of melatonin and the duration that it is suspended within our system, sometimes up to even 50%, while influencing a spike in cortisol and adrenaline which keeps us up and awake at the wrong time.
On the other hand, red light can do the opposite.
It has been shown to help increase cellular metabolism, relax individuals, and aid in sleep.
What happens at sunset?
Red light swarms the air, and your body knows that it is time for sleep.
It starts to prepare by releasing melatonin and winding down.
Which is exactly what we should use red light for.
Read More: 5 Best Supplements to Reduce Cortisol
So No Screens At Bed Time?
Well, truth be told there are a couple of little hacks.
The first action you can take is installing some applications to block blue light on your computer and phone. These are F.Lux and Twilight (only for Android) or the pre-programmed setting on the new iPhones.
They help to dim your phone as the sun goes down naturally and they help. Although, fair warning: Don't do design work on your computer when it changes.
They help to reduce almost all blue light your eyes see and help keep you relaxed at night.
Using both of those can help you get away with looking at screens longer at night, although I would still urge you to turn off your devices and pick up a good book or have some sex as your sleep will improve drastically.
And that brings up the point of having any light in the bedroom at night. I suggest you try to minimize all light in your bedroom.
I like to wear a sleep mask to block my eyesight at the beginning of the evening from any light and then take them off in the morning to wake up with the sun, but you may use it differently.
If you prefer you can use blackout blinds on the windows, put electrical tape on all little lights, and towels under any doors that leak light.
Now, it all comes down to how much you want to hack your sleep, and don’t worry we will go into all the minutiae and what to add and subtract first when we get to the sleep hierarchy pyramid.
Sources Of Stress That Keep You From Sleeping
Check your phone… Stress
Hear your alarm… Stress
Eat at a calorie deficit… stress
In life, we have constant stressors.
Many seem to be unavoidable, but when we don't realize the hidden stress that continually arises in our day which could have been exterminated, we become at risk for messing up our sleep and hormones.
Cortisol, as we previously talked about, is the primary hormone associated with stress.
In the morning the stress response from an influx of cortisol allows you to wake up and start your day.
Along the way cortisol, adrenaline, and the other catecholamines help to boost you through the day, bust through stress, and work harder than ever.
But, by overtaxing your situation, you end up creating an environment full of stressors where even listening to music or someone chewing food becomes a stressor.
This is horrible, as it will easily cause the one thing we don’t want.
The inability to sleep.
What are the most common stressors that we experience every day?
Well funny you ask because there are a lot, but some of the major ones may surprise you:
- Bright light (and artificial light at that)
- Calorie Deficits
- Not eating enough carbs
- Exercise (too much)
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Sitting (yes even sitting)
So how do we combat all of this stress in order to get our cortisol released at the right time and be able to harmoniously sleep at night?
It's pretty easy.
When it comes to dieting everyone knows that the more you diet, the worse it impacts your ability to sleep.
You toss and turn, your stomach growls and you feel terrible.
But, one of the easiest ways to combat this is just by eating more sugar and salt both of which help to lower the adrenal hormones and allow your system to relax.
And before anyone says anything about eating too much salt, you're wrong.
You should be eating more salt. The FDA got their recommended daily dose incorrect, and anyone who is currently in a low metabolism state should be eating at least double or triple the recommended dose (between 4-6g.)
As for the phone, that is easy, keep it on you less and turn off all notifications.
More than anything in today’s society we are addicted to notifications on our phones.
Similar to drugs, they release tiny hits of dopamine and become an addictive cycle for most people, checking their phone upwards of 84 times a day. (1)
Yes, people are checking their phones more than 84 times a day!
Focusing on eliminating stress, rather than minimizing the events that cause it (besides those listed above) may prove to be the most beneficial thing we can do.
Actively practice de-stressing activities.
We will talk about these more as we continue...
Temperature Ranges That Are Keeping You From Sleeping
When it is hot we sweat, when it is cold, we shiver.
Most probably don’t realize that one of the main reasons people can’t sleep is the temperature in their bedroom.
When we think of a 100-degree night in a room that has absolutely no air conditioning, we know that sleep will be abysmal.
Why is that?
Well, sleep.org and almost every other sleep Institute recommend a particular range for humans to sleep in.
The optimal temperature falls between 60ᶠ and 68ᶠ depending on how warm you are and your comfortability in bed.
When you sleep with someone else who doesn't share the same feel, you could always try a chilipad that actively projects coolness to your body, under your sheets.
Temperature is so vitally important to get optimal sleep.
Start monitoring the temperature when you fall asleep and figure out what is right for you.
Sleep positions That are Keeping You From Sleeping
This is the last error that keeps so many people from achieving amazing sleep.
Their sleep position.
Sleep positions can impact your night to a severe level and most people don't realize this.
Side sleeping, back sleeping, stomach sleeping, and all those weird knot shapes that I can't describe, everyone has their unique way to sleep.
Although, each one has its restrictions.
The problem is that trying to optimize sleep position feels entirely natural at first, and it is.
But, after giving it a try, it becomes easy to do.
Without diving into it bluntly, here are the problems with each way of sleeping and the optimal way you should be sleeping in.
Side Sleeping Position
Sleeping on the left side can put pressure on the lungs and stomach and create the dreaded arm asleep syndrome that arises every time you wake up thinking you will never have the ability to move your arm because it is probably going to be amputated.
This position can also lead to shoulder and neck pain because of the weight bearing on the shoulder.
With back sleeping, it seems there are far more cases of sleep apnea and snoring in this supine position.
Funny enough, one of the treatments for the condition of sleep apnea is side sleeping.
This happens because as you sleep on your back, your tongue is pushed into the nasal area obstructing your breathing resulting in snoring.
Plus, in the back sleeping position, it seems that when compared to side sleepers, back sleepers get far worse sleep (entirely subjective observation by teen sleepers), but you can take that with a grain of salt (salt helps you sleep better).
Sleeping on the stomach is widely regarded as the worst sleep position by most, and for good reason.
You lie on your windpipe which can cause lower back pain, neck strain, and the flattening of the spinal curvature.
Honestly, this is the one position you should stay away from.
What Is The Best Position?
The ultimate question then is what is the best position to sleep in?
And to answer that you have to think about yourself.
I would recommend writing down how you feel each night after trying every position and finding the one that is best for you.
You may notice that it is a combination of side sleeping and back sleeping or that it is just right side sleeping.
But, stay away from stomach sleeping.
You can constrict your airways and mess up your spine.
You ultimately should choose what works best for you!
There is one tool that will severely help with your sleep and we will talk about that when we get to the sleep trackers, bedding, and bed accessories chapter.
For now, let's go through a quick summary of what you learned.
The Main Takeaways:
- Minimize the amount of PUFA’s you eat
- Make sure that you aren't over-caffeinating and drinking caffeine less than 8 hours before bed
- Don't eat spicy food too close to bedtime
- Focus on beneficial red light
- Get rid of bedroom light and blue light 2-4 hours before bed
- Eat more Sugar and Salt
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom at night
- Make sure your room is between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sleep in the position that best suits you (after you try them all out); avoid the stomach
A Day in The Life Of A Perfect Sleeper
This section is going to be a bit different than the sections previously.
We are going to look at Steve the perfect sleeper, how he feels during the day, the hours leading up to his sleep, what happens during his sleep, and how he feels after sleep.
This is just to get a feel of what it's like to use the principles we have learned and feel what having a perfect night of sleep feels like for both your hormones and your life.
Let’s jump right in.
The Day Leading Up To the Night
It's around 12 p.m. and Steve feels amazing, full of energy he continues to work through his day as a King.
Although, Steve knows not to press the gas too hard, meaning he doesn't want to overtax his nervous system and release too much cortisol, so he has his final cup of coffee and jumps into a caffeine nap around 2 p.m.
After a quick 30 minute nap, he is ready to power out the rest of the day, although this seems natural for Steve, who now has what seems like boundless amounts of energy.
He eats more food than most and keeps consistent energy throughout the day, with no crashes or sneak-ups by any of the hormones we honestly don't want (estrogen, excess serotonin, melatonin during the day).
When work ends, Steve heads to the gym, ready to use his testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol to give him a great workout.
45 minutes to an hour later, he feels more energized than before.
With that energy, he comes home and starts to work on his side project.
Although, it is about six p.m. and he knows that to fall asleep perfectly he should cut the caffeine, finish his spicy food, and make sure he isn't eating any PUFA's
Hours Before Bed (3 Hours)
Steve is now getting ready for bed; he realizes that winding down is key to having a great night's sleep.
Step 1 is putting on his blue light blocking glasses and switching to non-taxing work.
A little reading, or some light writing, but nothing too stressful (and not any emails... those can wait for tomorrow.)
2 hours before bed he starts to minimize his electronic exposure and feels great doing so, as paired with grounding during the day, his outlook is impeccable.
Then comes his routine.
A quick 15 minutes of full-body foam rolling, followed by some reading, maybe some sleepy time tea, a bit of huperzine A (because he wants wild dreams tonight), and writing in his journal, are all checked off.
Last but not least, some meditation using theta waves or Brain.fm.
He puts on his sleep mask after brushing his teeth and turning on the white noise generator, in a 66-degree Fahrenheit room, sticks his toes out from his bed, and gets ready for a great night of sleep.
On his side, his perfect sleep pillow rests under his head as he dives into another dream.
Most people wouldn’t typically be able to talk about what happened during sleep, but with this program, we spice things up.
See Steve is having what we call a Lucid Dream, as he is using enough huperzine A to help him induce more REM sleep (20-30% more), and the magnesium he took before bed is keeping him relaxed with restful sleep.
Steve doesn't toss, he doesn't turn, and he never wakes to pee in the middle of the night, but when he does he knows he needs to calm himself back down and focus the following day on de-stressing.
Steve then arises 8-10 hours later naturally with the sun.
The Morning After
As the sun rises so does, Steve.
He keeps around a 2-3 hour buffer in the morning for when he has to get up, but when he does he feels amazing.
Although, everyone has days when it seems their cortisol didn’t want to wake them up.
Steve gets up slowly on these mornings only to immediately jump into the sunlight (like all mornings) and start on a morning cup of nutrients (coffee) to get his cortisol rocking.
Then he starts to feel amazing.
Then during the day, he makes sure of a couple of things; No PUFAs, only good hormone boosting activities, sunlight, and grounding.
The day goes well and it all repeats.
What you should have learned from this quick story
Steve is using his sleep not only to boost his hormonal profile completely but to
Steve is using his sleep not only to boost his hormonal profile completely but to engineer an energetic day.
Sometimes he sleeps with someone else and sometimes he doesn’t, but all in all his sleep is impeccable and his life is so much better since doing it.
On the other hand, average Aaron (his friend) never gets to sleep correctly, messing up almost everything and living life with a thin film over his brain.
Brain fog is inevitable when you sleep incorrectly, lower testosterone follows along, and together everything reinforces itself into a horrible negative feedback loop.
That won’t happen to us.
Instead, we will use the principles outlined in this article and make sure our night becomes something to brag about.
Finally, let’s dive into the good stuff and give you some actionable insights into how to make your night better.
Tactics for The Perfect Night’s Sleep
Achieving total sleep optimization is no easy task.
I mean people spend years trying to get the perfect body, so why should sleep be any different?
Although, the techniques employed throughout this guide are going to help you return to effortless deep sleep in 8 weeks or less.
I know, I know, 8 weeks seems like a long time, and while right now it may look like a long time, in the grand scheme of things it is a way to set your life up for success in the many years to come.
Learning how to master your hormones and create effortless sleep is something so vital as a skill to all of us.
And because everyone always loves to see what kind of supplementation is going to help with what, let’s jump into that as the first topic
Supplements and The Proper Food For Rest
When it comes to supplements, less is typically more.
If we Pareto principle this down to what we want, it should all be 80/20, meaning 80 percent of results should come from 20 percent of what we do.
As we aim to go from 80 to 100, we have to move another 80 percent.
When it comes to using supplementation, this follows suit as we want to look for the 20 percent that truly works and save our money on everything and anything else.
This is the 20 percent.
The first supplement that I want to dive into is ashwagandha.
While considered an herb, ashwagandha touts some impressive benefits.
Numero uno is that it helps with the elimination of internal stress.
Since it is an adaptogen it does just that, helps the body adapt to the stress responses (1) it faces daily, whether that be micro tears in the biceps during curls or cellular stress via working too rough day in and day out.
When this happens, ashwagandha is acting on the autonomic nervous system.
And more specifically it has the ability to help people with their thyroid and adrenals.
When using it, there seems to be an improvement in cortisol release (making it release at times needed and not when it shouldn't be), improvement in insulin levels, and the ability to naturally balance hormones.
All in all, when it comes to sleep, ashwagandha helps to switch you to a state of parasympathetic dominance, allowing your adrenals to relax and your body to scale back cortisol release.
Which makes you have some excellent deep sleep. (2)
I recommend taking it at night for the most part, around bedtime, and a dosage of between 2-6 grams.
zuSleep has a hefty dose of ashwagandha in every serving!
One of the most interesting sleep supplements is huperzine A.
For many, it is something to help with cognitive focus, although it seems to tout some excellent side benefits when it comes to sleep.
In the sleep supplement realm, Huperzine A helps to craft a lucid dream experience or an out-of-the-body-like sleep state in which you are aware of being in a dream.
Although, when it comes to achieving restful sleep, huperzine A can also help to increase REM sleep (dream state sleep) by between 20-30% if dosed correctly.
It is slowing the breakdown of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter associated with tiredness, and of course REM sleep.
About 200mcg should suffice to see the cognitive and sleep benefits although I do recommend making sure to take it moderately and notice when your body rebounds.
Huperzine A is doing the opposite of caffeine, so being tired throughout the day may be a side effect that you should try to avoid.
Soothing Caramel Tea/ California Poppyseed extract
After receiving one of Tim Ferriss's emails where he suggested his five favorite sleep hacks, I became curious about soothing caramel tea.
It is a yogi tea that contains California poppy seed extract, and the effects you feel after consuming are noticeable.
In fact, when I consume this tea I have to go to sleep within about 30 minutes.
California poppy acts on the opioid receptors in the brain, helping with pain and creating a calm ebb and flow within the brain. (5)
Making it the perfect storm for helping you fall asleep.
Another interesting supplement that has a lot of people talking is Valerian root.
The reason Valerian root is picking up in popularity is that it enhances the effect of GABA, one of the main neurotransmitters of the brain.
GABA is responsible for so many different effects, most notably in our case the fact that it helps to ease anxiety and subdue a wandering mind.
By taking 300mg or more of Valerian root most people feel a sense of calm, relaxation, and fall asleep easily. (6)
Lastly, we have lemon balm, which is synergistic with Valerian root.
Actually, in most clinical trials, it seems that when they are combined, create a relaxation effect subsequently helping patients to relax and fall asleep.
A dosage that has been shown to be effective is around 300 mg although some studies show higher, to mitigate any negative effects this should be perfect. (8)
zuSleep has 400 mg of this potent ingredient to help increase your sleep.
Up next is what I consider a super supplement.
The reason is that magnesium is a mineral relied on by so many bodily functions, yet it is depleted in so many of us.
We should be getting magnesium through the food we eat, although with agricultural practice and our diets today, we aren't getting close to enough magnesium, leaving us in a constant state of deficiency.
Magnesium is similar to ashwagandha in that it helps to subdue our body’s ongoing stress response.
One of the reasons for consistent stress can be micronutrient deficiencies, so by taking in some form of magnesium, we return our state back to homeostasis ( or a balance in our body).
While another study (4) shows that magnesium decreases inappropriate cortisol release to allow the brain to relax (although, others experience wakefulness and if this is your case take it in the morning).
For a recommended dosage take around 400mg per day.
zuSleep also contains a strategic dose of Magnesium to help you fall asleep fast and stay asleep all night long.
Foods to Fall and Stay Asleep
Next up, we have how your diet and nutrition can help influence both sleep and staying in a heavy deep sleep.
When it comes to eating there is one known factor. You are either in a stressed (catabolic) or growth (anabolic) state.
That means when eating at a caloric deficit for fat loss, 9 times out of 10 your body is severely stressed, and the longer you keep it up, the worse sleep will become.
On the flip side, eating specific foods can assimilate to a particular feeling and the ability to fall asleep quickly.
Using Carbohydrates To Your Benefit
Regardless of what nutritional camp you are in, carbohydrates help with relaxation around bedtime. They contribute to calm you down and release insulin putting your body in parasympathetic dominance.
Think about them this way. When you start to eat carbs, your body goes into digestion mode and triggers relaxation. Meaning at dinner, if you order a carbohydrate-dense meal and start eating it, there is a feeling of relaxation and getting full (if you aren't depleted of carbs in the first place.)
At the end of the meal, your body has significantly less stress, because it has an electric energy source completely available, and therefore it isn't worrying about getting something in the future.
This could be ice cream, potatoes, pasta, cereal, or even doughnuts.
Increasing carbs is also attributed to a better testosterone level in the body and as we have studied, the better the testosterone, the better the sleep.
What matters is that a snack before bed consisting of carbohydrates and more specifically the next item will help with sleep.
You see our bodies love to use the easy digesting, energy, and nutrient compact forms of fuel before anything else.
While protein is required for optimal performance and muscle retention, sugar is greatly needed to decrease the stress response your body is constantly in.
Thinking about sugar and carbs, loathing the fact that you can't have them, and depriving your body of nutrients it wants; leads to a release of cortisol followed by the catecholamine family.
By limiting yourself from these foods, you aim to keep your body in a hyper-stimulated stressed-out state.
That's the reason intermittent fasting, ketogenic and paleo diets all give you "mental clarity."
Your body starts to enhance its catecholamine release and with it your stress response.
Honey provides the best of both worlds.
Honey contains both fructose and glucose, meaning it is a sugar that is broken down quickly yet is a slowly digested sugar.
By eating honey before bed, you help to put the brain at ease. And then it stays at ease.
Starting at the first bite your brain uses the sugar from honey to fuel it, calming itself and your body down (particularly since you replenish liver and muscle glycogen), followed by the breakdown of the slower sugar midway through the night which keeps you asleep and happy (no more peeing in the middle of the night.)
Although, it has a friend that helps to pack a powerful punch...
Hypertension, high blood pressure, swelling, and of course death. That is what salt has been made out to be by mass media lately, a villain.
Similar to sugar this excellent tool should not be vilified but used and in far excess of what is recommended. (10)
It’s recommended to use between 4-6g of sodium a day. Yes, that much. And yes it is healthy, in fact, the FDA got it wrong as our bodies need less potassium than we thought and more sodium.
Our hyper-responsive lives lead to over-stimulation of a critical functioning organ in our body, our Adrenal Gland.
Our adrenal gland helps to control the release of cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and much more. This leads to that dreaded stress response we keep talking about.
An excess of these hormones leads to us excreting urine more often (as it is a means of activating a down-regulation on the parasympathetic system). (9)
What we are left with is a complete under-consumption of sodium.
Are your feet and hands cold all the time?
Do you pee upwards of 6x a day and is it clear? If yes - most likely there seems to be an overstimulated under-salinated adrenal system in your body.
And why would your sleep be optimal if your body is always stressed out?
By adding more salt, it helps to flush the adrenals, turning down the filtration mechanisms of kidneys, relaxing the body without constant urination, and not making you wake up in the middle of the night.
More salt = easier and better sleep.
As you experiment with salt, you will start to notice a physiological calmness brought on by eating it more often.
You literally will be able to feel your body's needs being met, and you are bouncing back from years of over-stimulation.
It comes with a caveat, though.
You probably are drinking too much water, slow that down, drink when thirsty, and add a pinch of salt (and some lime juice for flavor) to water when needed.
Humans are not all equal needing various amounts and getting most water from foods.
Gauge your intake and scale to what is necessary to produce bright (not dark nor pale) yellow pee.
Sleep Trackers, Bedding and Bedding Accessories
Ahh, now we get to the fun stuff.
All of the bio-technical devices that track your metrics, the mattresses that put you to sleep and the robots that tuck you in.
Okay, well there actually won’t be any robots that tuck you in… yet.
Anyways, let’s jump back into it.
When it comes to sleep trackers, there isn't much that works, and even worse is that a lot of the sleep tracking devices make your sleep worse.
In fact, sleeping with a phone or device that emits signals next to your head typically results in much more poor sleep quality.
And that is exactly the opposite of what we want.
So instead, let’s only use the devices, apps and gadgets that work.
F.lux and Twilight
If you haven’t heard of f.lux and are at your computer right now, then google search it.
Then download it.
F.lux is a free mobile app that adjusts your screen's lights to the natural circadian rhythms.
It slowly minimizes blue light on your computer screen as the sun goes down, so that when the sunsets your computer isn’t pounding you with that harmful light.
The same applies to the app, twilight.
Which is free in the Google play store (iPhone has a built-in application in the new phones) helping to achieve the same things.
Instead of having to adjust and get rid of your electronic devices right at the hint of sunset, you can add some time and with it a little more (but not enough to stress you) work.
One of the niftiest tools on the market is the oura ring.
A small colored ring that you wear during the day which helps to quantify everything you do.
Although, using it at night is where it comes in handy.
During sleep, it measures your heart dynamics, body temperature, pulse waveform and movement giving you a total breakdown and picture of where your sleep is lacking.
By getting this data you can see if you are waking up because you are too stressed, not eating enough salt, drinking too much water, seeing light before bed, etc..
All of this adds up and by being able to quantify it easily with something simple like this ring, you allow yourself a chance to correct all areas that you aren't sufficient in.
Hue Lighting or the Withings Aura
Both of these pieces of technology fall into the same camp.
Hue lighting allows you to control your lighting with your phone and change its colors effortlessly, which means at night you will have an easy ability to turn off blue light and switch it to a more relaxing color like red.
While in the morning there is an alarm setting that wakes you up with bright white light (this is something I used to use before being able to wake up with the sun.)
On the other hand, the Withings Aura is a smart alarm clock that projects red light on you at night (helping your body stay calm and relaxed at night) and blue light in the morning to wake you up.
It also syncs with Pandora so you can wake up to some of your favorite tunes, or screamo if you're that guy.
The Chili Pad
Similarly to the ability to be able to control sleeping in sunlight, the chili pad is an excellent way to improve sleep without being able to modify your surroundings.
When you sleep with someone else, or you don't have the ability to control the thermostat, sleep can be hard to get.
Heck, if I knew about the chili pad back in college when it was 100 degrees every night I would have bought it in an instant.
The chili pad goes right under your blanket and provides you a cooling sensation to the temperature of your choosing.
With couples, this works perfectly for the spouse that stays burning hot all night, with making the other freezing.
Plus, it is awesome to be able to have something cool you from the ground up, externally rather than waking up to cold air every morning.
Dr. J's Sleep Pillow
When doing research into sleep optimization and positions, one of the most common mistakes with sleep is sleeping in the wrong position.
Although, it is also one of the hardest to fix.
That was until I was gifted Dr. Js sleep pillow from Dr. Kelly Starret.
It is the perfect sleep pillow for both side and back sleepers, allowing you to lay in the optimal neck position for sleep.
It has allowed me to stay asleep effortlessly every night, using only one (instead of the four that I used to use) pillow every night.
And to make it even more useful, traveling with this pillow gives you the familiarity you sometimes need to fall asleep in different places (athletes are advised to bring something from home when they travel, as their body relaxes easier as it feels comfort in its shelter.)
The Optimal Bed
Springs are not something humans want to sleep on top of.
The springs in beds can overtime hold a charge similar to an outlet, leaving the side or part of you on the bed, get more EMF's night after night.
It is like sleeping with a phone against your head each and every night, which is something you shouldn’t do.
I always try to opt for something with a give that I like, not too soft, not too hard, containing no springs, and allowing me to fall effortlessly asleep.
Go to a bed store and try some out, or order a casper on Amazon and if you don't like it, they will pick it back up for free.
Meditation And Brain Waves
On the path to perfect sleep, there are many stops.
There are so many ways to "hack" your sleep by improving your hormones and overall brain chemistry that a lot gets lost.
Although, this is one thing you don’t want to lose.
Meditation Severely Impacts The Brain and Leads to Restful Sleep
One of the best activities for the brain and body hands down is meditation.
Allowing your brain to learn how to focus on presence has some tremendous effects
Among them are:
- Reduced Stress and Anxiety
- Increased Cognition
- Better Mood
- Introspection and Familiarity with one's self
- Enhanced Healing
- Improved Sleep
- And much more
What we are going to focus on is its impact on sleep, and how we can use this awesome tool to not only benefit quality and the reduction of catecholamines before sleep, but also the calming of the mind, so the entirety of sleep is enhanced.
Perhaps, the easiest way to describe meditation and how to perform it is in one word…
As simple as that sounds it’s the truth.
Meditation is the act of being mindful, present and focusing on oneself absent of thought.
If you sit down and try only to focus on your breath, allowing thoughts to come and go but continuously pulling your mind back to the air, you will be meditating.
Although, you probably want a concrete plan to execute on to perform meditation.
In that case, I want to go over my two favorite techniques for meditation and what they provide for you.
Practicing a Mindful Meditation Session (Best Done In Morning Before Your Day or At Night Before Bed)
When it comes to creating a meditation practice simple is always better.
That’s why this is what I like to both start and end my day with.
About 10-20 minutes of a meditation session that relaxes my body down-regulates cortisol, clears my mind and improves the outlook for the present and future.
Here is a quick routine to slip into some meditation:
- Sit with the back straight in a comfortable position
- Take three huge breaths through the nose, breathing in deeply and exhaling deeply
- Allow the body to reset and flow to natural breathing, while focusing on the inhale, the pause between, the exhale and the pause between.
- Go for as long as desired
- Each time a thought arises slowly shift back into complete focus on the breath
- Never get angry nor frustrated as meditating is about having no expectations and allowing oneself to focus entirely on the present.
That is a quick outline of how you should perform meditation and what will help you before bed and before the day.
Using this I have dramatically improved my sleep and my life!.
Option Two: Box Breathing
Quite simply sometimes you can't fall asleep.
Even after doing the above meditation it feels like your mind is racing with millions of thoughts, and has no eject button to allow your consciousness to shut off.
Well, that is where box breathing comes in, and in fact, it is one of my favorite night time techniques.
All you need to do is:
- Breathe in for 5 seconds
- Hold for 5 seconds
- Breathe out for 5 seconds
- Hold for 5 seconds
By doing this, your body reacts at first with an "oh shit" response, as it is not continuously getting air.
Your mind may race a bit, and you may want to stop, but give it at least six rounds until you gauge how you feel.
It seems the monkey mind slowly dissipates and you can take over after a few cycles allowing you to shut off all the mental chatter and fall deeply into sleep.
Now What Is This With Brain Waves I hear?
Brain waves are an excellent toy to use to fall asleep.
Essentially your brain has different wavelength states that code for the various mental states you are in.
Beta is your work mode when you workout, theta is the meditative state that monks can get into with deep practice (and which we try to get into), and delta resembles the brain in deep sleep.
What happens when you artificially inject these into your brain via headphones is that your brain starts to align and sync with what it is hearing.
That is the reason that Brain.Fm works so well for napping.
The brain takes the delta brain waves it hears and helps you fall into deep sleep.
I use these in two ways: To fall asleep when I can’t and to get into a meditative state
Either way, all you need to do is search binaural beats on youtube, and you will find a selection the perfect brain wave for you.
Remember when trying to fall asleep Delta is going to help the most, and it may also contribute to induce lucid dreaming, while on the other hand, theta will keep you in a meditative state of presence.
Foam Rolling, Gut Smashing and Other Hacks You Never Knew About
Sleep is a very unique action.
While it seems we passively go about it, 1/3rd of our whole life is in sleep.
That's why it doesn't make sense when people forgo sleep for extended periods of time, neglect their sleep area and act like sleep is an optional activity.
Newsflash, it is anything but optional and in actuality, it is the only thing that can make you optimal.
With creating an optimal sleep habit comes some not so common ways to induce restfulness and get you sleeping better with more quality.
The first odd way to help induce sleep is foam rolling and gut smashing.
Yes, it can be as painful as it sounds although the pain is similar to that of an excellent deep tissue massage.
In fact, Foam rolling acts analogously to a deep tissue massage.
Using the principles of myofascial release, foam rolling allows you to separate tacked down tissues and fascia within the body.
When you release these, you allow for greater range of motion, nutrient transport and flexibility within that area.
On that note, when many people start performing this type of recovery they see massive strength improvements as their whole muscle begins to work and not just their crappy range of motion used before.
Foam rolling at night has some strange benefits.
Because it is myofascial release, it causes a bit of down-regulation of the system, similar to a massage.
Your parasympathetic nervous system turns on, deactivating all of the catecholamines and stress hormones keeping you up and awake (1.)
And a natural sense of calmness arises.
That is when the magic happens as you start to feel physically relaxed and ready for bed.
Putting some gas on the flame, doing this on your actual gut, allows you to increase peristalsis and with it the rest and digest part of the body.
Inducing some deep sleep.
For a quick routine recommendation:
- Rolling out each calf for one minute
- Moving to the quadriceps for another minute
- Each Lat for 1 minutes
- Taking a lacrosse ball and rolling out your rear delts for one minute each (this helps increase range of motion like the picture below shows)
- Finish with whatever feels tight for about a minute or two.
You can not only just roll on that area, but flex and relax, pulsate on it or twist the object you are using to tact up the skin and then move through motions.
It is amazing.
Then comes gut smashing.
To perform this technique:
- Place the ball an inch next to your belly button
- Take a big breath and hold 3 seconds
- Roll out that area, moving your leg up and around whenever you get to a tight spot
When you are done, you are going to notice that you can breathe even deeper, because of the fact that your diaphragm has been in a horrible tight position from sitting each and every day.
Using that will allow you to rest easier, breathe deep and get a fantastic night's sleep.
Vitamin D And Micronutrient Deficiencies
Another problem that is seen all the time is a micronutrient deficiency completely impacting someone's sleep state.
When the body is in a deficit of anything (including calories) it is in a stressed state.
Not knowing why it doesn't have enough resources it turns to an fight-or-flight state looking for what it can do to satiate its deficiencies.
And that is where your sleep is impacted.
Instead of using nutrients like magnesium and sodium to calm you, your body stays in that adrenaline focused setting looking for more.
The body doesn't want to waste what it has very few of, so it keeps itself running on what it has, which in most of our cases is the ability to create insane amounts of catecholamines.
It can even get to the point where certain deficiencies may link to horrendous diseases (3.)
We need to ensure that we aren't too deficient in anything and using a simple blood test we can guarantee that we are in tip top shape.
Some multivitamins like Testro-x for men or triumph from Legion can help band aid the problem for now but in the long run, we need to make sure that we have everything in place and up to par with what the body wants.
Lifestyle Considerations For A Perfect Night's Sleep
Our lives, how we live them and what we do has a dramatic impact on our sleep and hormonal profile.
Imagine residing in a cave all day, or being stuck somewhere where you get pounded with electrical current day after day after day.
And yet while that sounds scary it is precisely one of the reasons that we are getting horrible sleep, staying stressed and not living our life's fully present.
That is what we call...
Grounding is the act of standing on the actual ground, allowing the ions from the ground to swap with your ions.
See both the human and the ground have ions that make up them, although we work best (and want) the opposite of each other, so by standing on the ground, we actively are swapping ions.
It's the reason that touching an electrical wire and standing on the ground is not a good idea, as our bodies are natural conductors.
Standing on the bare ground makes us less stressed and more connected with nature.
Grounding is something you seriously feel, especially when you have jet lag.
I mean stand outside on the ground for 15-30 minutes (barefoot) after a plane ride and you will notice an immediate difference and a reduced amount of jet lag for the day to come.
Along with actually being on the ground, add in a grounding mat (especially for those that can’t get outside barefoot during the winter.)
These mats help to pull your ions, in the same way, re-configuring your system and allowing you to relax from the constant EMF's, ions and stressors of your day (2.)
Plants (Plus a humidifier or dehumidifier as well)
Falling directly into line with EMF’s and grounding is using plants to help filter the air where you live and breathe.
If you are in nature or try to be every day, then you probably don't need to go too far out of your way to creating a very healthful air environment, but for most of us, we need to do that.
Air quality can severely impact our lives.
Making breathing harder, makes sleeping harder, and sleep apnea something that can arise out of nowhere.
Although, we can use strategic plant implementation to our surroundings to improve air quality effortlessly.
The three plants you want to get are:
- Areca Palm
- Mother In Law’s Tongue aka snake plant
- Money Plant
Each of these has their respective abilities and toxins that they pull out of the air, but all in all, they significantly improve air quality.
And being the one thing we have to have in order to live, optimizing air quality will create a more sustainable healthful lifestyle.
As well, sometimes air is too dry or damp depending on where we live.
That means supplementing with a humidifier or dehumidifier may help to normalize air humidity again and keep you fast asleep.
A Magic Elixir
While we talked about eating more salt for reasons of hydration and stress response, having a salt lamp is another way to improve your sleep.
Himalayan salt lamps are a useful tool for ion exchange, essentially grounding you, while you sleep.
These salt lamps cleanse the air around you, and improve the ion concentration helping you to subdue cortisol levels and end your stress response.
Creating A Perfect Sleep Plan
Finding a balance between what you NEED to Do and What You WANT to do is going to be a major factor in the success of creating a perfect sleep lifestyle plan.
Although we need to address a few points first.
You have been given a ton of information and not all of it needs to be used by you but we will get to that by giving everything a try.
Don't fall into the rabbit hole of stressing over too much, trying to optimize everything and then creating a pitfall effect where the stress you create overpowers the benefits that you are attaining.
Your smart though (as you have started this journey and are ready for an improved life.)
This is the section you’ve been waiting for.
The one with all of the implementation and the benefits that you have wanted.
Let’s dive into it.
The Sleep-Hormone Hierarchy of Importance
When it comes to sleep and all of the information, there is a hierarchy of importance.
Much of it is crucial to what we need in order to create a perfect sleep environment up until we can reset our schedule and sleep correctly.
It comes down to is the Pareto Principle
Using the 20% of effort that will improve our sleep 80%.
And as we achieve the 80% we can then play around with optimizing the remaining 20% by putting in the other 80% effort required (if we feel it necessary.)
With that here is what we will consider the sleep hierarchy of importance.
Level 1 (Most Important):
- Creating A Sleep Routine
- Getting Rid of Light At Night
- Minimizing Sound
- Cutting Out Caffeine Early
- Rising and Falling With The Sun
- Eating Carbohydrates At Night
- Getting Sun During The Day
- Resetting Your Cortisol Cycle
- Optimizing The Temperature of Where You Sleep
- Identification and Minimization of Stress
- Using Nutritional Help
- Replacing Micronutrient Deficiencies
- Foam Rolling and Gut Smashing
- Meditation and Breathing
- Sleep Trackers
- The Perfect Bed
- Pillows and bedding accessories
- Sleep Tech
- Creating a Life For Perfect sleep
Each of these has its unique benefits, but I want you to start with level one.
Once you completely get these tasks down then move your way through each level as necessary. Of course feel free to mix different techniques or tools as you progress.
Let's examine an 8-week protocol for perfecting sleep that we can learn to master to find sound sleep.
Your Routine For Completely Optimized Sleep
For week one we want to make it easy, so all we will be doing is:
- Trying to get rid of light at night
- Creating a sleep routine.
These two will fall hand in hand.
At night forego electronics around two-four hours before bed, aim to put some blue light blocking glasses on and make sure that you have both F.Lux downloaded for the computer as well as twilight for your phone.
Then before bed start to scale back electronic use.
Get rid of unnecessary stressors and curl up with a good book.
The better you get at this, the more drastic you will see your sleep improving.
Week two is going to be a bit harder than week one as I want you to start performing a couple of different key exercises.
- Cut Out Caffeine Earlier In The Day (by two p.m.)
- Minimize sound in your room
- Rise and fall with the sun
Now that you have a night time routine, you should be able to implement it around the time the sun starts to go down.
Remember that we want to rise and fall with the sun to get the benefits of circadian rhythm and ensure that our cortisol cycle is perfect for us to sleep.
Speaking of cortisol one of the other tasks (cutting out caffeine) will drastically improve sleep this week.
At two p.m. start forgoing all caffeinated products (at least for the time being.)
If you don't notice a difference in sleep quality after this week, it's fine to put caffeine back in, but still be cautious of drinking it too late and affecting cortisol.
Lastly, we also want to be making sure there is minimal noise in our rooms, so as not to wake us up during the middle of the night, or make it impossible to fall asleep.
Again, using the Marpac Dohm white noise generator may prove beneficial if you are in an apartment, dorm or frat house like I was.
Now that we have taken care of everything at level one (or should have) we can move to level two and get ready for even better, more accelerated sleep.
You have started to notice a difference by now, but this is where sleep is going to pick up.
In week three let’s aim to accomplish:
- Getting Sun During The Day
- Resetting Your Cortisol Cycle
Utilizing these three techniques at the same time is something that is quite easy, as all three go hand in hand.
Every morning make sure you wake up with a cortisol spike, or at the very least, drink some coffee if you feel exhausted and still can't wake up without an alarm.
This will boost your cortisol.
You also want to get directly into the sunlight in the morning.
To get the biggest bang for your buck, step outside early in the morning when the sun is rising and put your bare feet on the ground, giving you both the effects of grounding and a bit of a wake-up call (from cortisol early in the morning.)
At night this week we want to make it so we aren't stressing too much, and start to relax early on so as not to activate our cortisol.
This week we only have two tasks, and neither requires much work besides ensuring that you do them.
- Eating more carbs (around night)
- Finding your optimal night temperature
First off we have, eating more carbs and eating carbs at night.
This should be an easy task to accomplish, at night have a good helping of carbs and use the anti-stressing properties plus some of the dopamine released to help you quickly fall asleep.
Aim to have anywhere between 40 and 200 grams of carbs at night.
You will feel that anti-stress effect.
And judging from last week, your cortisol should be down-regulated, leaving no catecholamines in sight and you ready for some restful sleep.
Although increasing carbs may increase your body temperature.
Meaning we need to adjust and auto-correct.
We can do that through a couple of different ways:
- Turning The Temperature Down on The Thermostat
- Taking A Cold Shower At Night
In reality, to maximize your body's hormonal processes and have you in deep sleep, it makes sense to do both, but when it comes down to it, doing what you can is best.
To optimally perform this task, take either a five-minute cold shower every day this week or make sure your room temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit as well as having proper humidity.
Both humidity and temperature can seriously affect sleep as we discussed and this week you will notice a difference like never before.
This is going to be a heavy diet week.
We want to not only fix our micronutrient deficiencies but use some nutritional help with putting us to sleep.
Micro-nutrient deficiencies leave you stressed and unable to get into deep sleep.
- Get Your Blood Check Or Look For Common Symptoms
- Fix Them Using The Proper Nutrition
- Gauge Your Progress And Sleep
Not every single deficiency will be involved with your sleep, although it will help somewhere else in the chain of functioning optimally.
Replacing and filling in the severe nutritional gaps will create a stress-free environment geared toward sleeping optimally.
Then you need to use nutritional help. Tea, Honey, Salt, and Sugar.
At night this week ensure that with your carbs you are getting sugar and salt, as well as a little honey (possibly on fruit which will help even more) and some sleepy time tea (i recommend yogi's tea that contains poppyseed.)
As with every weekly challenge, this week you have two tasks that go hand in hand:
- Foam Rolling and gut smashing
- Meditation and breathing
Foam rolling should be done in the hours ensuing before bedtime (maybe in the middle of reading a chapter of a nice book) for at least 10 minutes each night this week.
Make sure you roll out the key tight areas before moving down to your gut.
Remember when rolling out your gut:
- Place a lacrosse ball, softball, or soccer ball to the left of your belly button
- Take massive deep breath and hold for 3 seconds
- Roll out the area, flexing and relaxing, moving your left leg up and around
- Then move to the right and after the rest of your diaphragm
Not only will this help to activate your sympathetic nervous system but it will allow your diaphragm to function better.
Meaning you will easily be able to breathe deeper, better.
Then when you move into the next task this week, of meditating and breathing deeply.
Make sure that for 5-15 minutes you are sitting and focusing on your breath, using either the box breathing or static meditation techniques we discussed earlier.
We have almost achieved an entirely high quality, restful sleep.
Just a few more things to experiment with and then you will get that deep sleep.
This week play around with:
- Some smart supplementation (like say from your micro-nutrient deficiencies.)
- Sleep technology
Using Ashwagandha at night, magnesium and even some huperzine A if you know you won't be getting perfect sleep any of this week's nights.
Add in sleep technology or sleep tracking if you haven't already.
Use either a band that you have or the sleep cycle app.
This week track your sleep and try out a few forms of supplementation.
This is your last week with experimentation for perfect sleep.
It will be an easy and optional one as well.
Making sure your bed, and bedding is optimized will complete everything you have been trying the last eight weeks, and it is probably time for a new bed anyways.
Reward yourself for all the hard work you have done!
The Last Thing:
Before you go, there is one last part of creating excellent sleep.
Creating a lifestyle conducive to amazing high-quality sleep.
To do this, you will need to make sure you keep up with most of what is recommended in this guide.
While all of it isn’t necessary, sleep is.
And restful sleep is something that will change your life forever, so make sure that when you need to, you come back and repeat any week that has seemed to slip behind.