How to sleep better Part 1 - Ten Sleep Hacks

Today I have a guest post from my friend and fellow Kinesiologist, Kumar Bandyo.

Kumar has extensive training and experience in physical fitness, nutrition and health, and has worked with everyone from athletes to grandparents (not that grandparents aren't athletes, but you get my drift). He is also the head trainer at Peak Synergy Fitness. You can find his blog here, and his Facebook page here, which are both incredible sources of reliable content.

In this post Kumar reiterates a lot of the points we talk about for sleep, and how to hack your sleep to get the most energy and rejuvenation out of your slumber. Happy reading and sweet dreams.

-Mark

 

Getting a good quality sleep starts from the moment you wake up. If you have sleep issues, wake up feeling tired, lethargic or headachy, or just want to improve the overall quality of your sleep, then you need to read on. In this day and age of working long hours, TV until midnight, Facebook, computers, phones, shiftwork, and parties, we are constantly bombarded by fake light. A fascinating study showed that one small beam of light shining on a person’s leg while they slept spiked the stress hormone cortisol! This leads to unrestful sleep.  

In this post we discuss what I call “sleep hacks” - all related to light exposure. In future posts we will address other aspects important to sleep.

  1. Start the Clock: Get into a bright bathroom or outside as soon as you can in the morning. This resets the sleep/wake hormones. We want to spike cortisol (a stress hormone we need early in the day) and blunts melatonin, the sleep hormone.
  2. Breath: Soon after waking, and preferably while looking into the sunlight, do some step breathing: breathe in for a four count, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold empty for four. Repeat at least four times.
  3. Light Exposure: Expose yourself to as much natural light as possible. At every possible time during your day get sunshine and fresh air.
  4. Rise Early: It’s tough for some, but waking early is better from a circadian rhythm standpoint. Waking with the sun, and winding down at dusk follows our natural primal sleep/wake cycles.
  5. Dim the lights: 30-60 minutes before bed – white light from TV, computers, phones is stimulating and disrupts melatonin production (the chemical that signals sleep).
  6. Use F.lux: on your computer – software that dims the light so less light is getting into the brain.
  7. Have a Night-Time Ritual: e.g. turn down the light, put on some music, have a small snack, stretch, wash-up, read for a few minutes, lights out.
  8. Use Yellow Lights: Purchase yellow lights from the hardware store. Have these as lamps in key locations your frequent at night. I have two in the living room, one in the bathroom, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. At sunset, only these lights are used. You will be amazed at how quickly you are ready for bed without bright lights in your face.
  9. The bedroom is for sleeping. Absolutely no TV watching in the bedroom. No computer use or Kindle/iPad reading in bed.
  10. The room must be pitch black. If you can, black-out blinds can really help. I recommend alarm clocks be turned away. I put translucent tape over mine, so I can only faintly see the time in the dark. Put tape over all electronic LED lights.

We must cycle through the 4 stages of sleep throughout the night, plus REM sleep. If we go to bed too late, have a fitful sleep, take sleeping pills, cold meds etc, it completely disrupts this. The most healing, memory storage, regeneration and recovery occur in the first 2 sleep cycles of the night.

You should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night, with some people requiring 8-9 hours. Even if you think you can get by with 5 hours sleep because you always have, your health will severely suffer.

If you have young children, you need to try and share the burden of nighttime care of them. It is estimated that mothers lose an entire month of sleep in the first year of a new baby’s life.

Sleeping better will improve all areas of your life, not just your energy in the morning, and often will improve quickly. You don't need to start with all 10 hacks. I suggest starting with the easiest ones to transition with; Breath (#2), Dim the Lights (#5) and F.lux (#6)

Gradually integrate the rest of the tips over the next two weeks and enjoy your health, energy and mood improve.

 

Kumar Bandyo,

B.Sc., Kinesiologist (BCAK)

Certified Gold Level Coach

Paleo Physicians Network Member

Like this post? Sign up for the Leo Fitness Newsletter to get all of our content. You should also visit Kumar's website at www.PeakSynergyFitness.com

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Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologis, Chiropractic Student Have questions? Email me. I want to help! mark@leofitness.ca