In Sleep Smarter, Stevenson shares easy tips and tricks to discover the best sleep and best health of your life. You’ll learn how to create the ideal sleep sanctuary, how to hack sunlight to regulate your circadian rhythms, which clinically proven sleep nutrients and supplements you need, and stress-reduction exercises and fitness tips to keep you mentally and physically sharp.
Tip #1 Know the value of sleep.
You can definitely do more work by sacrificing your sleep hours. But the problem is the quality and effectiveness of your work will suffer. One study shows sleep deprived individuals took 14 percent longer to complete a task and are 20 percent more error prone than individuals who were well rested.
So, structure your time to get more sleep first. You’ll not only get your work done faster, you’ll also do it more effectively.
Tip #2 Get more sunlight during the day.
One study shows office workers with more sunlight exposure tended to be more physically active, happier and had an overall higher quality of life and sleep. But all sunlight isn’t created equal. Your internal body clock is most responsive to sunlight between 6a.m. and 8:30a.m. Direct sunlight exposure for at least one-half hour has been shown to produce the most benefits.
If you’re sitting nowhere near the window, use your break time to go and get some sun on your skin. You can take 10 or 15 minutes breaks outdoors or you can make a habit of eating your lunch outside.
Tip #3 Avoid the screens before bedtime.
Humans are not designed to stare into a small box that emits light for a long period of time. The tech is amazing but we need to increase our awareness and more respect for our body’s natural processes.
Turn off all screens at least one and a half hours before bedtime. Jimmy Kimmel isn’t going to pay your hospital bills if you continue to watch his shows all night long. Use an alternative medium (such as a book, audiobook) for your entertainment while in the bed. You can also consider using a blue light blocker (there are both software and hardware filters that reduce the problematic blue light from your device screens).
Tip #4 Have a caffeine curfew.
ON the one hand, caffeine is a powerful stimulant and a wonderfully pleasant part of our life. On the other hand, most people aren’t having one serving of caffeine, they’re having many. We also don’t realize when we pick up caffeine addiction and our bodies become jaded to the energizing benefits of it. This can happen in as little as 12 days. So what do we do when we don’t notice a strong and consistent buzz? We drink more caffeine, of course.
Rewrite your body to use caffeine on a regular and moderate basis so that you get the most bang for the buck. Set your caffeine curfew before 2p.m. Alternatively, you can go on two days and three days off. Go on two months on, one month off to maximize your body’s use and benefit from the world’s most popular stimulant.
Tip #5 Be cool, literally.
You absolutely need to get your stress under control in our high-stressed world today. But you also need to get your environment around you optimized for the best sleep possible.
Set the temperature in your bedroom close to the recommended 68degrees Fahrenheit at night. You will likely sleep better if you’re a little cooler. You can still have your covers and PJ’s and snuggle up to sleep more soundly. You can also take a warm bath an hour and a half to two hours before bedtime. Many parents know this is the secret sauce for having young kids fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
Tip #6 Get to bed at the right time.
For most people, the optimal time to go to bed is going to be somewhere between 9p.m. and 11p.m for most of the year. By doing so, you’re giving yourself a huge hormonal advantage.
To help reset your sleep cycle so that you’re actually tired when the optimal bedtime rolls around, make a habit of getting some sunlight as soon as you wake up. Sleep circles usually last for 90 minutes and repeat four to six times a night. Even if you get a full night’s sleep, you can still wake up feeling groggy if your alarm goes off during the middle of your sleep cycle. To start your mornings with more energy, make a habit of setting alarm so that it goes in accordance with your sleep cycle (instead of the recommended eight hours of sleep).
Tip #7 Rub the ‘anti-stress’ mineral into your skin each day.
Your body can absorb magnesium not just through your diet, also through your skin. Because a large percentage of magnesium is lost in the digestive process, the ideal form of magnesium is transdermal (through the skin) from supercritical extracts. Have you ever heard that taking a bath in epsom salts was great for eliminating pain, reducing stress and helpful for a goodnight’s sleep? Epsom salt is in fact a form of magnesium.
Keep the magnesium infusion right by your bed and apply it before you hit the bed. Second, incorporate magnesium-rich foods into your diet. Green leafy veggies, seeds like pumpkin and sesame and superfoods like spirulina and Brazil nuts can provide very concentrated sources of magnesium for you.
Tip #8 Create a sleep sanctuary.
Whether it’s plants, the soothing sound of waterfall or improving the air quality, do whatever it takes for you to feel relaxed and comfortable in your bed. Make your bedroom a sacred place to peacefully drift off into your dreams.
Get at least one houseplant to improve the air quality in your home. If you share a bedroom with someone else, agree with them to keep office work out of the bedroom. Understand that this is a sacred place for both of you.
Tip #9 Have a big ‘O’.
Sex and organism have many benefits that go far beyond the realm of sleep. From boosting the immune system to fighting depression to actually helping you to live a longer life, our ability to have and give orgasms is tightly linked to our health and well-being.
Communication is key in sex. Everyone’s different and what satisfies one person might not do anything for another. Find out what your partner likes and you like. Share your likings because this is valuable for both of you.
Tip #10 Get it blacked out.
One study found 10 percent of children who slept in the dark ended up being short-sighted while 34 percent of the children who slept in a lightened room developed short-sightedness. Though the study didn’t account for every variable possible, it’s definitely something to consider.
You don’t just want to block out the light from outside, you want to eliminate the troublesome light inside your bedroom too, even if it’s something as simple as covering your digital alarm clock. You can also consider installing blackout curtains. There shouldn’t be any light sneaking into your room unless you want it to. Getting rid of the light pollution is a huge key to rejuvenating your sleep.
Tip #11 Train hard (but smart).
Lifting weights doesn’t make you big. Eating big makes you big. Squats and bench presses won’t make you big and bulky. Chocolate cakes and soda will make you big and bulky. You can train with weights as little as 30-minute a week and improve your body composition, overall health and quality of sleep.
Block off specific times to workout. If possible, workout first thing in the morning and schedule everything else around it. Focus on the compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses. Try to incorporate supersets into your training regime to save time and maximize effectiveness.
Tip #12 Get your ‘friends’ out of your bedroom.
Having your friends (electronics) in your bedroom is like a first-degree assault on your sleep. Get them out of your room and stack the conditions in your favor and the sleep you deserve.
If you keep your electronics in another room while you sleep, it’s 99.999 percent likely you won’t miss anything important. But you will radically improve your sleep quality if you’re not allowing your TV, computers and cell phones to disrupt your valuable sleep.
Tip #13 Lose weight and don’t find it again.
Sleep deprivation decreases your insulin sensitivity, disrupts your hormonal cycles and depresses your brain function. So if your diet fails, it’s not entirely your fault. Your sleep is also something to blame.
If you’re really hungry before bed, have a high-fat, low-carb snack. This ensures your blood sugar stays stable during the sleep. If hypoglycemia hits while you’re asleep, it will likely wake you up and give you problems falling back asleep.
Tip #14 Go easy on the bottle.
Drinking close to bedtime can exacerbate health problems that someone is dealing with. Besides, every time you wake up from an alcohol-influenced sleep, it can be more difficult to fall back into the deep sleep stage.
Wrap your night out at least four hours before bed. Drink more water. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it will cause your body to expel more fluids and increase your likelihood of dehydration. To recover faster and keep your body hydrated, wine experts recommend having one eight-ounce glass of water with every alcoholic drink you have.
Tip #15 Play your position.
Our sleep positions are just like other habits. They can take some time to change. Start off the night in your ideal sleep position and if you wake up during the night and find yourself in a position you don’t want to be in, simply make a conscious effort to get into one you prefer.
Communicate your sleeping needs with your partner. There are few things more intimate in life than sharing a bed with someone else. It can create a greater connection but it can create more irritation that you can imagine. So, make sure you communicate with love and respect.
Tip #16 Calm your inner chatter.
Meditation can be magical for a lot of people. Medication helps rejuvenate your body, your mind, supplement your sleep and improve your cognitive performance.
If you decide to meditate at night, do so before you get into bed, not while you’re in bed. You don’t want to associate your bed with anything else other than sleep. Use guided meditations to help you acclimate when starting out.
Tip #17 Use smart supplementation.
Supplementation is a short-term fix to establish a normal sleep pattern. So take precautions to melatonin and other sleep supplements. Do safe and natural things first.
Never mistake a capsule for being real food, despite the progress in supplementation and medicine over the years. If you’re going to take one, make sure you take the right dose. The best advice is to start low and work your way up unless you’re hundred percent certain on what you’re doing. Never take sleep aids with alcohol. They don’t mix together. If you do so, you can end up relaxing your muscles too much, stop breathing and find yourself waking up like Bruce Willis in the 6th sense “I see dead people”.
Tip #18 Be early to rise.
Get up when the sun rises. You can break the old pattern of being up at night ‘tired and wired’ by being early to rise and having a natural release of cortisol. “For early to bed, and early to rise will make a bear happy, and healthy, besides.” says Winnie the Pooh.
Avoid staying up late just because you’re off the next day. Go to bed early and get up so you can use that day to do the things you want. Netflix still works during the day time.
Tip #19 Dress for the occasion.
One study by Harvard found women who didn’t wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared to avid bra users. Take bedtime as an opportunity to go bra-free. For the fellas, avoid wearing tight underwear. By doing so, you’re potentially overheating your family jewels. For both men and women, the best advice is to wear loose fitting clothes or go naked when you sleep.
Tip #20 Get grounded.
Make a habit of getting your Vitamin G with your feet on the Ground. Conductive surfaces like soil, grass, sand and even living bodies of water like the ocean gives you quality time later in the day. This is why you tend to get really amazing sleep when you take a vacation and go to a beach.
Earthing products also help you synchronize your body’s circadian clock with the normal patterns of the earth. So getting grounded after a long haul flight is a smart thing to do.
Tip #21 Ritualize your night.
Most people believe it takes around 21 days to form a new habit. The reality is it depends on the size and temptation of the habit. Oftentimes, we find something that works and then we stop doing it. Don’t fall into that trap. There’s so much greatness in you waiting to be tapped and it starts with passion, consistency and getting a great night’s sleep. Here are some habits that should be on your evening ritual:
- Read a book
- Take a bath
- Write a gratitude log
- Meditate or say prayers
“You can’t bypass the dreamland when finding the path to success. The dreamland, not pills, not potions, not tactics, holds the key to unlock the greatest version of yourself.”