sleep hacks

Sleep Hacks to Upgrade your Sleep

Are you looking for easy and reliable sleep hacks? Well, you have come to the right place. Let’s get started on getting you a healthy night’s sleep.

Biohacking your sleep is really all about supporting hormones. One type of hormone is secreted in order to initiate sleep (such as melatonin). The other type is secreted while you’re asleep (such as growth hormone).  These ones are responsible for growth, repair. And the other type is those that are regulated with the body being well-rested.

A well-rested body will properly regulate stress hormones (such as cortisol), sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, hunger hormones such as insulin and leptin, and thyroid hormones. Not every hormone is produced during sleep or even plays a direct role during sleep. But many hormones are dependent on the body’s natural circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle.

Hacking your Sleep Involves Self-Experimentation and Self-Discovery. 

Try things for yourself to determine their effectiveness on your ability to sleep better. To determine the effectiveness of bio-hacks, collect as much biofeedback, or data, as possible. You can do this by tracking your sleep in a journal and/or wearing a sleep monitoring device.

Sleep disruption or sleep deprivation can significantly interfere with hormone balance in the body. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you are supporting your endocrine system through nutrition, effective stress management, and lifestyle choices that support getting enough high-quality sleep.

If you’re currently doing everything you can to make sure you are not interfering with your body’s circadian rhythms but still having trouble falling or staying asleep, try one of these 5 natural bio-hacks for sleep.

Biohack #1: Block blue light.

Melatonin is a hormone that is associated with the body’s sleep-wake cycle. It’s the chemical messenger that tells your cells what time it is with respect to your external environment. Triggered by the onset of darkness, it is secreted by the pineal gland every evening at sundown.

Darkness is crucial for maintaining the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythms. 

Wearing amber-tinted or blue-light blocking glasses in the evenings, 2-3 hours before you want to fall asleep will help your body produce melatonin naturally. These glasses are designed to block out the blue light which interferes with melatonin production but still allows you to see.

Before I fall asleep each night, I like to read. And since digital books take up less space (i.e. less clutter) and are much better for the planet, I prefer to read on my iPad.  Looking at a screen right before sleep can prevent me from falling asleep so I wear these blue-light blocking glasses.  Since melatonin is produced during the absence of blue light, blocking it tricks the brain into thinking that you are in a dark environment.  Therefore, melatonin will be produced even if the lights are on.

This is one of the most important sleep hack if you want to improve your sleep and life style.

Biohack #2: Stimulate the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and plays a huge role in activating your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for promoting relaxation and for turning off the body’s stress response. It helps to slow your body’s breathing and heart rate, and also regulates digestion and mood. If you feel anxious or wired before bedtime you may benefit from stimulating your vagus nerve.

The best way to stimulate the vagus nerve is with diaphragmatic breathing.  

To do this, slowly inhale so that your lungs and belly both expand. Allow your breath to fill up as much space in your body as possible. Then hold your breath for 3-6 seconds before exhaling slowly starting with the air in your belly, followed by the air in your lungs.

Continue to lengthen your inhales, holds, and exhales until you are able to achieve a rate of 6 breaths per minute. Repeat these long breaths up to 10 times before you want to fall asleep. Most people breathe between 12 and 20 breaths per minute so cutting that down to 6 will activate the vagus nerve and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. 

Slowing your breaths to 6 per minute will promote a feeling of calmness by reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and will produce a more positive mental state. Plus, it will ease your wired brain and help you fall asleep much faster. This sleep hack works wonders for me.

Biohack #3: Adjust the ambient noise.

Neuroscientists have found that the brain is constantly looking for stimuli to process even when we are sleeping. When we give our brains a soft, slow, and steady stream of ambient noise to process we can allow our brands to slip into a deep sleep. White noise does not contain any information that the brain needs to process so it becomes very soothing to the mind.  Scientists have also found that exposing the brain to white noise through the auditory pathway can help with cognitive function and perception. 

I would recommend that everyone sleep with some kind of white noise.  This could be as simple as a fan or purchasing a white noise machine (aka a sound machine). I started sleeping with a sound machine next to my bed about 10 years ago and have found that it has significantly helped me fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Of all the ones I’ve tried over the years, this one is by far the best.   It’s adaptive so it will change volume based on other noises in the environment.  I’ve lived in some pretty noisy places so having that feature has been amazing.  I also find that the options of sounds are the most natural-sounding compared to other devices. (P.s. The sound of running water is one of my favorites so I have it set to “brook”.)  

I enjoy sleeping with white noise so much that I bring this travel-size one with me when I’m not sleeping in my own bed. It’s not the same sound quality as my at-home unit and it isn’t adaptive, but I love how small and compact it is.  It’s battery-operated so as long as I charge it ahead of time, it will last all night without having to be plugged in.  Plus, it has 11 sound options to choose from.  

My brain is so conditioned to the sound of my sound machine that now just turning on my sound machine when I get into bed is another trigger for my brain and body that it’s time for sleep.  I find that regardless of how I feel when I get into bed (sometimes my mind is racing), I will get always sleepy within a few minutes of turning on my sound machine

Biohack #4: Control the natural light.

Supporting your body’s natural circadian rhythm is crucial for sleep quality.  Therefore, ensuring that you are sleeping in complete darkness and waking up with natural light is also important. Black-out curtains are important for removing all light at night.  But, those can interfere with the body’s natural wake-sleep cycle if natural light is still blocked out when it’s time to wake up. To hack this, I try using an automatic curtain opener.  These devices will open your curtains for you so that you can wake up with natural light. Set the timer so that they open just before sunrise.  That way you will be aligning your body’s natural clock with the rising of the sun.

There are a lot of options available these days that will open your curtains for you.  You can set them to open on a schedule or control them remotely with a remote, a voice command, or with your cell phone. Here are a few of them that I’d recommend in order of least expensive to most expensive:

The SwitchBot Curtain Smart Motor ($99)

Attach this device to your curtain rod and a little motor will do the work for you. It connects to most smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa so you can set a schedule for when to open the curtains. You can also buy a separate remote to keep next to your bed. It’s super easy to install and even though you can hide the device behind your curtains, it does come in both black and white. 

Yoolax Motorized Blackout Blinds ($179 each)

These motorized blinds can be customized to fit your window and come in a variety of colors to fit your style. They can also be controlled or scheduled by pairing them with an Alexa device or your Google Home. 

Quoya Smart Curtain Track ($249)

This curtain track is adjustable to fit any window between 66 and 118 inches.  And like the others can be integrated into your Smart Home system, controlled with a SmartPhone app, or controlled with its own remote. This system does not include the curtains so you’ll have to purchase those separately. 

Biohack #5: Block the EMFs.

EMFs or Electro Magnetic Fields are non-ionizing sources of radiation.  They are generated by the movement of electricity or anything that is powered via electricity. EMFs include energy waves that are emitted from power lines, cell phones, microwaves, radio waves, and other electrical devices that are plugged in or are battery operated and turned on.

I do my best to not bring my cell phone into my bedroom at night and to limit the number of electronics in the bedroom.  But that still leaves me with plenty of other devices that rely on electricity. 

In my bedroom alone I have a ceiling fan, an Amazon device, and a table lamp.  I also sleep with my Garmin smartwatch, a sound machine, and a humidifier. Because they are all plugged in and/or using some type of cellular signal, EMFs are being emitted from all of these things. Some still emit EMFs even if they aren’t turned on. 

The best protection you can get from EMFs is to distance as possible from them. 

Move devices away from your bed or better yet, out of the bedroom.  Keep lamps and other electronics on the other side of the room. And turn your wi-fi router off at night.

The health impacts of EMFs are still being researched but companies are finding ways to shield you from them. I don’t use any EMF protection because I sleep very well at night.   If you still can’t sleep and you’ve tried everything else, you might be sensitive to EMFs. 

Here are some items that you can use to shield yourself from EMFs while you sleep:

EMF Protection Sleep Mask 
EMF Protecting Blanket
Grounding Pillow Cases with EMF Protection
Blackout Curtains made with EMF Shielding Fabric
Grounding Sheet made with Cotton and Silver fibers 

These are some of the sleep hacks that I use to get fast and healthy sleep. Interested in more sleep hacks? Here’s an article on 7 tips to fall asleep fast that will work wonders for you.

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