3 Quick Biohacks to Optimize Your Sleep
Left and right I hear about people who are having trouble getting to bed. Even if it isn’t you, I’m sure we’ve all had restless nights. Sleep is incredibly important for both our health, and our performance, so being able to fall asleep quickly and get a good night’s rest should be a top priority for us all. With that said, I have 3 quick biohacks for you to implement to get to sleep faster and optimize your night.
- Something tart to drink: Apple cider vinegar (ACV)and honey.I first heard about this biohack in Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss. Listed among seven other sleep hacks, apple cider vinegar as a sleep tonic was reccomended to Tim by the illustrious Seth Roberts Ph.D. To make this tonic, mix 2 tablespoons of ACV with 1 tablespoon of honey in 8 oz of warm water. The theory is that our brains use a good bit of energy while we sleep, including burning sugar in the form of glycogen. This would lend credence to the idea that a little bit of sugar before bed could have positive benefits. Furthermore, raw honey has a low glycemic index meaning it does not raise blood sugar. Your brain utilizes liver glycogen at night, and raw honey is prioritized to store liver glycogen upon consumption.
- Make it dark and cold: Our bodies operate on something known as a circadian rhythm, which is influenced by our environment. Certain environmental “triggers” can kick-start our sleep related hormone cycles and promote more high quality sleep. The two things that seem most influential on these processes are Darkness, and Cold. During the last 2 to 3 hours before you retire, minimize the amount of blue light you are exposed to. This means phone screens, fluorescent light bulbs, and television screens. If possible, cut out all light exposure completely, but if that is not an option, a pair of blue-light blocking sunglasses are a great option. Next, make your environment cold and consider cold-exposure therapy before bed. Set your room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you really want to fall asleep fast, take an alternating cold and hot shower just before bed. I like to do 4 to 10 minutes, hot for one minute, and cold the next. Make sure you end the shower on cold.
- Foam roll before bed. For those of you who don’t know about foam rolling, it’s time to get with the program. All you need is a lacrosse ball and about 20 minutes of time. Foam rolling is process within the physical therapy category known as tissue mashing: a therapeutic technique used to release muscle knots and rehabilitate. There are hosts of benefits to foam rolling, but one that is often missed is it’s relaxation effect. When you foam roll, your sympathetic nervous system, aka the fight-or-flight stress response, turns off. Same thing with a massage, ever wonder why you can’t replicate the relaxation of a deep tissue massage in real life? The result is that one of the best times for foam rolling is at the very end of your day. It’s a great way to decompress, tune your nervous system, and better yet, sleep like a baby. For more on foam rolling, look into the work of Yogi Jill Miller. Her book: “The Roll Model,” is a great resource. It also works on releasing tension from your fascia, a form of tissue spreading throughout your whole body. It is believed that our fascia may store data and memories, including forms of tension that cause us to feel chronically stressed or anxious.
So there we have it: 3 techniques to throw into your nightly routine that will promote better sleep. Like I said earlier, sleep is one of the most important bodily processes, and you should prioritize it. I get into it more extensively in my article here, but in short, there is no adaptation to lack of sleep.
We are scientifically shown to decline in performance proportionally to our lack of sleep, and there is no other way to get that performance back other than sleeping well. Furthermore, sleep is the only time that our brain detoxifies using it’s glymphatic system, and shirking sleep literally raises your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as cancer and other chronic disease.
That said, if the above hacks don’t work for you, look into others! Thankfully there are hosts of great supplements and biohacks you can use to improve your sleep, from devices like the chilipad, to Dr. Kirk Parsley’s sleep remedy. I can almost guarantee there is something out there that could help you.
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Originally published on www.keenanerikssonfitness.com