The following information will teach strategies to help optimize sleep. In my opinion, sleep is the starting point for improving you health, wellness, and performance journey. When you prioritize sleep you will see improvement in your energy, workouts, and attitude. The following recommendations are based on extensive research, reading, and personal experience.
- 7 and a half hours of sleep- 9 hours of sleep a night. This is the amount of sleep experts recommend getting based on today’s typical work and school schedules. Eight hours is a great minimum standard to try and achieve. The amount of sleep you require will depend on the demands your body has to perform throughout the day. Elite athletes have been known to get 10+ hours of sleep while some say they operate well on simply 7 hours. In most scenarios, more sleep is better, as long as it is quality sleep. Always be your own experiment and just know by adding 30 minutes a night you can get an extra 3.5 hours of sleep a week. Typically a sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes long. For this reason, experts recommend allotting a time period that allows you to “complete” a sleep cycle. Shawn Stevenson, a sleep expert, recommends 7 and 1/2 or 9 hours of sleep- this would allow for 5 to 6 cycles of normal sleep respectively. You want to allow for a full cycle of sleep so that you aren’t interrupting a cycle. Waking up mid cycle can lead to that groggy feeling we are all too familiar with.
- Get into a routine. Stick to a bedtime and a wake-time that works for you, this can help you optimize your sleep. Try to be consistent with your bedtime and wake-time even on the weekend. Getting into a routine will allow you to reclaim your body’s circadian rhythm. The Circadian rhythm is your biological clock, and dictates hormonal procedures amongst other things. This clock system sends loads of information to your body and tells you when to wake up and sleep. The primary trigger for the circadian rhythm is light and dark, for this reason it is important to expose yourself to light early in the morning via walking or earthing/ grounding. At night, put your devices down 30 minutes before your intended sleep time and you can invest in some blackout shades.
- Prioritize 10pm- 2 am. This time period is when your body produces the most sleep hormones for maximum recovery. You like gainz bro??? Well how about some free HGH. Your body produces the most amount of recovery and sleep hormones during this time of the day. Your body and brain uses sleep as a time to recover and flush out the build up of toxins. Going to bed earlier can be a challenging task, but will have a positive impact.
- Techno curfew, 30 minutes minimum before bedtime. This technique is particularly important for todays day and age. A techno curfew means no TV, no phones, no computers, 30 minutes before your intended time of sleep. 30 minutes is an absolute minimum. Creating this health habit is hard at first, but when you get use to it, blue light late at night will feel evil. The blue light on your phone/devices is similar to that of sunlight. This can delay your body’s secretion of melatonin. In addition, our phones are stimulating, especially social media. Create a curfew and stick to it, you will find yourself falling asleep faster and having more deep sleep. Turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode. I recommend leaving all your devices on you desk away from your bed- or get an old fashioned alarm clock. Don’t let your devices control you, control your devices.
- Breathe and Meditate Alternatives to device usage leading up to sleep are foam rolling, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and meditation. The best way to calm your mind and body is to let it know that it is time to relax. I will have posts on breathing, meditation, and body work, but for now, focus on deep slow whisper breathes through your nose. This will allow you to signal to your mind and body that it is time to sleep. Meditation has so many benefits like increasing mental clarity, reduces stress, and can help self-healing. I typically do a little bit of stretching, foam rolling, and breathing every night before bet- all three tell your body it is time to relax.
- Caffeine Curfew, caffeine can have an effect on your body for up to 9.5 hours For this reason I recommend people have their caffeine in the morning or at least 8 hours before their intended sleep time. When I am in an elite routine, I try to sleep by 10:30 this means I have a caffeine curfew of 2:30 pm, and a techno curfew of 10 pm.
- Blackout shades. Blackout your entire room, don’t let there be a single light. This was the easiest and most effective step I took to improve my sleep. Simply covering your eyes isn’t enough, this is because your skin has light receptors. “Catching Rays” is possible through these skin receptors just like they can detect light at nighttime. Your cells communicate with each other best when there is no light.
- Room temperature 60-67 degrees. This is the optimal temperature for sleeping and causes the least amount of disturbances. You can sleep naked too, this has benefits as well.
Benefits (Getting elite sleep)
- Quicker Reaction time
- Increase in athletic performance
- Increased ability to focus
- Cognitive function improves
- Less of an A-Hole
- Improved workouts
Negatives (If getting crappy sleep)
Dorse’s Gainz section
- Sleep is just as important as nutrition for recovery. Some would even consider it to be more important since sleep affects how your body uses calories and how your body uses energy to perform work.
- Dr.Penev (x2check) conducted a study between 2 groups of dieters. One group slept 8 hours and the other less than 6. In 14 days the 8 hr group lost 3lb of fat and 3lb of muscle. Conversely, the 6-hour group lost 1lb of fat and 5lb of muscle.
Resources, and links used
Sleep Smarter, Shawn Stevenson. https://sleepsmarterbook.com/ (The most important book I have read in my life… no lie)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223808/ (Caffeine Study)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119836/ (Stanford Men’s basketball sleep results)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267703/ (Current review of the amount of sleep literature)
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side (Blue light article)
https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx (Circadian Rhythms)