Our bodies throughout thousands of years have developed certain processes, and these processes truly shouldn’t be messed with. Quality sleep is part of being human and is one of those processes. One of the best parts if you ask me. Quality sleep can be a determining factor of cutting fat versus muscle, lower or high testosterone levels, and also a cause of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia later in life. The biggest issue nowadays is society has continuously strayed away from quality sleep, without even recognizing it.
This is slowly but surely becoming an epidemic, whether people recognize it or not. From decision making, to health consequences, quality sleep should be treated as a priority. Let me run through a few key points to capitalize on when trying to obtain good quality sleep.
Throughout the thousands of years that humans have been around, we have been fine tuning what we call our circadian rhythms. A Circadian Rhythm is a scientific phrase for the 24 hour cycle that humans, animals, and plants all go through. This is including your sleep schedule. Our bodies have adapted to the fact that during the day, the sun is out, and at night, the sun is not. Therefore for all of time, when night rolls around our melatonin production would go up, we would get tired, and then we would sleep. We had this system down very well until about 1879 when Thomas Edison created a cost effective way to spread artificial light. And since then, artificial light has done a great job at affecting our sleep in a negative way.
Having devices like a TV, tablet, or even smartphone screen affects our sleep more than we realize. You see, when the light from those devices hits not only our eyes, but also our skin (our skin has light receptors as well) it signals to our brain that it is still daylight out. In turn decreasing our melatonin production and simultaneously increasing our cortisol production, keeping us awake longer.
- Start by getting a pair of blue light blocking glasses. I will link below the pair that I personally use
- Next, as it gets later in the night, try and turn off a majority of the lights within your home a few hours before bed
- Finally, ease up on the the screen time. An hour before bed turn the TV off, put the phone down, and pick up a book
Link to the Blue Light Blocking Glasses: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07B2HB2P4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Lack of Consistency
Circling back to that whole Circadian Rhythm thing. It matters. Your body gets very good at routine, and makes things easier for you the more you do it. If you fall asleep every single night at 10:00pm, your body will automatically start producing melatonin an hour or so prior to bed. Do yourself a favor and reward yourself by creating a schedule where you wake up at the same time every day, and aim to go to sleep at the same time every night.
A major problem that people face when attempting this is they have a tough time falling asleep at their desired time. When they don’t get to bed on time, they choose not to wake up on time because they do not feel they have gotten adequate sleep. This is a trap, and do not fall into it. As I referenced in a different post The Key to an Better Life,
YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE STARTS BY WAKING UP EARLY, NOT BY GOING TO SLEEP EARLY. Starting the routine by going to bed early never works, however waking up early as hell will force you to be tired, thus giving you a better chance at heading to bed earlier the following evening.
- Create a desired sleep schedule for yourself
- Start by waking up early, not by going to bed early
Food & Other Substances
This section has my liver thanking me and my heart shedding a tear, it really does. Because I enjoy a good glass of whiskey or a few beers just as much as the next man. But when it comes to sleep, alcohol and marijuana are serious inhibitors of good sleep. Both of these substances prevent the body from entering the deep sleep, R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Better known as dream sleep. This is a key part of the sleeping process, because this is when a majority of the repairing to the body is done. Therefore if you do drink, aim to have the drink, or joint, at least four hours prior to falling asleep.
Next, sleep aids. These should rather be called “Shit quality sleep aids”, seriously. There is a huge difference between getting restful sleep, and just being unconscious for eight hours. Medications like Ambien & Xanax do indeed help you fall asleep quicker. However they don’t allow the body to rest, they just allow you to be unconscious for eight hours. This is why even after taking these, you will wake up feeling tired. There is no R.E.M. sleep while taking pills like these. I understand that some individuals have major sleep problems, and falling asleep being one of those. I am not telling you to quit taking your medications, I only seek to inform you on how they actually affect the body.
Even over the counter remedies like melatonin can cause side effects with the body. Over time, if you consistently take melatonin, your body will start producing less of it’s own because it knows it is getting it artificially. Melatonin is fine to take to kick-start you sleep schedule into gear, however it should be taken only on occasions such as dealing with jet lag, and starting a new sleep cycle.
- No recreational substances within four hours of falling asleep
- Tread very lightly when it comes to pharmaceutical sleep aids, natural is typically the best way to be
- Use melatonin only for starting a new sleep cycle, and dealing with jet lag
Benefits of High Quality Sleep
This section could have 100 books written on it, and likely does. Therefore, I will link below a podcast with Dr. Matthew Walker (A sleep expert). This podcast shifted my entire perspective on sleep, and the importance of good quality sleep. It made me realize that in order to be the most effective individual that I can be, I need to be prioritizing my sleep.
Tips to Capitalize On
- Cut back on the amount of artificial light (overhead lights) a few hours prior to bed
- Get a pair of blue light blocking glasses, and ease up on screen time an hour prior to bed
- Create a sleep schedule that works for you, start by waking up early, supplement melatonin as needed
- No recreational substances four hours before bed
- Tread lightly with pharmaceutical sleep aids
- Keep your sleeping environment cool (60-68 degrees is optimal)
Consistently getting high quality sleep is a skill that we all should aim to master. It affects the way we process decisions, the way our bodies repair, and gives us quicker access to creating a lifestyle that benefits us. It allows us greater access to becoming the best version of ourselves that we can be, which is exactly what we would call a Value Added Life.