30 Amazing Sleep Biohacks
The Definitive Guide
To Biohacking Your Sleep
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The Complete Sleep Resource
You're Not Alone - A Lot Of People Are Exhausted
Biohacking Your Sleep Can Help
If you've woken up from your sleep feeling like you need another 8 hours then this is the guide for you.
Sleep & your health
Most people just don't realize how important good quality sleep is to their health. Maybe if people knew how much a lack of sleep can damage their immune system, they might think twice about burning the candle at both ends.
It all seems so simple
Realistically, everybody knows how to get to sleep right? Just hop in bed, lie down, and "viola". If only it were that simple, hence the need for this very article.
So, Now What?
What's The Next Move?
You need rest, now!
What we all need to know is what we can do to make the process happen a little faster and how to get a good night of sleep that leaves us rested and genuinely recovered.
Everything you need is in this guide
We've compiled the very best sleep hacks that can show you how to sleep better by looking at what the science has to say about sleeping using the best methods possible.
Time to get started
Let's look at all the factors that come into play and how we can adjust things to sleep a little easier and finally get the refreshing rest that only sleeping well can give.
Before You Start Biohacking Your Sleep
How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need?
Everyone is different
We frequently hear experts telling us we need 8 hours of sleep but the truth is this varies a lot depending on several factors.
As you age your body creates less melatonin and this means you don't seem to need as much sleep. Or at least you don't get sleep as long, as easy as you may have used to.
That's only the perception, it isn't to say that a person's sleep requirements are necessarily less because of their age, but generally that is the case.
A Growing Body Needs More Sleep
8 hours isn't going to be enough for a baby and try getting a teenager out of bed on only eight hours of sleep.
It's still different, though
It really is different for every individual because not every person of the same age requires the same amount of time sleeping either.
Generally though, if you're still in the growth phase then you'll most like need to sleep a bit longer than a fully developed adult.
Active People Need More Sleep
A Small Price To Pay
How you live determines a lot
Someone with an active lifestyle may need more sleep to recover, especially bodybuilders and resistance training athletes.
When muscle tissue is broken down because of resistance training, the body will likely require more sleep than usual in order to recover and repair.
Without adequate rest and recovery, the exercise efforts of active people might be in vain as it can actually compromise the immune system.
Sick People Need More Sleep
Resting & Repairing
Sickness taxes your body
Someone who is sick could require a lot more sleep as their immune system is fighting infection much like someone with large external wounds who will also need a lot of time recuperating.
Sickness taxes your body Some self-evaluation is required
Rather than aiming for 8 hours, which is the bare minimum, you should aim to see how you feel after waking and either improve sleep quality or duration accordingly.
How Much Sleep Is Needed For Optimal Health?
The Magic Number
How much is enough?
7-8 is the general minimum, so realistically it's not enough a lot of the time.
Your bedtime discipline matters
Aim for more if you're tired too often. If you're sick, pretty active or a growing child/adolescent, you'll need a bit more than 7-8 hours of sleep.
The Big Question...
How Important Is Sleep?
Just How Important Is Sleep Really?
In One Word: VERY!
More than a lot of people realize
The thing about sleep is, most people really do pay little attention to it. Most people's focus is on their day. Work, play, and eating always seem to take center-stage.
Your sleeping pattern matters
We all know we need enough to get by, but the amount of people who actually maintain a tight schedule specifically for their sleeping patterns is very low.
Control what you can
Sure life is full of surprises and many of them will keep you up and reinvent your schedule for you, but most days we have the opportunity to turn off the TV a little early and get straight to bed... But we don't and we probably should.
Let's look at what a lack of sleep can do to your health...
Sleep Deprivation Effects
They're Real & Shocking
Lack Of Sleep Can Be Fatal
Did that get your attention?
Well, lack of sleep can lead to early death and studies show people who get more sleep live longer and those who don't get enough sleep may find themselves facing eternal slumber earlier.
Lack of sleep is so serious it can be deadly
This all correlates with the way lack of sleep affects health, recovery, and general well-being, of course, so though death is a bit hyperbolic, it's still true to a degree.
Serious Temperament Changes
Your mood and serotonin
Serotonin affects your ability to focus and makes you drowsy. Lack of sleep can sometimes lead to irritability and high cortisol levels, hunger, and disruptions in mood.
Sleep affects your disciplinary discretion
The discipline you have when well-rested may be very different from when you are extremely tired meaning your choices can be impaired which could mean you're possibly going to make some regretful decisions.
Grumpy & tired
We've all been snapped at by a tired relative, maybe you've even been a bit of a grouch yourself?
Increased Fat Storage
Hormonal stress & your body
Cortisol levels increase when you're lacking sleep and this can be very bad for your diet.
People who are overtired have increased hunger and make poor food choices that may lead to weight gain.
Extra fat storage
In addition to increased hunger and the concomitant overeating that can happen, the hormone cortisol itself promotes fat storage and that's the last thing most people want. (1)
Precious Metabolic Loss
For all you hard trainers out there, this is the real nightmare. Lack of sleep often leads to decreases in muscle mass and is especially bad for those trying to recover from weight training workouts.
Your muscle mass is the core of your metabolism
Muscle is precious and sleep helps you recover and grow your biggest metabolic asset.
A good night's sleep relieves those muscle destroying hormones that may catabolize muscle proteins and undo so much hard work in the gym.
There's a reason many athletes put as much effort in sleep as their training
Most athletes know how to get a good night of sleep because they understand it is of equal importance to diet and exercise.
Some have to learn that mistake the hard way, though.
When your concentration suffers
Your job, relationship, and even intellectual aptitude can be affected by not having sufficient sleep.
As focus declines
Working can be hard when you burn the candle at both ends, but for those who work in technical jobs, the inability to concentrate is dire if you don't know how to get to sleep and rest efficiently.
As you can see, the importance of sleep is not something to be taken lightly.
So, How Important Is Sleep To Your Average Person?
It's extremely crucial for good health
Without enough, you can lose focus, gain weight, lose muscle, make poor choices, and be in a cranky mood.
For more info:
I suggest you read the article below to see even more dangers of living a life with inadequate sleep.
The above article highlights just why getting more sleep may be the single healthiest thing you could do.
Let get on with some biohacks...
Here They Are...
30 Sleep Biohacks
Let's Biohack Your Sleep
Time To Get Started
Okay, let's take a look at these sleep hacks and learn how to get a good night's sleep each and every night.
You're ready to begin
Now that you understand the importance of sleep and the dangers surrounding sleep deprivation, the premise of getting more sleep to achieve maximal health should be starting to sound like a fantastic idea.
If you've been reading all this and are wondering what biohacking is you should take a look at this page:
>>> What is biohacking? <<<
That'll clear up any questions you have on biohacking and help you to understand what most biohackers are trying to achieve.
Time for our first biohack:
Let's begin at Sleep Biohack #30
30. Air Quality
Poor Air Quality Wrecks Your Sleep
Don't Underestimate This
Air quality may be more important than you think
Your body needs oxygen to live, you know that pretty well, in fact, it's one of the first things we ever learn. Poor air quality could be hurting your health and your sleep.
Many people understand the importance of breathing
That doesn't always stop folks filling their lungs will cigarette smoke, sleeping on a dusty mattress, and having a bedroom with terrible ventilation.
In fact, a lot of people are guilty of at least one of these three things.
Science says the condition of the air you breath affects sleep
An interesting study on the effects of air quality on sleeping individuals shows that if you improve the quality of air in your bedroom, you may have a much better sleep. (2)
Leave A Window Open
If You Can
Let in some fresh air
Now, this advice could be ridiculously impractical if you live in a cold area of it's the middle of winter.
If that's the case there's a good chance the low humidity of the air if probably not preventing your bedroom from having adequate fresh air.
Clean air for free
If you are able to keep a window open either day or night it can give you higher quality air which might help you both breathe and sleep better.
You may wish to run a dehumidifier if you believe this is not the case.
Get An Air Purifier
A case of very helpful technology
These are one of my favorite inventions on the planet. They filter the air like, give you fresh breathing air, and they're not expensive at all.
You'll possibly sleep better
Having one of these in your bedroom may have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep.
Especially good for smokers
Air purifiers are a must if you're a smoker, be it tobacco or any other kind of inhalable source of smoke. They remove those toxic particles from the air and may make the room smell better too.
Or, and I'll say it again - Give up cigarettes.
Clean Your Mattress Regularly
Many People Don't - You Should!
Mattresses can really affect your breathing
Your mattress can seriously affect the air you breathe if it is dusty and covered in loose particles
It is extremely important to at least air your mattress out but you should also clean it regularly.
It's not pretty
Dust and nasty particles can lie dormant waiting for you to breathe them in if you're not proactive about removing these nasties from your place of sleep.
Get it cleaned professionally
You may consider getting a professional with a steam cleaner to do it or possibly even consider buying or hiring a steam cleaning unit to do it yourself.
So, to summarize:
> Science says air quality may affect your sleep
> A dusty/dirty mattress can be detrimental to your breathing and sleep quality
> Air purifiers are excellent for indoor smokers and those who can't open windows
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"This is something that's so understated but very important. Do you really want to be breathing in dust, chemicals, and disrupting your sleep because of it?"
Next up is Sleep Biohack #29
29. Binaural Beats
Binaural What Now?
The Sleep Inducing Beats
Something a little different
Okay, so this is probably a new one for you but don't be scared of new things. Binaural beats are a pretty awesome and unique way to chill out and relax, ipso facto; they can help you get to sleep faster.
A great sleep hacking tool
I've been interested in using Binaural beats for sleep hacking for quite some time. Now I use them regularly.
Like anything that's popular or becoming popular, Binaural Beats are more accessible than ever.
Let's take a closer look at Binaural Beats...
What Are Binaural Beats?
You've probably also never heard of Frequency Following Response (FFR), but that's the driving force behind why & how Binaural Beats work.
The idea is more simple than it sounds.
In your headphones, different sound frequencies are sent via each individual headphone's receptor.
So, one for your left headphone and a differing sound frequency to your right headphone.
You've just processed a Binaural Beat in your brain.
How This Can Help Sleep
As the human brain follows the frequencies (Frequency Following Response), it creates a perception of a brand new third frequency which the brain then produces brainwaves that match the exact Hertz (Hz)
The Effects Of Binaural Beats On Sleep
When done correctly, this third tone that the brain simulates brainwaves can elicit a mental state of relaxation which is definitely good for any time of the day but of course, is going to be great for any trying to get to sleep faster.
Let's look at what the science says about Binaural Beats' effectiveness...
The Science Of Binaural Beats
An interesting study confirms its efficacy
In a U.K study by Dr. D. Laws (3), he concludes that Binaural Beats may be effective in assisting in the augmentation of both sleep quality and duration, meaning you might want to give this high concept sleep biohack a try.
The above-cited study mentions that the relaxation induced by Binaural Beats may help to elicit sleepiness and help with the initial falling asleep process.
One of the most promising things about this study was that the test subjects were pre-operative patients. Their exposure to Binaural Beats has a measurable effect on their levels of anxiety, reducing stress levels, and having a positive effect on their mental state.
This bodes well for other applications, but for those who are wanting to get to sleep but have difficulty tuning out, this could offer an excellent sleep-inducing benefit.
So, to summarize:
> Binaural Beats work by sending different signals to each individual headphone
> The different signals are processed in the brain which causes a relaxed state
> The relaxed state reduces stress and can help to induce sleep
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"Binaural Beats are an exciting new product that might do far more than just help you get to sleep.
There could be a whole host of other conceivable benefits which may make this biohack worthy of being further down this list in the future"
Time for Sleep Biohack #28
28. Neuro-Associate The Bedroom
Eliminate Non-Bedroom Activities
This Might Not Go Down So Well
Yes, sex is fine, don't panic.
The problem is that people have made other areas of the home encroach upon their bedroom. The room that used to be almost solely for sleep has become a second entertainment hub.
Now Bedrooms have TVs laptop computers and some people even have mini-fridges next to their beds - Living the dream right?
In an upcoming biohack further down we'll discuss electrical disturbance, well, this is different and almost as bad. Why?
Let's look at why using your bedroom as a second media-room hurts your sleep...
The Bedroom Is Neuro-Associative
Making The Connection
Explaining the link
Your brain creates a neuro-association with your bedroom.
This connection means subconscious reasoning takes place at bedtime that connects being in the bedroom to actual sleep.
When your bedroom is used primarily for sleep, your brain may be more likely to produce the hormones necessary for the inception of sleep.
This hormone production is based on the neural associations you make between the sleep that happens in your bedroom and your presence there.
If you consistently use your bedroom as a secondary TV room or office, then the brain creates a different neuro-association with what should be your place of rest. Instead, now believing it to be your place of entertainment.
So get rid of the tech from your bedroom and sleep better.
Don't Partake In Non-Bedroom Activities
(With An Exception Or Two)
Again, sex is fine
You're off the hook for that. The real problem is distraction.
The temptation to NOT sleep
Technology in the bedroom only makes us want to use it and that is a problem if we're hitting up the internet or watching a TV show instead of actually sleeping, which is what far too many people do.
If you want to take a disciplined approach to sleeping (yeah, that sounds kinda funny), then you're going to have to make tough choices.
Getting rid of distracting technology is one of them.
But it's not just the distraction that is the real problem here...
Reducing Bedroom Tech
The Real Problem
Easier said than done?
This really depends. If you have a dedicated TV room in your house, you may find that the increase in sleep from only watching "the box" in that room is very much worth removing the television from the bedroom.
Should you read in bed?
This is an interesting question because it's both a positive and a negative.
It may create a similar environment to having a television set on but reading can make some people quite sleepy which could, in turn, create a situation where reading books is linked to sleep, and therefore it may be a net benefit.
It'll depend on if reading in bed makes you sleepy and if you're reading in bed before sleep or not
Don't read in bed during the day
Obviously, if reading makes you sleepy at night it may be okay but if you're sitting on your bed reading during daylight hours it may wreck any bedroom-reading-sleep neuro-associations.
So be careful
So, to summarize:
> The bedroom should be for sleep, sex, and maybe reading
> Non-bedroom activities in the bedroom can affect sleep hormones
> Reading might be okay if it's done before bed and make your drowsy
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"It can be really comfy having a TV in bed and for some, it may not be a big deal but if you're having a lot of trouble getting to sleep then eliminating bedroom television time and only watching it in another room, might help a lot"
Okay, now we have Sleep Biohack #27
27. Unwind Pre-Bedtime
Easier Said Than Done, Right?
Unwind The Right Way
Some of the above biohacks may mention how an elevated heart rate reduces your ability to fall asleep fast.
If an elevated heart rate keeps you awake...
Then it obviously stands to reason that lowering your heart rate can accelerate sleep - Which it does.
The key is knowing how to achieve this.
Plan to relax
Having a pre-bedtime strategy can be extremely helpful with letting you stay on top of the activities that might otherwise keep you awake.
Being proactive about your sleep is very important.
Let's look at some tips to unwind, relax, and chill out before bed...
Be Like The Cat
Well, Kind Of
Kitties know how to relax
Okay, let me clarify - Don't be like the crazy, nocturnal cat on catnip. But, do pay attention to the way a cat can achieve ridiculous levels of "chill".
I'm referencing the proverb "Cats are connoisseurs of comfort". There's got to be something in that worth investigating.
If you're nearing your sleeping time, move slower, do things at a very tempered pace, or not at all. It's all about keeping that heart rate lowered.
Now is the time to procrastinate
Pre-bed is the time to completely embrace the utter laziness of the cat.
Harness the power of meditation
It's nearing your bedtime, now is not the time to stress or anticipate tomorrow.
Anxiety is a major cause of insomnia and as such, it makes perfect sense to develop the tool to reduce an anxious state of mind.
Meditation can help both with breathing techniques, but also methods of clearing the mind and removing negative thoughts.
It's worth trying even if it's not something you've ever done
Meditation has a whole host of benefits for your health and in this instance - Your sleep will benefit from learning to meditate.
Pre-Bed Hot Drink
A Great Neural Linking Strategy
If you remember that last biohack where we talked about things that were neuro-associative with sleep help to produce beneficial hormones that may promote sleep.
By having a hot drink every night as part of your pre-bedtime routine, you can help create a neuro-associative environment.
Avoid the caffeine, though
For obvious reasons, you're not going to want to pump your body full of heart-elevating stimulants right on the cusp of sleep time.
Ditch the caffeinated beverages in favor of decaf or drinks that have no caffeine at all.
So, to summarize:
> A lowered heart rate is better for your sleep
> Meditation can lower your heart rate
> A pre-bed drink may be neuro-associative and help you fall asleep
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"I know you're not stupid and are not planning on doing 20 mins on the treadmill before bed but it's the small things here that might help like a bit of chill time.
Be proactive about doing this in part of your pre-bedtime routine and you'll definitely see some benefits"
Right on time for Sleep Biohack #26
26. Biohack Your Carbs
Controlling Your Blood Sugar
Helping Your Rest
Carbs too close to bedtime can have a negative effect on sleep.
That isn't to say carbs are necessarily bad for sleep, it's just that elevated blood sugar can be.
Being smart about your carbs may help you sleep
For this reason, biohacking your carbs can help lower your blood sugar and assist you in falling asleep quicker.
It's pretty much common sense that you should not chow down on a bowl of sugar before bed but there's a bit more to it when it comes to carbs.
In theory, they can hinder or help your sleep.
Let's look at helping control carbs to get you to sleep faster...
Biohacking Your Carbs Before Bed
Reducing Energy Spikes
Steady is better (most times)
I'm a big fan of steady blood glucose for a number of reasons.
As far as well-being goes, high blood sugar can be dangerous for your health, your weight-loss efforts, not to mention can cause crashing energy levels and affect mood.
Sugar spikes affect sleep
An elevated insulin level may prevent you from falling asleep straight away and that's clearly not ideal. There are a few ways to have carbohydrates and still prevent this, though.
Be smart - Control your carbs
Controlling your carbs is the smart way to go about eating, any time of the day, but considering the impact carbs can have on sleep, it would be even more beneficial to deal with pre-bed carbs the smart way.
Some Carbohydrates May Benefit Sleep
Hitting The Sweet Spot
Carbs can assist with sleep onset
It's something that people on a ketogenic or low-carb diet are all too aware of. Reduced carbs can keep you awake and exacerbate insomnia and sleep dysfunction.
Some perfectly timed carbs before bed can have an effect that actually can help you fall asleep faster each night.
This is one of two key factors in consuming carbs before bed. Too many carbohydrates and your body may be subject to excess heating as it tries to burn through a surplus of carbohydrate-based calories.
I serving the size of your fist has long been an informal but effective way to measure many carb sources for most people's diets.
The glycemic index measure how much of a spike on your blood sugar a given carb source creates. 40 is low. 80 is high.
Now there's some evidence to suggest that some high G.I (glycemic index) carbs may help you fall asleep faster (4) but the problem is that may have negative effects such as increased proclivity towards fat storage and possible mood changes (which can affect sleep)
Small mid-G.I carb meals may strike a happy balance
By eating a normal (size of your fist) portion of natural carbs before bed such as potato, apple, or most fruits, you can get some carbs to help you sleep but avoid a massive sugar rush.
Also by eating these 2-3 hours before bed and not consuming higher fiber carbohydrates like oatmeal, grains, or cereal, you can avoid the excess gastrointestinal work the body has to perform that might prevent a night of more restful sleep.
Carb Biohacks That Lower Blood Glucose
Minimizing blood sugar response
There are a couple of carbohydrate biohacks you can use to keep blood sugar down and reduce the impact the pre-bedtime carbs might have on your sleep.
By cinnamon, I mean "Ceylon Cinnamon" which is true cinnamon. This is different from the variety you'll likely find in a supermarket which is usually actually cassia tree bark and could be toxic at large doses.
Taking a teaspoon of Ceylon Cinnamon in water with a meal can help lower the blood sugar glucose response of a meal. You can buy this type of cinnamon in most good health food stores
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apart from the myriad of health benefits, having apple cider vinegar with your meal can help to lower the glucose response of the food, allowing you to be far less affected by having carbs prior to bed.
Every biohacker I know goes through a lot of organic apple cider vinegar and for good reason. Maybe you should too.
Though less powerful than Ceylon cinnamon, cardamon is a useful spice in its own right. Also carrying a decent array of healthful properties, cardamon powder can be taken with meals to help lower the blood sugar response of the carbohydrates.
Opt for organic Cardamon and look for it in glass jars (and everything you buy) rather than plastic.
So, to summarize:
> Carb size, timing, fiber count, & sugar-content play a big role in sleep or awakedness
> The right carbs 2-3 hours pre-bedtime might help you fall asleep faster
> Cardamon, Ceylon cinnamon, & apple cider vinegar can low blood sugar response
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"I'm a huge proponent of eating carbohydrates. The exceptional hormonal benefits, the energy assistance, and the pro-sleep effects are well worth having them in your diet.
For those looking to lose weight but still keep carbs, the mentioned carb biohacks can do wonders for helping to keep you in fat-burning mode while still getting the advantages of carb fueled energy"
Next in line we have Sleep Biohack #25
25. Sleep Aromatherapy
Relax Your Senses
Drift Into Slumber
What you're looking for with aromatherapy is the calming effect it can have which is exceedingly useful for anybody wanting to get some shuteye.
Essential oils have been used for millennia and as such have developed a strong following with many people claiming that using aromatherapy has helped them sleep soundly on a regular basis.
Not everything that is popular is good and not everything that is unpopular is bad.
What we can deduce is that there are many satisfied people with the results including those using aromatherapy to get to sleep.
But what does the science say?
The Science Of Aromatherapy
Science-based evidence shows effectiveness
In a study of ICU patients, aromatherapy was shown to have a statistically significant effect on sleep, in particular; lavender oil seemed to be effective. (5)
Aromatherapy may also lower anxiety
A total of sixty patients were tested for sleep improvement and were found according to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) scale to have a measurable increase in respose quality and reduction in anxiety levels.
Essential oils for aromatherapy sleep
Other oils that have been recommended for the sole purpose of assisting people in getting to sleep are Mandarin, Bergamot, Sandalwood, and (the very expensive) Frankincense.
How to use aromatherapy devices
These diffuser units can be placed in the bedroom prior to sleep and then removed/powered off in order to eliminate noise, light, and sound.
It's common for most aromatherapy devices to contain a pump, that evaporates water with the oils in the machine. This diffusion helps evenly disperse the scent and aroma throughout the room.
Choose the oils you prefer
You can purchase the essential oils of your preference and simply place them in these devices as it dissipates them into the air, leaving your bedroom smelling wonderful and giving you all the calming effects you're looking for.
A Couple Of Small Hazards To Watch For
Because the main aromatherapy units contain water and are electric-powered, there is the risk however small, that you might spill the water and possibly make contact with an electrical outlet.
Some devices have a tight seal but not all of them are quite so safe so caution may be required
Essential oil dangers
Not all oils are extremely safe for everybody.
Oils that may cause irritation in skin-sensitive individuals may include:
Anybody with extremely sensitive skin may want to avoid these essential oils.
Any man who values his testosterone (which should be every man) should take care and caution with the following estrogen promoting oils:
These may mimic estrogen production which could be quite dangerous for male testosterone levels and for females with breast cancer issues.
So, to summarize:
> Science says Aromatherapy can help with both sleep-induction and anxiety
> Aromatherapy devices are readily available and easy to purchase
> There are some moderate dangers associated with essential oils and diffuser units
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"This is something that's very easy to implement, has a pretty solid science-backed record, and has a very real rest-inducing effect.
Beware of estrogenic oils, though - Lavender is the worst offender so look for other oils that help sleep like Mandarin, Bergamot, Sandalwood, and Frankincense."
Now we move along to Sleep Biohack #24
24. Exercise For Sleep?
Just Don't Exercise Right Before Bedtime
But You Should Exercise
It's an effective tool in your kit
Exercise has been proven to have an important effect on both sleep duration and quality. For anyone looking to catch forty winks a little easier, this may be a missey key.
The right exercise helps
Of course, there are better ways to do things so exercising smarter and maximizing the effects it has on rest are going to be something any biohacker worth their salt is going to pay serious attention to.
Almost anyone can do this
Outside of those who are severely incapacitated (and many of them still try, without excuses), most people have the wherewithal to perform some form of daily exercise.
Let's take a look at how exercise can help you sleep better...
Increasing Fitness Increases Sleep Quality
Science Says So
It doesn't require hours at the gym
As little as 20 minutes of exercise per day can naturally increase your ability to enjoy a deeper slumber. In fact, too much exercise can be counter-productive to good health.
In the study "Exercise Effects on Sleep Physiology", scientists found that people who commit at least 20 minutes per day to some form of physical activity have an enhanced sleeping experience because of the effect on slow wake-sleep cycles. (5)
This is excellent news, especially for those who don't work out at all. Consider it an option, at least.
Better CNS sleep
The above-cited study published by Frontiers In Neurology showed that those who participated in some forms of exercise had improved CNS (central nervous system) sleep. This means a far more restful nap time which is what we're all aiming for.
Even More Benefits Of Exercise On Sleep
Exercise bestows a whole range of later benefits DURING sleep
In addition to sleep-induction speed, there are a few additional advantages to be gained from regular exercise including:
Better REM sleep
This is the immersive rest most athletes are obsessed with.
REM stands for rapid eye movement which can be observed by those in the precious deep-sleep state.
Improved metabolic functions
In the study cited above on sleep physiology, the epidemiological examination has found an improvement in some metabolic functions during the sleeping process.
Possible glucose transportation and disposal enhancement
There is some evidence suggesting that blood sugar processing during sleep is improved if the individual has participated in an exercise regimen.
Cautions Regarding Exercise & Sleep
Things To Consider
Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime because that can produce an elevated heart rate and body temperature that are not conducive to good quality rest.
A workout 2 hours before bed is more than likely going to make it harder to get to sleep depending on the individual.
The recommended time gap between strenuous exercise and sleep is 4-6 hours dependent on the individual's tolerances. This can vary quite a bit between individuals so it's something that has to be experimented with.
Intensity might also matter
Lighter exercise is obviously not going to elevate the heart rate the same, so walking after dinner will probably be fine working under the assumption that dinner is not immediately near your bedtime.
Seek medical advice
Before beginning an exercise program it is always recommended to seek out professional medical advice.
So, to summarize:
> Daily exercise has been shown to help with sleep-induction as well as quality
> Regular physical activity has been shown to benefit many intra-sleep metabolic functions
> Don't exercise directly before bed
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"As if you really need to be told to perform some physical activity but here we are and that's what I'm telling you (after you've sought medical advice clearing you to do so)
Don't exercise before bed, though. That would be plainly stupid"
So, it's time for Sleep Biohack #23
Eat Your Way To Sleep?
Don't Mind If I Do
The turkey based siesta
There's a fairly frequent occurrence whereby those who eat turkey dinners (think Thanksgiving/Christmas et al.) tend to fall asleep not long afterwards.
There's a reason that this afternoon nap time occurrence happens with such frequency.
Turkey & tryptophan
Turkey is high in tryptophan which could go some way towards explaining why many people feel the need to take an afternoon nap after the consumption of copious amounts.
Is it just turkey responsible for Holiday naps?
Now, there are a few reasons for this such as early mornings, arduous preparation and energy-sapping activities but one of the stand out reasons is that of the tryptophan found inside the turkey.
Tryptophan & sleeping better
Consumption of tryptophan-containing foods can aid in helping those who want to fall asleep to do so faster.
Let us take a closer look at how tryptophan might help with slumbering...
Tryptophan > Serotonin > Melatonin Conversion
The Drowsy Cycle
The reason tryptophan is believed to be an excellent natural sleep aid is because tryptophan converts into the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) at some point post-consumption.
What happens next is thought to be where the cycle creates drowsiness and can induce sleep.
After tryptophan consumption, at some point when exposed to darker lighting conditions, the created serotonin is further synthesized into melatonin which as we've covered, may lead to better natural sleep.
Darkness may be required
For maximum effect, exposure to lower lighting might be beneficial to maximize the tryptophan>serotonin>melatonin cycle but given that so many people fall asleep while it's broad daylight during holidays, that may not actually be necessary.
Sources Of Tryptophan
What To Eat
Getting natural tryptophan from your food
If you're looking to help your sleep with a little tryptophan in your diet, there are few foods you can look to consume that may help you.
Stay away from hormone disruptors
I've left out ones that contain hormone disrupting PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and estrogen promoting phytochemicals. Every good biohacker knows to avoid those foods where possible.
Sources Of Tryptophan To Help You Sleep:
- Turkey & Chicken
- Beef, Pork, & Lamb
- Whole Eggs
- Tuna, Salmon, & White Fish
Be sure to consume an hour or two before bed to let the tryptophan process.
Tryptophan supplementation is popular, especially the supp 5-HTP, but full cautions should be taken when supplementing with concentrated sources and medical contraindications should be learned.
Tryptophan Health Cautions
Things To Watch For
While tryptophan is not a cause of liver disease, it is recommended to consult with a physician before consuming it if you have the aforementioned affliction
Like liver disease, tryptophan is not believed to cause this ailment but medical advice should be sought for those with kidney disease if they intend on using tryptophan.
Individuals suffering from eosinophilia (high levels of a certain type of white blood cells); or who have fibromyalgia are cautioned to not take tryptophan without a thorough medical examination and clearance.
Tryptophan supplements may also interact with some medications so awareness of contraindications is important.
So, to summarize:
> Tryptophan might help with assisting sleep induction
> It should work better at night when exposed to darker lighting
> There are some cautions which should be researched before supplementation
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"Like most things, I opt for natural sources. I wouldn't personally take a tryptophan supplement but definitely like to consume a few tryptophan-rich foods prior to sleep"
With that, we move on to Sleep Biohack #22
22. Carb Synergy
Synergize Your Carbohydrates
Carbs can help you sleep
All the way back in biohack #26 I talked about reducing the impact of carbs on blood sugar but you'll notice I never said they were a bad idea - Quite the contrary, as it turns out, carbohydrates in the right circumstances can help to induce sleep faster than in their absence.
The key is the right type of carbs
There is a bit of a fine line between the type of carbohydrates that might help you to fall asleep and the ones that will keep you awake at night.
It's important to know the difference.
It is also prudent to know whether or not you can handle carbohydrates which I'll go into with a little more depth further down, but for most people, it should be okay.
So let's look at using carbs to fall asleep...
Faster Acting Carbs Work Best
With A Caveat
If you can handle them
Now, this has some contingent requirements.
In biohack #26 I talked about how fast-acting carbs might not be ideal for everyone and how medium carbs could be okay but definitely NOT slow-acting carbohydrates.
To use fast-acting carbs
You probably need to have a fairly decent response mechanism to carbohydrates so, if you're overweight and have poor insulin sensitivity - It may be better to cut out the carbs.
Fast carbs for an overweight or obese person might increase weight gain propensity
Your body shape might matter
For people in better health and shape, studies show that a very small amount of high-glycemic carbohydrates may help to induce a favorable biological state for optimal sleep. (6)
So the science seems to show that if you are wise about carbohydrate use, it might help you to fall asleep.
Why Not Slow Carbs?
You're Sleeping Not Running A Marathon
Why aren't slow carbs sleep-friendly?
Most low-GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates burn slowly in our system.
The truth is that you don't need a whole lot of complex carbohydrates when you're asleep as you're not really in need of that form of energy.
Simple carb-based drowsiness
Slow-burning complex carbs might not work as well because it's the initial phase we're interested in here.
There's not a lot of need for excess carbs once we're already asleep.
High fiber can be anti-sleep
Most complex carbs are very high fiber and the issue with this is that if your digestive system is having to work to digest fiber, it might cause issues with your rest.
The last thing you want when trying to enjoy a deep slumber is your body heating up and having to perform digestive work. That's not sleep-conducive.
Carbs Help Tryptophan Synthesis
Improve tryptophan adoption
In the previous biohack, I talked about how effective tryptophan could be as a possible sleep-aid, well, it turns out that having carbs with your source of tryptophan can help augment the synthesis of said tryptophan.
If you utilize the carb control methods from biohack #26 in conjunction with tryptophan consumption, you'll possibly develop an even stronger method of sleep induction.
The two work together better than the sum of their individual potential. Well worth trying.
If you time your meal right (which is the very next biohack), you can get even more of a potential relaxation benefit that can help you doze off when you need to.
So, to summarize:
> Fast-acting carbohydrates might be the absolute best type to help you snooze
> Overweight folk might not benefit as much from higher glycemic carbs
> Slow acting, high fiber carbohydrates might keep you awake
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"Not everyone is going to be okay with pre-bedtime carbs. That's okay, if it's not for you, then there are plenty of other biohacks here that can help.
At least consider it because it can be really effective especially when paired with tryptophan-rich foods"
Next cab off the rank is Sleep Biohack #21
21. Meal Chronology
The Importance Of Your Meal Clock
Timing Is Everything
Hot off of the back of biohack #22
So, you've read the above biohacks and you're already to eat some biohacked carbs with your tryptophan-containing foods.
What's the issue?
The problem is that if you consume them all too close to when you plan on sleeping, you might have a negative effect on your ability to doze off at night.
Well, luckily there is a way to get the best of both worlds and completely optimize what to eat and when to eat it, before you're ready to snooze and slumber.
Let's take a closer look at meal timing...
Time Your Last Meal Accordingly
Watching The Clock
Respect your digestive system
Rather than stuffing my face before bed and squirming for hours as my body tries to digest a stomach full of food, I try to give myself a bit of time for the food to digest prior to sleep.
Why does this matter?
Because this has a two fold positive effect:
1. There's no lying prone with food slowly digesting, keeping you awake.
2. The sleep-inducing qualities of the pre-bedtime meal have a chance to become bioavailable at sleeping time, not two hours after you're already in bed.
So, don't feast before sleep or else
It's probably common sense but just in case you have a habit of gorging yourself before bedtime, maybe pay a bit of attention to detail in the next two paragraphs.
Be Careful Of Hidden Stimulants
Compounds Can Keep You Awake
Hidden stimulants can hurt your sleep
A bit further down in another biohack, I'll talk a bit more at length about the dangers of anti-sleep stimulants and sleep but for this particular section on meal timing it's really important to know what to look for and to not consume them too close to bedtime.
This can be found in chocolate, cacao and cocoa powers, as well in desserts containing any of these aforementioned ingredients. This compound could be responsible for keeping you awake if consumed too close to bedtime.
Eat this stuff earlier
Theobromine can cause alertness and an accelerated heart rate so it's important to be very aware of any chocolate products within 3-4 hours of bed, depending on your level of tolerance.
This can be found in hard and aged cheeses.
It may have an adrenaline producing effect in some cases which could definitely affect the ability of an individual to fall asleep, so it's well worth being aware of.
How Long Before Bed Should I Eat?
This is more dependent on the food source
It can range anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
It really depends on the type protein and carb sources.
Digestibility plays a huge role here
Working under the assumption you're eating more easily absorbable carbs as mentioned in the previous sleeping biohack, then your protein will be the key.
Meat is not really ideal
Meat takes a long time to digest meaning that if you choose meat as your pre-bedtime protein then you'll need to consume it further away from bedtime than something like whey protein isolate which is pretty much immediately bioavailable.
> 3 hours for red meat
> 2 hours for white meat
> 1 hour for nuts, cheese, & eggs
> 30 minutes for whey protein or amino acids.
That should work okay assuming you have no underlying digestion/allergy issues.
So, to summarize:
> Pre-bedtime meals should be small, low fiber, and easily digestible
> Chocolate products & hard/aged cheeses might keep you awake
> Meat might not be an ideal protein source prior to sleep
AJ's Biohack Rating:
"It all may seem a little complex but it's really simple: don't overeat before bed, give yourself an hour or two, and make sure the food is easily digestible to prevent issues.
Eat your chocolate and hard/aged cheese earlier in the day"
Next, it's time for Sleep Biohack#20