My Sleeping Routine
AJ James's Sleep Schedule
Biohacking At Bedtime
I Share My Pre-Sleep Regimen
Easier than it sounds
So, I've decided to share my sleeping routine so that readers can get an idea of what can be done and what it takes to maximize quality sleep.
The "extensive sleeping routine" part probably sounds a bit daunting but as you discover, it really only takes me about fifteen minutes of action to ensure I have better odds of having the perfect night's sleep.
Given the increasingly studied danger of lack of sleep and how people are starting to "wake up" to the realization that sleep length, quality, and immediacy are vitally important to health, it makes sense for me to share my pre-sleep regimen in order to help prevent those aforementioned dangers possibly.
Simple steps to great sleep
It's actually really simple to develop a sleep schedule and follow it. But don't be fooled by its simplicity because a well-regimented sleep plan can be exceptionally effective.
Why Have A Sleep Schedule?
Biohacking Your Circadian Rhythm
Why the sleep schedule?
Short answer: Because it works.
Longer answer: Because your sleeping pattern follows a rhythm and when you have a disruptive rhythm, you invariably end up with a resultant disrupted sleep.
A sleep schedule helps you to develop a pattern that helps to manipulate your neurohormones and create the ideal environment for rest.
Where do I begin?
Truth be told, all you need is a piece of paper and a writing instrument of your choice.
Some people use a sleep journal to create their sleeping schedule but also to monitor what time they went to bed and what time they found themselves awakening.
It all really depends on the goals you have.
Different for everyone
I take a few steps every night (and some during the day) in order to control melatonin and the precursor neurohormones. There are different sleeping needs that others have that you might not as we'll discuss next.
The 3 Sleeping Needs
1. Falling asleep
This is probably the most difficult and where many people struggle.
Those folks with insomnia or the like can find great difficulty in falling asleep and often require some form of supplemental somnolent assistance.
2. Deep sleep
Another vital cog on the sleeping machine is deep sleep. This relaxing, blissful rest is so functionally important for repair and recovery.
There are some folks that have very restless sleeping patterns and wake up feeling like they could to bed all over again.
3. Waking up
It can be extremely frustrating when you wake up too soon. Often there's not enough time to go back to sleep, so, the choice is to get up and begin your day or to close your eyes and remain resting until the shrill sound of your alarm pierces your solitude.
All three of these sleeping needs can be met with different tactics.
As the author of this piece, I can attest to having issues with all three of these rest requirements and take steps to mitigate the negatives and produce positive restful sleep.
AJ James's Sleep Routine
It All Starts Early
Building Towards Bedtime
Where to begin
Okay, the vast majority of things I do for my sleeping routine revolve around my pre-bedtime regimen. But there are a couple of things I do during the day to biohack my circadian rhythm and give myself the best chance of falling asleep quickly and if all goes well, with limited interruptions.
Before my day can even begin I take the first steps toward bedtime.
Step 1: Sun Gazing
Resetting Your Sleep Cycle
The very first thing I do when I wake up is to open my curtains with my eyes closed and turn away from the window with my back to the light.
Now I open my eyes and let my pupils naturally dilate in order to reduce stress damage from extreme differences in light exposure.
Once I've acclimatized, so to speak, I then proceed to walk outside barefoot, and stare near the sun.
NEAR the sun
Those astute readers would have noticed I said near the sun and not directly at it. There are some in the biohacking community that are fans of sun gazing which requires them to stare directly into the sun.
I've not seen any evidence to convince myself that this would be anything other than dangerous to your eye health.
I believe sun gazing done right is where you stare near the sun and achieve maximum pupil dilation. This is the effect we're going for.
This lets our body know it's daytime, we are outside, and that several hours from now the chemical cocktail of neurohormones required for sleep can be manufactured at the right time.
The reason for the immediacy of light exposure is to set the clock for your melatonin later in the evening. The longer you wait for light exposure after awakening, the longer it may be before you feel tired later on that night.
Our circadian rhythm sets to light and dark. This is my way of controlling it and biohacking my brain to release melatonin at the exact right time.
I only sun-gaze for about 30 seconds. There's no real need for longer than this and it's done quickly and I can then get on with my day.
Step 2: Mid-Morning Walk
A stroll in the sun
In order to maximize my rest later in the day, I can take a few steps (literally) to build rest-responsiveness.
Walking in the sunlight mid-morning is optimal as it gives you some sun exposure which helps produce the vitally important Vitamin D, but it also is more temperate than say, high-noon.
A gentle stroll is easy on the joints, good for the circulatory system, and helps to burn a few calories. It also helps us to get fresh air outside of the more stale home environment and although you can take steps to biohack your home airflow, there is simply no substitute for the great outdoors.
I only walk for around 20-25 minutes. It's all I need to boost my sleeping capabilities.
Step 3: Task Completion
Ensuring an optimized "wind down"
This step doesn't require any actual extra work at all. It's simply about timing.
One of the absolute worst things you can do (pertaining to sleep) is to leave everything until right before bedtime.
What I really want to do is to use the last two hours before bed to wind down and relax as much as I can and really minimize my heart rate.
Ticking off the checklist
For my biohacking journey, dinner is not the last thing I consume before bed, I usually have a protein drink with a few moderate cars and some rest-inducing supplements. What I like to do is have everything made and ready to consume so that I need not expend unnecessary energy and break somnolent induction.
I have my protein drink made with my supps ready for consumption which will be approximately one hour before bedtime.
I ensure that after dinner the dishes are done and any cleaning to be performed is done right away.
My goal is to have essentially nothing to do in the last two hours before bed other than the bare necessities.
Step 4: Light Control
Beating UV Disruptions
Blocking blue light
In case you didn't already know, your interactive devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets all have blue light emissions which can keep you awake.
These blue light streams convince your brain that there is sunlight and because of this the neurohormones required to sleep properly can be severely delayed in their production.
The good news is that most devices have settings that allow you to turn off the blue light automatically every day so that you will not have to even worry about it.
I make sure my settings turn the blue light off at 6 pm every day.
This really refers to any intrusive light that creates excessive dilation of your pupils.
I like to turn off and dim all lights before bedtime just before I have my pre-bed protein drink. That way my brain knows that it's time to start producing those somnolence-inducing chemicals right away.
Step 5: Last Meal
Around an hour before bedtime, I have a protein drink consisting of essential amino acids plus added taurine, glycine, proline, inositol, agmatine sulfate, N-Acetyl cysteine, and quercetin extract.
This is a source of fast-acting protein that my body will process quickly which will mean when I am in bed, there should be little for my digestive system to do.
I also may take 100 MLS of cherry juice which can help elicit a soporific sleepy state.
My sleeping aid supplements include ashwagandha, mucuna pruriens, hypericum, passionflower extract, and Rhodiola extract, I usually take two of these each night in order to cycle them for maximum effectiveness.
I also consume a cup of chamomile tea with some potassium salt which can help modulate somnolence-inducing neurons.
Vitamins & mineral supplementation
Along with my amino drink, cherry juice, and tea, I take a couple of vitamins such as Vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, a Vitamin B complex, and 4 grams of wild-sourced fish oil.
By consuming these one hour before bed, I can ensure digestion is optimized to give me the nutrients I need and to reduce the digestive strain that heavier meals can place on the system.
Step 6 Brush Teeth
Get it done early
Rather than waiting until right before bed to brush my teeth, I like to do it immediately after my last meal.
I sometimes moisturize my face and use a derma roller, too. This is the time to do it.
By now there is very little for me to do and I should have a nice small block of free time but just before this, I put aside 5 minutes for...
Step 7: Meditation
Calming For Bed
My meditation ritual
Right after I've taken the last supps for the day, I do a very short meditation.
5 minutes is all I need. I just get on the ground on my knees and practice some slow breathing and some mindfulness.
Slow and low
I'm really just looking to clear my mind, relax and slow my breathing.
It's pretty simple. Elevated heart rate = alert, awakeness. Lowered heart rate = restfulness.
Just a little meditation to relax and begin the unwinding process
By now I have about 50 minutes before bed, so, I can read by candlelight, or watch some TV.
In my anti-aging biohacking guide, I write about the dangers of stress on your health at a cellular level. Meditation is a powerful stress reliever and because stress can have such an adverse effect on sleep quality, it makes meditation an incredibly effective tool in both fitting the effects of aging and getting better sleep.
Step 8: Cooling The Bedroom
Time For My Nap
It's slumber time
After I've had my little downtime, it's now time for some serious sleep.
Time to get ready for bed.
This is usually a 10-minute process and because most things are done, it's a simple, relaxing process
Cooling the bedroom
The perfect bedroom temperature is slightly different for everyone but one thing is for sure, a warm room is less conducive to good sleep. According to sleep psychologist Michelle Drerup, the perfect bedroom temperature for good sleep is 60 to 67° F (15 to 19° C).
If it's winter, I prefer oil heaters as they don't dry the air like a hot air fan. I live in a warm climate so, it's not really an issue.
In the summer, nothing beats air conditioning if you have it but a good fan is okay too.
If I'm using air conditioning, 10 minutes before bed is when would turn it on, if it's a fan I'm using then an hour before bedtime is preferable.
Step 9: Hot Shower
Warm Water Therapy
Right before bed
I leave my last shower of the day until right before bed and this time it's a nice quick hot shower. Usually, it's only 1 minute long as I've already had my longer cold shower earlier in the evening.
I'm really just trying to bump up my body temperature before hopping into my nice cool bed. This will help to reduce cortisol and induce muscle relaxation.
Time it right
I definitely don't want to overheat or sweat. A single minute of hot water exposure should do the trick.
Step 10: Eliminating Devices
Free space bedroom
I have zero technology in my bedroom. I believe a clear room is neuropsychologically advantageous.
I've also written fairly extensively on the effects of EMFs and RFs (Reduce Electromagnetic Fields & Radio Frequencies) on sleep.
Any devices like a TV or a computer that are outside my bedroom also get turned off because those electromagnetic fields can interrupt sleeping patterns.
Turning off the internet
I turn my modem off so, long as no one else is using the internet but that's rare.
Internet wifi can trick your brain into staying awake, so, it's always a good idea to eliminate the danger with a simple flick of a switch.
Step 11: Gratitude
It's now time for lights out. I'm ready for bed but before I hop into my perfectly comfortable, cool bed, it's time to instill some positivity in my mind.
Some people (many biohackers) like to keep a gratitude journal but I like to use this time after turning the lights out to sit on the end of my bed and in the fashion of meditation, clear my mind and think of the fundamental things I appreciate the most.
My personal gratitude
I don't feel the need to divulge my inner thoughts of the time, but I can attest that family is something that is always close in my heart and mind.
Positive thoughts help control cortisol and improve dopaminergic response. This can lead to better sleep.
It's especially useful if you're more stressed than usual.
Planning Your Own Sleep Routine
Creating Your Own Sleep Schedule
Deciding on your sleep goals
Sleep goals probably sound like a strange coalition of words but if you really think about it, shouldn't you have a goal in mind about how much sleep you want to achieve and something to at the very least, aim for?
The first cab off the rank is how much sleep you want. The basic sleeping requirements seem to be 7-9 hours depending on age, physical activity, and health.
If you're aiming for 8 hours per night, then you'll need to do the math which may not sound remotely surprising but there are many whom just rock up to bed when they feel like it and invariably complain that they're constantly tired.
Working back from your alarm
If you want 8 hours and you need to be awake and out of bed at 6 AM then it's most likely that a 10 PM bedtime would give you 8 hours in bed.
Time in bed does not, however, equal time asleep, so, some extra buffer time to fall asleep is going to be required.
Following my sleeping routine
As you can probably tell, my sleep schedule is tailored to my needs and my availability. I'm able to take a 10 AM walk in the sun on a daily basis. Not everyone is going to be able to facilitate that for themselves.
One thing that is easy to do, though, is to immediately get light exposure first thing in the morning (assuming you do not awaken pre-dawn) and set your circadian rhythm.
Taking sleeping supplements
I'm not a fan of prescription sleep medication. I believe melatonin is the only pharmaceutical worth taking and even then I'd only personally use it in times of sleeping irregularities.
I am very much a fan of natural and effective herbal supplements such as ashwagandha, mucuna, and chamomile tea.
In my biohacking guide 31 sleep biohacks, I've included several potent substances that can help you fall asleep or help your rest and relax. Be sure to check that free guide out.
Sticking To The Plan
Anyone can make a plan
It's quite easy to make a sleeping plan but sticking to it is the real test.
There's a biohacking term I like to use called "sleep discipline" which is a measure of your efforts in regards to getting to bed.
It's so easy to watch an extra episode of the show you're binging or to wait a little longer for bed because you're not feeling tired yet. These tiny decisions erode your rest and recovery.
It's important for your own health to take the correct measures to ensure you meet your sleep requirements.
Creating a sleep journal
I highly recommend using a sleep journal to monitor your bedtimes and to account for how much sleep you get. By holding yourself accountable in writing you'd be surprised just how much easier it is to achieve that all-important follow-through.
Let your family know
Sometimes the greatest hurdle to a fantastic night of sleep is a family member who keeps the TV on loud, slams doors, or is just noisy in general. I can relate, maybe you can too.
It's great to have an honest conversation and let those who cohabitate with you that you're trying to procure a little more sleep and that their assistance and thoughtfulness could be of great help.
What Have We Learned?
Formulating A Plan
The less you need to do before bedtime, the better, Get those dinner dishes done and your teeth brushed as early as you can and make sure any physical activities you need to perform and completed.
Good sleep discipline is the enemy of procrastination.
Get sunlight early
There are few things easier than getting a little light exposure in the morning. A tip for you if you awaken before sunrise is to turn a light on and stare at it for around 10 seconds. This can act as a reasonable substitute for waketime sun gazing.
Exercise if you can
Your body rests better when it's had reason to. A little exercise each day improves sleep according to a randomized controlled study, so, if you can, it's a great idea to burn some extra calories and get better sleep.
Keep the TV out of the bedroom
This is probably going to be my epitaph but I'm a fierce advocate of removing technology from the bedroom because of the extreme sleep disruption that tech can create.
I've written pretty detailed accounts of this in my biohacking your sleep guide which I linked to above if you're interested in learning more.
Keep your room temperate
A hot or too-cold room is going to affect your sleeping ability significantly. A nice cool but not cold room is perfect.
My Sleeping Routine
The final verdict
There we have it. A detailed description of my personal sleep schedule and some of the tips, tricks, and biohacks I use to get to sleep fast and rest deep as well as long.
Things to remember
If you're looking to formulate a sleeping plan then be realistic in your goals and try to make gradual adjustments to make it easier on yourself.
Don't beat yourself up because you stayed up a little late one night. Just try to keep a consistent bedtime and try following some of the useful tricks I've used to biohack my sleep if you can.
The last word
Not everyone has time to do 50 things to establish a perfect sleeping environment but I'm willing to bet there are at least a couple of things everybody can act upon that could help them to really improve their sleep and benefit from the health advantages gained from a good night's sleep.
Thank you for my sleeping routine.
The information contained in this article is offered for informational purposes only. This information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or treating ailments and should you wish to seek such advice, please contact an appropriate medical professional.
My Sleeping Routine
AJ James's Sleep Schedule
By AJ James
Biohacker & Founder
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