Sleep is the number one improvement tool you have available to you every day.
No matter how shot you are after a tough day, a good night’s sleep will put you back in peak performance to start the next one.
Without proper sleep, you just won’t function at your highest level.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that you get the most out of your sleep and wake up feeling energized and ready to go out and crush it.
1) Get Comfortable
Its pretty obvious that the more comfortable you are the better you are going to sleep.
But you can go a little farther than comfort, and create the perfect environment for deeply restful sleep.
a) Manipulate the Temperature
It has been found that sleeping in a room tempered between 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit decreased the time it took to get to sleep.
At this temperature, you are cold enough to use a blanket, but not too cold that you will feel the harsh cold on any extremities that happen to pop out of your blankets.
You need to control the things you can, this is a huge tool for success.
b) Turn off the TV and laptop
I enjoy falling asleep with the TV on. But for some, this is a bad move.
If you are having trouble sleeping with it, ditch it.
c) Aim for pitch black
The darker the room, the better.
This is pretty obvious but still many people have rooms filled with lights from the street and they wonder why they cant sleep.
Get some black out shades and start sleeping through the night.
2) Embrace the light
Getting lots of light throughout the day helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
This is extremely important when it comes to natural sleep.
Light exposure is the main regulator of the sleep hormone, Melatonin. Melatonin is suppressed during the day while you are exposed to light and produced in the evening due to darkness, causing you to become sleepy.
Remember, your brain is used to how things used to be. Where people actually spent all day outside instead of cooped up in offices.
So now while you are inside all day avoiding the sun and then at home in front of the bright computer and TV, your body doesn’t know when to produce Melatonin and when not to.
This results in a poor sleep-wake cycle and disruptive sleep.
What can you do?
a) Spend more time outside
Get outside as much as you can. Its one of the best things you can do.
Your body will stay accustomed to the correct sleep wake cycle, and its just plain healthier.
b) Ditch the shades
Lose the sunglasses during the day and let the sun hit your face and eyes.
c) Grab a Phillips GoLite
If you can’t get outside during the day enough, grab a Phillips GoLite.
Phillips GoLite is commonly used to treat SAD (seasonal effective disorder). SAD is essentially moderate to severe depression during winter months.
I have personally never used this light, but the reviews on amazon are very high.
How can this help with sleep?
Tim Ferris, Author of The Four Hour Body used the GoLite for 15 minutes every morning and noticed that his time to sleep was less than 10 minutes for the first time in weeks.
He continues to use the GoLite during Jet Lag and as a corrective sleeping tool.
This one simple enough.
Exercise is extremely effective at improving sleep.
When you have excess energy built up, your mind is going to be racing all night when you could be sound asleep.
Exercise 2 hours before bed or anytime earlier in the day and you should notice positive effects on your sleep.
But! For some, it is not an overnight affair.
Research shows that it can take up to four months of regular aerobic exercise for insomniac’s to reap the benefits.
So if your sleep is really that bad, prepare to have a long term relationship with exercise, which at the end of the day is not a bad thing at all.
4) Take a cold bath
This clearly doesn’t sound like too much fun.
But if desperate times call for desperate measures you can resort to cold treatment to induce restful sleep.
I have personally experienced the tranquilizing effect this has on your body when I used to take ice baths in my college training room after night games.
Every time about an hour after I would pass out like a rock.
Tim Ferris has had similar results with this as he recorded in his book..
How to do it?
a) Fill up the tub on the coldest setting half way.
b) Fill it up with 2 – 3 bags of ice and wait until it is about 80% melted.
c) Immerse your lower body into the ice water wrking your way up to submerging your upper torso.
d) Stay submerged for 10 minutes, then you’re done.
But trust me, as Tim says it, about an hour later: “It was like getting hit with an elephant tranquilizer.”
5) Use an ultrasonic humidifier
It is said that keeping your room moist is beneficial to sleep.
The reasons are because of they greatly lower symptoms of sinus distress. It is these symptoms that often keep people up all night feeling uncomfortable and out of sorts.
This can be difficult when traveling but Air-O-Smith makes a small travel humidifier that you can run with just a water bottle.
6) Sleep in the correct position
“The Half Military Crawl Position” is, in my opinion, the best position to get to sleep.
Essentially because you can’t move. Much.
Less fidgeting = better sleep.
I have always naturally slept in this position and I sleep like a baby, so if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot.
7) Up your vitamin D
If you read our recent article on supplements, you already know that over half the world is Vitamin D deficient.
One of the main symptoms Involved with vitamin D deficiency is disruptive sleep.
How much Vitamin D should I take?
The Vitamin D council states that you should consume 1,000 IU’s of Vitamin D per 25 pounds of body weight.
For a 200 lb male, this means 8,000 IU’s a day.
Essentially with maximum sun exposure, your skin would naturally produce roughly 10,000 IU’s a day, so you should not exceed this amount. Too much Vitamin D can certainly be a bad thing.
When should I take my Vitamin D?
This is very important.
Vitamin D should not be taken at night as it has the opposite effect to melotonin.
When taken at night it is shown to disrupt sleep patterns.
However, when taken in the morning it is shown to increase the percentage of REM sleep at night and improve your sleep patterns.
So always take your Vitamin D in the morning.
8) Eat the right food
Food has an enormous effect on your sleep.
There are many things you can do to manipulate your meals to have a positive effect on your sleep.
a) Eat a high fat dinner
Fat = Brain Fuel.
When consumed within 3 hours of sleep, a high-fat meal with some protein will produce a dramatically faster time-to-sleep.
Eggs are a great idea. 4 would be an optimal ratio.
For Tim Ferris, Eating two rib-eye steaks, each about ¾ pounds, had the strongest tranquilizer-like effect.
b) Load up on the fish
Omega 3 has a great effect on your sleeping patterns.
Fish is loaded with natural omega 3 and again, this is a high fat/protien meal with the added benefits of the omega 3’s.
If you don’t feel like eating fish everynight, then just start supplementing with Omega 3 fish oil.
Make sure its high-quality fish oil with a high percentage of DHA and EPA.
Prosource.net Omega 1250 – Some of the best.
9) Pass on the caffeine
Drinking caffeine is cool and all but try not to load up too close to bedtime.
If you are having trouble sleeping and you are drinking a bottle of mountain dew at 8.00 pm every night then I think you have your answer right there.
10) Be routine
Having a regularly scheduled bedtime will help you immensely in your road to great sleep.
Your body and brain are creatures of habit.
Going to sleep at the same time every night will allow you to eventually be able to fall asleep near instantly at that given time.
11) Stop agonizing about falling asleep
Sleeping should be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience.
If you have trouble falling asleep within 15 minutes of laying down don’t sit there and agonize about it.
Don’t keep checking the clock
Don’t calculate how much sleep you can still get if you fall asleep in the next half hour
Don’t fight it
Get up and do something relaxing until you feel the natural need to sleep. Fighting it will only make it harder for you to nod off.
Sleep can really make the man.
Even the best pro athletes wouldn’t be able to perform as they do without proper sleep.
It is vital, beneficial, necessary, and for the most part, under your control.
So if you are having trouble sleeping give these tips a try and let us know how it goes.
Tim Ferris: The Four Hour Body
Dave Asprey: BulletProofExec.co