Studies show adults should get between 7 and 9 hours sleep each day, but the amount and quality of sleep’s a major issue, with more than half (51%) of adults worldwide reporting they get less sleep than they need on an average night (Wakefield Research), but the solution’s not taking sleeping tablets, especially as biohacking sleep’s far more effective and can provide an permanent solution for even the biggest insomniac.
So how do you biohack sleep? Here are 19 ways to biohack sleep:
- Measure and monitor sleep
- Keep the bedroom at the right temperature
- Manage body temperature before bedtime
- Manage air quality while sleeping
- Breath correctly while asleep
- Use the right matress and bed linen
- Reduce Electromagnic Freqnecies (EMF)
- Keep the bedroom dark
- Cut down on blue light – switch off screens and use blue Llght blocking glasses
- Use red spectrum light to help sleep
- Soundproof the bedroom
- Use sound waves to enter a sleep state
- Use transcranial electrical stimulation
- Induce relaxation through meditation and breathing
- Use essential oils and crystals
- Eat and drinking at the right times
- Eat and drinking the right things
- Take sleep promoting supplements
- Wear the right clothes
In today’s hectic and digital world, there are distractions and stimulants everywhere and these will be affecting your sleep whetehr you like it or not.
Whether you’re binge-watching Netflix, checking social media, watching Youtube, catching up on work, tucking in to a late night snack or fitting in the exercise you planned to do earlier but didn’t quite manage to do, we’re all sometimes guilty of putting off sleep for less important things than this fundamental human need that impacts every single part of our life.
It is unmistakable, sleep is vitally important. It affects everything from the obvious, such as energy levels, brain function, mood, stress levels and recovery from exercise or ilness, to the less familiar like weight gain, balance and coordination, creativity, sex drive, signs of aging and life expectancy.
Sleep is vital to all aspects of life whether you like it or not, so why are more than half of adults worldwide not getting enough sleep and how can they improve this situation?
Measure and Monitor Sleep
First of all you need to know how good or bad your sleep is and what the issues are, this way you can biohack the right things and save yourself time, money, effort and sleepless nights in the process.
You need to address the root cause of the problem, as lack of or poor quality sleep is just a symptom.
If falling asleep is the issue then you can address this
Maybe you sleep for 8 hours but that sleep is interupted and of poor quality.
Your issue could be that wake up at 5 am and can’t get back to sleep.
Whatever’s the root cause of your sleep problem you can biohack to solve it.
These days you don’t need to visit a sleep lab as there are many ways to track and measure yourself while you’re sleeping.
From heart rate monitors and health tracking gadgets like a Fitbit or Oura Ring, to under mattress and pillow sleep monitoring devices, there’s an abundance of relatively low cost technology out there to make it quick, easy and actually fun to see how well you sleep.
By measuring and monitoring your sleep you’ll be able to pretty much see where you are going wrong with your sleep.
It’s all well and good measuring and finding the issues, but how do you fix them?
Biohacks For The Bedroom
We sleep in roughly 90 minute intervals, you can find out about this in our article on creating an evening routine, and your sleep length and quality will be relate to one or more of the five phases of sleep.
Start biohacking your sleep with simple things such as cooling your bedroom down, making sure the room’s dark by using bl
Obviously you also want to minimise sound too before and during sleep and it’s best to do that naturally if possible, but if not there are noise cancelling and white noise devices that you can use.
Have the right mattress and bed linen to regulate your temperature, minimise toxins and reduce the spread of bacteria and to help prevent dust mites from living in your mattress and bedding.
When it comes to household furnishings, including a mattress, be very careful as many are a full of highly toxic chemicals that take years to “off-gas” and it’s having a major impact on our health, with studies showing it’s even in mothers’ breast milk.
You’ll often find polyurethane-based foam, formaldehyde and even antimony which is a heavy metal that’s similar to arsenic (yes the poison) as well as flame retardant chemicals that are even more hazardous.
The toxins in bedding don’t just harm the quality of sleep they also encourage allergies, asthma even forms of cancer and spending 8 hours a night next to this chemical cocktail is curing serious damage medium to long term, not just impacting your night’s sleep.
Some people also like using a weighted duvet as this helps them sleep.
Remove as many electrical items from the bedroom as possible, switch off phones, connected devices and WiFi too – these interfere with sleep and if you need an alarm to wake you up in the morning buy a simple one, maybe even a clockwork one, and don’t keep it next to your head while you sleep.
Stop looking at screens before you go to bed. The blue light emitted from electronic gadgets disrupt the body’s clock.
Science shows that blue light makes us more alert at night, making it harder to fall asleep. I’m no ssleep cientist but if you want to read more on this and get a more detailed analysis I would take a look at: http://www.bluelightexposed.com/#what-is-bue-light
As we all know, electronic devices are everywhere, so maybe you can’t avoid screens altogether (I know I can’t) so buy a pair of blue light block glasses and wear them when on the computer, play on the games console, watch TV, check your phone or scroll through things on a tablet or laptop.
Companes like TrueDark and Swannies have different frame styles and blue light blocking lenses at different prices, and you can find even more options on Amazon just click here to see them.
One extra word of advice – if you’re a gamer don’t play games just before bed because not only do you have the blue light impact of the screen, you also have a variety of mental and physical stimulation occuring too.
Another light related biohack is red spectrum light.
Unlike blue light, red light’s shown help you sleep as it’s wavelength minimises blue light and aids melatonin production, that’s also why some pre-bed bluelight blocking glasses have red lenses, but a red spectrum lightbulb or LED will do the trick too and they are widely available on Amazon and in the normal retailers selling lighting electrical products.
And a third light sleep biohack is the Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp – the crystal used releases a calming light and negative salt ions that are said to neutralise electromagnetic radiation in our environment.
Food and Supplement Sleep Biohacks
Rather than taking sleeping tablets, which are not a medium to long-term solution and not a biohack I’d suggest, there are supplements and nutients from food that will help you sleep, these include:
Magnesium is found naturally in foods like fish, nuts and green vegetables, but you can also buy over-the-counter supplements to take to improve your sleep. On its own, it can actually make you sleepier, so taking it before bed can be a good idea too. 200-350 mg of magnesium is a good amount to take before bed time to alleviate any deficiencies.
More famously known for combatting jet lag, melatonin can help regulate when you sleep and when you’re awake due to its part in your natural circadian rhythm.
As you wake up melatonin levels drop and as you start to fall asleep they rise again, so taking it before you want to sleep can speed up the time it takes to fall asleep.
Take magnesium first and if that doesn’t help after two weeks then add 0.5mg of melatonin to your nightly routine. Everyone is unique however, and if this doesn’t work for you, slowly increase the dosage by 0.5 mg until you find the most effective dosage for you.
Lavender is widely used as an oil and in aromatherapy as a relaxing scent. Put it in your bath, burn it as a candle, or vaporized, you can put it on your pillow or even take it as a pill, many methods exist so choose the best one for you. It can ease anxiety and reduce intrusive thoughts; improving the quality of your sleep.
Don’t worry, it’s not that type of physical activity although this can help men fall asleep, as the hormone Prolactin is released during orgasm and this is linked to tiredness.
No, I’m talking in addition to physical things such as air quality, temperature, light and the quality of your mattress and bedding, the right type of exercise at the right time.
Generally exercise is a good thing for sleep with studies showing that morning exercise majorly reduces the time taken to fall asleep. Just a suggestion, but that’s not the focus of this section…
Don’t do strenous exercise within 2 hours of going to bed as this will stop you falling asleep as your body is dealing with the stress cause by the exercise.
You can also help your body sleep by having a warm bath an hour or so before bed as this helps the body relax and cool before sleep.
You should also dress for sleep, thinking about regulating body temperature and maybe also helping blood flow and recovery, if they are relevnat. You can find out about how compression clothing helps and may be relevant in bed on the HackBiohacking article on the subject you can read by clicking here.
Believe it or not, mental hacks such as meditation, and playing binaural beats (what are they? we’ll get onto it don’t worry) to yourself are widely used and reported to aid in getting a better night’s sleep.
Meditation is not what it sounds like – you won’t have to cross your legs and curl your fingers (unless that helps you of course).
The goal of meditation is to clear your mind, as bedtime is when we are most often in our own headspace and we get caught up in thinking. Supposedly, “meditation helps lower the heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and encouraging slower breathing, thereby increasing the prospect of a quality night’s sleep.”.
I’m no meditation guru, but if you’d like more evidence or convincing, the HeadSpace website you can visit by clicking here offers a detailed background and some guided meditation too.
They were mentioned earlier so let me explain what binaural beats are and how they’re going to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Binaural beats are a form of soundwave therapy. Sounds science fiction right?
What happens is your right and left ears will listen to two slightly different frequency tones yet perceive them as one. Why does this help you sleep? Well, research has found that listening to binaural beats has an effect on these three hormones:
What are these hormones and what was the effect on them?
DHEA affects how a person ages and resists disease. Higher levels of this hormone are linked to improved health. The study above notes that 68% of participants had increased levels of DHEA while using binaural beats therapy.
Cortisol is usually linked to stress when levels are higher than usual, it often has a negative impact on the body. High levels could lead to a range of conditions including anxiety and depression. The research noted a reduction of cortisol of up to 70-80% in several study participants.
Melatonin is a key component in restful sleep, look up to the supplements section and you’ll see why. This study noted an average increase of melatonin of 97.77
And one last hack is to take a nap as in just 15 to 30 minutes it will boost the same things as normal sleep does like memory and energy levels, and done in the right way a nap will actually help your normal night’s sleep, although it doesn’t make up for poor quality sleep or not sleep enough.
In fact, some companies and education establishments have even introduced “pods” for people to relax and nap in.
And if you want to plan a longer daytime sleep, like a 90 minute siesta, this can also help.
Just one of these biohacks can transform your sleep
As you have seen, there are many ways of biohacking your sleep.
As we’re all individual and have specific sleep issues, find the best biohacks for you through testing and trialling the different methods – you don’t need to do everything and it may be that just one quick, easy and free biohack can transform your sleep and therefore your daily life.
As soon as you find the right methods and balance, you will feel the benefits of a good night’s sleep, so it’s the biohack area I’d recommend the most, especially as more than ever sleep, or should I say a lack of good quality sleep, is having a negative effect on you and those around you too.
And remember we have articles on creating the Best Morning Routine, The Best Evening Routine, Biohacking Your Home and the Best Biohacking Supplements with specific detailed information on sleep as well as other biohacks.