How biohacking your evening will help you sleep and have more energy the following day
There’s a simple but effective way to finish your day, but very few people understand what to do and why and as a result have problems sleeping, fail to get good quality sleep, don’t have optimal health and don’t recover from exercise or illness as well as they could.
If you want to start each day with an advantage over almost everybody else, hit your targets, achieve your heath and fitness goals and be full of energy too, here’s how to do that by biohack your evening.
Biohack these 3 areas to create the best evening routine:
- Segment the routine in to two parts – evening and pre-sleep
- Eat and drink the right things at the right times
- Set up mentally and physically for a great night’s sleep and the next day
We’ll go through the specific features and benefits of each of these biohack areas, but as they are all related to biohacking, they’re designed to deliver science based significant results for the body and mind.
You should be looking to get, on average, between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night. There are many ways to apply biohacking to your sleep but as a
- Light sleep
- Reduction of eye and brain activity
- Delta brain wave phase
- Deep sleep
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep phase – where dreams occur
This cycle repeats and if you wear a sleep monitor like a fitbit and look at your sleep profile, you can see sleep quality and when some things happen, even if you wake up or are in a very light sleep phase.
Although sleep and the quality of that sleep is a significant factor influencing an evening routine, other things like recovery from exercise, nutrition, optimising brain function and even happiness are also vital too.
If you want to biohack your home and bedroom for sleep there’s an article on this. In this article we focus on the routine, not the bedroom, furniture and elements in it.
What you’ll discover here, combined with biohacking your home, will compound the benefits, although you don’t need to do both to achieve significant results.
By removing as much variation as you can from your routine, you create habits, which the mind and body love. But be careful they’re good habits and are realistic ones too.
If you strive for pre-sleep perfection with an unrealistic evening routine it’ll not be something you can consistently do and this can cause stress, which is something you want to avoid.
There’s no fixed rule for how long an evening routine should last, but as a guide, think about it being the 2-3 hours prior to wanting to fall asleep.
Before this routine you’ll be involved in you day-to-day activities, but if you want to start to sleep at 11.00 in the evening, then from about 8 to 9pm you should be shifting in to the routine.
Which brings us on to the first of the points.
Segment the routine in to two parts – evening and pre-sleep
Most people, when they advise people on an evening routine, over simplify things and this is a major mistake because in life we can’t always follow a strict timetable – reality gets in the way.
Sticking to a regular bedtime is helpful, but again unrealistic for most busy people, every single day.
By separating out your routine in to two parts, evening and pre-sleep, you give yourself a degree of flexibility and also the ability to do just one if you can’t do both.
The goal in the evening segment is to start to relax and switch off, so this will be personal to you – I’m not going to tell you to do something you just don’t enjoy, f maybe you’re not somebody who likes to read a book which is fine.
The point of an evening segment is that it’s likely to involve more variability, maybe you’ll watch TV, check out social media, catch up with friends, take a walk to relax, spend time with family or pets. Any or all of these are OK because they are what really happens to help you relax at the end of the day.
But you need to relax and switch off as part of the evening phase because all these things, if they stimulate you too much can trigger the brain to release dopamine and this stops you sleeping, even going for a relaxing walk can trigger the brain.
As an example, many people find a relaxing walk allows your mind to open up, become more creative and definitely this has benefits, but it can also motivate you too, which isn’t a good thing when you plan to sleep soon.
However there’s a way to organise your thoughts and be more creative as part of the routine, but we’ll cover that later on.
Another tip is to not exercise in the evening or pre-sleep phases, if you are pushing your body, as you’re not giving your body enough time to relax or prepare for sleep – it’s too busy dealing with the stress and strain you’ve put your body.
Next is the second phase of the routine, the pre-sleep stage.
This is dedicated to making sure you’re primed to sleep and probably lasts between 30 and 60 minutes prior to when you go to bed and quickly fall asleep.
There are many things that just don’t belong in this phase, work, driving or anything that requires concentration should not be done.
One thing you can do, that people say you shouldn’t, but they’re wrong, is watch TV, if it’s the right type of TV.
Pick something you know, funny, that makes you happy and that doesn’t require you to think about or focus on.
If TV were all bad then people wouldn’t fall asleep in front of it – which proves the point.
When done correctly, which we’ll cover, it’s actually very beneficial – but avoid the films that draw you in, the tense thrillers, or action adventures as these are designed to keep you awake, not send you to sleep.
You can also read a book and one made of pape. But make it something relaxing, not a business book or something you need to concentrate on. You can also try an audiobook too, again as long as it’s relaxing.
Things you should do at the start of this pre-sleep phase include having a warm bath, this helps you relax and also, when you get out of it, your body will naturally cool down and continue to cool to a temperature that promotes sleep.
You can add Epson salts that help you relax too.
Use smell to help relax the body and mind too – some essential oils like lavender, are believed to improve the quality of sleep.
The use of sound can help you relax; soft music or sounds that you use to help you meditate can be an effective biohack.
Another way to use sound to biohack in this pre-sleep phase is with binaural beats. This clever biohacking technique alters the frequency of brainwaves and this helps sleep by playing slightly different sounds in each ear and in a few minutes you are literally programmed which alters your brain activity and chemistry.
You also want to start reducing light; you should do this with natural light, artificial light and also blue light from screens, so turn off the phone, tablet and computer.
If you want to keep using the TV turn the boringness down or biohack the blue light with some blue light blocking glasses that you can get from Amazon or from companies like Swannies and True Dark. True Dark have several variations of their glasses including ones for prescription lenses and they have sleep hacking glasses too that filter even more “junk light”.
And turn off any unwanted electronics, if you must charge your phone leave it in another room, and switch off the Wi-Fi – that’s preventing you from getting as good a night’s sleep as possible and you can’t surf the internet, answer email or check Instagram while sleeping.
With regard to what you wear to bed, you can biohack this too with compression clothing, which there’s a whole article about. It’s best to put this on in the latter stages of the pre-sleep phase, although some people also like to wear it directly after their workout and recovery routine too.
Compression gear comes in variety of types but there are different clothes for sleeping in and these can help with recovery, but remember to not overheat as this will cause sleep problems.
Eat and drink the right things at the right times
It’s important that you finish eating before the evening segment starts – you want your digestion system to be working well, but blood glucose levels to be stable. The blood sugar starts to rise within 10-15 minutes after eating and peaks after about an hour.
You’re body also naturally wants to cool down prior to sleep, if your digestive system’s working hard then cooling down is much more difficult and being full at bed time is never a great feeling either.
If you plan to be asleep at about 10.30 or 11 pm, make sure you’ve stopped eating and drinking anything other than water, by 8 pm at the latest, including any regular vitamins or supplements.
Stopping eating at the right time also means your give your body time to start its fasting period, then continue through the night and during your morning routine too, even though you may not follow an intermittent fasting diet.
The exception to the rule and what you can and should be having, even up until the pre-sleep part of the routine, is plenty of hydrating fluids, preferably biohacked pure water.
Some people suggest different herbal or decaffeinated teas, milk, cherry juice, coconut water, apple cider vinegar and even honey – you may be OK having these but it’s best to keep them out of your evening and pre-sleep routines.
Obviously alcohol isn’t good for sleep and neither is anything with caffeine like tea or coffee.
With vitamins and supplements it’s best to take them as part of your morning routine or have them as directed with food, because just like food and other forms of nutrition, they need to be digested and absorbed.
There are a number of natural sleep aids and supplements that if you’re struggling could help, however generally it’s best to manage your routine without taking things like melatonin – there are better ways to have your body produce this by getting your evening and pre-sleep routine right.
If you are struggling to sleep you can temporarily use scientifically backed biohacks, they’re also natural:
- Magnesium – amongst its many benefits to the brain and body, it can increase the levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which reduces excitability in the nervous system and therefore has a calming effect.
You’ll find magnesium in foods like fish, nuts, beans and green leafy vegetables so whether you take it as food or as a supplement have it with your pre-evening routine meal.
- Melatonin – this naturally created hormone is involved with our natural sleep and wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm, as it sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep.
If you take this supplement take it during the pre-sleep routine phase, as it needs about 30 minutes to start working and take the minimum effective dose too.
There are other supplements you can take to help you sleep, and these also have a scientific basis for being effective, but try melatonin and magnesium first. They optional extra supplements are:
- Lemon Balm
Set up mentally and physically for a great night’s sleep and the next day
In the evening part of your routine you want to be able to use your brain to organise things, so here are the things that you should do at this stage.
Arrange what you need for the next day.
This seems simple enough but as you’ll discover with a morning routine, you want to make everything easy, stress free, predictable and geared towards reducing or eliminating decision-making early in your day so:
- Arrange your clothes ready for the morning
- Sort out your sports or gym gear out
- Prepare you food for the next day
- Get you morning routine items ready
- Tidy up
The more you don’t need to do in the morning the better.
The physical things that you do the evening before make the morning easy and it also gives you a sense of structure and closure to the day before you go to sleep.
The human brain struggles if we don’t have closure. Closure’s an emotional thing that forces our mind to ask questions and we naturally have to try to answer a question even if we don’t want to.
If you need another example of this, did you know lack of closure is a method people use in sales and advertising and on TV?
Think about the cliff hanger at the end of a TV show that makes you want to watch the next episode or “forces” you to binge watch a wholes series on Netflix until the early hours of the morning.
Think of the evening part of the routine as an opportunity to get closure on as many important things as possible (not Netfix) and don’t let it run in to the pre-sleep phase if at all possible, as closure requires conscious and sub–conscious effort and this isn’t helpful just before you go to bed.
But it’s not just physical tidying and organising that’s needed; you also need to mentally do this too.
The first stage of mental closure is reflecting on the day you’ve had and when you’ve got a morning routine that becomes substantially quicker and easier.
Without being too negative, note down what you’ve done and not done during the day so you have a journal of what’s happened and create a draft To Do List for tomorrow, even at the weekend or on a day off.
It’s best to write down the list, but if you then want to transfer this to an electronic form that’s OK.
The only time this activity should creep in to your pre-sleep or even sleep phases is if you suddenly remember something, so keep that paper and pen near by so you can quickly take ideas and thoughts out of your head and put them on paper.
What you don’t want to do, which people get wrong, is over think and plan the following day, that’s premature.
Your sub-conscious brain will come up with answers, so don’t even accidently ask it to do more than necessary while you try to relax or sleep – that’s what often causes you to not fall asleep or potentially worse, wake up during the night with things on your mind.
Leave the brain to relax as much as you can and use the morning routine as the best way to really set yourself up, especially as some things can feel more or less important after a good night’s sleep.
As you move in to the pre-sleep phase of your routine, some relaxed breathing, easy stretches or yoga can be helpful to clear the mind. But this is not exercise because that elevates the body’s temperature as this is prevents you falling asleep.
And the closer you get to bed time the less light you should be exposed to, but again we’ve covered some of this and there’s more on your environment in the article about biohacking your home.
And finally, if you do start to fall asleep on the sofa don’t stay there go to bed.
Be ready for the following day
So this two-phase approach to an evening routine will help you sleep better, which has multiple health, fitness and mental benefits.
And if you combine this routine with a biohacked home and a biohacked morning routine too, you’ll be ready to out think and out perform almost everybody else you come in to contact with.