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Hack Your Sleep: 11 Steps To The Perfect Sleep

Let’s get to the point – we all know the importance of sleep. But with such busy lives, it’s hard to get the right amount.
Here are 11 simple steps to ensure tonight’s sleep is the best you’ve had in years. Use it today, and you thank us in the morning.

Sleep When I’m Dead

At the forefront of sleep issues are those claiming that sleep doesn’t matter. That you can, like Arnie says, sleep faster and then get more done in the day.

However research has shown that lack of sleep will result in:

  • Impaired brain function and memory,
  • Increased appetite,
  • Helps to maintain insulin sensitivity,
  • Increased blood pressure,
  • Trouble concentrating,
  • Decrease in GH and testosterone production,
  • Lower stress threshold,
  • Impaired creativity,
  • Lower immune function,
  • Is a nice reward after sex,
  • Increased risk of finding yourself singing along to One Direction during squats.

I made the last one up, however it’s probably true…

The research is very clear – your cognitive and physical performance will suffer from prolonged sleep deprivation. So your body and your bank balance will both improve with better quality sleep.

11 Steps To Perfect Sleep

A word of warning: Too many readers will look at the following list and claim they already ‘know’ how to do these things. By definition, ‘knowing’ means you are already applying them. Daily.

So don’t claim to know. Instead, apply these tips tonight and notice the difference.

  1. Make your room quiet

One thing I’ve learned from being a dad is the use of white noise. A fan, or the ocean can be perfect. However if neither of these are available, white noise apps can be used to drown out outside noise. If you live in a busy city, experiment with noise cancelling earplugs to drown out the noisy neighbours.

  1. Make your room dark

Even the smallest amount of light can interfere with melatonin production.

Your goal should be to sleep in a bat cave. There needs to be zero light from outside, or from electronic devices. Blackout curtains will be the best money you spend. Also turn off any devices with LED’s or cover the lights with electrical tape.

  1. Make your room cold

For most people, the ideal temperature for sleeping is cooler than you think. Use air conditioning if possible, and Find what works best for you.

  1. Ditch the iPhone

If you’re using your phone as an alarm clock, stop. Replace it with a normal battery powered clock and turn your phone off, or plug it in outside your room to charge.

Radiation from cell phone can increase the time to reach deep sleep states, and can also decrease the amount of time spent in those cycles.

Up until the late 1800’s, the only light we experiences after sunset was that of a campfire. Our eyes haven’t adapted to the change. Nowadays we have TV’s, iPad’s, computer screens and even smart watches emitting light at all times. Switch them off as early as possible at night.

  1. All about the CAR

The Cortisol Awakening Response [CAR] plays a big role in sleep. One of the best ways to improve your sleep cycle is top strengthen the initial spike in wakefulness.

The more awake you feel in the morning, chances are, the more tired you will be in the evening. The best way to do this is to expose your body to natural sunlight as early as possible.

The light will boost your vitamin D and adjust your circadian rhythm. Don’t fear sunlight, it’s good for you.

  1. Set a routine [and stick to it]

Our bodies like to have routines. For years I used to wake before the sun during the week, and then sleep-in for a few extra hours on the weekends. It wasn’t until I woke at the same time daily that I felt energised.

This one requires discipline, but it is worth it. Your body can’t establish an effective rhythm if you don’t allow it to normalise.

  1. Be as productive as possible.

This is one that the sleep experts won’t tell you about. If you’re lying in bed each night regretting you didn’t get through your most important tasks for the day, you won’t be able to relax.

Thinking “I could of done more today” is not a relaxing state to be in.

Tip: Try to get your most important task of the day done first. Then, everything else is a breeze.

  1. Sleep rituals are key

Now that you have a consistent wake-up time, work in rituals before going to bed each night. Think of the ritual as a quick ‘to-do’ list before bed each night.

Your body’s repair systems are designed to do their job between 10:00pm and 2:00am. The nervous system kicks into gear from 2:00am-6:00am. To aim for maximum rest and recovery, aim to be asleep for a good chunk of these two, 4-hour windows.

In my experience, waking up felling well rested is less about how many hours you’re asleep, and more about going to bed early, and waking up early. Use rituals to help you get to sleep before 10pm daily.

Tip: Cut the coffee after lunch. Caffeine has a half-life of roughly 3-hours, so your body needs time to process caffeine. 

  1. Read fiction

I’m a big reader, however I strongly advise against reading anything too heavy at night. You don’t want to go to bed thinking of big ideas to change the world. Now is the time to read something light.

Try Rich Cohen or Stephen King.

  1. Use cold showers and cold baths

Yes, cold showers. I know this one sounds insane to some people. But do you want to know what’s really insane?

Sleeping five hours per night, relying on pesticide-laden caffeine to stay up, alcohol to come back down, and then lathering poisonous make up and creams on your skin to erase the wrinkles that come as a result.

Try cold showers before bed – you will be amazed at how you sleep and it’s been linked to anti ageing.

Tip: A good place to start is with 30-seconds per day at the end of your warm shower.

  1. Start putting a value on sleep

Your wealth, health and happiness depend on the quality of your sleep. Don’t let anything come between you and your sleep.

Defend your sleep the same way you would defend your family.

“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” – Ernest Hemingway

What would you add? How do you ensure a quality sleep each night? Comment below. 

About Peter Tansley

Writer, personal trainer, business owner, coach, proud dad and a horrible dancer.

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