You often see a lot of biohackers aiming to maximize their physical performance and strength, but that’s not the only aspect they’re looking to improve. You’ll also find them biohacking sleep to incorporate tweaks and techniques to get better sleep quality.
After all, in order to metabolize everything correctly and for your muscles to recover quickly, you do require 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is paramount to your overall health, as it allows you to rest and your body to mend itself at a faster rate than while you are awake and your body is multitasking.
According to NPR, “While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say. During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours.” No wonder getting about eight hours of sleep actually improves the way you approach problem solving by about 50%.
So how can we help make sure we get those hours of sleep, and biohack our way to optimize sleep quantity and quality
Biohack Sleep By Pacing Your Workouts
Cortisol-conscious workouts are being adapted more often into routines, since cortisol is one of the hormonal signals fired off throughout the day to keep your body’s natural clock working. This clock is our circadian rhythm, and it’s important to keep it in balance because lack of sleep, or poor sleeping patterns, is linked to numerous physiological and mental conditions.
Cortisol-conscious workouts keep in mind the time of day that cortisol levels are higher (6am, or earlier in the morning), and allow you to work off calories at a rate that will not burn you out entirely. Not only is this great for muscle recovery, overall health, and weight loss, but it’s key to a good night’s sleep.
Yoga is an incredible way to maintain a cortisol-conscious workout routine, or to even out your more rigorous exercise regimen. Plus, it calms your mind and does wonders to relieve stress. The less stressed you are, the lower your tendency to experience sleep problems like insomnia. Even the National Sleep Foundation recognizes the positive effects of yoga on people who suffer from insomnia. Practicing yoga on a daily basis helps you fall asleep faster and experience increased quality and quantity of sleep.
Biohack Sleep With Vitamin D
Going outside and getting some sun is key to biohacking sleep, and you can certainly take your yoga or other morning exercise routine outdoors. It is even better to get early morning exposure to sunlight, which helps maximize the effect of cortisol. People who spend their days outside or near a window are proven to sleep better than those who do not. This is because vitamin D delays the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep. It is also essential to bone density and health, and can help maintain cognitive function.
If you do not regularly get sun exposure, then it is a good idea to invest in some vitamin D as one of several biohacking supplements. The simple act of taking the recommended amount in the morning will work hand-in-hand with your circadian rhythm, and allow you to sleep more soundly at night.
Biohack Sleep With Light Regulation
As always, it is very important to avoid harsh blue lights before bed—like those that beam out from your televisions, phones, tablets, computers, and other screens. Many believe it is important to start your day with an hour of screenless activity, and to cut off screen access two hours before your head hits the pillow. Reducing your amount of exposure to blue light around bedtime will allow you to close and rest your eyes more easily in the absence of visual distraction and stimulation.
If you aren’t able to avoid screens, I highly recommend getting glasses with blue light protection (you can get these with or without a prescription) to avoid eye strain. You can also use any night options for viewing your screens, which should swap the screen color and lessen blue light intensity to make your screen time more friendly to your eyes.
Biohack Sleep With Your Bedroom Decor
In the same vein, it is important to have window coverings in your home so you can maintain the necessary level of light to maximize your performance throughout the day. As mentioned, it’s important to get that sunlight, but you’ll also want to improve sleep hygiene by making your room dark and cool by bedtime. If you have lots of natural light coming into your bedroom, many sleep experts recommend getting blackout curtains made of thicker material so you can sleep uninterrupted.
Since poor sleep patterns and insomnia have been linked to health issues that run the gamut from obesity and hypertension to diabetes, it’s a no-brainer that getting enough hours of quality sleep should rank high on your must-have list. These are just some of the easy biohacking sleep techniques you can try to help you get just that. There has never been a better time to explore how your body reacts when you biohack sleep, so dive in!
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This article is part of our Complete Guide to Sleep Disorders - A resource that will help you get your quality sleep back. Click here to learn more about sleep disorders, their causes, symptoms and how to overcome them.