Tag: sleep cycle

Sleep: The Ultimate Biohack

If you are experiencing memory loss, low energy, irritability, weight gain and loss of cognitive function, you could have a medical condition. Or, you could just need more sleep.

In our society we wear our sleep deprivation like a badge. Its proof that we have it all – we work harder than anyone we know, we party hard into the wee hours of the night because of our busy social life…we have made it, and we have the bags under our eyes to prove it.  We also have excess weight,  a short temper, and an in ability to make good decisions, along with several other not so nice side effects of not enough sleep. We are, to put it simply, a mess, but we look good on paper, don’t we?

Sleep is the most underrated biohack there is. It is not glamorous or cutting edge. In fact, you have probably heard that you need to get more sleep since you were in your teens.  If you are anything like I was,  you feel like you are fine on 6 hours. Why is that we accept this lifestyle when we know we shouldn’t?

Sleep deprivation is no joke. When we don’t get enough hours, not only do we drag around with dark circles under our eyes, but we can’t hold conversations, we can’t concentrate, and we are irritable. We all know this first hand, but did you also know that it can impair your judgement when it comes to tasks like driving and your decision-making abilities at work? Not to mention that you experience a decreased ability to handle stress, increased anxiety, slowed reaction time, and significant memory impairment, as well an overall loss of cognitive ability.  Long term sleep deprivation can have serious effects, like depression, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, decreased sex drive and diabetes.

The benefits of getting enough sleep are simple:  you don’t experience the above.

Most people are sleep deprived and do not realize it. We operate in such fast paced, high stress, overstimulated world that we don’t even notice the effect is having on us anymore. If we could decompress a bit and get adequate rest, the benefits to our system would be noticeable.

If you are noticing any of the symptoms noted above, try adding an hour of rest to your day and see if you notice a difference. Just an hour can increase your energy level, help you think better and add more patience to your day.  If you can’t sleep in a bit or go to bed earlier, try adding a short nap at lunch or when you get home. Every little bit helps.

With all the stimulation in our daily lives, it can be hard to find the time to go to bed earlier, and when you do get into bed, its hard to calm down enough to get to sleep. There are a number of things you can try to help with that.

First, try getting into a bedtime routine. It tells your mind that its time to shut down, and by the time your head hits the pillow, you should be ready for sleep. Your routine will be personal to you. It can include putting on pajamas, reading, relaxing with a cup of decaf herbal tea, or even cleaning up the kitchen and getting coffee ready for the morning.  Whatever your routine is, you will notice after a week or so that your body will start to feel relaxed and ready to shut down.  My bedtime routine includes turning everything off, cleaning up anything that remains in the kitchen, getting my coffee pot ready for the morning and getting into my Athlete Recovery pajamas (I am not affiliated with them but I swear by these). Once in bed, I use California Poppy Seed Extract (this is the one I use; again not affiliated with it, it’s just the one I use) for a natural way to help me wind down a little faster.

Next, try a digital downtime. Turn off the television, put your phone in the charger and not next to your bed, and out away the i-pad. If you want to read, read an actual book instead of a Kindle. The blue light from our devices disrupts your brainwaves and adds to the inability to fall asleep. Some people watch t.v. to fall asleep, and while I understand that (I am one of those), it is important to listen to your body cues and turn it off when you feel yourself getting ready to sleep.

Another thing to try is a specific sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even weekends. It allows your body to get into a rhythm Make bedtime a priority. Set an alarm and consider it an appointment you have to keep. When the alarm goes off, no more to do list, no more emails, no more conversation with spouses. It’s an appointment, and you keep it. You will notice you start to get tired on cue when you have gotten into the routine, and you will start to wake up on your own.

In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington recommends a sleep experiment to see how much sleep you really need. You will need an extended vacation to try this, but go to sleep at the same time every night, and track when you wake up. After the first few days you will recover from some of your exhaustion and get into a rhythm, and your natural waking time will show you how much sleep is optimal for you. Be careful though, because this can be deceiving.  If you are in a chronic state of stress, anxiety or depression, this will affect your sleep pattern and could have you waking up earlier than you should.

When I was married, I was constantly stressed and anxious. Living in fear of someone’s every move doesn’t do much for your sleep habits, and I thought I only needed 6.5 hours for years. As soon we split up and I moved out, my natural rhythm kicked in and I found myself sleeping 8 hours consistently within a few weeks. This was after a solid week of 10 hour nights, so don’t let yourself be fooled by a body in recovery mode.

Remember that you will need more sleep in recovery, whether its emotional or physical recovery. This is because sleep is when your body repairs itself. If you do not get enough sleep, your body cannot repair itself adequately, which can contribute to injuries as well as exhaustion. This is true even if you are not injured but do strenuous workouts. Any athlete will tell you that it is very important to allow your body to sleep as much as it needs while in recovery.  You may need to adjust your schedule to accomplish this, especially if you have an office job.

What makes sleep the ultimate biohack is that it is something we can all do, it costs us nothing to do, and it has a significant impact on all facets of our life. It has no side effects. It instantly enhances mood, performance and cognitive function. You don’t have to buy it. You can’t run out of it, and you can do it everyday to get all of these great effects.

So, let me ask you… is it nap time? Are you ready to make sleep your favorite biohack this year?

I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to wind down or your sleep ritual?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Skimp on Sleep, No Matter What Your Mentor Says!

I am exhausted today and cannot think straight. I wanted to write a post about good supplements vs. bad ones, but I can’t seem to organize my thoughts. Why am I telling you this? Because sleep is important, and if you are burning the candle at both ends, you are shortchanging yourself!

It is very common for entrepreneurs to be sleep deprived. We work in the business during work hours doing the work itself, and at night, we work on the business. However, it is important to remember to take care of yourself because you are not at your best during the day when you are sleep deprived. You can’t think as quickly, you can’t focus, and you can’t multitask. If you can’t be focused or unfocused at the same time, you have a problem!

You are physically slower when you are tired. You are weaker and less likely to work out. Plus, you look awful. And who wants to do business with someone who looks like the walking dead? You are less efficient, and you can’t remember anything. You snack on sugary foods to stay awake and pour in the coffee with an IV.

If sleep doesn’t come easy to you, there are a few things you can try. A good evening routine will wind down your mind so when you hit the pillow, you are already relaxed and primed for sleep. Turn off your TV and phone, try some chamomile or reishi elixir ( I hear this one is awesome but I haven’t tried it yet), and read a book.  To calm the monkey mind and fall asleep quickly, I like California Poppy Seed extract (click here for the one I use). Trying to go to bed a regular time can also help you fall asleep faster.

A cool, dark room is the ideal environment, so try room darkening shades or a sleep mask. A recent study published in ScienceDaily.com links the small amounts of light at night to sleep interruptions, which can increase insulin resistance. I am experimenting with a sleep mask, and have noticed an increase in quality of sleep when using it. (Its too early to comment on the effects on insulin resistance.)

Sometimes you cannot help the disturbances,  like when your neighbor decides to light fireworks off in the middle of the night. However, keeping pets out of the bed and getting kids on a schedule will help with that too.

You owe it to yourself to get some zzzzz’s. You will be a better person and a better worker for it. So hit the sack, and don;t feel guilty about it!

As for me, I need some more coffee today…

Dreaming of Tom Brady…sleepwear. Really, the sleepwear.

I don’t sleep. I haven’t since I was a kid. That was, until I got the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear. The day I got these pajamas, my life changed.

I know, that sounds dramatic. I assure you that it is not. I thought I had found the answer to hacking my sleep with California Poppy Seed extract, but I was wrong. The answer is this sleepwear.

Created by TB12, aka Tom Brady, and Under Armour, the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear is specifically designed to help athletes recover faster. According to the website, its patented  “bioceramic print on the inside of the sleepwear absorbs natural heat and reflects Far infrared back into the skin, helping the body sleep better and recover faster.” When you sleep, you recover, so it makes sense that when you sleep better, your recovery will be enhanced. There is also a growing amount of information about the benefits of infrared on the body, one of which is that is promotes healing on a cellular level. (Here is a great article from Dr. Axe on the effects of infrared on the body.)

Bioceramic. Hmm. Sounds comfortable, right? Surprisingly, it is. It is incredibly soft material. I have the shorts and t-shirt, because I am constantly plagued with mid back soreness and tight hip muscles.  They fit true to size, with just enough room to not be overly snug, but not enough to bunch in the night.

At the time I write this, I have only been using these for about a week. I can’t provide evidence that I am healing faster. However, on the morning of the first night I tried the sleep set, I did a trial run for a Spartan Race, where I completed 12 of the more challenging obstacles. (And fell off one; I am not that bad ass.) I expected to wake up feeling like I had been hit by a truck, but I didn’t. I was a little sore, but when you climb ropes, scale walls, carry buckets of rocks, throw a spear and fall from a log 6’ above the ground, you should be REALLY sore. I wasn’t.

sleep cycle 1I can provide evidence that I am sleeping better. Courtesy of the Sleep Cycle app, I have been tracking my sleep quality over the last few months. On the average, my sleep quality ranges from between 35-50% (left photo). This means that only 35-50% of the time I am asleep is quality sleep. (No wonder I need coffee to stay awake.) Since using the Athlete Recovery sleepwear, my sleep quality has improved to 80-85% sleep 2(right photo). That is a marked increase in quality sleep. I still use the poppy-seed extract to fall asleep quickly, but now I am staying asleep, and waking up ready to go.

From what I have seen so far, I want more of these. I want the pants, the tank top, and the sheets. They are pricey (fortunately mine were a gift) and they rarely go on sale. The pajamas range from $59.00-$99.00, and the sheets from $100.00 – $350.00. I will be buying more. For me to say that at these prices, they must be worth it.

Regardless of whether you love or hate Tom Brady, you will love this sleepwear. I highly recommend it,  for everyone, not just athletes.

If you want to check them out, click here. You can thank me later.