For us, aiming at living perpetually in
(it's a joke, you actually really need to sleep!)
You know what happens if you don't sleep enough? You don't recover, you develop less strength and you won't get as big as you would by sleeping properly (ah, and you get fat). Hey, it's not me saying this, look at the research here.
How To Sleep Easily Despite Normally Sleeping Like Shit
Ok, you got it that you need to sleep, but what if you are terrible at sleeping?
Join my club my friend!
If there was a championship for bad sleeping quality, I'd be definitely the uncontested champion since 2012 (but I'm sure you would agree that you would actually be the champion). This made me feel sleepy during the day and especially sleepy at work. Not good.
Because of that, I spent months and months researching what are the best ways to sleep better. I more or less sleep like a log now. Of course, don't expect this to be consistent every night but it's a HUGE improvement.
In this post, I will collect all the tricks I use to have a good night of sleep that you can use too and start finally sleeping better.
Supplements to Sleep Better
Here a list of supplements that are used to help you sleep better.
Some of them might be completely unknown to you.
I haven't tried all of them but I will report the scientific studies related to their efficacy.
Does it work?
240mg of Egb-761
120-160 mg valerian root extract + 80 mg lemon balm extract
200-300mg of WS1490
Foods To Sleep Better
Taking supplements directly is the fastest and most effective way to treat sleep problems. There are, though, some food hacks that you can use to enhance the quality of your sleep or just to fall asleep faster.
The Key Is In The Turkey
First of all, you need to know about the importance of the amino acid tryptophan on making you asleep. (btw, turkey has the same amount of tryptophan like other meats more or less)
Melatonin is the hormone produced by your pineal gland that signals to your body that is time to sleep. To make melatonin, your body needs tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that you ingest when you eat protein-rich food. But there is one caveat, though.
First of all, tryptophan is not very abundant compared to other amino acids. Furthermore, to reach the brain it needs to use a transporter that is shared by other large amino acids.
So, it's not that you just need to eat a protein rich meal before going to bed. Tryptophan will still have a hard time to get through, hence, we need something else.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
When you eat carbs, you spike insulin in your blood stream. Insulin will tell your muscles to suck up amino acids from the blood stream. Tryptophan is not as affected by this as its "competitors", therefore its levels will rise in the bloodstream.(study)
Consequently, more tryptophan reaches the brain, more melatonin is produced and you will fall asleep faster.
As for fat intake at night, research is not clear. Most of the studies show a negative effect of fat on sleep quality (study, study, study) and one shows a positive effect of low-carb diets at night (study). I suppose you have to test this for yourself.
- Have a high protein meal before bed with some high glycemic index carbs (study, study).
- Choose a "safe" type of starch as rice and potatoes. Try to avoid wheat (study).
- Cherry juice helps sleeping better (study) and probably passionflower tea too (study).
- Generally a high fat intake at night seems like a bad idea.
- Don't eat and drink too much right before going to bed (study, study).
- Avoid coffee and energy drinks in the afternoon (study, study).
- Dairy products can increase insulin as much as carbs (study, study) so have them before going to sleep. Don't drink too much milk though or you will have to wake up often to go to the toilet.
- You may want to avoid chocolate before going to bed (study).
- You may try some alcohol-free beer (study). It contains hop, a plant which affects several neurotransmitters responsible for making you relaxed.
Other Stuff That Makes You Sleep Better
Blue Light, Bitch Light
Did you know that one of the causes of your insomnia can simply be the fact that you are staring at a computer screen, TV, smartphone, tablet, etc. just before sleeping?
These devices emit blue light which will prevent your pineal gland from synthesizing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone of the sleep. Naturally, you secrete it at night so that you can fall asleep. Being exposed to blue light will prevent melatonin production, therefore, you will have a hard time falling asleep.
Solutions Against Blue Light At Night
- Use orange glasses that filter the blue light from your devices. I have these ones.
- Install f.lux on your computer. This software will filter out as much as possible the blue light from your screen and it will give it an orangey tone. If you want to use the computer just before going to sleep, use the option darkroom mode.
- Install twilight on Android or use the "Night Shift" mode on iOS. They are the same as f.lux but for your mobile devices.
- Dim the
brightness of all your electronic devices as well as the lights in your apartment. I personally turn every light off 1 hour before going to bed.
Temperature has a very important impact on your sleep.
Try to have a temperature of 19°C (66.2 F) where you sleep (study).
Shutting down your brain and activating the parasympathetic nervous system are two benefits of meditating before going to bed.
Have all the lights shut off, sit comfortably or even lay down in your bed and start focusing on your breath. You can even count your breath to ten and repeat.
You might even fall asleep directly, beware.
Even your sleep has a circadian rhythm. So go to sleep every night more or less at the same time to assure a good night of sleep.
Broscientific Tips To Sleep Better
The following tips are the results of n=1 and completely not backed up with scientific studies. These are some tips that I found out working for me and may or may not work for you as well.
This has been proven in rats (study) where they compared the quality of sleep of rats after having sex, running in the wheel and control. The ones having sex slept the best.
In humans, there's one study comparing volunteers masturbating with or without orgasm and control and they didn't find any difference. The study had just 10 participants so it's too small to draw any conclusion. And also, it's masturbation, not sex.
Anyway, I noticed that after having had some good sessions of sex, the quality of my sleep is much better.
Personally, I found masturbation having non-reproducible results (did I just make an unwanted hilarious joke?!)
CHANGING BED SHEETS
No idea why but every time I change my bed sheets, the quality of my sleep improves dramatically.
Keeping your extremities warm and the core of your body cold is how we fall asleep (I talked in more details about this here).
Wearing socks at night can make you fall asleep faster.
Personally, I noticed this to be true but I would wake up in the middle of the night to take them off because I feel too warm.
While watching a movie would completely switch me on, reading or listening to an audiobook seem to increase the easiness with which I get sleepy.
BONUS: THE WEIRD ONE
In the beginning I thought it was a coincidence. Then I found out this to be true 90% of the time.
Every night of new moon I would sleep better.
It sounds weird and I have no idea why this happens but it keeps happening..
Well, it turns out there's actual research about this (study).
What Correlates Negatively With Sleep In My Experience
Since we are still in the bro-realm, here a list that I personally have found correlating poorly with sleep.
- Racetames (piracetam and aniracetam)
- High-fiber food
- Cold showers
- TV/music/computer/smartphone before bed even with flux or twilight installed
- Talking with other people in real life or facebook/
- Watching movies
This post was dense of actionable stuff and might be pretty overwhelming. If you want to start sleeping better I would recommend you to:
- Reduce or avoid caffeine altogether. You actually need it because you sleep bad and you sleep bad because of it in an endless loop of disaster (study).
- Eat high-protein and high-GI carbs meal around 4 hours before going to bed. Limit fat intake.
- Don't drink too much liquid at night.
- Avoid electronic devices.
- Have a winding down ritual.
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