SLEEP TOOLKIT AND TIPS!
Good sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night.
Restful sleep is necessary for your mental and physical health, as well as your overall quality of life.
Your behaviors during the day — not just before you go to bed — can affect how well you sleep. Your food and drink choices, schedule, evening routine, and many other activities all play a part in your ability to sleep.
For anyone looking to improve a healthy and reliable sleep routine. The basic concept of sleep hygiene — that your environment and habits can be optimized for better sleep — applies to just about everyone, but what ideal sleep hygiene looks like can vary based on the person.
This article shares science based tools from Dr A .Huberman's channel and various other resources.
1) SUNLIGHT/ DAYLIGHT EXPOSURE
View sunlight by going outside within 30-60 minutes of waking. Do that again in the late afternoon, prior to sunset.
If you wake up before the sun is out and you want to be awake, turn on artificial lights and then go outside once the sun rises.
On bright cloudless days: view morning and afternoon sun for 10 min; cloudy days: 20 min; very overcast days 30-60 min. If you live someplace with very minimal light, consider an artificial daytime simulator source.
Don’t wear sunglasses for this practice if you safely can, but contact lenses and eyeglasses are fine.
No, you don’t have to look directly at the sun, and never look at ANY light so bright it is painful to view! That said, you can’t wear a brimmed hat, sunglasses and remain in the shade and expect to “wake up” your circadian clock.
2) WAKE UP AND SLEEP TIME
Wake up at the same time each day and go to sleep when you first start to feel sleepy. Pushing through the sleepy late evening feeling and going to sleep too late (for you) is one reason people wake at 3 am and can’t fall back asleep.
Following the same steps each night, including things like putting on your pajamas and brushing your teeth, can reinforce in your mind that it’s bedtime.
Regardless of whether it’s a weekday or weekend, try to wake up at the same time since a fluctuating schedule keeps you from getting into a rhythm of consistent sleep.
Avoid caffeine within 8-10 hours of bedtime. Dr. Matt Walker (sleep expert from UC Berkeley) might even say 12-14 hours. Some folks do fine with caffeine at 6 pm and I go to sleep at ~10-11 pm.
Caffeine is a stimulant, caffeine can keep you wired even when you want to rest, so try to avoid it later in the day.
4) BRIGHT LIGHT
Avoid viewing bright lights—especially bright overhead lights between 10 pm and 4 am. Here is a simple rule: only use as much artificial lighting as is necessary for you to remain and move about safely at night. Blue blockers can help a bit at night but still dim the lights. Viewing bright lights of all colors are a problem for your circadian system. Candlelight and moonlight are fine.
Limit daytime naps to less than 90 min, or don’t nap at all. I love naps as do many of my colleagues. I tend to nap for 30-50 mins most afternoons If I nap after 2 pm I struggle to fall asleep by 10 ! Naps or late naps can throw off sleep at night. Try Yoga Nidra for relaxation.
6) YOGA NIDRA/ NSDR
If you wake up in the middle of the night (which, by the way, is normal to do once or so each night) but you can’t fall back asleep, consider doing an NSDR protocol when you wake up. Try Yoga Nidra/ NSDR (you can look up on youtube).
7) ROOM AMBIENCE
Keep the room you sleep in cool and dark and layer on blankets that you can remove.
Your body needs to drop in temperature by 1-3 degrees to fall and stay asleep effectively. Body temperature increases are one reason you wake up. Thus, keep your room cool and remove blankets as needed. If it’s too hot you would have to use a cooling device and that’s harder than simply tossing off blankets if you get too warm.
Try to keep away from bright lights because they can hinder the production of melatonin, a hormone that the body creates to facilitate sleep.
Have a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow.
Use heavy curtains or an eye mask to prevent light from interrupting your sleep.
try a white noise machine or even a fan to drown out bothersome sounds.
Drinking alcohol messes up your sleep. As do most sleep medications.
Alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, but the effect wears off, disrupting sleep later in the night. As a result, it’s best to moderate alcohol consumption and avoid it later in the evening.
You might consider taking (30-60 min before bed):
145mg Magnesium Threonate or 200mg Magnesium Bisglycinate
(3-4 nights per week I also take 2g of Glycine and 100mg GABA.)
*Dr Huberman would start with one supplement (or none!) and then add one at a time as needed. Some people do not need any supplements, and some people like theanine but not magnesium, etc. so you have to determine what is best for you.
**Don’t take theanine if you have overly intense dreams, sleep-walk, or have night terrors.
***Also, some people (~5%), get an agitated stomach from magnesium supplementation, in which case, do not take it.
Expect to feel really alert ~1 hour before your natural bedtime. This is a naturally occurring spike in wakefulness that sleep researchers have observed.
Don’t freak out if it happens. It will pass!
10) If you have sleep disturbances, insomnia, or anxiety about sleep, try the research-supported protocols on the Reveri (for iPhone). Do the Reveri sleep self-hypnosis 3x a week at any time of day. It’s only 10-15 min long and will help you rewire your nervous system to be able to relax faster.
Some additional SLEEP HYGIENE Dos and Don'ts
Regular exercise can make it easier to sleep at night and also delivers a host of other health benefits.
Eating dinner late, especially if it’s a big, heavy, or spicy meal, can mean you’re still digesting when it’s time for bed.
Instead of making falling asleep your goal, it’s often easier to focus on relaxation. Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can put you in the right mindset for bed.
Build in a 30-60 minute pre-bed buffer time that is device-free. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops cause mental stimulation that is hard to shut off and also generate blue light that may decrease melatonin production.
Take advantage of whatever puts you in a state of calm such as soft music, light stretching, reading, and/or relaxation exercises.
Write down your worries before going to bed to help get them out of your head.
If your to-do list stresses you out, write that down as well. Prioritize what you need to do tomorrow and the rest of the week, then try to relax.
Don’t Overdo It With Naps
It helps to have a healthy mental connection between being in bed and actually being asleep. For that reason, if after 20 minutes you haven’t gotten to sleep, get up and stretch, read, or do something else calming in low light before trying to fall asleep again
Don’t Smoke: Nicotine stimulates the body in ways that disrupt sleep, which helps explain why smoking is correlated with numerous smoking problems.