Millions of Americans suffer from difficulty falling asleep, waking up throughout the night, or waking up too early and not getting back to sleep. Are you one of these individuals? With the increasing population of Americans who deal with sleep challenges, we need to start asking “Why” and “What” is happening in our culture that is resulting in this epidemic.
After 7 years and more than 5,000 patients, I have definitely seen reoccurring trends that help explain why so many struggle with the issue of sleep.
In my book “Eliteness” I have an entire chapter dedicated to sleep because it is such an important component to health, especially in helping you perform better as an athlete.
Here are three recent hacks that are not in the book (but can make a major difference in your sleep quality!).
Hack 1 – Shut it Down
Many people grind all day and then have trouble shutting down their minds when it is time to sleep. Their bodies are still in a state called “fight or flight”, which means being “on” all day long, keeping our bodies in a constant state of stress. The other state is called “feed and breed,” which is a more relaxed position; this calmer state is how we should spend most of our days. One of the troubles I see among my clients is that so many of them have a tough time shutting off the “fight or flight” response post-work and shifting towards “feed and breed.”
Let’s look at an example- if a tiger is chasing you, your body is not going to go into sleep mode- it is automatically going to go into a fight or flight response, right? You want to get yourself out of the tiger’s path ASAP. Similarly, sleep medication forces you to sleep even though your body is still in a stressful position, which actually increases stress hormones circulating in your body. This constant state of stress ultimately becomes harmful long-term.
So, instead, let’s shut it down and de-stress before bed. One of my favorite ways is to practice a guided meditation.
Personally, my brain fires at a million miles a second, and sitting still is very difficult, so guided meditations are key. If the same is for you, try this strategy before you go to bed tonight. Put on headphones, listen to the meditation practice, breathe deeply, and watch how your stress response relaxes and transitions you more so into a “feed and breed” state.
- Go to YouTube.com
- Type in “Guided meditation deepak chopra sleep”
- Figure out how much time you have, and listen to whichever suits your time frame best.
- Close your eyes, turn the lights off, and watch the magic happen.
Hacks 2 & 3 – Night Shift and Light
Studies now show that before bed, most people spend time either looking at their phones, computers, or televisions. The light from the screens tricks our bodies into believing that it is still daylight, therefore decreasing the amount of melatonin produced (which is the sleep-inducing hormone). Unfortunately, then, we are not able to actually relax and prep our bodies for sleep.
There are two hacks I have for this challenge. The first one is helpful if you have an iPhone because the newest software includes a Night Shift from sunrise to sunset. The blue light on the phone triggers your awake and alert response, so staring at your phone before bed further prevents the body from falling asleep. With the Night Shift option, the backlight dims to a different shade and blocks the blue light.
Turning on Night Shift:
1) Launch Settings app
2) Select “Display and Brightness”
3) Select “Night Shift”
4) Select “Schedule” and create your own schedule
The third hack is using a light bulb that does has a similar effect as the Night Shift. Go to LSGC.com and buy the Good Night LED light bulb that is only $39.95, which is much less than sleep therapy or sleeping pills and much more healthy with fewer side effects. This light bulb is noticeably different that an regular bulb and creates a more relaxing environment in a room. Lighting Science also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so if for some reason you are dissatisfied with the product, you can return the bulb with no questions asked.
For our daughter’s room we bought the Sleepy Baby LED light that goes into her night lamp. I would highly suggest this for all parents, so you can get your child’s circadian rhythm down early, especially since he or she is most likely going to be on technology at some point in the day.