I am a pretty healthy individual. Most of the boxes on the how to be healthy list are checked. However, there is something that I have struggled with for years that can negative consequences to my health. Sleep. It was about 12 years ago when we switched from an old fashion water bed to a costly and cushy mattress. All of a sudden, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, restless. I had to get up and walk around. I used to count how many times I would pace back and forth. This has continued to the present time except that I learned to stretch instead of pace. It wasn’t every night back in the day, but it was troubling. It has been more than troubling for my health, it has been frustrating and maddening! I have tried so many tricks. I got a lot of work done about 3:00 am, but my sleep, mood, energy, and relationships were being affected. The older I got, the more it affected me. When I got a good night’s sleep, which happened about once a month, I felt like a new man. It has been a pretty awful season.
Sleep is vital to your health. It is the most regenerative thing you can do. Some people don’t sleep on purpose! They will suffer for that. It is an unfortunate fact. I know all of this. I eat well. I am hydrated. I exercise. I am not as stressed as I was when I slept well. I get sunlight. I have healed my gut. What in the world! Everything in my power was in line with good health. But, this sleep thing was driving me crazy.
After a particularly awful week, I started doing more serious research. I had read books about sleep, but Ben Greenfield, a superman of sorts, really got me thinking. His bedtime routine is the craziest I have ever heard about. I made more changes, and they have helped. Here are some things that I have learned along the way that significantly improved my sleep. This is anecdotal, although I could site numerous authors who agree with me. Here are my real-world solutions.
First, I had to solve the heat issue. I am a hot sleeper. Here is what I do for that.
- After a warm shower at night, I turn off most of the hot water and bring my core temperature down.
- I bought a cooler mattress (Purple) and a cooling topper.
- I sleep with the ceiling fan on all year long.
- I sleep with the window open all year long.
- When it heats us, I put another fan directly on me.
- I bought a ChillPad. Although I have only had in a week or so, it keeps my body cool.
Then I had to address my restlessness.
- Sometimes I ride a stationary bike before bed. Not hard, just an easy short ride.
- No sugar before bed. It plays with my blood sugar level in a bad way.
- When I do get up in the middle of the night, I have a 3-5 minute stretch routine and then go back to bed.
- I don’t foam roll right before bed. It was counterproductive.
Then I had to allow my nervous system to reset itself
- Relax, (even if I am riding the bike) an hour (or longer) before sleep time.
- No heart pounding TV less than two hours before bed.
- No heart pounding social media before bed.
- Put on my blue-blocking glasses at dark. No blue light in the evening.
- Eat a smaller dinner and no dessert.
- Shut off the TV an hour before bed.
- Shut off devices an hour before bed. There also is a “night shift” you can use to reduce blue light on some devices. Just make sure it is dim and not bright if you do use a device.
Supplements and other tricks
- Formula 303 – This did the trick for me. It was an immediate difference.
- Calm Sleep. This is a supplement that has magnesium, GABA, and Melatonin.
- Hydration is super important. You can lose up to 2 quarts of water during sleep. But don’t drink a ton right before bed, or you will get up for another reason.
- A little meditation right before dosing off. You have to de-stress. God is good is a good start for the subject of your meditation.
- Lavender essential oil on the bottom of your feet and in the air.
- Don’t look at the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night.
- When you can’t get back to sleep, get something done that is on your mind. It is way better than sitting there frustrated.
- Put your devices on Airplane Mode. Some people even shut down their Wifi.
There are books on this stuff. Many books. Again, this is what has worked for me. From sleeping through the night once a month to 3-4 times a week. I am on my way to recalibrating my body to sleep the hours I was made to sleep.
Share some of your tips!