I’m always interested in finding single things that can make massive life change. I am aware that typically in life, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. However, I’ve found the thing that is about as close as I’ve ever come: sleep. This was a difficult revelation, as I really don’t like sleep. I prefer to be up and awake, doing things, living life, and hate the fact that we have to spend 1/3 of life asleep. That said, if there’s really no way around it, I might as well do it well. And the more I’ve been reading about it, the more I’ve been getting excited about this whole sleep thing.
So sleep as a panacea, how does that work? Of course, you’ve heard for years how important sleep is. According to Dr. Matt Walker, (https://www.sleepdiplomat.com/) the ability of the brain to make new memories without adequate sleep is reduced by up to 40 percent. Forgetting 40 percent of what happened during the day probably wouldn’t be ideal. Sleep is also a major factor in aging. Better sleep can be powerfully preventative against some of the deleterious effects of aging. Unfortunately, it goes the other way as well, bad sleep rapidly accelerates aging. Similarly important for your body, when we lose an hour for daylight savings time there is a 24 percent increase in heart attacks the next day. When we fall back, there is a 21 percent decrease. Sleep also benefits muscle mass, the immune system, and just about every other biological system you can think of.
Working hard at sleep
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. However, time is far from the only factor. The quality of that sleep is imperative. This leads me to my latest experiment. I am going to spend the next 2 weeks trying to find ways to optimize my sleep to then pass the time and money savings on to you! I’m testing out a few devices and habits that are purported to improve sleep.
- Bluetooth sleep headphones: I listed these first because I’m the most hopeful for their return on investment. I’ve been using Brain.Fm for the benefits it has on focus and meditation, which have been profound. Ben Greenfield, one of my other favorite bloggers testify’s to brain.fm’s sleep inducing abilities (https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/brain-podcasts/how-does-brain-fm-work/). If this really can increase sleep quality the way Brain.fm’s studies say (https://brain.fm/assets/pdfs/EEGSleepAnalysis.pdf) this could be a game changer. I went with the sleep specific headphones because I didn’t want to be like the guy who swallowed his airpods while he slept (https://www.businessinsider.com/man-swallows-apple-airpod-while-sleeping-still-worked-2019-5).
- Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses: Using devices before bed is a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but unless you plan to start turning off all the lights in your house and walking around with a candle like Ebenezer Scrooge, sleep disrupting blue light is still a problem. So, rather than going all 1843 on this problem, I picked up a pair of glasses to block blue light. These ones are a little pricey, but I figured it was worth it because I’ll be able to get away with wearing them at social functions. Or at least I’ll get away with it more than the ones that look like safety goggles.
- Caffeine Curfew: I’ve seen some conflicting information on when to stop caffeine for the day. However, there isn’t much debate that caffeine’s half life is 6 hours. So, most recommendations I’ve seen recommend stopping caffeine between 12 and 2. I’m going to make noon the cutoff just to be safe.
- A fiction book: I typically don’t like to read fiction for the same reason that I don’t like to sleep. Non fiction is making me more productive, teaching me an actionable lesson. However, fiction allows the mind some time to slow down the wheels. Rather than the stimulation of a tv show or the thought provocation of a business book, a fiction book allows the opportunity to allow the mind and eyes to relax.
- A consistent bed time: This is a big one. Humans operate on routines. If sleep times are erratic, it’s going to mess with sleep. It’s inevitable. So, bed by 10. No questions asked.
More to Come
So, that’s my plan of attack. I’m going to mix and match the tools as I go to find the biggest ROI, and what can ideally minimize necessary time while maximizing quality. I hope to have something significant for you in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned to find out how you can maximize your sleep!