Top 5 Free Biohacks For Sleep
Optimising my sleep has possibly been the most impactful thing I’ve implemented for my personal health and general wellbeing. Following are my top 5 hacks, there are many more, but I feel these are a great place to start.
1. Making the bedroom as dark as possible
Those little LEDs from the laptop blinking away in the corner, lights from mobile phones and streetlights ruin your chances of getting a good night’s rest.
Blackout curtains are a must for me and covering any lights or just completely removing them from the bedroom is essential in my eyes.
Also, your mitochondria (the power plants inside your cells) have been shown to communicate with photons. So, letting them know its night-time could potentially be one of the reasons having your room as dark as possible could be a winning tool in your kit for optimizing sleep.
2. Avoiding blue light 2h prior to sleep
This leads on quite nicely from the paragraph above. Blue light from screens (laptops, mobile phones, and televisions) triggers the body into thinking its daytime, and this in turn releases cortisol. Cortisol is essential for waking us up in the morning and firing the body up for action during the day, release at night though is undesirable. It also inhibits the release of melatonin which signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.
3. Avoid eating 2 hours prior to sleep
I first heard Charles Poliquin talk about this around 5 years ago when discussing recovery of top-level athletes and this was part of the protocol he’d give them. More recently I’ve read about circadian rhythms of the body and how “waking up” the digestive system with food close to bedtime isn’t ideal.
Dave Asprey also talks about not eating after sunset, and this makes a lot of sense to me. If you look back at our ancestor’s dietary habits, food would of been consumed in daylight hours.
4. Careful with Caffeine
Caffeine has a half-life of around 4-6h, so I now have my cut off at 2pm. And sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but for me this also includes abstaining from chocolate too. Chocolate only has a small amount of caffeine, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine this will certainly affect your sleep.
My meditation practice only got into full swing around 2 years ago, but it’s been profound.
This was an area of my health I’d totally neglected. However, after spending some time with regular practice and taking an 8-week mindfulness course I’ve been able to use this tool with great success. The racing thoughts or great ideas that come to mind at the wrong time of day are quite easily set aside as I return my focus to my breath resulting in me falling asleep with ease.
I’d like to add in here that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to meditate when I first started, and I felt like I was terrible at it! Noticing my attention had wandered made me frustrated, until I learnt that just noticing that my mind had wandered was, in fact, me meditating. I learnt to notice this and then gently bring myself back to my breath, with a hint of humour and self-compassion (a skill I learnt from Jeff Warren via the app Calm).
I guess that tip isn’t totally free in all honesty as the app has a cost and there’s usually a cost for meditation and mindfulness courses but there you go, my top five tips!
Personal Trainer, Developmental Coach, Biohacking guide at Core Naturopathics