Sleeping well is both an art and a science. Yet a quarter of the population complains about lack of sleep, and one-third say they suffer from sleep disorders—those statistics come from France, so imagine what it is like elsewhere. Even if you do sleep eight hours a night, is it optimal, uninterrupted, and truly restorative sleep?
Too often, we forget that being tired all the time is not our natural state. Moreover, keeping prisoners awake for prolonged state, creating a chronic lack of sleep, is a form of torture used in the sixteenth century to extract confessions from witches—and in the twenty-first against terrorists.
The importance of good sleep
So, it is urgent to heal your sleep. The less the body is allowed to recover at night, the more your creativity and memory suffer. Inflammation rages in the body. Muscle or brain cells do not regenerate, especially when you combine lack of sleep with intense physical or mental activity. Life expectancy decreases. Your hormones get out of whack. And this list is far from exhaustive.
In a word: Sleep! Allow your brain to take a break and get rid of cellular waste. Permit your body to repair itself.
How to sleep well
If you want to be stronger, happier and more productive, focus on improving your sleep. Restful, good quality sleep is a pillar of performance. Know that quality matters more than quantity. You cannot replace deep sleep and REM sleep with a long night of light sleep.
My three favorite hacks
Here are three of my favorite hacks to boost sleep. In the spirit of biohacking, I suggest you test them. :-)
Eat fat. Your brain is the body’s fattest organ. Healthy lipids from foods such as butter, wild fish, or coconut oil nourish your brain so it can do its job: repair itself while sleeping. Good fat also stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps you from feeling hungry. Refueling at dinner means you are less likely to crave a midnight snack. Before going to bed, add up to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to some herbal tea. And why not a spoonful of honey, preferably raw and unfiltered?
Unplug your devices. Of course … you all know that you have to turn off your devices. Blue light after sunset disrupts our circadian rhythm and prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells your body that it’s time to sleep. Be careful, screens are not the only source of unwanted light—streetlights and LED bulbs often have the same effect. To really protect your sleeping hours from blue light:
Wear blue-light blocking glasses at the end of the day.
Use candles or red lights at home at night.
No screen (no phone, no tablet, no TV) 3 hours before sleep (unless you use glasses that block harmful light).
Unplug devices or cover all the small lights in the room (chargers, alarm clocks, …)
Close the shutters or use blackout curtains.
Unplug yourself. That is, meditate. Science shows that meditation significantly reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation allows you to become aware of your thoughts and impulses, and with this awareness, you can tell the difference between useful and destructive thinking. Meditation also reconnects your brain, strengthening certain neuronal pathways that calm your nervous system. Start meditating for nine minutes (that’s all you need to make an impact). Do it every day. Gradually increase to 20 minutes. If you do not know how to do meditate, try a meditation class or find an app.