“I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.” – Frank Underwood, House Of Cards
Sleep. Where to begin?! On one hand, you have a glorious nightly ritual of comfort, relaxation, rejuvenation and the wonderful world of dreaming! On the other hand, you have torment, restlessness, interruptions and nightmares, all brought to you by this necessity for all human beings that we call “sleep.” Unfortunately, thanks to today’s hyperactive society, most people tend to experience the latter.
Insomnia is one of the most common problems among adults, especially Americans. The National Institutes of Health have estimated that over 30% of the general population experience sleep disruption, and approximately 10% show symptoms of an insomnia diagnosis(1).
Enter sleep aids. These are some the most commonly used sleep aids among American adults (2).
The list goes on and on! It’s no surprise either; there are some serious dollars to be made in the sleep aid market. Surveys show that an estimated 4% of all Americans have used one or more sleep aids in the past thirty days(3). That’s over 12 million people, a staggering figure!
Again, no surprises there. You live in a society that has taught us to judge your self-worth based upon the number of hours you put in at the office, your income level, how “connected” you are via Social Networks and your knowledge of current events. The amount of stimuli the average American brain is receiving on a daily basis in today’s society is far greater than any other time in human history. Unfortunately for you, most of that stimuli is extremely detrimental to the quality of your sleep. The everyday rat race leads to insomnia, which leads to the use of medications to induce sleep, which leads to a laundry list of health issues caused by the very medications you turned to for help!
I don’t want to spend too much time on the side effects of sleep aids; I would rather spend time focusing on natural (and extremely effective) ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep, without turning to medications. However, I think it is important to at least list some of the most common side effects associated with the use of sleep aids (4):
- Burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty keeping balance
- Daytime drowsiness
- Dry mouth or throat
- Impairment the next day
- Mental slowing or problems with attention or memory
- Stomach pain or tenderness
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Unusual dreams
I don’t know about you, but I just don’t think the risk vs. reward makes the use of medications justifiable! So what else can you do about it? Can you ever really experience the carefree, dream-filled nights you once had as an infant, when the world was a much simpler place?
The short answer is, “Yes,” but the devil is in the details…
The goal of this post is to break down a few “sleep hacks” that I have learned along the way, that have worked wonders for me, in hopes that these same tools and tricks might work for you. First, I will list all the steps I took to achieve perfect sleep quality for 8 hours. If you so choose, you can follow my protocol exactly without ever reading the rest of this post. For those of you interested in the “Why?” feel free to indulge my nerdy details below!
How I Achieved 100% Sleep Quality:
- Turned off all screens at least 1 hour before bed.
- Phone, tablet, laptop, television… All of them!
- Ate a small Ketogenic meal 1-2 hours before bed.
- My chosen meal was 1/4 pound grass fed beef cooked in a skillet with grass-fed butter
- Turned off all overhead lights 1 full hour before bed.
- I only use Red LED lights in my house 1 hour before bed time (5).
- Read a book under red light for 30-45 minutes.
- If you’re curious, my book of choice was “The 4-Hour Chef”(6)
- Drank 8 ounces of Organic Turmeric Tea with 1 tablespoon of raw honey while reading.
- Rishi Organic Turmeric Tea (7)
- Laid on my Sleep Induction Mat for 10 minutes.
- Sleep Induction Mat (8)
- Did 10 minutes of Sleep Meditation
- I learned sleep meditation through the Headspace App (10).
- Turned off red light and put on my Sleep Mask
- “Dream Essentials” Sleep Mask (9)
That’s it! Those are the exact steps I followed to achieve 100% Sleep Quality. 8 full hours of rejuvenating bliss!
Personally, I use the “Sleep Cycle” app (11) to track my sleep quality. This may sound contradictory, considering it is a smartphone app and requires the use of a screen. However, the phone is placed in Airplane Mode and the 30 seconds or less it takes to set an alarm is not enough exposure to ruin the quality of your sleep. The feedback you get from this app is well worth it.
* WARNING: It’s About To Get Nerdy!
Now for the details! I swear, there is a reason for each and every step I listed above! Check out Part 2 of this article to dive into the nitty gritty details…