December 31, 2012
The following is a guest post from Craig Huggart, who has been a longtime podcast listener, and is a technology trainer for law firms (and also a triathlete). Craig's been geeking out on his sleep lately, and now shares his fantastic tips below on how to sleep better.
This is a great read if you want to see how the average working guy implements sleep optimization into his daily routine.
If you have questions, comments or feedback about how to sleep better, leave them below the post, and if you find this information helpful, you may also want to check out the article “How To Hack Your Sleep, Beat Insomnia & Get Into A Deep Sleep Phase As Fast As Possible”.
And now let's hear what Craig has to say.
Nothing has more impact on your training, racing, and overall health than sleeping.
Thanks to Ben’s guidance combined with my own research and self-experimentation, I am sleeping better now than I ever have in my adult life (I’m 51)! And I’ve done this while traveling extensively (195 nights in 2012).
So, what do I personally do?
Below is a sketch of an average day and the little and big things I do to get better sleep despite my hectic travel schedule.
5:00 AM: I wake up to some music I like, turn off the app that tracks my sleep (Sleep As Android) and record my sleep and some other details using RestWise. If you are competitive like me, then merely tracking the quantity and quality of your sleep will motivate you to get better sleep. I don’t personally use the Zeo Sleep Manager because I want to avoid radio waves as much as possible.
5:30 AM: Finish off my shower with 3 minutes of water as cold as I can stand it. Since I have started doing “Cold Thermogenesis”, I can really see an impact on my sleep. This is especially true if I work out later in the day. In those cases, taking a cold shower after my workout makes a huge difference in how well I sleep.
During the winter, in the early mornings I use a light that clips on to my laptop called Syrcadian Blue for about 20 minutes.
Throughout the day, I maintain a clean, high fat / low carb diet and drink lots of water. I also carry a Brita bottle with a filter nearly everywhere I go.
9:30 AM: I take some TianChi. If I could only take one supplement, this would be it. This helps with sleep because it helps with adrenal exhaustion. And besides, this stuff rocks!
Whenever it gets dark: I put on sunglasses. There are a wide variety of sunglasses available on the market but just make sure you get ones that block blue light. Think about the last time you went camping. Didn’t you begin to get sleepy when the sun went down? Artificial light, especially from computers, negatively affects hormones that get our bodies ready for sleep.
7:30 PM: Put on my Cool Fat Burner vest for about 30 minutes while I watch TV (more cold thermogenesis).
8:15 PM: My bedtime routine begins.
- I down a tablespoon of MCT oil. One of the reasons that I used to wake up during the night was because I was hungry. Even though it is only about 100 calories this slow release fat source really helps.
- Next I do 10 sprays of topical magnesium. I get the best absorption on my back and inner thighs. In terms of a true sleep aid there is nothing better than magnesium. In addition to the topical magnesium, I take a heaping tablespoon of Natural Calm Magnesium. By the way, I definitely prefer the Raspberry Lemon flavor. I just let it dissolve in my mouth.
- After that, I head to my bedroom. I sleep on an Essentia Mattress (you can use code BEN10 to get 10% off). I’ve replaced the bulb in my bedside lamp with one from LowBlueLights.com. Also, I have done all I can to make my bedroom dark. I’ve installed black out curtains and have used duct tape to cover up lights on power supplies. I don’t have a night light in my room. Another thing I do is try to get the temperature and the humidity right. 65 degrees and 65% humidity is ideal. If you travel, you may be surprised at how dry most hotel rooms are. I used to travel with a temperature and humidity gauge but now I just assume all hotel rooms are all too dry. To combat this you can run a tub of hot water and just let it stand.
- Then I start up my Earth Pulse. The Earth Pulse uses pulse electromagnetic fields to help you relax and sleep deeper. This is a fairly expensive item and it is pretty “out there” but I am convinced that I am sleeping better since I started using it. This is something that Ben swears by and talks about on a number of podcasts.
- Once I get settled in bed, I put the lid on the day. This is a routine that I learned from Sound Sleep, Sound Mind (the best book I’ve read on sleep). The basic idea is that you deal with or make notes about whatever is on your mind and then you tell yourself “I’m not going to think about that right now because it is time to go to sleep”. This may sound trite but it can make a huge difference. If you have trouble “turning your brain off” I highly recommend you check out this book.
- Turn on Sleep As Android. One setting I use is to have it automatically turn on Airplane Mode. This shuts down all the radios.
- Turn on Pure Sleep by AmbiScience. AmbiScience makes my favorite apps (on Android and iOS) for generating binaural beats combined with white noise. From the first night I started using binaural beats, I could tell a difference. I created a Preset on the app with the following settings: Sound: “Just the waves” (Volume 100%); Effect: “Deep Sleep 1.05 Hz – HP” (Volume 30%). The sound quality is great. For a simpler alternative (that Ben uses), you can download one track and create a playlist that repeats this 2 hour track 4 times.
- Put on my sleep mask.
- Plug in and put on my sleep headphones and drift off to sleep (almost always by 9:00 PM).
This probably seems like a lot of trouble…and it is a bit of effort! But my quality of my life is so much better now, and that makes my sleep routine well worth it. At 51 years of age, I’m sleeping better than at 41, 31, or 21.
So how can YOU do all this?
I would begin by getting an app for your phone that can track your sleep. Then pick one thing, try it and see if it makes a measurable difference. If it does, keep doing it. If not, move on.
When it comes to sleeping better, what works for you? Please let me know in the comments, along with any questions or feedback you may have. Finally, if you have health, fitness or nutrition tips you'd like to contribute as a guest post, click here to contact Ben.