Last Updated on December 2, 2020 by James Matthews
We’ve all heard the phrase “faster than falling asleep.”
But many of us can’t relate to that phrase. In fact, more and more people are sleeping too little or even barely at all.
If you know what it’s like for sleep to be a struggle, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we’ll take you through ways you can biohack sleep. We’ll also explore why sleep matters so much to begin with.
Why is Good Sleep Essential?
Getting good quality sleep isn’t only about feeling rested. In fact, sleeping well is just as important as eating healthy and getting regular exercise.
Better Sleep, Better Heart
How well you sleep is a factor that affects how healthily your heart functions.
The length and quality of sleep may also have a significant effect on other risk factors. Those are the factors that are believed to cause chronic diseases, including heart disease.
An analysis of 15 research studies showed that those who don’t get enough sleep are at much higher risk of heart attacks or strokes compared to someone who sleeps 7–8 hours a day.
Sleep for a Naturally Smaller Appetite
If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to prioritize getting a good night’s sleep.
Studies have shown that those who sleep fewer hours per night are more likely to be obese or overweight. This is because sleep loss affects the hormone balance in the body that influences appetite.
Appetite regulation is affected by a hormone called ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite while leptin suppresses it.
When sleep deprivation occurs, ghrelin is increased to a higher level, while leptin is decreased.
Sleep for Better Mental Health
It’s not crazy to find that someone who has mental health issues is also sleep deprived.
Lack of sleep is strongly linked to mental health issues, such as depression and mood disorders.
This is because sleep affects plenty of chemicals in your body and brain, such as serotonin. Serotonin deficiencies, which can be caused by poor sleep quality, can lead to depression, low energy, and anxiety.
And it’s not just sleep quality that affects mental health. Sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, can also impact levels of depression and anxiety.
Sleep for A Sharper Mind
It’s true that those who sleep better tend to have sharper minds.
Good sleep and healthy rest patterns are crucial for brain function, such as productivity, cognition, concentration, and performance.
In some ways, sleep deprivation has similar effects on the brain as alcohol intoxication.
Getting enough sleep, however, does wonders for the brain and mind. For example, good sleep quality actually improves problem-solving skills, and even memory enhancement in a process called memory consolidation.
Sleep: An Immunity-Booster
Does your immune system often need a kick-starter? Are you getting sick often? It could be your sleep.
To put it simply, your body needs to rest to fight ailments and disease. Lack of sleep not only affects how often you get sick, but also how quickly you recover.
This is because when you’re asleep, your immune system releases a protein named cytokine. Your body needs higher levels of cytokine to fight an illness.
When you lose sleep, you lose cytokine production. You also risk the decrease of antibodies whose job is to fight off sickness.
Good sleep quality also fights off inflammation and cell damage. Lack of sleep means increased stress levels, which in turn, increase the chances of inflammation in the body.
Stress Less with Sleep
We could all lose less stress in our lives. But did you know that your increased stress could be simply from a lack of adequate sleep?
When we lose sleep, our bodies become stressed due to lack of rest and rejuvenation. When our bodies are stressed, our blood pressure increases to dangerous levels. Our bodies then produce stress hormones, which make us even more stressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
High-stress levels increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as anxiety.
It makes sense that when you’re tired due to lack of sleep, you don’t exactly feel like being social.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t only make you tired, but it also makes you irritable and less alert. All the more reason not to go out and mingle, right?
Whether you’re tired or irritable, you tend to skip social occasions and interaction, and even emotional cues that you would’ve otherwise noticed.
7 Ways to Start Biohacking Sleep
This is the part you’ve been waiting for! Below is a list of easy things you can do to improve your sleep quality and start biohacking sleep.
Regulate Sleep Patterns
The easiest thing you can do to sleep better is to pay attention to your sleeping patterns.
Waking up and falling asleep at the same time every day allows your body to regulate its sleeping patterns.
Once your sleeping patterns are regulated, your body sends cues as bedtime nears. Your body also teaches itself to wake up around the same time every day, lessening your need for an alarm or a snooze button.
To track your sleep patterns, we recommend a wearable like the oura ring or whoop strap.
Control Light Exposure
It’s all about a hormone called melatonin, which is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure. The more melatonin you get, the more alert you are, and the less you get, the drowsier you feel.
So how can we control our levels of melatonin?
During the day, expose yourself to as much light as you can. Sunlight is preferable, but lightboxes that induce artificial sunlight can work too.
Light exposure regulation also applies for nighttime.
It’s recommended that you avoid bright lights at least an hour or two before your bedtime. This doesn’t only include your bedroom lights. TV screens and mobile phones are also a huge factor that strongly affects your sleep quality.
If you can’t unplug completely you should consider some blue light glasses.
Exercise in the Morning
Physical activity, such as speed walks and exercise, are linked to better sleep quality. It’s actually been linked to the reduction of insomnia symptoms.
However, it’s not exercising at any time of day that’ll help you sleep better. It’s daytime exercise specifically that’ll enhance your sleep.
Physical activity promotes the production of endorphins, which are brain chemicals that elevate your mood and make you more alert.
When you exercise at night, this release of endorphins fights your body’s natural cues to go to bed and keeps you awake for longer than you’d like.
Tone Down the Caffeine
This is kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of people still drink plenty of caffeine during the evening and expect to sleep well in the night.
Caffeinated drinks are often used to combat drowsiness and fatigue because they increase alertness. These beverages include coffee, soda, energy drinks, and more.
Caffeine is such a strong factor in the quality of sleep that it’s recommended you refrain from consuming it at least six hours before your bedtime.
Get a Little Cool
We’re talking about your bedroom temperature, of course.
Your body goes through changes when you’re sleeping and one of those is temperature.
Your core body temperature decreases when you’re asleep, while the temperature of your feet and hands increase.
The best-recommended temperature for quality sleep is around 65°F or 18°C, and although this is the most ideal temperature for most, yours might vary.
It’s always best to enhance your room environment, including temperature, to your liking so that you’re as relaxed as possible when it’s bedtime.
This differs from person to person, but it’s generally recommended to avoid napping in order to sleep better at night.
Naps are a common energy booster, especially among those who may suffer from insomnia. On the other hand, sleeping during the day might decrease your need for rest during the night, therefore ruining your sleep schedule.
Dedicate Relaxation Time
It’s difficult to fall asleep when you’re stressed or have your mind consumed by overthinking.
Taking some time to relax every night before bed is a great way to enhance sleep quality.
Listening to relaxing sounds for around 45 minutes to an hour before bed is likely to result in deeper and more comfortable sleep.
Another method of relaxation is yoga. Yoga uses breathing patterns and body movements to release stress and tension accumulated in the body.
You can also meditate as a means to enhance melatonin levels and help the brain reach a calm state where good quality sleep is attainable.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to living a healthy life.
Lack of sleep affects many aspects of life and has a direct negative impact on mental, emotional, and physical health.
Give the above techniques a shot to start biohacking your sleep for a healthier way of living and higher energy levels throughout the day.