Hack Your Bed Time

It’s something that we need, but we don’t know why. In fact, the only reason we know it’s necessary is, well, because it’s necessary. It’s a mystery that roughly 2/3 of Americans don’t get enough of.  It’s something that 40 million people pay pharmaceutical companies for every night. It’s sleep.

Everyone sleeps. It’s a fact. It’s also a fact that not everyone sleeps enough. Actually, hardly anyone sleeps enough. Sleep deprivation can lead to dumbness, clumsiness, heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, forgetfulness, weight gain, and increased risk of death. Of course you could just take a sleeping pill and make it all go away. You just have to worry about the side effects:  burning and tingling in hands arms feet or legs, changes in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, difficulty keeping balance, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth or throat, gas, headache, heartburn, stomach pain or tenderness, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, unusual dreams, weakness, and the most popular side effect which is addiction. – So that’s what they say at the end of those commercials.

Current sleep studies have shown that there are five different stages of sleep: 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM. It was thought that REM is the most important cycle, however, that’s no longer the case. REM is where the most dreaming occurs, but stage 4 is actually the deepest and most necessary level of sleep.  In an 8 hour period our bodies will go through stage 4 twice. After 8 hours, our body stops entering stage 4. Have you ever slept so much that you were more tired? Blame the absence of stage 4. Based on the cycling of stage 4, roughly 8 hours of sleep is the goal.

So now I have to ask you, are you getting at least 8 hours? NO?!? Shame on you.

Perhaps you’re in the same group as over 60% of Americans and you struggle with falling asleep at night. Don’t fret, because I have a sure fire plan to help you hack your bedtime and glue your head to your pillow.
1. Exercise
If your body hasn’t gone through a period of stress, then it won’t prioritize reaching a healthy homeostasis. Exercise is the kick to the face of insomnia that most people need. When I say exercise, I’m not talking about your grandma’s stroll around the neighborhood. Walking is a good start, but most people need to tax their system and deplete energy stores. To use up blood glycogen (sugar energy) one must exercise at 70% max heart rate for an extended period of time. To put it simply – WEAR YOUR SELF OUT! However, I know that a lot of people work hard but still struggle with catching Z’s.

2. Don’t Stim Too Much
I don’t know about you, but my blood is 30% Arabica. I love coffee. I drink it all morning, before workouts, and then before work to keep me going. A lot of American’s do the same thing. Unfortunately, studies show that consuming a stimulant past 3 p.m. could inhibit a person’s ability to sleep. It’s never affected me before, but it’s worth mentioning. If these next two hacks don’t help you get knocked out, you might have to dump the midday joe.

3. ZMA
Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6. That nice combination of minerals will turn you into a positive charge and your bed into a negative; you’ll be magnetized to sleep. Both Zinc and Magnesium have been shown to depress the Central Nervous System (Coffee excites it). It produces a calming effect that also promotes muscle recovery. Most bottles (Like the ON pictured below) will suggest how much to take, and many are gender specific. I recommend taking one and a half the dose on workout days, to stimulate recovery and rest. Best part is that they’re non-addictive. It’s literally just minerals (mainly found in almonds and other foods) that help calm the body into homeostasis.

4. Sleepy Time Tea
I get called a grandpa every time someone sees my tea box, but I don’t care. I know that every night I’m knocked out cold, and they’re wishing they slept as good as this grandpa. Just like your morning ritual of coffee (possibly bullet proof?), a night time ritual will set you up for 8 productive hours. It’s cheaper than most coffees as well, costing as little as 10 cents a cup. There are many varieties, but I recommend Celestial’s sleepy time tea. Made with chamomile, mint, and other relaxing herbs it will comatose you into a couple stage 4 cycles.

Of course all of the above hacks will do little for you if you don’t pick an appropriate time to hit the hay. If you’re like me, watching TV or playing on your phone before bed is going to happen. Try and pick a time, roughly 30 or so minutes before bed, where you shut off all the lights and turn down the volume on everything. The above 4 hacks, in combination with the darkened environment, will help stimulate your circadian rhythm and drag your tired behind under the covers.

Or you and your 80 million sleepless friends can stay up all night tweeting with eachother; your call. 

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.