The Ultimate Sleep Formula

Looking to fall asleep faster, have fewer awakenings throughout the night, and have a more satisfying slumber waking up in the morning feeling fully refreshed?  Look no further to the formula below.  The recipe is simple to understand but challenging to follow.  Whether you are a sound sleeper or not, following this formula will enhance the quality and quantity of your sleep.  It’s safe to say getting more and better zzz’s not only is good for our health but makes us better and more empathetic human beings.  As Thomas Dekker says, “sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”  

The Ultimate Sleep Formula

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10 hours before bed-Eliminate Caffeine

Ten hours before bed, cut all caffeine—no more coffee, teas, energy drinks, or sodas.  Bedtime at 10 pm?  That means no more caffeinated beverages after 12 pm.  Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours.  If you had a coffee at noon, half of the caffeine would be digested and released in the body by 5 pm.  After about ten hours, the caffeine from the drink is no longer strong enough to impact you.  If you can fall asleep regardless of the time you had that last cup of coffee, you still have to consider to adverse effects that caffeine can play having that cup of joe too close to bedtime. 

3 hours before bed-Stop Eating

Have your final bites of food three hours before your scheduled bedtime.  It takes about three hours to digest a meal.  Eating a large meal before bed increases your blood pressure, blood sugar, and resting heart rate as your body works to break down the food you ingested.  Halting food intake three hours prior to bed allows your body to focus on one thing-sleep!  Eating your final meal at least three hours before bed has been shown to improve sleep latency and decrease the amount of waking up in the middle of the night. 

2 hours before bed-No More Work

Two hours before bed is time to disconnect from all of your work.  That means no emails, calls, reports, or other work-related actions.  Giving your body and brain two hours of non-work-related activities before bed will decrease your cortisol levels and promote a relaxing and soothing state, making sleep much more inviting.  If you have a hard time winding down from work, consider a brain dump where you write down all your work-related tasks to get to the following day.  As the author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, states, “when you work, work.  When you’re done, be done.”

1 hour before bed-Screens Off

It’s time to turn off all the screens sixty minutes before bed.  Admittedly, this is the most challenging part of the sleep formula to follow but the most important if you’re looking to get your sleep right!  Phones, TVs, tablets, and computers keep your mind psychologically engaged-the opposite of what you want when trying to get deep sleep.  The blue light from all of these devices suppresses melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep and wake cycles.  I saw the remarkable benefits of cutting out screens one hour before bed while tracking my sleep using my Oura ring.  My amount of REM, deep, and quantity of sleep all increased by more than 15% during the ten-day period with no screens.  Most importantly, I felt rested and recharged. 

0 minutes while waking-Avoid the Snooze

There’s no trick here.  When the alarm goes off, get out of bed!  Hitting the snooze isn’t helping at all and indicates that you’re not getting enough sleep if you constantly try to get those extra minutes of rest after the alarm.  After all, the short sleep period between tapping the snooze is not restorative and will add to the morning grogginess.  

To MAS health,

Michael

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