“Biohacking” your sleep can help you sleep better. And what exactly does “biohacking” mean?
When it comes to our human physiology, biohacking is taking any action to enhance your capabilities, improve on a medical disorder or achieve your body’s maximum potential.
Now when was the last time you woke up without an alarm, feeling refreshed and didn’t need a big bucket of coffee to get going in the morning?
There’s no question that we all want better sleep, right? But, with the numerous distractions and stresses of daily life — it’s a wonder how any of us sleep at all…ever!
Today we have a culture of “we’ve got to rise and grind!” in order to succeed. We’re often in a constant state of digital stimulation, hustle and bustle. And this lifestyle is a major contributing factor of poor sleep hygiene.
The truth about lack of sleep
Not getting enough sleep impacts our brain health and memory long term, and even our body’s ability to detoxify and renew itself through cellular turnover and repair.
So, it’s really no wonder that we’re seeing an exponential increase in diseases like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders and adrenal dysregulation. In fact, lack of sleep messes with many of our hormones — and you know what happens when our hormones aren’t happy!
Speaking of hormones, did you know that we have 400 times more Melatonin (the body’s natural “sleep hormone”) in our gut than in our brains? That is reason enough to focus on gut health as part of a healthy sleep routine!
What happens to your hormones when you don’t get enough zzz’s:
GHRELIN – your hunger hormone increases by 15% after just one night of poor sleep. And, it can also dramatically affect your LEPTIN – the hormone of satiety. It’s no wonder we want to eat a big pile of sugar and carbs when we’re tired – we’re looking for a big fat energy fix!
CORTISOL – your stress hormone. Chronic sleep deprivation correlates with elevated nighttime cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, you’re not only hungrier, but you tend to store more visceral fat in the abdominal area — the dreaded belly fat!
HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE (HGH – dubbed the fountain of youth hormone). Production of this hormone peaks during the first half of our sleep. This is what’s known as the Delta sleep stage – when we get into our deepest sleep and restoration takes place.
It protects muscle from breaking down, aids in building new lean muscle tissue, and gives you energy. This means you’re able to lose weight more efficiently and maintain lean body mass…but only when you sleep well!
Biohacking your sleep naturally with these 6 tips:
1. KEY NUTRIENTS: Eat a diet rich in both prebiotic and probiotic foods as the bacteria in your gut can interfere with Melatonin. Also, eating foods that are high in “sleep nutrients” is essential.
For example, Potassium helps us stay asleep and can be found in bananas, coconut water and avocados. Magnesium is a relaxant, and helps us to fall asleep, but 80% of us are believed to be deficient in this multitasking mineral.
2. BALANCED DINNER: Pay special attention to your last meal of the day. A balanced dinner should include an ample amount of protein, veggies, good fats and a small amount of “slow, low” complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, wild rice or quinoa.
3. LIMIT ALCOHOL: Alcohol inhibits deep REM sleep. This is when we dream as well as when our memories get solidified from short to long-term. Even one glass of our beloved vino can affect REM sleep. Enough said — limit alcohol, especially right before bed.
4. PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE: The environment you create and the rituals and routines you follow around sleep are what is known as sleep hygiene. So, an earlier bedtime (by 10 p.m.) and practicing good sleep hygiene equate to better sleep!
5. DITCH THE DEVICES! This cannot be understated and falls into the category of practicing good sleep hygiene. Set a screen curfew for at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from our devices lowers Melatonin production by up to 50%. Wow!
6. ESSENTIAL OILS: Adding a few drops of calming EO’s like lavender, vetiver, frankincense, sandalwood and Roman chamomile in a diffuser, in a hot bath before bed or on your pillow can work wonders to help you drift off to sleep.
There’s absolutely no question that getting enough quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health! It does take some practice, and perhaps a few biological “hacks” to balance your body’s natural circadian rhythm, but a better night’s sleep can be achieved! Be sure to read my post When Your Lights Go Out for further information.
Are you experiencing healthy sleep? Do you practice any of the tips suggested in this post? If not, which tip do you think will be the most useful to you? Please share your experiences with getting a good night’s sleep with us, and let us know if you are already biohacking your sleep or plan to do so. As always, we’d love to hear from you; please leave your comments in the box below.