10 Hacks to Help You Get Better Sleep
Your complete guide to getting the best sleep ever, so you can wake up feeling energetic and refreshed — every day.
I love hanging out in bed cuddling, and I require a blissful seven hours of sleep a night—minimum. Which is why I’ve been a little cranky about the less than satisfying slumber that’s plagued me over the last few weeks. I can never sleep on planes, and I rarely sleep well the first night in a new place, so when I bounce around a lot while traveling, I often end up feeling like I need a vacation at the end of it! All the excitement of traveling makes winding down for bed more difficult, not to mention the fact that I find myself waking up in the middle of the night.
Deep sleep allows your body to release the clean-up crew that gets rid of cancer cells, delays aging, and regenerates and repairs your cells.
But what about sleeping pills?
Pharmaceutical sleeping pills can be addictive, have serious side effects, produce poor-quality sleep, and give you morning grogginess. Melatonin pills are dangerous because they eventually mess up your body’s ability to generate melatonin without the help of a daily pill. You should avoid them both. The one type I’ve taken that works and is safe is an herbal blend called Deep Sleep. I take it when I have a big day coming up and need to be 100% sure I’ll sleep well, or when I’m traveling.
But why does it matter, anyway?
Me being me, I set out to learn everything I could about sleep. What I learned is shocking.
In a nutshell, when you sleep, your brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day (which is why it’s important to drink loads of warm water in the morning so your body can ‘take out the trash’).
Each phase of the sleep cycle restores and rejuvenates your brain and body for optimal, healthy functioning (you can dig into the science here). When sleep is deprived, toxins can build up, and the effects will become apparent in cognitive abilities, behavior, and judgment. And this same sort of detoxification and repair happens throughout the body, not just in your brain. In fact, not getting the right sleep can lead you to develop chronic diseases.
Here’s the key: MELATONIN! This super-potent antioxidant is naturally produced by your brain based on signals from the sun. In fact, your body converts serotonin into melatonin and then back into serotonin every day. If you’re asleep between 10pm and 2am, it leads the clean-up crew in your body that gets rid of cancer cells, delays aging, and regenerates and repairs your cells.
The question is — how do we get more of it??
It sounds weird, because everyone is supposed to be different, but study after study shows that your body is designed to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day — around 9:30pm and 6 or 7am. No matter your regular routine, when you stay up too late, your body misses critical deep sleep hours.
Your body does its cell-regenerating, detoxifying, and healing routine between the hours of 10pm and 2am. After 2am your sleep will get much lighter and less beneficial. If you notice you’re waking up between 2 and 3am, it may be because you’re not getting to bed early enough for your body to initiate this renewal deep-sleep process.
Timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market – it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest.
The science is clear: you have an internal clock lodged deep within the brain that regulates your sleep – the pineal gland. It receives information about the sun through your eyes via the optic nerve. As the sun sets, the pineal gland is able to sense the change in light transmitted through your eyes and it begins to secrete melatonin to prepare your body for sleep.
If you are still awake, the “second wind” phenomenon occurs at 10pm, and this process of free radical removal becomes significantly impaired, which causes aging, disease, and is extremely harmful to your health. If you’re currently falling asleep well past 10pm, make it a goal to sleep earlier by 15-30 minutes each week until you hit the 10pm goal. This should help: