I truly believe that getting better sleep is one of the best ways for improving your health, fitness, and longevity.
With better sleep, you will burn more fat, build more muscle, your skin and hair will be better, your memory and cognition will improve, cravings will be less, you’ll be happier and in a better mood, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk for many illnesses and diseases.
And the reason is that good, quality sleep helps restore every aspect of your body, all the cells and most importantly, improve hormones – my favorite topic.
Sadly, sleep is also one that most people screw up and typically complain about – especially as we get older.
Now, keep in mind that I didn’t say get MORE sleep, even though many people do need to also sleep more hours.
And that’s why today I’m going to reveal my favorite 7 ways to get better, deeper, and more restful sleep – naturally.
Now, before I start, I will confess that I have always been a bad sleeper. I have a hard time falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Even as a child.
My mind is always racing. I’m either working out a problem and looking for solutions. Or, I’m excited about something and I’m thinking about all the possibilities.
Plus, I’m also a very light sleeper, so anything can wake me up or prevent me from falling asleep.
Some people are lucky – they can sleep anywhere, any time, no matter how noisy, or what’s going on in their life.
I am NOT one of these lucky bastards and thus, I’ve really had to figure out how to dramatically improve my sleep.
Mind you, my sleep is still not great, but it has dramatically improved over the past few years.
So, let’s get started with my favorite solutions for improving your sleep and almost all of these you can implement right away and will cost you not or very little.
Know Your Sleep Chronotype
Most people say that you should get to bed early and wake up early. This is probably true for many people, but not all. Some people are morning people and some are night owls. Genetics plays a big role in this one. As does aging and hormonal changes.
For example, I used to stay up late and sleep in. But when I got to my 40s, I started to get to bed earlier. I was getting sleepy earlier. And as I get close to 50, it’s getting even earlier – like 10 pm.
Anyway, know your genetics and preferences and then stick to it daily.
If you’re tired at 10 pm, then THAT’S your signal to go to bed. Don’t push past it and get that “second wind” because your stress hormones such as cortisol levels will go up and melatonin, you sleep hormone will go down and now you’ve created a negative hormonal balance.
So, listen to your body and keep the same sleep schedule. If you want to go to bed at 2 am, then stick to that schedule every night. Consistency and regularity are the most important.
Wake Up With Sunlight
When you wake up in the morning, get some sunlight immediately. Let your eyes see sunlight to reset your hormones and “wake up”, which then preps your body to release your sleep hormone, melatonin, at night.
I suggest you just go out for a 10-15 min walk. You get some sun and start your body moving – double the benefits.
If any of you have a dog, you know that you need to walk them. Not just so they can go to the bathroom, but so they can get some energy out. It helps them sleep better.
Same with children. One reason they sleep well is that they are so active.
So, make sure you exercise and move daily. As you may already know, I like BOTH weightlifting resistance exercise and cardio – walking being my favorite.
You can do each every other day. Like cardio Mon/Wed/Fri and weights Tues/Thurs/Sat or something similar.
And the earlier in the day you exercise, the better. First, you’ll have more energy the entire day.
The problem is that exercising late in the day, stimulates your nervous system, adrenals, and stress hormones and reduces deep sleep.
Of course, I’d rather you exercise late in the day than not exercise at all.
However, you can take a nice walk late in the day and that has many benefits, one of them being improving your stress levels.
Eat A Healthy and Balanced Diet
This topic is too big for today’s article but just eat healthily. Make sure you get healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Don’t eat too close to bedtime. At least 1-2 hours before. You want your body to focus on repair and sleep, not digesting the food.
You should also eat something slow to digest for your last meal. Something with fat, to keep your blood sugar stable. One reason you wake up at night is due to low blood sugar levels.
Speaking of which, alcohol is NOT good for sleep. You may pass out easier with it, but it reduces deep, REM sleep and thus, the repair is reduced and you wake up less rested.
And lastly as far as diet, reduce, or eliminate caffeine. I know, this means no coffee or energy drinks. However, IF you’re going to have them, cut them out 8-10 hours before bed. When I tell people to do this, they bitch and moan at first. However, weeks later they confess how much better they’re sleeping.
Dim The Lights – Especially Blue Light
It’s important to get sunlight during the day. However, at night, you need to reduce the lights around you. This means to dim lights around your home. And more so, kill off the blue light from electronic devices like your phone and computers.
I’ve spoken about this in the past. You can get “blue-blocking” apps on your electronic devices. But, I simply dim all my lights and wear blue-blocking glasses. I do so about an hour or two before bedtime and it really helps because it tells my body to start producing melatonin.
All the bright lights trick your brain into thinking it’s still day time.
By the way, when it’s time to sleep, your bedroom should be completely pitch black. If you can’t do that, wear eyeshades – which is what I do.
Write It Down
As stated earlier, my mind is always racing. I’ve always been a “thinker”. And I’ve noticed many poor sleepers are similar.
You might have concern or anger or frustration or worry or even excitement. Whatever it is, your brain is constantly focusing on something and not able to relax.
Meditation is great.
However, I think writing things down is really important because it gets the junk out of your head. You can journal or have a diary or just write down what’s bothering you.
Then, make sure you also end on a positive note – what are you grateful for? What are you happy about? What IS working out in your life? Small or big, end with gratitude.
Just know that your brain can only hold on to ONE type of emotion. You can’t be angry AND grateful at the same time. So, better to end the day with happiness, on a positive note of gratitude.
Ironically, you’ll also get better sleep again, due to better hormones.
Take Specific Supplements To Relax
Finally, make sure you take some supplements that help you relax at night. Let’s face it, we live in a high-stress world. We are getting bombarded with so many stimuli all day long, it’s hard to physically and more so, mentally relax.
Magnesium is a really important one that most people are deficient in. If you get muscle cramps, especially at night, then you really need more magnesium.
I also like specific herbs such as St. John’s Wort, Passion Flower and Valerian Extract. As well as amino acids 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Taurine, and GABA.
These are in fact, the specific ingredients I use to help me sleep. It’s been a big game-changer for me. This combination works the best and here’s the exact formula I use.
I also add in Melatonin 3-4x a week, in addition to the herbs and amino acids I just mentioned. However, I don’t use the typical 3 mgs or more.
I use 1 mg or half of that, 500 mcg. When you take too high a dose, you wake up groggy and sluggish and it lasts most of the morning. So, take just 1 mg, an hour before bed with herbs and amino acid formula I just mentioned and you’ll fall asleep faster, easier and more importantly, stay asleep.
The end result is BETTER, deeper sleep, and you’ll wake up feeling rested and youthful.