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Perfecting these 3 Top Sleep Tips

“Sleep is not a privilege, it’s the body’s RIGHT!” – Sanjeev Javia  

Weighted blankets, sleepy time teas, noise machines, sleep apps, and dozens of other sleep hacks have been sold to us to put us to sleep. To be honest, I’ve tried, and I’m currently using, several! But if you follow the research, there are 3 that have shown to consistently help you to sleep faster and deeper. Unless you’ve been “sleeping” under a rock, you’ve heard that…

  • Cooler Room Temperatures
  • Dark Environments
  • Sleep Timing 

…are crucial for healthy sleep. But let’s not be an amateur about it, let’s show you how to be a PRo!

Q: What does cold have to do with sleep?

A: When your core body temperature decreases, a hormone, Melatonin increases. Melatonin signals the body to begin the sleep processes such as relaxing the muscles, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress hormones, etc. Also the cooler body temperature allows for recovery and repair processes to begin in the body, which themselves take energy and produce their own heat, so the lower core temp regulates overall body temp at this time

Q: How cold should I be?

A: Your body temperature will go down 1-2 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the most, 98.6 to 96-97. And this is going to start 2hrs before you go to bed, then be at the lowest in early morning, then your temp will increase again, getting you back to 98.6 by the time you wake up.  Increasing body temperature is a signal for your body to wake up, you’re most alert and energized when your body is warmest. 

Q: What’s the best way to get cooler?

A: Research shows that room temps between 60-65 degrees are optimal. 65 seems to be best, lower than 60 and above 70 is the worst. Hotter temps disturb both getting into sleep and sleep cycles, while cooler temps just disturb getting into sleep. 

Q: Does the type of mattresses matter?

A: Yes. Reducing core body temp is about transferring heat from your body out to your surroundings. This is why your head and feet may initially feel warm, your body is trying to move the heat out. If you have a memory foam or foam based mattress/pillow, these are not effective at transferring heat. You want to lay on air/feather based or gel, materials that will absorb and breath out the heat. I use a latex mattress because it absorbs the heat and also does not contain any petroleum. 

Q: Does a hot shower or fans work?

A: Not a hot shower, but a warm one. And this must be done 1-3hrs before bed, not directly before. Research has shown that a steep drop in temp, going from high to low helps with getting you into sleep faster. A warm shower raises body temp, which then your body adjust to get cooler, which gives you the steep drop. Fans push air, while A/C generates cool air, use them in combination, rather than just fans unless the air is already cool. 

Q: How do you stay cool?

A: I do four things. I take a warm shower 2hrs before bed for 15minutes, I bring down my thermostat to 65degrees 30min before bed, I used a Perfect Sleep Pad set at 67 degrees from 10pm-5am (then heats up to 85 degrees from 5-6am), and I have a fan. Sometimes the A/C is too much, so some days, I’ll turn that off. The key is not being too cool an hour before waking up, you want the temp to slowly increase to further signal your body to wake up. 

Q: How dark should your room be?

A: Pitch dark. The absence of light triggers an area in your brain that is your “master clock”, it is set to follow a certain (circadian) rhythm that signals your body to go to sleep and to wake up. Darkness is the most powerful signal you can give your body to begin the sleep processes. 

Q: When should I start dimming the lights?

A: Easy answer is, follow the sun. As it becomes dusk, start dimming the lights. 2-3hrs before bed, you have a “Melatonin Window”, during this time your body is producing its highest levels of the sleep hormone, Melatonin. Light will disturb and inhibit its production.

Q: How bad is blue light?

A: It’s not as bad as it’s made out to be, but it’s not good. Blue light contains lots of energy, which is great when you’re awake, but at night, the frequency is too stimulating. Blue light also suppresses the release of Melatonin by average 90 minutes, so everything gets pushed back and it’s harder to get to sleep when you want to.

Q: If you use Melatonin, will your body stop producing it?

A: No, that’s a myth. A study was done giving individuals 50mg daily for 37 days, which is 5x the amount of the highest dose, and there was no change in the body’s production of natural melatonin. 

Q: Does it matter if I use blackout shades or sleep mask?

A: No, studies show you can use either. Which is great, because masks are much cheaper than expensive, blackout blinds and you can take it off easily 1-2hrs before waking up and allowing natural light to wake you up. Natural light, is a strong signal to energize and wake you. 

Q: How important is a sleep schedule?

A: Critical. We talked about the “master clock” earlier, this clock is genetically set (read previous blog on Sleep Chronotypes), and when you stay on this schedule your body “tunes” into all sleep processes efficiently. 

Q: How best to get “tuned”?

A: Regardless of weekday or weekend, go to bed and wake up at the same time.  Even if you must lay in bed for a while (no more than 20min), allowing your body to find this rhythm is critical. It’s also important that during this window you abstain from doing anything but lying there or sleeping, it’s NOT a time to read, listen to podcasts, talk, etc..

Q: Does this go for weekends as well?

A: Yes. Weekends can completely ruin everything. We sleep in, lay in bed, get to bed late, and it only takes 1 day to throw off your entire circadian rhythm. So on Monday we’re starting a new and feeling tired. Your body doesn’t know weekends, it only knows a routine, and when you throw it off, it’ll be harder to get back on it. 

Q: How long should you lay awake in bed before leaving?

A: No more than 20minutes, you don’t want to condition yourself that you can be in bed longer and be awake. Leaving the room for 30-45min, going to a new place to relax, relieve some thoughts or stress, do some light stretching, or doing breathing exercises, can be helpful.