Spend Less, Sleep More
March 12, 2020
March 12, 2020
Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of a functional lifestyle. Yet, so many people struggle to get quality sleep from night-to-night and they're feeling it. While we sleep, our muscles heal, brains rebuild and cells recharge from the demands of our active life. Sleep quality is complex and there are a number of variables to the equation including a sufficient quantity of hours, consistent routine and a conscious environment. These factors change from day-to-day and understanding the dynamic needs of our body can be challenging. Not to mention the demands of every day life, which tend to make sleep even more of a challenge.
However, optimizing our sleeping hours will allow us to optimize our function and make the most of our full day. As active people that care about our health, we must make it a central part of our ecosystem.
Luckily, there are a number of ways we can hack our sleep for effective recovery and optimal function. These solutions are designed to provide the greatest return with the least investment. They’re so easy, you’ll be implementing them right away!
Here are some of the field tested ways to get the most out of your sleep:
Eliminate Blue Light:
Blue light has a number of negative affects that impact sleep, including melatonin suppression and brain stimulation. In an increasingly digital world, we are constantly being bombarded by screens and devices that are throwing their harmful blue light at us. To make it worse, much of the lighting we use indoors falls on the blue light spectrum, so we are never getting a break - it’s no wonder we have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
Luckily, there are a number of easy solutions!
A great place to start is simply establishing a night-time routine that reduces exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed. Doing so will gradually disengage your over-stimulated nervous system and allow the pineal gland to efficiently secrete melatonin. You will notice that imposing a blue light curfew will allow you to fall asleep faster and wake up for more rested.
If you are someone who finds themselves staring at a screen all day or working till the later hours, investing in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses is another great tool. These are available from several different brands, but Felix Gray seems to be the most effective and scientifically supported. Not to mention, they look great! Throwing these on close to bed will help filter out much of the blue light that is negatively impacting sleep.
Here’s a challenge: in the last hour before you go to bed tonight, take note of the number of lights you have on just in that timeframe. Each one is emitting blue light that is diminishing your ability to have a restful night’s sleep. Fortunately, a company we love has a solution - Bedtime Bulbs. Replacing your bulbs with Bedtime Bulbs is a great option that is inexpensive and easy. The bulbs can be purchased on their website or through Amazon and simply replace your existing light. The bulb uses a number of different technologies to produce an optimized environment for sleeping and even eliminates flicker, which is a major source of the strain and headaches affecting sleep for many. You can’t go wrong with this hack!
Field tip: start small and manageably - replace only the lights you really use before bed and commit to using only those lights once it becomes dark outside. You will start noticing a difference right away and will soon be replacing all your lights!
Get More Natural Light!
Natural light exposure is extremely important to cellular health and circadian rhythm, both of which play a critical role in sleep quality. This means getting outside and getting some sun!
What happens when we don’t get enough or any natural light? Our body’s ability to regulate sleep activity is greatly diminished, resulting in difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and far less time in the cycles critical to recovery: Deep and REM. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the possibility of not getting natural light throughout the day is very real. We spend most of the daytime hours in offices or cars and leave when it has become dark. And if you think natural light coming through a window counts, think again - much of what is beneficial to our health is filtered out with the UV protected glass.
Getting natural light doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply spending 20 minutes outside will make a huge difference in sleep quality, especially if practiced consistently. If this simply isn’t possible, consider investing in a red light device like the joovv light or Red Light Man. These products provide nourishing wavelengths to your cells all-year round, without the heat or potentially harmful components of UV light or blue light. With consistent use, your cells will heal and operate more efficiently, helping to fuel your active day and recover at night.
Grounding is an amazing tool for recovery during all hours of the day, but especially at night. By reconnecting with the earth, you are harnessing the healing power of free electrons. This has been shown to reduce inflammation, mitigate the effects of EMF and promote cellular function. If you want to dig deeper and learn more about grounding, check out our post here.
Sleeping grounded is easy and requires little thought once implemented. If sleeping outside every night isn’t an option (just kidding), Earthing.com has a number of products available, including sleep mats and sheets, all of varying sizes. They simply plug into the nearest outlet and access your house’s ground (don’t worry, the kits come with a tester to confirm you have a grounded outlet). All of the products available are reasonably priced and will make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep and recovery each night. If you are looking to elevate your function and fuel your recovery at all hours, sleeping grounded is a must.
Similar to blue light, we are being exposed to harmful electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) in record amounts due to technology. The reality is humans are not programmed to respond to this stimulus and it is affecting our functional health. When we are exposed, our cells effectively break down and lose their ability to operate efficiently. In addition, our brains are extremely sensitive to EMF and stimulation from these frequencies can cause a number of negative health effects, including disturbances at night. As a result, mitigating or eliminating EMF during night time hours will have a major impact on sleep quality and help your cells heal.
Believe it or not, eliminating EMF can be free. Start by unplugging your wireless internet router at night or setting it on a timer so that the signal is not creating a disturbance. Leave your phones far away from the bedroom or put them on airplane mode - switching them out for a traditional alarm clock is a great option if you are worried about waking up in the morning. Finally, sleeping grounded is a great way to mitigate some, if not all, of the potential EMF exposure that is negatively effecting our recovery.
If you are serious about eliminating EMF in your bedroom (or life in general), we have two great field test products: the BluShield and the Somavedic. The BluShield is a small, portable device that uses Scalar Waves to broadcast a frequency favorable to your cells - your body naturally tunes into this frequency over the unfavorable EMFs. You can take this device with your wherever you go for the ultimate protection. On the other hand, The Somavedic plugs directly into the wall and reharmonizes your environment through vibrations derived from a specific configuration of precious and semi-precious stones. Both are great options that will provide healing and recovery so you can continue to do all things well, all the time.
The Oura Ring
So, you’ve made some changes, but now you want to be sure you are getting the results. Easy - get the data!
The Oura Ring is one of Fieldlab’s favorite tools for tracking personal metrics and actually puts a special emphasis on sleep. The device is easily worn as a ring and constantly collects key metrics including, heart-rate, heart-rate variability, and body temperature. Altogether, they provide insight into your complex biology and overall function. The data is accessed via a smart phone app, which will even give you useful recommendations for improvement.
However, for the purposes of hacking sleep, we are most interested in Oura’s evaluation of our nightly sleep quality and recovery. The score provided is a comprehensive analysis of the time spent rested and readiness for the upcoming day. The complex algorithm takes into account all the factors mentioned (heart-rate, HRV, etc.) to provide you with the most accurate assessment. You can use this to analyze the impact of the hacks you’ve implemented over any period of time and understand what may be going on at the deepest level. If you are serious about improving sleep and want the reassurance, the Oura ring is a must.
Read more about the Oura ring and some field tests you can do here.
There are so many factors that go into optimal sleep, but you have the power to influence them easily and with little effort. Observe the ecosystem influencing your functional lifestyle and the interplay between your actions, environment and overall sleep quality. Then find high impact, purposeful ways to optimize so you can fuel your full day and nourish your functional health.