Sleep is the foundation of our mental and physical health and performance in all endeavors.
1) View sunlight. Go outside within 30-60 minutes of waking up. Do that again in the late afternoon, just before sunset. If you wake up before sunrise, turn on artificial lights and then go outside once the sun rises.
On bright cloudless days: view morning and afternoon sun during 10 min; cloudy days: 20 min; very cloudy days 30-60 min. If you live some where with very minimal light, like scandinavia, central Europe or the Lowlands, consider an artificial daytime simulator source.
Don’t wear sunglasses, but contact lenses and eyeglasses are fine as long as they dont block bluelight.
Do not look directly at the sun, and never look at ANY light so bright it is painful to view!
2) Try to wake up at the same time every day and go to sleep when you first start to feel sleepy. Pushing through the sleepy feeling to late evening and going to sleep too late is one reason people wake at 3 am and can’t fall back asleep.
3) Avoid caffeine at least within 8-10 hours of bedtime. Some literature even suggests 12-14h. Don't fall into the believe that "I can consume caffeine before going to bed and I can sleep with no problem". Sleep quality will be altered by caffeine if consumed within a few hours of bedtime.
4) Insomnia, or anxiety about sleep, try the research-based protocols on the Reveri app (only for iphone). Do the Reveri sleep self-hypnosis 3 times a week. It only takes 10-15 min long, at any time of the day and will help you rewire your nervous system to be able to relax faster.
Insomnia is not just not being able to sleep, its defined by the feeling of sleepingness across the day due to poor sleep at night.
5) Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., avoid looking at bright lights, especially strong overhead lights. Here's a simple rule to remember: just use as much artificial lighting as you need to stay awake and walk about securely at night. Blue blockers can help a bit at night but still dim the lights. Your circadian system is harmed when you are exposed to intense lights of all colors. It's fine to use candlelight or moonlight.
6) Limit your afternoon naps to 90 minutes or don't nap at all. Many of my coworkers and I enjoy taking naps. Most afternoons, I take a 30-minute nap... maybe 45 minutes, but never longer.
7) If you wake up in the middle of the night (which is typical to do once or twice a night) and can't fall back asleep, try an NSDR treatment. When you type "NSDR" into YouTube, the first 3-4 results will provide you a variety of voices and durations to choose from. Or simply follow a "Yoga Nidra" regimen (search YouTube for "yoga nidra"; there are hundreds to choose from.)
8) You might want to consider (30-60 minutes before bed):
Magnesium Bisglycinate 200 - 300 mg
Omega 3 fatty acids in the range of 1800-2000 mg
Unless you're flying from or to a different time zone and trying out Jetlack, avoid Melatonin.
**If you have too vivid nightmares, sleepwalk, or night terrors, don't use theanine.
9) One hour before your usual bedtime, you should expect to feel quite alert. This is a naturally occurring increase in wakefulness that has been reported by sleep researchers.
If it happens, don't be alarmed. It'll be over soon!
10) Sleep in a cool, dark environment with layers of blankets that you may remove.
In order to fall and stay asleep, your body temperature must drop by 1-3 degrees. One of the reasons you wake up is because your body temperature rises. As a result, keep your room cold and remove blankets only when necessary. If it gets too hot, you'll have to utilize a cooling unit, which is more difficult than simply flinging off blankets.
11) Drinking alcohol disrupts your sleep pattern. As do the majority of sleep aids.
12) Sleep requirements for children (and indeed for all of us) change over time. Make the necessary adjustments.
We may be night owls at 15, but as we get older, we become "morning persons" or require 6 hours of sleep every night in the summer and 7-8 hours in the winter. It will differ.
For the time being, that's all there is to it. Again, sleep is the cornerstone of our mental and physical health, as well as our ability to perform well in all areas of life. However, no one is perfect when it comes to sleeping. The occasional night out or lack of sunlight viewing isn't a big deal, so don't get too worked up about it. However, if any of us deviate from these or other behaviors over an extended period of time, we begin to suffer. So, whatever it is, your life goals and schedule, master your sleep. You’ll be so happy you did!
Thank you for your interest in science based nutrition and tools for longevity and performance.