Diabetes, Alzheimers, obesity, heart disease, dementia, accidental death, depression, colds, flu’s and a multitude of other ailments can be healed or prevented by good sleep. You get better work done with more sleep. You are more creative. Yes, it takes time to sleep but the time you are awake is more efficient. Your workouts will be more effective. Your recovery from workouts will be more effective as well. People search for ways to improve their work using drugs like Adderall or caffeine mixed with MCT oil and butter. They take pre-workouts, salts, creatine, beta-alanine, and other random shit they don’t really know about to improve their workouts. They research and read about the latest and most effective “hack” when all you need is good restorative sleep.
Not as Easy as It Sounds
Sleeping a solid 7-8 hours with a good balance of REM and non-REM sleep is not easy. It takes discipline and effort. But the gains from doing it properly can be significant. I use the Oura ring to track my sleep progress and because of this, I know what negatively effects my sleep. I know this anyway because I would wake up tired if I don’t get good sleep, but sometimes its good to know exactly how that large meal or alcohol beverage or supplement affected my deep sleep, rem sleep or heart rate.
If you take as much time and effort to get better sleep as you do in working hard at your job or physical training, the effort and gains will carry over to all your other aspects of life.
Why Do People Still Think It Is Cool to Sleep Poorly?
People still say with pride they were able to get X done even though they only slept a few hours the night before. When I was in college I thought it was normal to pull all-nighters. I thought it showed that you were really trying. All it really shows it another type of laziness and procrastination. When people now tell me they can’t get good sleep because their work is too crazy, I see them as a lazy slacker. Everybody can get good sleep just like everybody can get stay fit if they make that a priority.
If you name any aspect of life that people think about improving, sleep has the potential to help. There’s a plethora of research on how bad sleep can negatively affect everything from mental health, physical health, how you are perceived by others (sex appeal), personal drive, disease, creativity… and any other damn characteristic and human attribute you care about. Yet, people still think it’s cool to say… “I just can’t sleep, I work too much” or “I’m too interesting and I have too much in my interesting mind to go to sleep”.
Get over yourself!
A Danger To Others As Well As Yourself
If you’re sleepy at work and half-ass that report you are supposed to write for your boss or you are less productive, you’re technically only stealing money from the company by not performing at the standards and level they hired you to live up to. But if you drive sleepy or work around dangerous equipment while sleepy, you are putting lives in danger. It’s estimated that close to 100,000 police-reported crashes in the US are related to drowsy driving. I would guess it’s even higher than that since we really don’t measure the drowsiness levels of drivers the same way we measure drunk driver’s drunkenness after a deadly accident.
Catching up On Sleep
You’ve heard it before, “You can’t catch up on sleep”. But in a way you can. We’ve all had those nights or days where we only get 3-4 hours of sleep and are destroyed the next day with drowsiness. Taking a nap or sleeping extra hours the next night helps make you feel better the next day or after your extended nap. So what do “sleep doctors” like Matthew Walker mean when they say you can never catch up on missed sleep?
Processes that take place during different phases of sleep may only occur during certain periods of your sleep cycle. For example, the REM sleep that occurs at the end of your sleep cycle before you are about to wake up has certain properties that may allow your brain to process and retain information in different ways than the Non-REM / deep sleep that occurs in the beginning or middle of the night. If you are to wake up before reaching this period of sleep you will miss out on those benefits such as memory consolidation.
Yes, you can take a nap later or catch up on sleep so that you won’t be as drowsy, but the nootropic effects of getting a full night’s rest may not have taken place.
So catch up on sleep if you can since it will certainly help your drowsiness problem. You just may not be utilizing sleep in the most effective way possible to enhance your cognitive and physical abilities.
The Ultimate Nootropic
Nootropics are also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers. They could be natural or synthetic but help people focus, stay awake or boost motivation for a certain period of time. If you review all of the benefits of most nootropics, they can also be benefits of getting proper sleep. If you do choose to use nootropics, many times the effects of using them can be greater with proper sleep instead of using them as a crutch for bad sleeping habits.
Ways I Personally Improve My Sleep
Do a Google search and you’ll find many ways people improve their sleep. I haven’t tried all of them and I’m not sure if I intend to, so here’s a short list of common and not so common sense ways that I find are most effective for me.
- No alcohol at all. Fine, 1 drink 3-4 hours before sleep usually doesn’t have a noticeable effect on my sleep.
- Early dinners. I’m talking at least 6 hours before you sleep. This is hard to do but when I do it I tend to sleep better.
- Melatonin. This helps me with my sleep latency but I only use it once every few weeks and at very small amounts so I won’t be dependent on it. If I know I haven’t been sleeping well the past few weeks, I may use it to “catch up”.
- Oura Ring – The device itself doesn’t help you sleep but being conscious of how well your sleep was the night before keeps me motivated to sleep better.
- Winding down early. If I plan to sleep around midnight, I start winding down at 10 pm with a book and make sure I don’t start watching YouTube videos or a television show.
- Temperature control. I use a ChiliPad to keep me cool. A hot or cold shower can do the trick as well. I find I sleep best in cooler environments (65-73 degrees F) and sleep poorly when it’s hot.
To keep things even simpler, if you can wind down early and not drink or eat before bed, your sleep will improve. Life is a lot smoother and better in many ways when you get good sleep.