How To Sleep Better - The Ultimate 16 Step Guide

energy sleep better May 24, 2017

Everyone wants to sleep better.

Read the full article if you want to learn how to sleep better and transform your day and your life in 16 simple steps!

There are 2 KEY REASONS FOR WANTING TO MASTER YOUR SLEEP:

(1) Feeling energetic and vibrant is key to our success and happiness. It allows us to do much more, to do it much better and to have lots of fun in the process. If you lack the energy, you will be missing out on your dreams and beautiful relationships.
(2) The lack of good sleep can literally kill you (or at least harm your health significantly.)

I went through sleep deprivation so you wouldn’t need to.

7 years ago, I started working on a new project. For 2 years, I was doing nothing but going to meetings and planning the next day at the office. And that planning and administrative work was usually extreme. I used to stay at the office until 3, 4 am, go back home and get around 4-5 hours of sleep. I often had 2, 3 full days without any sleep whatsoever.

One day I was coming out of the office after 3 consecutive all-nighters and my whole body started shaking. I was starting to lose consciousness. I stayed there next to the car all by myself and I couldn’t move at all. My body was giving me a strong signal and it was time to finally do something about it.

I had zero focus on sleep. I also had zero knowledge about how I could sleep better. It was time to learn and test.

I went through most recent research about sleep and decided to implement some new habits in my life that will keep me on track with my health and business at the same time.

I’ve tested so many different strategies – supplements, mobile phone apps, breathing techniques, superfoods, exercise routines. A couple of years later, I’ve found a set of rules that when combined give you significant results. Today, I’m going to share with you how you can start your perfect sleep routine in 16 simple steps so you can live your life as your best self.

When I implement new habits for myself and for others, I try to simplify everything as much as possible. Simple works. So, you won’t read about any super-special supplements (that you won’t be able to find in the shop after or must ask your doctor before trying) or anything that would be difficult to implement straight away (except some gadget tips as a bonus). These steps are as simple as they get so you can start experiencing them tomorrow.

Please, note that you stand a better chance of significantly improving your sleep if you combine as many of the steps suggested as possible. Each one works well by itself, but it is the combination that creates the big difference.

STEP 1: THE GOLDEN HOURS – FIND YOUR TIME

There are articles that will tell you when you must go to sleep and when you must wake up. From my experience, this is complete nonsense. We are all different and our bodies work in a different way. Therefore, it is important to find your perfect times (your golden hours) to go to sleep and to wake up. Let me give you an example.

I never had a sleep routine before going through this tough period of my life. So, I was going to bed and waking up whenever I decided to, depending on my daily tasks. Once I decided it was a must to sleep better, I started testing different hour ranges to see what works best for me.

I started with going to bed at 11:00 pm and waking up at 7 am. It was awful even though I was sleeping much more than before. So, I started playing around with these times, testing each one for a couple of days to see the difference. Moving with 15m on both ends, I found that my best range is – 11 pm till 6 am. It was much easier for me to sleep one hour less and to wake up at 6 am then at 7 am. Why? Because, as I said, our biological clocks are different and more is not always better. The range that works for me might not work for you.

Therefore, you must start testing 15m differences on both sides for a couple of days each time you change to find your perfect times.

STEP 2: MAKE THEM STICK

Once you find these golden hours, make them stick. If you found that falling asleep at 10:45 pm works best – try getting as close to that as possible. Same with waking up. Don’t go more than 10m earlier or later than what you’ve chosen. Keep this routine for a minimum of 5 days per week (every week). I use mine from Monday to Friday and let myself sleep more and at different hours on weekends (but still keeping a routine).

If you wonder how you can track your progress and make sure you follow your routine properly, read through THE BEST PRODUCTIVITY MOBILE APP article. It will give you a step-by-step guide to implementing a simple tool that will significantly improve your life.

STEP 3: MORNING WORKOUTS ARE GREAT / AFTERNOON – NOT SO GREAT

Try to get at least 30m workout 6 days a week. And try to get it as early in the morning as possible. Don’t workout 4h before sleep. I workout first thing in the morning. This way I get all the benefits throughout the day and my body automatically goes into recovery mode at the right time at night. Working out in the morning is tough to get used to but once you do, your days will improve significantly.

STEP 4: THE NO SCREENS RULE

Shut all screen off 1h before sleep. No TV, no chatting, no Instagram, and emails. Have you seen a baby looking at a screen? You get my point. Screens are addictive and make your brain work like crazy. They suppress the release of melatonin (the natural sleep control hormone) and that leads to increased alertness and arousal. We don’t want that before going to bed.

STEP 5: DARKEN IT UP

Make the bedroom as dark as possible. Cover any blinking lights that you cannot remove from the room. Install darker and denser curtains. If you cannot make the room dark enough, get yourself a comfortable eye-mask to wear during sleep.

STEP 6: COOL IT DOWN

Keep the temperature in the bedroom around 65F/20C. If your feet are cold, it’s fine to wear socks.

STEP 7: PHONES OUT

Keep your phone out of the bedroom - on silent mode and vibration off. There are three benefits to that. First, you avoid the exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (still debated whether it is bad or not but I prefer staying on the safe side). Second, you avoid the possibility of your drunken friends calling you at 3 am. You can set your alarm and increase the volume so you can hear it from the other room in the morning. Finally, you cannot hit the snooze button while half asleep.

My brain used to play tricks on me before where my alarm will go off and my brain will give me this “amazing” idea that if I sleep on the other side of the bed for 10 more minutes I will feel much more rested …!!!??? That’s not a joke. Our brains will use all the tricks to keep us in our beds when tired. The same thing happens when you run and your brain suggests it’s a good time to give up because you might get hurt – while in reality, you are at 50% of your capability.

The good thing is you will no longer have to feel like that when you’ve successfully implemented all steps.

READ ON

STEP 8: PLAN THE FUTURE

Plan (in writing) your day the night before. So simple, yet so effective. By planning the next day during the night, you make sure that your brain can switch off, not needing to worry whether you’ll forget something or not.

STEP 9: STAY POSITIVE

Negativity and stress can kill your good sleep. Make sure you keep positive thoughts as much as possible during the day and especially before going to bed. You can do that by keeping a gratitude journal and by a regular meditation practice. I personally do both in the morning and have a life-rule which goes – NO NEGATIVE THOUGHTS.

STEP 10: IN-BED MEDITATION

This is not your regular meditation practice. It’s very simple, very short (because you usually fall asleep half way through) and super effective. Here it is:

Once in bed, focus on how heavy your body feels. Focus on the points of contact between the body and the bed. Feel all muscles in your body relaxing (and make them relax as much as possible).

This simple practice works like a charm. 

STEP 11: BED = SEX AND SLEEPING

Erase all these nice images of your spouse bringing you breakfast in bed or you reading your favorite book in bed during the weekend. Reserve your bed only for these two things – sex and sleeping. Wire your neuron system that way – I touch the bed; one of these two things are going to happen. Obviously, make sure you don’t mix them up …

STEP 12: MATTRESS MATTERS

Have you been to a great hotel and the bed felt amazing? Have you wondered why yours doesn’t feel that way and why you sleep better in a hotel rather than at your own home? I’ve been there myself. I had to become almost 30 years old to realize that I’ve been sleeping in cheap, low-quality mattresses that compromise my whole life. If there is one good investment you can make – buy a good mattress! That’s certainly more important than the car you drive so don’t get bugged if you see that prices come close to that.

Same goes for the pillow.

STEP 13: FOOD

Don’t eat heavy dinners and don’t eat anything 3-4 hours before going to bed (unless your doctor says otherwise of course). Your body will digest different types of foods between 4-8 hours so it is important to minimize the overlap between sleep and digestion to make sure your body can recharge at a better pace.

STEP 14: LIQUIDS

This one is controversial - drink more water. Many resources say otherwise and I disagree 100%.

I say drink MORE because once again, it really depends on your body and your way of life. What you are looking for is to not feel thirsty at all before going to sleep. If you feel even 1% thirst, you are already dehydrated. For me, this means drinking about 17oz/0.5l of water just before bed. Make sure you drink the right amount for you before going to bed. It’s better to get up early to go to the bathroom then to sleep in dehydration. Test it out for yourself and decide what makes you feel better.

There are articles that state that you shouldn’t drink anything 2 hours before sleep but that just never worked for me and many of the people around me. Our bodies are made up of 60% water – this might explain why proper hydration during sleep time is important.

Reduce caffeine intake to a minimum. It takes about 6 hours for caffeine to be eliminated from your system so have that in mind when you plan your last coffee (STOP drinking coffee btw and substitute it with healthier green and black teas mixed with coconut oil and ghee butter.)

No alcohol. That’s just obvious. I believe the days when this one had to be explained are long over so I’ll save a few kB (kilobytes) here. 

STEP 15: GET MORE SLEEP – FORGET ABOUT THE SLEEP HACKING CHEATS

Now, this is a very important one. There are people out there promoting sleep hacking and bragging about their 3, 4-hour sleep routines and how they can teach you to do the same thing. Please, don’t listen to that bullshit. I and many more around me have learned that the hard way.

While there are people who can function well on such crazy schedule (short hours or several 20m naps instead of core sleep), 99% of us can’t – not because we are lesser human beings but because nature decided our bodies will behave as they were naturally programmed to.

I’ve personally tested different sleep hacking techniques and have analyzed other people do the same. The result – it doesn’t work for almost any of us. Not only does it not work for increasing your energy or productivity, it harms them and it compromises your health.

Moreover, if you are planning to test including several naps instead of core sleep, think about how that would fit with your everyday life. “Honey, hurry up. We need to catch the plane.” – “Uh, sorry, it’s time for my 2nd nap.” If you miss a nap, it feels like you didn’t sleep all night. I don’t know who gets so obsessed and puts so much focus on planning and getting their naps right instead of living a healthy social life. If it works for you – great. If you haven’t tried it yet – consider all the above before you do.

All in all, get more sleep. Most of humanity nowadays doesn’t have enough sleep. If you are like most people, you need to get between 7-9h sleep. Try not to go below that, unless you have tested it and you feel significantly better when sleeping for 6h. Very rarely you will. If you are one of these people – test sleeping for 1, 2 hours more for a week to compare.

STEP 16: IF YOU NAP, DO IT SMART

Don’t nap more than 1 time per day. Don’t nap after 2 pm. Don’t nap unless you feel very tired or you have a napping routine. You can always get up from your chair and do 5m of breathing and walking exercises to boost yourself up for the rest of the day. In fact, you must do that every 60m of your day to keep your focus and energy levels high.

BONUS STEP: GADGETIZE YOUR BEDROOM

If you want to spend some money to sleep like a pro, there are a few gadgets to consider.

Is your bedroom air too dry? Get an air humidifier machine. There are hundreds of them on Amazon ranging from $10-$150. Since I never had to use one, I cannot really make a good recommendation on this topic and I’ll let you do the research and tell us about your experience.

Living in a big city or close to an industrial zone? It might be a good idea to consider air purifier. Again, a wide range of devices. I bought my first one several months ago and I’m very happy with it. Both I and my wife felt an improvement in sleep since the first day we started using it (the company claims that users will feel a difference straight away.) The company is called Airocide (I’m not advertising it or getting any commission for mentioning it here) and the model that I use is Airocide APS-200 which costs around $599. If you have the money, it might be a good investment for your family. You can get more in-depth info on the benefits prioritize sleep more than anything and this is the reason why I spent such an amount for this device. However, there might be much cheaper brands out there that do a similar or even better job.

Noisy neighbors, snoring spouse or a leaking bathroom? White noise machine is what you are looking for. I’ve never used one because my Airocide creates a white noise-like sound when turned on which works great for reducing sounds coming from the streets around the building. I’ve seen Tim Ferriss (Author of The 4-Hour Workweek) recommend a gadget that he uses. The device is called Marpac Dohm-DS ($49.99) and has amazing reviews – over 11k, 4.5-star reviews on Amazon. If you don’t want to spend that money, you can always use a free white noise app on your phone but I doubt that it will work as well and as recommended above, you will be better off keeping electronics as far from the bed as possible. Still, it’s a good idea to test whether you sleep well under white noise for free before investing in any gadget like the Marpac.

THE 10 DAYS SLEEP BETTER CHALLENGE

Rate your energy and focus levels now from 0-10 (0 = you are dead; 10 = you feel you can kick Mike Tyson’s ass and outsmart Elon Musk).
Find the golden hours (see STEP 1) for your sleep routine (test a few that fit your daily schedule).
Implement all steps for the next 10 days and be 100% strict with all recommendations.
Rate your energy and focus levels from 0-10 after the test.
Share your results in the comment section below

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Leave your comment to let everyone know what your results are and what works best for you so we can create an even better list of sleep better strategies.

If you liked this article, be a great friend and share it so that others can improve their sleep as well. You don’t want to be the only hyped-up person in your group.

Good luck and enjoy every day of your amazing life!

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After years of testing, after all experiences as a professional racing driver, an entrepreneur, a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Coach, and simply a human being that wants to grow, I've narrowed down a set of skills that help me win the day, the week, and the game of life.

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