Guest Post by Dave Asprey
If you’ve ever visited the Irlen Institute International Headquarters in Long Beach, California, you’ll know that at Irlen, we have a holistic approach to wellness. We know that what you eat, how you sleep, and what you might be allergic to (for example) can all impact how you feel and function just as much as Irlen Syndrome can. Our good friend, Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof, shares this holistic philosophy, so we asked Dave to share some of his knowledge about how we sleep and the food we eat in two guest posts. This first guest post focuses on sleep and the things you can do to improve your precious time spent under the covers! Next week, Dave will share with us some secrets about how mold in our food is making us sick, so make sure you check back!
10 Ways to Get Better Sleep
Most people have horrible sleep fitness. They waste time falling asleep and then spend hours in a light sleep state that doesn’t have the same body and brain-boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep. So how do you improve the quality of your sleep? The trick is to upgrade your metabolism with the Bulletproof Diet and then hack your sleep so you can sleep even better.
Fill up with fat at dinner
Fat is a long-burning fuel for your mind and body. Grass-fed butter, animal fat, and coconut oil are all good choices, but extra concentrated MCT oil is my personal favorite. The shortest length fats of MCT oil are converted into ketones that are immediately used as fuel for your brain, and MCT oil also helps you burn body fat while you sleep. I’ve noticed that I think faster and more clearly the next morning if I have 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil the night before with dinner or even right before bed.
Fuel with low-mercury fish (or krill) oil
DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, has a lot of benefits such as protecting against the negative effects of fructose on brain function, improving mood and reducing anxiety and depression, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing muscle growth. Studies have shown that fish oil, which contains DHA, aids in the secretion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of wellness, and lowers stress hormones that can interfere with sleep. I recommend consuming 1 gram of fish or krill oil either with dinner or at bedtime.
Prime with protein
Our bodies use protein for muscle repair and immune function. The muscle repair happens at night during deep sleep, so you want to make sure your body has all the raw materials it needs at night to heal and grow new tissue. The problem is that most forms of protein are not well digested before bed. A lot of protein powders and even most sources of animal protein take a lot of work to digest and can leave you with a heavy feeling during the night.
Too much protein also raises an alertness chemical in the brain called orexin, which can disrupt your sleep. The solution I recommend is taking 1-2 tablespoons of hydrolyzed grass-fed collagen peptide before bed. Hydrolyzing the proteins makes them more digestible so they don’t cause the problems listed above.
Try raw honey
This is a powerful sleep hack that you should try on its own, not in combination with the protein supplements listed above. Your brain uses a lot of energy while you’re sleeping. One efficient form of brain energy comes from the sugar that is stored in your liver called liver glycogen.
Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting the stored sugar in your muscles (muscle glycogen), so having a little extra sugar before bed can help your brain function better at night. Taking a small amount of honey by itself before bed will raise blood glucose while you sleep, putting you in a deeper sleep faster.
Turn down the lights
For at least a half-hour before going to bed try to avoid bright lights. Dim your office lights if you absolutely must be working this close to bedtime and kill the unhealthy florescent ones. Don’t stare at your TV, iPhone, or iPad until you’ve dimmed it all the way, either. Even five minutes of white light from a screen shuts off your melatonin production for four hours and can wreck the quality of your sleep, so it’s best to avoid screens in the evening entirely.
Avoid violent media
Watching graphic violence on TV might make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. Watching violence tends to activate your brain to look for threats, and when you try to go to sleep it’s harder to get out of fight or flight.
Don’t exercise near bedtime
You should not exercise for at least two hours before going to bed, unless you count restorative yoga and breathing exercises as exercises. Exercise is highly energizing and raises your cortisol levels, which interferes with sleep.
Don’t drink coffee past the afternoon
Coffee puts your mind in an amazing place where you become more productive and perform better. However, you need to let your mind rest after its high output performances. In general, don’t drink coffee after 2:00 PM or at least 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first.
Go to bed before your second wind
There is a window from 10:45 and 11p.m. or so when you naturally get tired. This moves a little bit based on the season. If you don’t go to sleep then and choose to stay awake, you’ll get a cortisol-driven “second wind” that can keep you awake until 2 a.m. You’ll also get better sleep when you go to bed before 11 p.m. and wake up feeling more rested than if you’d gotten the same amount of sleep starting later.
Bring down your stress
Perhaps the most common reason people report not being able to sleep is that they don’t know how to clear their minds and stop worrying. Deep breathing exercises like Art of Living, pranayama yoga, and meditation can do wonders for helping your brain shut down, recuperate, and prepare for another day of Bulletproof high performance
Quality sleep is one of the most important variables to improve your brain function, longevity, and performance in all aspects of life. By following the advice of the Bulletproof Diet, you’ll be able to enjoy these benefits of better quality sleep.
Dave Asprey is a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur who spent 15 years and $300,000 to hack his own biology, losing 100 pounds, upgrading his IQ, and lowering his biological age. He runs the No. 1-ranked iTunes health podcast and The Bulletproof Executive blog about using biohacking to increase human performance — and he invented Bulletproof Coffee.
You can find more about biohacking, the art of changing your environment and your biology so you perform better in his new book The Bulletproof Diet, and also on The Bulletproof Executive website, Facebook and Twitter.