Stu: I used to sleep well, really well. I remember the days of shutting and opening my eyes in a split second only to realise that 8 hours had melted away. So it really bugged me that my sleep quality had gone well and truly ‘pear-shaped’ over the last couple of years. Raising a busy family and a thriving business could be partly to blame but I’m a stubborn bugger and won’t accept that this is simply part of getting older. If overall health were defined as pillars supporting a house (i.e. nutrition, exercise, mindset etc.), good quality sleep would be the most critical pillar, it’s that important.
So, trying to nail the elusive 8 hours of blissful slumber has been my mission for the past couple of years. I’ve probed all manner of health and wellness experts through our podcasts and tried all the usual sleep aids and more, including: melatonin, sleepy teas, adaptogen herbs, nasal sprays, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, every other supplement under the sun and even an overnight sleep study.
Anyway, I can proudly announce that those days are behind me now as I’ve nailed it. I’ve arrived at a combination of tools that consistently take my sleep quality from sub 50% to 85% and above. Goodbye daily jet-lag 🙂
Note: Couple of points to highlight so you get the full picture. My diet is really good, I run a nutrition company and practice what I preach. This means I eat very little crap and don’t really drink alcohol (it just doesn’t work for me). I exercise each day for no longer than 30 minutes and try to get a little sunshine too. It goes without saying that my bedroom is dark (really dark), and that all electrical devices are switched off and unplugged. Yes that does include my iPhone with the exception of flight mode for the alarm when necessary.
So here’s what works for me:
- Orange (Blue-Blocking) Glasses
I’m sure you’ve heard much talk about these in the sleep circuit but do they actually work? In a word, yes, at least for me. The theory is that they block out the blue light from things like TV’s, smart-phones tablets and computers that inhibit the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone). After putting them on you feel like you’ve entered a new world, things seem slower, less hectic and you feel noticeably calmer. I put these on at around 7:30pm.
Yes I know that magnesium is one of the go-to supplements for sleep and I’ve tried them all (literally). It’s the exact type that made the difference in my case. I’ve tested Magnesium Citrate, Malate, Oxide, Stearate and many more but it was Magnesium Bisglycinate that really helped. It seems to calm the muscles and relax the racing mind, which never seems to slow down. I stir 1/2 teaspoon of Magnesium Bisglycinate powder into a glass of water after lunch and then again after dinner at around 7:30pm.
- Pre-Bed Snack
I have an unusually fast metabolism and always seem to be thinking about my next meal so a snack before bed is right up there for me. I listened to a great podcast outlining how some folk simply ‘run out of fuel’ during the middle of the night causing interrupted sleep, which I can relate to. I’ve dabbled with pre-bed snacks, eating fat, protein, carbohydrate, and then a mix of the lot and found a recipe that works for me. I combine 1/2 cup of cooked and cooled quinoa, mixed with a few solid teaspoons of coconut cream and stir in cinnamon (lots of) and natural vanilla powder. I eat this 20 minutes before bed usually around 10pm.
- Zoning Out
I like to wind down before bed and use a couple of tactics to slow the internal chatter. I will point out that email, Facebook, Instagram etc. are all switched off after 7pm, any later and they seem to really impact getting to sleep. Listening to 30 minutes of music or a podcast (even more effective) works a treat. Netflix works well too (nothing like a little trash TV) as it helps to turn off the thinking brain. It goes without saying that I’ll be wearing the orange glasses when fiddling with the iPhone during this time.
That’s it, my toolkit for better sleep. Removing any one of these strategies genuinely results in a decrease in sleep quality, which in my case is waking up during the night. Have you found tools or techniques that work for you? Drop us a line below and let us know.
Want more tips? I created an infographic all about sleep here.