I measure my sleep religiously. It may sound unusual but I am pedantic about knowing minor details about my sleep quality. My reasons go back to the early years of my profession. As a young engineer, I used to work night shifts. With my youthful passion, I used to study for postgraduate degrees during the day time.
This madness continued five years and my intelligent body finally said enough. Something was missing in my life. Something was intuitively wrong. Yes, as you may guess it was sleep deprivation. I was one of those ignorant people who believed four-hour sleep would be sufficient. On those days, I had no idea about circadian rhythm and sleep hygiene.
After reading many books and listening tapes I educated myself about sleep.
I experienced a real difference when I started experimenting with some natural hacks and measuring my sleep quality. As mentioned in my opening line, I measure my sleep quality using state of art sleep measuring tools.
I check for how many hours of light sleep, rem sleep, and deep sleep per night. These three major ones have different roles in our recovery and well being. Deep sleep is essential for the recovery of my muscles, especially after my workout days. It is a big topic hence I will be discussing this in another story.
As promised, let me introduce seven simple hacks which helped me dramatically improve my sleep quality and contributed me to sleep like a baby.
By using these techniques, my rem sleep and deep sleep times quadrupled. My wakeful times reduced at least three times. I am back to normal and natural life. Yes, I sleep around 8 to 9 hours a day. No more restricted four sleep as I learned that my body needs at least eight hours of sleep each night.
Number 1: Silicone Ear Plugs
I am very sensitive to sound. Especially if a little noise is made when I am in bed in the middle of the night, I wake up very quickly. Even the smallest noises can wake me up easily.
And I cannot go back to sleep easily.
For many years, I didn’t know why I was waking up so frequently. Once I learnt using silicon earplugs to reduce noise coming to my ears, my sleep quality substantially improved.
After using the silicone earplugs, the frequency of my wake-ups dramatically decreased.
I tried a few different types of earplugs but they were not as effective and comfortable as the silicone earplugs. These natural-feeling earplugs are cheap and easy to find in many pharmacies or online convenience stores.
Number 2: Black Silk Eye Masks
Darkness is essential for quality sleep. Our brains are wired to produce melatonin naturally when it gets dark. Therefore, sleeping in a dark room is very important to have a restful sleep.
Even though I keep my room dark, there are times some little light can enter the room through various means. As a secondary support scheme to maintain absolute darkness, I use black silk eye masks.
After using the silicon earplugs, and adding an eye mask to my sleep regime, the quality of my sleep further improved. When I get quality sleep, my day proceeds smoothly with optimism, joy and happiness. Even the biggest challenges look manageable.
Number 3: Continues Cool Room
A cool room is another essential factor to maintain quality sleep. Long ago I was thinking that a warm cozy room would be great to sleep but I was so wrong. It was counter-intuitive.
Once I learned to reduce the temperature of my room in 18 Celsius degrees with a thermostat, my sleep quality improved further. Interestingly, my body got used to a cooler temperature.
The biggest problem with the warm room was waking up in the middle of the night with perspiration and itchy body. I hated to feel itchy at night which used to cause to lose my sleep and make me an insomniac. Therefore, I warmly embraced the cool temperature in my bedroom.
Number 4: Air Cleaner (Machine or Himalayan Salt Lambs)
In addition to the above practical measures, I also added an air cleaner to my bedroom after reading many positive testimonials on them.
Adding an air cleaning machine to my bedroom made me feel the difference between breathing fresh and stale air at night. Such an affordable, quiet machine can be an ideal addition to the bedroom for improving quality of sleep.
In addition, I also added Himalayan salt-based lamps to my bedroom. These lambs are believed to spread negative ions attracting positive toxic molecules in the air. However, I don’t have a measure to prove the effectiveness of these lambs. They can be nice additions to the bedrooms. I like breathing clean air at home.
Number 5: Mixed Cold and Hot Shower for Five Minutes
Since I started having 30-seconds cold and 30-second hot shower for around 5 minutes before going to bed, I felt a big difference in falling asleep quickly and having deep sleep.
My understanding of the mechanism for alternating a cold and a hot shower before sleep is setting the circadian rhythm.
I provided more information about my cold shower regime and its benefits in an article on News Break, titled Instant Mental Boost With Many Health Benefits for Everyone
Number 6: Blue Light Blocking
It is nice to have natural blue lights exposure during the day. However, exposure to blue lights at night can be problematic as this exposure can adversely affect our circadian rhythm.
However, there are practical solutions to address these. One of the most effective solutions is using a blue light blocking glass. We can also turn off blue lights producing devices such as mobile phones, tablets, PCs and TV at least an hour before we go to bed. Dimming lights and reducing blue lights exposure even earlier such as two to three hours before bed is recommended.
As a practical implementation, I learnt to use flux software on my PC to address this issue at nights. My mobile phone also automatically goes to night shift light scheme. After learning the adverse effect of blue lights on the circadian rhythm I removed all the blue light producing devices from my room. It was in many gadgets such as alarm clock, even in my beloved air cleaning machine which I cover its blue light with a piece of dark sticky paper.
Apart from these hygiene points, the major hack I introduced is a blue light blocking eyeglass. I bought a few from the online store very cheap and experienced the difference in increasing my sleep quality.
Number 7: Optimised Magnesium
Taking a magnesium tablet an hour before my bedtime contributed to my sleep quality. The usual dose of magnesium I take is around 400 Mg. More than this caused me diarrhea. Because of the poor digestion of magnesium intake, I learnt to take magnesium through my skin.
Therefore, I take a bath with Epsom Salts. This is the sulphate form of magnesium and well tolerated by the skin. In addition, sometimes, I use magnesium cream if there are any sore muscles in my body especially on the days with strength training.
In addition to stress and relaxation of muscles, I learnt that optimized magnesium in our bodies has many other benefits for our metabolism, therefore, I take it daily either as a tablet, in the bath or in cream format to ensure my magnesium levels are optimal.
I published a story on News Break about the fantastic benefits of Epsom Salts, especially building my immunity. The story can be accessed from this link: How I Improved My Immunity With Wondrous Epsom Salts.
These seven simple hacks made a tremendous impact on improving my sleep quality. I hope you find them useful as well.
Thank you for reading perspectives.