As someone whose had a mild case of insomnia since the age of 11, consistently high-quality sleep has been something that I’ve been obsessively trying to attain. And to my utter disappointment and annoyance, scouring the internet only yielded minor Band-Aid solutions that work for maybe a night or two.
After months of dedicated research and experimentation, I’ve engineered the perfect No BS Advice for Getting Great Sleep. Guaranteed to help you consistently get better quality sleep.
Sleep is a necessary part of life that our modern day high-speed, instant gratification, go-go-go culture seems to despise. It’s almost become a mark of pride and accomplishment to sleep very little. It’s a sign of a hard-working attitude, dedication, and resilience. I believed this for awhile. Back in my senior year of college, I basically did an all-nighter about once a week.
Fact of the matter is, sleep is necessary. It’s necessary to maintain good health, a healthy outlook on life, and sharp mental faculties. In my eBook, I labeled it one of the three fundamentals, part of the holy trinity, of productivity.
The way I see it, there are three main reasons why consistent good-quality sleep has become so unattainable:
Let’s tackle all three of these and engineer some solutions for them. But real quick, let’s get the obvious sleep hacks, that everyone one else regurgitates constantly, out of the way first:
Herbal tea comes in two varieties: Chamomile (Amazon) and Valerian root (Amazon) tea. Both varieties of tea are caffeine-free and have been used for centuries as mild sedatives that help with both falling and staying asleep. I take 1-2 cups about an hour before going to bed. I’ve linked to the kinds I personally use.
Valerian is actually used to treat insomnia (link). Since valerian is a naturally-occurring herb, it has very mild-to-no side effects. As long as you aren’t taking any other medications, you should be fine.
Through experimentation, I discovered that chamomile tea and melatonin have a synergistic effect. Taking them together completely knocked me out within 45 minutes.
I go over the pros and cons of melatonin later on in this blog post. If you do decide to take melatonin, I recommend taking it with chamomile tea. It’s worked great for me!
I’ve mentioned L-theanine in a bunch of other articles. L-theanine taken with caffeine helps negate the negative effects of caffeine like jitters and anxiety. The end result is that you have the energy and wakefulness from the caffeine, but you can still think clearly and calmly.
L-theanine by itself is actually great for helping with sleep. It eases anxiety and induces relaxation. I actually noticed that I feel a little tired on mornings when I take L-theanine without any coffee.
A single 200 mg L-theanine supplement tablet can be safely taken every night to reduce anxiety and stress. The only long-term effect of taking L-theanine like this I’ve noticed is a reduction in overall stress, which can only be a good thing.
400 mg of L-theanine does exert a sedative effect, though I haven’t tried this out for myself yet, so I can’t recommend it just yet (link) (link). But, clinical studies have shown that up to 400 mg of L-theanine taken daily is safe (link). If you’re feeling bold, try it and comment down below how it worked out.
Here’s the kind I personally use (Amazon).
I like to drink herbal tea along with taking L-theanine.
I wrote another blog post about whether meditation was bullshit or not, so check that out too. I found meditation to be a great way of relieving stress and anxiety at the end of the day. Believe it or not, it also made my vision a little better. Colors started appearing much brighter and more vivid.
(This strange phenomenon is also discussed in my 2nd Improve Eyesight Naturally blog post).
Starting from a state of high tension and gradually relaxing every part of your body makes relaxing the mind much easier. Maintain this state of physical and mental stillness for as long as possible.
Take advantage of apps and features on computers, smartphones, and tablets that reduce blue light.
Blue light is high frequency light emitted by electronic devices. This light is similar in wavelength to sunlight. Exposure to blue light confuses your body and makes it think that it’s morning and time to wake up and start the day.
This is because your body works on a schedule called the circadian rhythm. It’s responsible for regulating most of your day-to-day biological processes, including your sleep/wake cycle. The circadian rhythm is mainly regulated by sunlight: you’re up and at ’em when the sun is up, and you go to sleep once the sun goes down at night.
For computers, there is a free-for-download app called “f.lux” that drastically reduces the amount of blue light emitted. I use it, and it’s made a world of difference in my ability to fall and stay asleep. Smartphones and tablets have a feature built into them called “night shift mode” that also reduces the blue light emitted.
This may seem like a very minor thing, but you’d be surprised at how drastically this can effect your ability to get good quality sleep. And honestly, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking advantage of these features. Worst case, you still can’t sleep well. Best case, you’re consistently getting great sleep.
It finally hit me that this is the reason why I and so many people love staying up late.
During the day, you’ve got no time for yourself. You’re going to school and/or going to work. You’re typically spending the rest of your time with friends and family. All this basically means you don’t have a lot of time to yourself until late at night.
There’re also too many distractions during the day. Cars whizzing by. Construction going on right outside. Night is calm, peaceful and distraction-less.
A third reason is too much mental stimulation. The internet. It has hours upon hours of YouTube videos, an entire collection of almost every movie and TV show that’s ever come out on Netflix and Hulu, endless information from countless people on social media, and thousands of hours of pornography. With all that non-stop stimulation, everyday life will seem unbearably boring and unfulfilling. You end up staying up long into the night to indulge in the unending novelty of the internet as much as possible.
All three of these have overlap with one another. You spend all day doing boring, menial tasks like work/school, so you want to stay up late when everyone else is asleep and indulge in the internet. And since there’s so little distractions at night, you get to enjoy the internet surfing all the more.
For example, commit to only working for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and try to leave early if there’s nothing more you can do for the rest of the work day. Be as productive as possible so that you can keep work days to only about 8 hours. This way, you’ll have overall more time for yourself.
A public library is one of the best places for this. A park is also a great quiet, distraction-less place. Additionally, listen to Easy Listening music. One way to do this is to download the free Pandora app, or another music app of your choice, onto your phone and start listening.
I personally found that trying to cut down on internet time every single day is difficult. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy. I either use the internet as much as I want, or I have to not use it at all. There is no such thing as a middle ground with me.
So, I devote at least 3 days out of the week where I don’t use the internet for entertainment purposes. I stay off YouTube, I certainly don’t watch any pornography, I don’t watch Netflix, and I also try to spend as little time on Reddit and other blogs as much as possible. I only check my email twice. And I only watch a YouTube video or read an online article if it’s part of research for a blog post I’m writing, or for my job.
Check out my internet detoxification blog post, since doing one helps with so many other aspects of your life.
Showering before bed time definitely helps. But should you go warm or cold? If you’ve done some research on this already, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of contradictory evidence that supports both.
And just think about it from a common sense perspective. What happens when you take a cold shower? You probably start shivering, and you feel completely jolted and awake. How does that help with going to sleep?
Take a warm shower/bath about an hour before bed.
I found that this solves about 90% of all sleep issues, and is one of the recommended treatment methods for Delayed Onset Sleep Disorder.
Going back to the circadian rhythm from the “To Solve Too Much Electronics at Night…”, sunlight is supposed to maintain the sleep/wake cycle. But thanks to our indoor culture, we’re not exposed to enough sunlight for the circadian rhythm to work properly. Our bodies are confused as to when we should be going to bed. Irregular sleep and wake up times further confuses your body.
Having a rigid wakeup time every single day brings some structure to the circadian rhythm. You’ll be a little tired at first, but you’ll adapt after about a week of doing this.
Melatonin is a hormone your body naturally produces at night that makes sleepiness happen. Melatonin supplements are taken to help reset your sleep cycle. But, it’s often used incorrectly.
The ideal melatonin dose is 0.3 mg to 1 mg. Take anymore, and you’ll feel groggy and even a little depressed the next day. The smallest melatonin tablets come in 3 mg. So to get the ideal dosage, you need to buy the smallest tablets available and cut them into quarters. That’s honestly too much of a hassle for me. I opt to cut the tablets in half, and I only rarely use melatonin.
So, melatonin works… when used correctly. And don’t forget about how it can react very well with chamomile tea.
Another great sleep supplement that has a lot of potential for treating insomnia is Anesthetized, by Blackstone Labs (not an affiliate link). It’s arguably the most comprehensive and complete sleep supplement that’s ever been made as of this writing. It has near universally positive reviews, with everyone who takes it raving about how helpful it is.
From my experience, less is more with this supplement. A half scoop always does the trick for me. Any more than that, and I feel groggy the next day.
And those are the sleep hacks I found to actually work, with little to none of the downsides or side effects that come with sleep medication.
All the best,