9.5 Steps To Hacking Your Sleep

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I’m as guilty as the rest of them for not getting enough sleep. I used to think sleep was for the weak.

In my early 20’s, I was the hardest working guy I knew. Working 80, 90, 100+ hour weeks all revolved around my ability to function on as little as 3 hours sleep per night.

Eventually it caught up with me. I got fatter, lost all short-term memory and had the strength and energy of an 90-year old hobbit.

(That’s not a lot, in case you were wondering)

These days I’m a little better, averaging around 6 hours most night. I can function much better that when I was getting 3, although I know I should be aiming for 7-8 hours on average.

Here are my top 9.5 tips to Hacking Your Sleep

1. Turn off the TV and computer 2 hours before bed

The lights from both of these addictions activate a specific part of your brain which responds to light. It will keep your brain active, even if you’re eyes are heavy.

 

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2. Find a routine

For me, it’s bed by 10pm and up at 4am. Even when I don’t have to get up, I personally find it better to stick to this routine.

 

Our bodies function best with circadian – i.e. our circadian rhythm, which operates over a 24-hour cycle. Sleeping at set times helps to synchronize our bodily functions. Even on weekends, try to maintain your sleep routine.

 

3. Eat carbs with dinner

Yes, you read that correctly. Carbs at nighttime will NOT cause fat gain, and will not upset your digestive system. The old wives tale of, “Don’t eat carbs after lunch” has no research or proof, and in fact it will do nothing but make it harder for you to sleep.

Carbs can help your body switch off, and are also highly anabolic. I have my deepest sleep when I include 60-150g of carbohydrate with dinner.

By carbs I’m referring to gluten free, natural sources. My preferred carbs sources:

– Rice

– Sweet potato

– Baked white potato

– Pumpkin

– Rice thins / rice cakes

 

4. Chill out

Literally.

Take a cold shower, or even an ice bath. Tim Ferriss has started a trend with the ice bath advice he put into The Four Hour Body. 

According to the Stanford professors, cold is the most effective signaller for sleep onset, and in Ferriss’ own words, “will knock you out like an elephant tranquilliser.”

Simply use 1-2 bags of ice in a bath, first 5-10 minutes with only your lower half in, and the next 5-10 minutes with your full body in. Expect a lot of discomfort and the shakes, but it works.

 

5. Perform a brain dump 

A brain dump is simple – get out a pen and paper, and write down every “to do” and thought you have in your head.

This completely removes the overwhelm you can feel when you finally try and catch some Z’s. If you’re like me, your brain is always ticking, so try this one out. Either when you finish work for the day, or two hours before bed as a minimum, get out your pen and paper and dump every though onto the page.

I also recommend writing your “to do” list for the following day, every night. Doing this means as soon as your day starts the following day, you can hit the ground running and will not need to plan the day out, wasting valuable time. Watch your productivity soar.

These two tasks go hand in hand.

 

6. Read

However make sure it’s not non-fiction, as it will encourage you to start thinking about future events and possible excite your nervous system even more.

Try an autobiography or any fiction books. I’m currently reading Esquire’s “The Eighty Greatest Stories of All Time” and it’s easy to sleep compared to my normal business books.

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7. No caffeine after lunch

I’m a coffee geek, and could easily throw back dozens of espressos throughout the day. However since I stopped all caffeine after 1pm, I sleep much better.

I’m not a fan of pre-workout supps, but if you have to rely on caffeine for a good workout and you’re working out late, have 5-10g vitamin-C post workout to help the body rid the caffeine before sleep.

 

8. Have more sex

Try having sex 1-2 hours before bed. Tell your partner it’s for your sleep, and Pete told you to do it. You’re welcome.

 

9. Eat only quality food

Inflammatory foods can cause restlessness at night. Cut out and eliminate sugar, wheat, grains, soy, diet soda and alcohol.

 

9.5. Take a week off training

I say this as a half-step because only a very small percentage of gym-goers work hard enough to warrant  a deload week.

However if you’re somebody who is an advanced lifter, and you’ve been training consistently for several months HARD without a break, take a deload week.

To deload, simply reduce volume and intensity by 40-50% for at least 4 days. You could even take a full week off from your normal workout, and try something new: surfing, rock climbing, squash etc.

 

There you have it, my top 9.5 tips for you.

Let me know your top tips for sleep? How many hours of sleep do you average per night?

Night night, Pete