We all have those days- tossing and turning in bed while begging ourselves to fall asleep.
Most people just accept this as part of life, without realizing all of the actions they can take to make it easier to sleep at night.
I’ll admit it, I think a good nights rest is one of the most valuable and easy to do things for a person’s personal growth.
If your sleep schedule isn’t right, your million dollar horse (your body) just won’t function right, and your perception of the world automatically becomes clouded by this reality.
Well, great news for all readers of Authentic Growth- I’ve compiled a complete list of foolproof techniques and tips for having the greatest sleep of your life.
I’ll start this post off with five habits that you can enact to improve the quality of your sleep tonight. Live by these rules, and you can almost guarantee a better sleep ritual.
Following these 5 habits religiously, even without reading the details below, will thoroughly improve your ability to sleep well. If you want to stop reading now, you can, you will certainly sleep better just following these rules. But if you want to continue learning more about how to have the best sleep of your life- proceed below.
1. Avoid Caffeine Within 4 Hours of your planned sleep time
This is big one, even if you can still sleep with caffeine in your system, it will have you waking up more frequently in the night. I have an old post from Steven Fowkes on why he avoids Caffeine in general. One of the main points he makes is that Caffeine disrupts your sleep architecture. Basically what he suggests is that caffeine is actually a mild irritant to the body, it is produced by plants as a sort of “insecticide” to prevent insects from eating them. Its pretty obvious that caffeine is a known stimulant, so it is best to avoid it at least 4 hours in advance of when you plan to go to sleep. I used to take some amino acid packed pre-workout drinks (loaded with Caffeine) around 6PM, and noticed I was always waking up in the middle of the night on the days when I did that. I now skip any caffeine after 5PM, and have no issues sleeping like a baby.
2. Turn off bright phone and computer screens one hour before bed
This is a little known tidbit that has greatly improved my ability to sleep! Lights are an instinctual signal to the brain that its time to wake up. Especially LED/LCD screens. Our bodies are programmed for thousands of years ago, when artificial lights didn’t exist. Artificial lights signals the brain that the sun is rising and its time to start the day. One of the best things I ever did in this area was install F.lux on my computer. Its a free piece of software that automatically reduces the amount of “blu-light” from your computer screen based on your time/location. What this does is give your screen a more orange hue, which you will notice helps incredibly with your ability to sleep and relax your eyes. I’m telling you, this software is free and it is awesome. After using it for a while, try turning it off around 8PM at night- you will be astounded that you ever put up with how bright and uncomfortable normal LCD light is at that time. F.lux is also available on jailbroken iPhones via Cydia, and for android there is a great app called Twilight which does something similar on Google Play.
3. Don’t exercise 1-2 hours before sleep. Also avoid high-stress phone conversations or encounters
Exercise gets your body ready to go and wakes you up. I used to always walk on the treadmill before bed to try and hit my step goal on my Fitbit and then I wouldn’t be able to sleep shortly afterwards. I’ve learned that the best thing you can do is finish up any exercise 2 hours in advance of you going to sleep. This gives your body time to cool down, lower any elevated hormone or cortisol levels, and allow you to ease into your restful sleep. I think this is common sense but exercise really wakes you up, increasing your heart rate before you go to sleep just isn’t a great way to sleep peacefully.
4. Turn off all sources of light while you are sleeping
Similar to the “dim the lights” tip above, this one is focused on the lighting in your room while you’re sleeping. Here, we want to be in complete darkness. This is how our bodies evolved to handle sleep, and how our circadian rhythms (our sleep-cycles) were programmed to function. One thing I did that really improved my sleep was switching my curtains to a thicker, darker color- so that they would block out the streetlights from outside my window. People spent thousands on a new mattress, but uou’d be surprised at how a small and affordable change like this can greatly enhance your sleep. I also make sure that any devices that have small steady charging lights on them (a laptop, anyone?) are either blocked or facing away from my bed when I sleep. The goal is to be in complete, peaceful darkness as you rest. This will give you the best sleep you can have.
5. Remove any ticking clocks or other noisy objects from your room
This final tip is literally a life-saver (or sleep-saver). It took me forever to figure this out, but the ticking clock in my room (that I had grown accustomed to) actually kept me awake because it was so loud! Seriously, you don’t realize how loud these things are until you find yourself awake at 3AM thinking, “Damn, is that clock always this loud?”. Find yourself a clock with a smooth second hand motion, not a ticking motion, if you really need a clock in your room. To be honest, I just took my ticking clock and threw it in the garbage once I realized what it was doing to my sleep. You may also want to adjust anything else that makes steady noises. Clocks were the worst offenders for me, but any device noises (turn off your computers or put them in sleep) or annoying beeps clearly have the possibility of waking you up mid-dream. This doesn’t include sleep playlists or white-noise, which I occasionally use on Spotify to help relax myself into a nice sleep.
Now for the extra stuff, the nutrients that really help to enhance your sleep.
I want to first start off by saying that sleep supplements and supplements in general get a bad rep. I think this is because of all the gimmicky pharmaceutical drugs they sell on the market now and the negative health connotations that people associate with them. I want to be clear- the supplements listed below are nothing like pharmaceutical sleep drugs. These are natural, healthy alternatives to help ease you into sleep. They have made all the difference in my normal life. People love taking a multi-vitamin to be healthy, why not take something similar- a “vitamin” for a better sleep if you will? We’re surrounded by so many unnatural things that cause disruptions in our circadian rhythms, I think that balancing them out with healthy supplements like the ones listed below is not only useful, but incredibly beneficial to our health. With that set, lets proceed, as the below supplements have made all the difference in improving my sleep.
I’ve found a group of healthy supplements that, when taken together, thoroughly enhances your ability to quickly fall asleep and have an incredibly restful night.
The list contains two main items, with the last two being optional. Here it is below:
If you didn’t follow any other tips in this report, and only purchased the above supplements, your sleep would automatically be enhanced. But I have more to add to enhance your sleeping abilities.
To start things off, let me explain the significance of each of these supplements and why I recommend them as part of your sleeping stack
1) 7-Flower Extract (Tablets) (Recommended)
This is a supplement which comes in very small tablets, I’m talking super tiny. It is an extract which contains some of each of the following flowers: Chrysanthemum Flower, Honeysuckle Flower, Sophora Japonica Flower, Brunella Flower, Water Fairy Flower, Black Moss Flower, and Nodo Ginseng Flower. Hence the name 7-flower extract.
“This all natural, Chinese herbs Seven Flower Extract is a dietary supplement that helps to lower blood pressure naturally, provide a safe and natural sleep aid, and is known as one of the best natural remedies for anxiety. It works by normalizing your blood pressure without harsh effects on your body and reduces stress on your heart. Seven flower relaxes your nervous system, helping to promote natural healthy sleep patterns and calmness to reduce feelings of anxiety.” –NurseNaturals.com.
Now its time for my interpretation of 7-Flower Extract. If I take one small tablet of 7-flower extract, I feel a little bit peaceful, just a bit. I definitely experience a little bit of the lowering of blood pressure effect. If I take two, which I only tend to do before bed, it is extremely helpful at easing me into a light, peaceful sleep. It just has this effect where you feel at ease, it really is noticeable at 2 tablets. It takes about 30 minutes to start kicking after consumption.
7-Flower Extract alone has become a staple of my sleep routine. I take two capsules of it everyday before I go to sleep and have done so for several months now. It really is that awesome. This alone will help you dramatically, but even this sleep aid can be enhanced with the next supplement mentioned.
2) L-Ornithine (Capsules) (Recommended)
This supplement is really an free form amino acid (a building block of muscle and tissue in the body) that has a host of positive effects on the body. There is one study that shows it has anti-fatigue effects in weightlifting and another study that suggests it promotes the regulation of human growth hormone and melatonin in the body. Its effect on our sleep cycle though, is thought to be due to the “ammonia-excretion” effect it has in our bodies. This helps us feel relaxed, especially after a long day. Taking 2-3 grams, or 4-7 capsules of L-Ornithine along with a capsule or two of 7-Flower Extract will literally change the way you sleep.
I could stop writing this report here, but I still have a few great supplement and habit tips to provide before I put an end to this. Now its time for the bonus supplements.
Adding either of these two supplements (or both, but you may not even need these other supplements) will greatly enhance your already amazing sleep if you’re taking the first two items mentioned above.
3) Melatonin (Tablets) (Optional)
If you want to add just one more kick to your already awesome sleep routine, grab some Melatonin. These come in 3 milligram tablets, also very small in size, but I suggest you break them in half and take 1.5 mg to start. Taking 3mg of Melatonin is fine, but it is considered a hormone and as such I prefer to take less over more (our hormonal system is very complex! Less is more). Adding 1.5 mg of Melatonin to your 7-Flower Extract and L-Ornithine is the final nail in the sleep stack for me. It really just puts me over the edge into a relaxing, peaceful place. I wake up feeling awesome, and full of energy after a night’s rest on these three supplements. If you’ve never tried it, Melatonin is actually pretty effective as a standalone sleep product, but I find my sleep is much more restful and fulfilling with 7-Flower and L-Ornithine(plus L-Ornithine has many other health benefits).
4) L-Theanine (Capsules) (Optional)
The final product on my list is L-Theanine, a nootropic supplement (a supplement used to enhance memory or brain function) that has super relaxing effect when taken before bed. I have a large container in powder form, and I take around 200 mg some days before I go to sleep. I think, for the sake of consistency with our other supplements, this is easier to take in capsule form with the other supplements mentioned above. L-Theanine really just adds a new layer of restfulness to my sleep. Its almost like even if I had 5 hours of sleep, I feel like I had a full 7-8 hours of sleep if I’ve taken L-Theanine before I went to bed. Now that I’m re-reading that, that is actually the perfect way to describe my experience with L-Theanine.
That’s about it for my advice regarding supplements to take prior to bed. I recommend taking each of these supplements around 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.
And with that, I conclude my tips for getting your best night’s sleep report. With the combination of good habits both prior to and during sleep, combined with the healthy supplements listed above, I can almost guarantee your sleep will be much more restful and fulfilling.
After implementing any of the strategies listed above, let me know your results below! Enjoy.
-Anthony from AuthenticGrowth.com
Links for having a great sleep: