Optimise Your Sleep: Tips on How to Improve Sleep Quality | The Hart of Health Podcast S1 E22
Joané & Jonathan: (00:03)
Hi, I’m Joané Hart, and I am Jonathan Hart. This is The Hart of Health. A show where we focus mainly on health and self-optimization. Here, we like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. We hope you enjoy the show.
Hey everyone. So on today’s podcast, we’re going to be doing a little bit of a deeper dive on sleep.
Yes, sleep. As we’ve said before, is the most important thing for your health. So we thought that we really should do a podcast episode on sleep and what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep.
Yeah. And I thought what we should do is start off by saying what all we do for sleep at this point. Like, obviously we don’t claim to have the most perfect sleep regime or pattern or hex, but I think we’re doing stuff that already helps put us in the right direction.
Yeah. We’re definitely doing some things, right. I definitely know that we’re getting the correct number of hours in total because we usually get about eight hours of sleep at least per night, which is very good.
Yeah. And apparently, the minimum is like seven hours of sleep. And there’s a very, very small select few number of people who can get away with lists. And they’ve got a genetic identifier,
I think when you, yeah, I think when you get older, you need less sleep. You need less deep sleep. But when you’re younger, you definitely need more.
Yeah. So I’m a bit older than you, but we’re still in a similar age range. So I think we do need a very similar amount of sleep.
Yes. I’m thinking somebody who’s 30 versus somebody who is 70. You know, I read today that somebody who’s 30 could spend like 25, 28% of their sleep duration in deep sleep. When somebody who’s 70 could spend like 10% of the time sleeping in deep sleep. And that’s very interesting because in deep sleep, that’s when your production of human growth hormone increases a lot more and cell regeneration takes place a lot more; it’s regenerative sleep. And it’s just very interesting that when people get older, they get less deep sleep, but that’s part of what’s important for helping us stay young. So I found that very interesting, that if you want to get more deep sleep cycles and improving the length of your sleep, and quality is important. Yes.
Then the next and probably most important thing is light. You don’t want to sleep in a room where it’s light at night. Like if you have outdoor security lights or a street light, or just city lights or whatever lights you’re getting from the outside, you want to try and minimize that while you’re actually sleeping.
Yes. And even before a lot from your phone, computer, TV, any blue light can interfere with melatonin production and interfere with your sleep. And yeah, because melatonin is like the sleep hormone.
You don’t want to be staring at a bright blue screen just before bed or for like a few hours for bed.
Yeah. I’d say you can maybe get away with half an hour or an hour before bed, but ideally two at least.
Yes. And get a blue blocker app for your phone.
Yeah. That’s actually quite easy. You can just download an app where you can change the setting. And then at a certain time of day, they will put a blue light filter on your phone. So your phone wont emit as much blue light and that will definitely help a lot.
Yeah. So, we’re doing that. We’ve also got blackout curtains and basically light proof to the room is dark. So even when the sun has risen, it’s still quite dark in here.
Yes. It makes mornings a little bit difficult sometimes getting up because it looks like it’s midnight and it’s time to get up. We also have blue light blocking glasses. I have to admit I haven’t been as good with wearing them, but I definitely want to get into a routine of wearing my blue light blocking glasses before bed.
Yeah. I think it’s mainly for computer use. I haven’t really got an app for the laptop. Maybe there is one? We haven’t really looked, but yeah, on my laptop is when I want to use the glasses the most. And that’s only if it’s late at night. Luckily I keep most of my laptop work to earlier in the day specifically so I don’t stare at a blue screen late at night. That’s not ideal.
Definitely not ideal. Okay. So sleep temperature. If your body is too hot, if the room is too hot, then that can make it harder for you to fall asleep. So ideally I think your body should be between and the room should be between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.
If you’re lucky enough to have air con.
If you’re lucky, but you also get cooling pads, that you can put on your bed, I don’t have them, but I would like to try that one day. You could maybe take a cold shower before bed.
Just dress light if it’s very warm.
Loose fabric, don’t layer all the blankets on top of you.
It is cold when you get in bed, you got to make sure that your body can radiate the heat. You don’t want to be sweating through the night.
Yes. I tend to do that. I tend to put a lot of blankets on top of me when going to sleep in winter because I’m really cold when I go to bed. But I know that I shouldn’t do that because it is better for my body to be a little bit colder, for sleep and yeah, maybe one day I’ll get into a cold shock therapy routine. I do play around with it every now and then, but I haven’t done it consistently.
Oh, it’s tough in the winter to do cold shock.
It is tough in the winter to cold shock. Sometimes it just feels like we’re getting cold shock naturally because it’s so cold outside.
Just by going outside.
Yes. And we have been cycling to places in the cold. And I have been wondering if that hasn’t been contributing to my cold shock goal.
Probably a little bit, but not as much as like a proper cold shower.
Yeah. I feel like if your core shivers, it should count.
I guess that counts as cold shock.
Yes. Because my core has shivered quite a few times. So yeah, sleep, you know what you shouldn’t do if you want to improve the quality of your sleep, eat a large meal just before bed. Because you know, it can happen when you’re lying down? Some of your stomach acid can go back up your throat and it can cause heartburn and also eating a lot just before bed can cause indigestion and discomfort and does just interfere asleep.
Yeah. And going along with the food theme, alcohol as well, alcohol inhibits dream sleep, and yes everyone likes to focus on a deep sleep. I think all stages of sleep are important and they’re all there for a reason. And so you don’t want to sort of push back your dreaming sleep if you drink a large amount of alcohol every night, like that’s definitely going to affect your sleep. So if you can try and do your alcohol consumption earlier in the day so that it’s not inhibiting your dreams later into the night will be better. So earlier drinking is better or no drinking is probably best, but we know that people really like socializing. I’m not sure how many people are socializing nowadays after Corona. But yes, it’s the earlier the better basically.
Yeah. Speaking of consumption sugar, I think sugar raises your adrenaline levels, which can keep you awake. And I mean, anybody who’s ever had a sugar rush knows that sugar can make you feel wide awake; caffeine. And even if you’re skipping coffee, even if you’re not having energy drinks, if you’re eating a lot of chocolate, if you’re having a lot of that; a lot of sodas. I think Mt. Dew has a lot of caffeine in it. So yeah, you can get other sources of caffeine that aren’t necessarily coffee or energy drinks, but if you’re struggling to sleep, just watch that and just watch that close to bedtime. I think the recommendation is to not have any caffeine at least six hours before going to bed.
Yes. So it’s like before your blue-blocking app comes, make sure you stop any caffeine intake. But once again, the earlier the better. Yeah.
Speaker 1: (10:43)
So caffeine, sugar, alcohol the earlier, the better, which is funny because people usually wait until later in the day to start drinking alcohol; I would actually like rather have alcohol earlier.
Yes. But obviously don’t, if you have, if you’re coming back from work or something like that, it makes them more tricky. But this is now just focusing on how to get optimal sleep. And I think if you actually don’t even try anything else, like don’t change your diet; don’t really exercise more. If you just improve your sleep quality, you’re really going to see a lot of results health-wise, because so much is pivotal around sleep.
Yeah. I mean, speaking of exercise, exercising can improve sleep quality. If you exercise regularly that can help improve your sleep quality. If you sleep regularly, that can help you recover better with exercise and produce more human growth hormone. They go hand in hand. Yes. One thing people shouldn’t do though is exercise intensely too close to bed because exercise can be like a stimulant. If you exercise for too long, it can increase your cortisol levels, which will then definitely keep you up.
Yeah. So I suppose that’s dependent from person to person depending on how well your body can deal with cortisol. But yeah, once again, the earlier the better. Fasted morning workouts probably really help with your sleep later that night. And yeah, sleep is a very interesting subject cause you spend so much of your time doing it. And then also as a whole going into dream states, why do we dream? And that’s all very interesting. But as far as health is concerned, it’s, it’s probably one of the major aspects that if you’re not getting it right, you probably will struggle to be healthy. And a lot of people probably don’t realize that they’re getting bad sleep and that is probably the root of whatever problems they’re experiencing.
Start with sleep.
Start with sleep. And it’s actually one of the simplest ones. And that’s probably why we don’t talk about it much because not many people are confused about what almost everyone knows like, yeah, we should improve our sleep, but not everyone knows what you can do.
Yeah. I feel like what happens is a lot of people just focus on the number of hours that they sleep. They just focus on getting seven or eight hours of sleep. They’re not necessarily focusing on the quality of sleep and what they can do to improve that.
Yeah. And that’s what I like tracking my sleep. You can look at your sleep scores and start actually getting an idea for like when am I sleeping the best? What time to go to bed is best? And you can start actually figuring it out. If you actually have scores that tell you how well you slept as well. Because like you said, it’s not just about the hours. It’s about how well did you get into all these different sleep states in your sleep cycles and you’re going in and out of REM sleep. So yeah, obviously not everyone can get a sleep tracker, but if you have the ability to get a whoop strap or a Fitbit or just something or a ring, I think whoop is leading the charge when it comes to sleep tracking. But it just helps keep you accountable as well, because you can say like, oh, you know, my sleep is good, but like have you actually got it monitored? You’re asleep when it’s happening. So you can’t really know if it’s good or bad.
Yes. How do you really know, until you know?
Until you measure it? Because you’re not conscious for most of it. So it’s definitely good, but it’s not super important if you can get all the other more natural things in place, it should all fall in place. But yeah.
Yeah, you don’t need to track, but it’s fun to track. It does help. Yes.
It does help a lot.
Oh, one more tip that I’d like to share is if you have blood sugar imbalances that can interfere with your sleep quality, because if you get a big blood sugar dip or an insulin dip during the night that will increase your cortisol levels, which can then wake you up.
Yes. Diabetics do tend to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
They tend to wake up a lot more. And I mean, people also notice like, well, if you’re stressed and then you wake up in the middle of the night because you’re stressed and that’s from cortisol or sometimes what I notice is that if I’m more stressed out, I tend to wake up earlier in the morning; also if your blood sugar drops.
Yeah. If you’re in a more stressful environment, you’re more likely to wake up early because you’re obviously not as comfortable in that environment. So, if you have to travel a lot, it does affect your sleep. So just realize that changing your environment that you sleep in also has an effect. Your body knows when it’s not in a familiar place and it does actually affect your sleep negatively. And it is linked to that whole stress thing. So your body might wake up earlier in the morning, but because you feel safe in that place, you just go back to sleep. If you don’t feel safe, you’ll almost immediately wake up and be like, oh yeah, I’m in this strange place. It’s hard to lower your cortisol levels when you in a, in a new environment. And cortisol is very good at waking you up.
And keeping you awake at night before bed; struggling to fall asleep because you’re just lying there, thinking about all the things that you need to do and all the problems in the world. That can make it very difficult for you to fall asleep and cause insomnia. And what really sucks is when you struggle to fall asleep because you’re stressed and then you wake up early because your blood sugar levels dropped and you woke up or just because you felt stressed and had a bad dream maybe or something like that; and you got even less sleep.
Yeah. Remember the amount of sleep is one of the first things we mentioned for a reason. Another thing I was thinking of now, when you mentioned the whole anxiety and cortisol thing is breathing, you should actually be breathing through your nose when you’re sleeping. And so I see now a lot of people are taping their lips shut at night to kind of get themselves in the habit of breathing through their nose. And I definitely think it is quite important to breathe through your nose more often. I don’t think it was possible for me previously. My nose was so congested. But now recently my nose has been a lot clearer and um, yeah, that was definitely linked to my diet. So you got to look at sometimes, you know, if you’re feeling like your nose is always congested or it’s actually quite important for you to get it uncongested so that you can breathe through your nose. You can go extreme and tape the lips shut at night to breathe through your nose, but they will definitely give you much better sleep because it will definitely help with your gasses exchanged while you breathing if you breathe through your nose the whole night. And apparently, it helps with sleep apnea, which is one thing that’s actually becoming much more of a problem recently, which is actually showing that a lot of people aren’t getting good sleep and health has just been not so great lately. So it’s probably a contributing factor.
Definitely, definitely. And late-night watching TV; binge-watching everything. It’s not good, not good. And then having to wake up early for work.
Yeah. So it’s another, that’s the thing is like people’s health nowadays isn’t that great. And this is just another one of those things where you can say like, look, we used to get this kind of sleep schedule and now it’s being completely messed up and yeah, maybe you do have to work late and maybe you do really like watching series or gaming late into the night, but then just make sure that you biohack; make sure you get like the blackout curtains and still get the right sleep cycle. You can still get into a routine; you can trick your body into thinking this is the time of day at any point, you know, like just using light, you can make yourself think that it’s actually not when it’s really morning and the sun’s come up. So yeah, I think just blackout curtains and blacking out your room really does help you sort of find that middle ground where you can like biohack your way through sleep.
Definitely, definitely. So, yeah, that was our advice on how to improve your sleep quality. We can do more podcasts about sleep in the future, but I think you said quite a lot.
Yeah. I think we’ve probably given too much information just do one thing at a time, like today I’m going to get the blue-blocking app and then just do that. Then you can do another thing another day. Take it one step at a time.
One step at a time. You don’t have to do everything we said in this podcast at once.
Yeah. Take, on one challenge at a time.
Yeah. Until next week; we have you enjoyed this podcast and yeah. Goodbye.