This short (~20 min) episode covers the latest tools, gadgets, and tactics I’m using for faster and better sleep. Enjoy!
You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.
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As a lifelong insomniac, I’ve tried everything, and here are some of the critical few that make the cut:
- Chili Pad
- Hanging upside-down or traction
- Sleep Master sleep mask and 3M E-A-Rsoft FX ear plugs
- Yogi “Soothing Caramel Bedtime” tea
- Visual overwriting (e.g. Tetris or Escape to River Cottage, Season 1)
Here are a few other things that I think about when optimizing sleep and recovery.
Want to hear another podcast from that focuses on some of my favorite tips and tricks? — Listen to my podcast about The 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win the Day. In this episode, you’ll find the five things I’d like to accomplish within the first 60 to 90 minutes of an “ideal day.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What change or decision has most improved your quality of sleep? Please share in the comments!
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114 Replies to “5 Tools I Use For Faster And Better Sleep (#113)”
Good stuff as always. I wouldn’t call myself an insomniac, but I do occasionally have trouble falling asleep. One thing that has helped me is just telling myself, “Well, if I’m going to be really tired and sleepy tomorrow, so be it.” It’s silly, but if said to myself with enough conviction, it helps me relax and not worry about falling asleep.
Also, I make it a point to avoid the news or anything negative prior to going to sleep.
It’s worth mentioning that for me, insomnia is not always bad though. I’ve had some of my best thoughts and ideas during this semi-meditative state of trying to fall asleep.
Check out the “Chrona” product by Ultradia that’s in beta right now. A “smart-pillow” smart-sound device (not a noise machine! Completely different technology) that pushes your sleep cycle deeper, e.g. into deeper REM cycles, so you get a better sleep in the same amount of time.
I sent an email to Donna, but I understand the crazy volume you get, so I’m trying here (and will Tweet later). I’m looking for just one word from you: Yes (No work or effort besides that)!
The extremely short version: I’m looking to get your permission to transcribe some of the blog posts on The Four Hour Work Week into audio for a podcast.
The longer version (why/how):
I’ve suffered from social anxiety for a very long time… I remember breaking down as a cub scout when we had to recite the oath. The wisdom, habits, and advice on 4HWW.com and the podcast have helped me over the years (half way through the Five Minute Journal), but I’m still working on my fears. Recently, I’ve come up with a “social experiment” that could help push me to where I want to be.
You’re the first person I’m reaching out to, and the request is very simple: I’m asking for your permission to transcribe some of your blog posts to audio (in my voice) for a podcast I want to launch. I wouldn’t own any rights to the content. I only want to be able to make your content available in audio form on a podcast I’m putting together–a sort of “best of blogging” podcast. I can also send you the audio file, or host it for you, if you would want to have it on your blog post so people can download it and listen at their convenience, but that’s totally up to you.
I’m not looking to get paid for this… I’ll happily read and record one or more of the blog posts from The Four Hour Work Week for free. You and your site will be credited at the beginning and end, and possibly in the middle, depending on length. Worst case for you is a few more people hear something you’ve written.
Forcing myself to read out loud and recording it gives me anxiety, but I want to do this. I want to conquer this one step and a time, and there’s no other blogger I’d want to read more than you. I know it’ll work if I keep doing it, and I’ll keep doing it if I have the pleasure of reading from the 4HWW blog. The long-term goal is a sustainable lifestyle business transcribing blogs to audio and increasing reach on the podcast. I just need your permission to do it.
I can answer any questions you have. Thanks for your time and the amazing stuff you do. No matter your response, I’ll continue reading, listening, and watching you whenever possible.
I had insomnia for YEARSSSS. My brain just would go at 100 mph thinking about things. I was moderately successful reading to lull myself to sleep.
But I must tell you I stumbled on the cure…
Ah man, I could sleep standing up nowadays. 😉 Thanks for the helpful content you put out.
I love the variety of podcast topics, I can get enough of them. It would be great to hear a Gray Cook interview & discussion. I know Tim has worked with Gray before he started podcasting so lets get that going!
This podcast is encouraging and I will try initially the the Yogi tea. I am wondering whether the caramel variety of the bedtime tea is critical as this particular one is not available locally. Also, my issue is staying asleep rather than falling asleep.
Stan: Have you checked Tim’s link to Amazon? As a tea enthusiast, I will bring up this topic in a forthcoming book on tea. Tea could be used as an energy kick, give more focus, and fall asleep easier.
The Sleep Induction Mat has been pretty amazing for me. I lay on it for about 15 minutes right before I crawl in bed. No shirt; just hundreds of acupressure points on my skin. The thing is, you HAVE to relax, and loosen up, right away, or it will hurt. So you breath, relax, breath, relax some more. And soon you’re ready for the deepest sleep ever.
My quality of sleep is the best when I have lucid dreams. When I wake up from one, it is the most peaceful awakening I can imagine–I often wake up knowing that I’m waking up, with eyes closed. It’s great.
I find that I lucid dream more often when I’m in the habit of practicing meditation, which also helps with dream recall.
I’ve noticed that too. Then again I have to get more then my usual amount of sleep in order to lucid dream.
For those summer nights when it just doesn’t cool down, I put ice sheets (like those used for lunch boxes, etc) under a towel then under the mattress pad. I’ve been doing this for about 5 years and I’m still using the same ice sheets.
Any word on the EMF levels on the bedside cube unit on the Chili Pad?
Did you get any info on the chilipad and EMF? I am curious to find out. I have been using it for 2 weeks and although I love the cold, I feel a bit strange and wonder if I am experiencing EMF. The unit is away from my bed but perhaps the EMF conducts through the water into the pad.
Thanks Tim, some good stuff there!
I used to struggle a lot with sleep myself but I’ve kind of discovered my own sleep hack that pretty much feels like flicking off my own switch. It even allows me if I need, to drink a Red Bull at 8pm, smash out 3 hours practice (music after work) and be asleep by midnight – without fail.
I haven’t come across the hack elsewhere yet, but the idea came to me after watching Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on how body language can shape the mind (it’s nearing 30 million views on TED.com, 7 mil on YouTube). The science is that people who are seen to be powerful/confident have higher levels of testosterone (dominance hormone) and lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) pumping through their systems, and this is reflected in their body language. The cool thing is that research suggests we can reverse engineer this – ie, by adopting power/confidence poses, we can raise our testosterone levels and sink our cortisol levels. Thus reducing stress, anxiety and improving our confidence and mental clarity.
So a few months ago I found myself lying awake late at night, ruminating as usual, unable to get to sleep and I thought why not try these power poses right now? It couldn’t do any harm – no one will see me trying to look like I just won first place in the 100m sprint in my underwear (hopefully). Breathing exercises weren’t working, counting sheep neither. I figured that ruminating is stress related, I’m replaying some frustrating/stressful event from the day (butting heads with a coworker, for example), and I just can’t seem to mentally dominate the situation. The same scenario keeps replaying and the visualization of the argument was in itself creating a feedback loop, keeping my cortisol (I’m guessing?) levels high and thus prohibiting sleep.
So I got out of bed, stood there nice and tall with my arms raised in a V-shape, fists pumped into the air and breathing deeply (through my nose, out my mouth) like I’d just become the heavyweight champion of the world. The impact was insane – I felt the effects in seconds. It felt like I’d just come down off this wave of adrenaline and was floating back down to earth. I felt this big kind-of “release”. The thoughts I was ruminating on went wickedly quiet and it felt like they really didn’t matter anymore – it was probably a pointless, petty argument anyway! I jumped back into bed and was asleep in minutes.
Some nights it takes a little more effort and I have some complimentary hacks (which I can detail, if anyone’s interested) when I need a bit more coaxing to sleep but this power/victory pose – as odd as it may seem – has consistently worked for me for 3 or 4 months now, whenever I need it. It doesn’t seem to have diminishing returns either.
I think the key is here: I’m not trying to control my subconscious mind with will power. I’m hacking it by inducing physiological changes.
I’d love to hear if anyone else does this or if anyone decides to try it and it works for them.
I am definitely going to try this, and I am interested in your complementary hacks as well!
Please tell more about your other hacks…
Thx cam that’s great will try that when you strut around does your ever think what bs ?
My mind gets sceptical but will try it 🙂
That was interesting, I’ll try it out.
My ritual is to take a melatonin supplement 30 minutes before bed, then read some fiction (I’m not normally a fiction reader). This seems to switch my brain off.
Yes, melatonin plus magnesium does the trick.
Very aptly timed article, Tim. Thank you. I have been struggling with insomnia since starting a new job and none of my usual tricks have been working (meditation, blue blocker glasses, etc.).
I usually use 500 mcg melatonin. I find ashwagandha seems to help also. I sleep OK. Typically cooler temperatures are better for sleeping also.
Not to be trite, but I think meditation has made the biggest difference with my ability to go to sleep. I just don’t ruminate anymore. Box breathing or really triangular breathing (7 count in, 4 count hold, 8 count out) makes a huge difference going to sleep. I also use a TVD device for apnea and it works better than a CPAP for my kind of apnea. Now, if I could just stay asleep.
Last year was beginning of the sleeping problem for me, after carefully checking all my daily activities and habits, I was able to zero down on few things that really helped.
1. Going to bed at a fixed time and giving myself enough time to sleep, around an hour, for me that meant to be in bed at 11:30 pm
2. Not using an alarm and waking up when I felt like, this helped a lot and now I do not need coffee at all which was quite a turnaround from 4 to 5 cups. I realized that alarms are great training tools for changing wake up times, but relying on them everyday is a bad idea.
Interesting, love hearing about the chili pad. My partner acts as if she is sleeping in a Siberian winter as soon as the temperature dips below 20C/68F. Another I found worked when I can’t avoid the screens at night is the app f.lux. It emulates natural light intensity and wavelength. If I have it turned off I can work through the night without getting tired, if it’s turned on I’ll be sleeping on my keyboard around 11. Dimming screens doesn’t work for me, nor does applying a ‘negative’ filter.
Something that I’ve found really relaxing is listening to certain ASMR videos. (If you’re not familiar with it, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and describes a phenomenon that is not yet proven by science, but has amassed a tremendous following based on anecdotal evidence, wherein certain sensory experiences–usually audible and tactile–trigger a unique and intense relaxing feeling in certain people.)
Here’s one example of an ASMR video that really relaxes me. The woman’s soft-spoken and soothing voice helps me drift off to sleep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSl0_PkY5Ug
I have sleep apnea and found one of the beneficial side effects to the CPAP machine is the white noise. I fall asleep so quickly using it.
Breathe Right nasal strips are also great.
Following the advice from Steve Pavlina’s blog has helped me consistently fall asleep within several minutes. Sometimes even within a minute. Very cool technique involving the subconscious area of the mind.
Basically, you tell your subconscious mind that you WILL wake up at whatever time you need to wake up, and that you WILL NOT hit the snooze. That you will instantly get up and out of bed. ( He has another technique as well that teaches you to get up and moving after your alarm goes off.)
If my mind is full of chatter, I use Tara Brach’s RAIN method to isolate the “noise” then get my mind back to a neutral calm state.
Thanks Tim for your insights!
A thick wool mattress pad may do part of the trick of regulating body temperature. It is far less expensive. Wool is cool in the summer and warm in the winter… an amazing material.
The control pause breathing technique is a very fast way to fall asleep.
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Memorization is a great tool. For example, I lay in a dark room, in bed, eyes closed, instead of counting sheep I memorize stuff i’m interested in and focus on that alone and perfecting it. I love pro-cycling and follow it quite a bit, so recently I have memorized the last name of as many pro-cyclists as I can. First I memorize 10 and repeat them in my mind without pause, then I up it to 15 and so on. My mind is so focused on the task and nothing else (no worries, deadlines, mind wandering) that I slowly nod off, works great. Have memorized many things, recipes included, so helpful in my daily life, some just fun.
Great stuff, thank you Tim.
May be a boring question, but would be interested to ask your podcast guests how many hours of sleep they get per night.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just have a bong hit? 🙂
Quitting the drink – even just that single glass of wine at night – has done wonders for my sleep quality. I wake up so much more refreshed and clear. Improved physical recovery is a bonus as well.
I definitely do the bedtime teas on occasion – Yogi and Traditional Medicinals products http://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/ (I also use the same products to help stabilize PMS and take a week prior to my menstrual, example PMS, Echinacea Plus, or Detox Tea.
I can’t sleep without an eye mask. It’s the texture of silk that relaxes my eyes and with ear plugs, it’s a hit or miss.
And lastly, I put on yoga meditation music or use a noise cancelling machine for sleeping or sound blocking.
Thanks for the Chili Pad recommendation. I find that controlling my body temperature (can’t be too warm), always gives me a solid night of sleep.
About 8 hours of sleep.. I’m OK with 5 hours or less, with at least 1 nap in the day (min. 20 minutes) + Matcha Tea and Green Superfood Powder. On a weekend, I recover from any lack of sleep (with an extra hour or so of sleep).
My only recommendation is a Thai Deep Tissue Massage and Yoga to help release tension in the spine. Or a warm bath or shower before bedtime.
By the way, I think you’ve mentioned your girlfriend and puppy frequently, in every podcast now. You’re in a good place. Congrats!
It looks that we have similar sleep pattern. I will try to get more sleep, at least 6-7 hours per night and a power nap during the day, in the near future. I will also start to drink Matcha green tea as bedtime ritual.
The Art of Living Breathing exercise
Slight modification to the earplugs and sleep mask approach that has worked well for me…
I sleep with Panasonic RPHJE120K earbuds in. You can get them on Amazon for $5.99/pair; they’re comfortable, lightweight, and block out sound. I use the Relax Melodies app to generate a low volume white noise/rainstorm noise with a 30 minute sleep timer.
Once I lay down, I use the background noise to visualize myself laying in a field during a rainstorm or something equally pleasing. It’s gotten to the point where I’ll start feeling sleepy as soon as I put on the rain sounds.
The headphones are comfortable enough that you can sleep on your side with them in, and they’re also super cheap, so I have no qualms about ripping them out and tossing them onto the floor in the middle of the night. They’re great for working out and traveling as well — any time you don’t want to put stress on, or risk losing, whatever nice earbuds you may have.
In this order, in separate room from where you sleep. Eliminate stimulation – no electronics, quiet room, comfortable chair, comfortable clothing ( not work cloths)
1-Writing – make a list of tasks that are on your mind. These are normally items you want to accomplish the next day. This takes the stress from trying to remember these items. ( 3 min ). This is like clearing cache in technology.
2-Reading – until eyes are heavy. (10 min )
3-Mindfulness – count 100 breaths ( 10 min )
4-Chilli Pad – winter 65 deg, summer 63 deg
This works for me. It will help clear your mind, set up your attack list for the following day, and build in recovery model for your success.
Great podcast, thanks Tim! Can you share with us which California poppy drops you used to use?
Best sleep came after following steps from Shawn Stevensons “Sleep Smarter” book on Amazon. Highly recommend!
I have terrible insomnia! My mind just goes into creative overdrive once my head hits the pillow. In the past year after decades of sleep deprivationI disvovered two useful sleep aids. I had tried melatonin on and off for years with no success. Then I read an article that explained that most people only need a half or even a fourth of a tablet and that too much is actually counter-productive. It turns out that a fourth is perfect for me. I tend have a hard time falling back asleep in the middle of the night. Now I do childs pose for a few minutes. I am amazed at how much this helps. Both of these habits have literally changed my life.
Tim – really surprised you didn’t mention any of the 4HB sleep strategies and tools eg zinc, magnesium and peanut butter before bed. There’s been a fair bit in the podcasts recently contradicting the book. Time for a 4HB rewrite soon?
* Fish oil supplements. Began taking them to counter dry eye syndrome, noticed that I no longer feel like death after not getting 8 hours of sleep. I was showing sleep deprivation symptoms and my doctor didn’t understand why after a sleep study showed nothing wrong. Turns out Omega 3 influences both tear production and helps in regulating melanonin.
* Reading on a Kindle (no backlight) while in bed. Yes, it violates the no devices in bed rule of sleep hygiene, but it is the only way to distract my loud and busy brain. I’ll lay down on my side while reading, so my body gets the hint, and when I start to nod off I put it away, turn off the lights and I’m gone. I took a sleep aid for a while (see previous point) and I no longer need it at all. Plus, I read one or more books a month this way.
We can suffer from sleep apnoea without realising it – waking many many times during the night (hundreds even) for a split moment then falling asleep again. Waking up puts you back into an earlier stage of sleep preventing the brain going into stage 4 sleep where deep level healing, cell regeneration, hormone production etc occurs. People can go for decades without ever actually hitting stage 4 sleep. Insufficient oxygen is a primary culprit – we wake up because we need to breath. One cure is putting a tiny amount of peppermint essential oil around the edges of the nostrils. This can enhance breathing by as much as one third. You may find other methods
Stay away from melatonin. Many published papers on the dangers of
messing with the pituitary gland. It controls the entire endocrine system. We feel better but create all kinds of extremely serious side effects
Time to talk about pulsed microwave radiation. People say ”oh it’s everywhere we can’t avoid it anyway”. wrong. It’s not the power of the signal that is the issue it is the proximity and the nature (pulsating-on off on off on off) that is so destructive. This means, the modem in your home or the phone in your bed is more dangerous because there is nothing to block it and it bounces around inside the walls of your house creating a concentration. The signal strength of pulsed microwaves drops off fairly rapidly once you remove yourself from the source, so your neighbour and outside sources are less important
Get a flight mode widget for your phone on the home screen, disabling Bluetooth, Calls and Wi Fi all at once. Physically unplug your modem at night.And anyother Wi Fi appliances. Better yet have a Wi Fi free home and allow yourself one safe haven.
A scientist recently told me recently, last time he checked there were about 10,000 published papers on the health hazards of pulsed microwaves
This is great. And, for all the work you do trying to improve sleeping – so called ‘Smart Meters’ are going to create serious health problems including chaotic sleep. Many testamonials about how peoples health was destroyed when they had one installed. Get the power company to replace it for an analog one and convince your neighbours to do the same. theres a lot of information about how dangerous they are. Less effective than removing but still is helpful, is it possible to block the signal by wrapping it in chicken wire, Not whacky – absolutely scientific. it’s not very difficult – there are you tube videos showing how. Just suspend your judgement and try it 🙂 It’s something to do with tthe size of the holes in the wire being difficult for the pulsed microwave to travel through. Yes, it is scientific and endorsed by profesionals 😉
And don’t live close to or within vision distance of a mobile phone mast. Read up about how the variables
I suffered from sleep problems after living in a studio for years during and after university. I finally got it under control by the simple rule of only allowing 3 things in the bed: sleeping, reading and you can guess the third (i.e. No tv and no computer!!!). Black out curtains also helped…
The timing of this question is one I can actually respond to because I’d been seeking some sleep solutions since I have always been such a night person and haven’t been able to get to sleep before 2am, but then I’m groggy throughout the day. A few weeks ago I got a NuCalm, recommended by Tony Robbins and I am LOVING it. It’s brilliant. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was developed by a neuroscientists and has many Harvard Studies, etc… I just read something that says they have the only patent for stress, anxiety and sleep solutions…. cool! I’ve been getting to sleep much earlier and very well rested and charged throughout the day.
p.s. the ice bath was a crazy experience. Didn’t help me sleep, but when I’m in the shower in the morning I like to turn it to freezing for a minute and it really wakes me up!
I’ve heard Tony Robbins talk about NuCalm. How much does the system cost?
Since I’m at the computer all the damn time, I found f.lux made the biggest difference
I love all your e-mails. What a resource of info! I am going to try the tea and visual overwriting and sleepmaster product. I am a pianist/singer and although I don’t have a problem sleeping, I would like to have a deeper and better quality of sleep so this should help quiet my mind before going to bed. I have an inversion table. Thanks, Tim. You are so awesome!
Gadgets are cool. But wouldn’t it be cooler if you could *build these sleep superpowers into your body* so that you could fall asleep easily anywhere, anytime, for however long that you wanted to? No more discrete props, just minimalist sleep skills.
1. Progressive physical (muscular/ neurological) relaxation:
Specific sequence of asana (yoga poses) to relax the sympathetic nervous system, ease the load on the spine, and ensure relaxation during actual sleep (when it comes)—Shavasana, Advasana, Jyeshtikasana, Makarasana (Contraindication: excessive lordosis), Matsyakridasana (particularly useful for pregnant women who cannot sleep on their back)
Bed: Flat, hard, no-frills surface, no pillows. Blankets as necessary.
2. Body temperature regulation:
For those that need cooling—tranquilising and cooling pranayamas Shitali or Shitkari. Contraindications: Don’t do these if you have low blood pressure, respiratory disorders such as asthma or bronchitis, or chronic intestinal/ bowel problems, or if you live in very cold places. If you have heart disease, practise without breath retention.
For those that need warming—tranquilising and warming pranayama Ujjayi. Contraindication: Don’t do this if you suffer from severe depression. The extra introversion is unlikely to help.
There is more to this than just deep breathing.
3. Mental clearing:
Not meditation, but Kriya Trataka (gazing at a candle at eye level without blinking) Contraindications: Don’t do this if you suffer from severe eye problems, glaucoma, or epilepsy.
Here is the one practice that cracks it wide open, undoes all the knots that prevents you from sleeping well in the first place, and fixes your current sleep debt—a scientifically-proven* yogic practice called Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep). I have been practising this for 7 years. I teach it. I have created an app that lets you just lie down and listen to guided tracks (iOS app Yoga Nidra: Sacred Sleep, sorry cannot link). It is free.
*41 research papers listing all kinds of benefits. These two talk about sleep specifically.
Bingham, M., Peacock, W.,P., Fritts, M. J., Walter, J. A. G. (2011) Effects of integrative restoration (iRest®) on sleep, perceived stress and resilience in military medical center healthcare providers: A pilot study.
Halpern, J. S., (2011). Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life of older adults in a Western cultural setting. Victoria, Australia: R.M.I.T. University.
Note: Remember there are certain poses, breathing techniques, and types of meditation that are contraindicated for insomnia. One wants to wind down, not up.
If anyone would like more information, I’m happy to send some. Not being able to get a good night’s sleep is like an ache that doesn’t quite go away. I wish you and all your readers sweet relief. Thank you for all the good stuff on your blog.
One question about hanging: Why upside down? I get that it is physiologically different (blood rushing to your head and such), but when done with the goal of “decompressing the spine”, wouldn’t hanging upright do the same thing?
enjoy your short podcasts. upvote!
restricting caffeine intake to before 2 pm/lunch has really helped me. (note that chocolate has caffeine, not a substitute). other stuff is good but caffeine had the biggest impact.
having some sense of accomplishment for the day helps too.
Thanks as always for the advice. Just wanted to ask (you or any of the commenters here), those ear plugs you recommend, are they comfortable for side sleepers?
I like using Sleep cycle App (when I remember to do so) and wake up at the right cycle
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Also using Flux [Moderator: link removed] when working on the computer after dark works wonders to make you naturally more tired.
I’ve been enjoying the podcast for the last two months. I love all of the life hacks and thought I would share one with you as pay back.
I read two killer books this summer. Brain Maker & Grain Brain; I’ve been a life long allergy sufferer. Daily Claritin for as long as I remember. I follow the book directions and have gone to no sugar, no carbs, no gluten. In three days I was allergy free. Side story I’m also in tech so I’ve been wearing a Fitbit HR religiously since January. My resting heart rate has also dropped by 8-9bpm and I’ve also started dreaming again and have lost 10lbs. It’s been unreal I’ve got the screen shots from the Fitbit if you would want to see them. I’ve taken a lot away from your podcast to I feel like I need to add something to the pool.
Keep doing what you’re doing.
This is great stuff! There is nothing like using an inversion table to both help you sleep and get a huge deadlift. Yogi tea is great and they have a couple different versions for sleep. I like to take that tea and go for a mellow walk around my neighborhood at nightime. I find getting some fresh air really helps me calm down. Also, audio fiction before bed. I prefer science fiction because that conjoirs up the most vivid images that help me slip into dream mode. My current audio book I’m working through is ‘Dune’. I challenge anyone to stay awake while listening to an audio book in bed.
Does the sleep mask interfere with REM sleep?
Just recommended this episode to a patient, thank you for your work Tim.
Hi Tim. I am a READER! Is there any way you can also post the transcripts of your episodes? Thanks!!!
Another great podcast. Thank you!
Exercising makes me sleep well. That is my simple solution. Since I moved to New York I’ve been walking a lot. I mean, a.lot! Last Sunday, I walked 12 miles. I am not kidding. I’ve always been a good walker but NYC gives you a jolt for really long walks, for sure. Of course, I take some food, wine or coffee breaks every 2 hours depending on the time of the day. I walk until under my heels hurt and I drop in bed after a hot shower and sleep like dead. So, stop driving and get walking people! 🙂
I read in a study that reading before sleep has the best learning effect. If you are studying something, better read it before sleep. So I always read informative books or articles before sleep (from Kindle where you can adjust the screen to low light).
Another study says sleeping with any kind of light contributes to cancer formation. You need to sleep in pitch dark. I pay attention to that too.
The links to these studies are in my bookmarks. I read a lot of health related articles and bookmark them. But when someone asks I don’t want to spend half an hour to find them. 😛
My nighttime is rooibos cocomint from Adagio teas, but I will try that soothing caramel tea.
As a holistic family doctor for 30+ years let me add a few unique and proven tips. (1) Keep a notebook and pen handy next to the bed. When your thoughts are running wild, write those down. You’ll notice a calming. Deal with those ideas and concerns the next morning. Its no coincidence that many influential people kept diaries.
(2) Immediately before hopping in bed, do a minute or two of aerobic calisthenics (jumping jacks, running in place, etc). This quickly burns off the cortisol accumulation in the brain, so you can turn off the lights up there.
(3) If its your physical body that is restless, make sure you avoid all stimulants after 7PM, and use slow deep breathing to force physical relaxation.
(4) Lastly, and I know this seems crazy, vary your lengthwise orientation. This means place your feet where your head normally lays and vice versa. Don’t ask me why that works, but I suspect it has something to do with the earth’s magnetic fields.
Sleep tight, don’t let the pharmaceuticals bite!
Dr Potisk thankyou and #4 is not crazy. It’s documented both scientifically and in places like Traditional Chinese Medicine. Whenever possible, for a wide range of theraputic benefits, in the Northern Hemisphere sleep with head facing due magnetic north. Southern Hemisphere – due magnetic south
Staying in bed for a set time – no matter what – has conditioned me to sleep better. I program my body to stay in bed until 7 or 8 AM, if I hit the sack at 10 or so. This conditions me to get 8 or more hours a night, and if i do have a poor night’s sleep I at least rest in bed for 8 hours or so.
Sth that would be of great value is a coherent post (or column on your blog) with a list of best apps to do any task.
Ex: -best app to put text on your video
-best app to see the weather
You can update it every time you find sth as good as or better.
thx for all your stuff!
First of all, thank you for doing an inbetweenisode on sleep. I think our culture grossly underestimates the importance of both quality and quantity of sleep (especially at educational institutes). Just look at Jeff Iliff’s Ted talk “One more reason to get a good night’s sleep”. In your interviews with top performers you frequently ask them at what time they wake up; perhaps you could also ask at what time the go to bed and go to sleep? Often the two are different. As someone who finds that my own level of performance depends dramatically on sleep, I would be interested to hear their responses!
I have no problem falling asleep, but I wake up a lot during the night. Hope these will help that.
Excellent and succinct podcast. I love these monologues Tim. I would love to hear one about your current exercise regimen with a real focus on details like volume, frequency, reps, cadence, protocol, etc.
This topic is near and dear to my heart like whose wouldn’t it be? Any of us not know the difference sleeping well and not makes on our day? These are awesome tips. (I am doing yoga in lieu of the ski boots and bar.) I’ve been experimenting now for two years with something we take for granted, the lighting in our living spaces and have been sleeping better than I have for years. I built a lamp that can light a living room or bedroom that changes the color of light it emits and the direction the light comes from automatically with time of day. I quit my job to make it a real product and got several talented friends interested who have done the same. Perhaps not ironically it really helps to have something like this when you are building a startup. We’ve extended the experiment to over 150 people in the Bay Area and Seattle and happy to see how well it works for people.
Re-reading my comment, I realize I did not spell out why our lighting project has affected my and others’ sleep so much. Light is the main time-of-day signal to the body and it is powerful. Indoor light is static like an imaginary frozen-in-the-sky would be. At night it keeps us awake. By changing color and direction the light comes from with our lamp, we make the cues our body needs to regulate it self available again. Back on a normal schedule, a whole bunch of body processes work better, sleep included. I’m sleeping better despite the crazy demands of a startup because of the unique features this lamp has. We’re launching a crowdfunding campaign on Nov 3 (soon!) and looking for help getting the word out.
I’m a big avid 4 hour fan. I’ve read every single book, but when I look around I rarely see black people in discussions. I know that when Ferriss looked for his niche market 25-35 year old white men. I just wanted to If anyone else feels that way.
The restorative yoga pose should also do for no.2, Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose\Viparita Karani
Or do all 5 for traction
Have you tried Doc Parsley’s Sleep Cocktail?
Kind of expensive, but actually works for me, unlike a bunch of other things I’ve tried.
Turn down all bright lights in the evening and definitely turn off all overhead lights. They tell you body it is still day time. Light is equivalent to a powerful drug as it has the effect of setting (or mis-setting) your body clock. Bright light at night makes it harder to get up in the morning, and there is a lot of science that explains why this happens. You basically are jet lagging yourself with what we consider normal evening light exposure. In the morning, those same lights are not bright enough to fully wake you up. Then you need bright light with plenty of blue in it. If it is not winter, take a walk outside for 15 minutes. If it is, then turn on overhead lights.
Awesome Podcast. One of my favorites to be honest.
Another great earplug you may want to try: Mighty Plugs (earplugsonline.com). I am not affiliated with them in any way. I just discovered them about 8 years ago after trying all sorts of foam earplugs which, since they expand once they’re in my ears, end up being very painful. The mighty plugs are made of beeswax and cotton and conform to the shape of your ear but don’t expand. They saved me!
How much Meth did you do before this show? Holy speed talking Batman!
Meditation as you Tim and several others have commented is very useful. Aside from developing equanimity helping calm the mind, it naturally fosters mindfulness or the ability to pay attention to the impact of daily behavior. Something perhaps not so obvious is the benefit of a regular schedule on sleep. It is a big help to get up and go to sleep at nearly the same time everyday. The attention you develop with meditation or you have naturally, will help you notice what happens when you deviate a lot from your usual schedule, like it is hard to get up following a weekend, sort of a duh but the more you notice about it the easier it is to maybe adjust your weekends.
Yogi tea is made with Kava leaves, which is known to cause liver issues. Is it safe to drink this everynight before going to sleep?
Giving the Yogi “Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea” a shot before bed. Thanks for the suggest. It is affordable which is a positive attribute.
I like to sleep well, but it gets difficult after a long night of coding/administration. I work a 9-5 only to return home and work on other personal projects. Man, I am in front of the computer quite a bit.
I also am fortunate enough to travel around a bit. Makes me happy.
I confirm that this kind of occasional shorter/’to-the-point’/actionable podcast is really nice! The longer interviews are really nice too but a bit of variety in podcast length is great.
When I am very tired and exhausted, I usually have a hard time falling asleep. I know that this is not insomnia because it just happens sometimes. The things I usually do when I’m having trouble sleeping is I try to relax myself by taking a shower, eat chocolate because it’s my comfort food and listen to the radio until I fall asleep. 🙂
I started avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfered with my sleep. Exercise also helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, well as long as it’s done at the right time. Its harder to sleep 20 minutes after exercise as the body is usually a bit stimulated. When all else fails and you still have difficulty sleeping, I recommend you try Restabic from eGlobal Natural Health or any other quality supplement out there verified by relevant food and drug organizations.
This is Great! This would be my first time I listened/read your podcast, but for me I would not really call myself Insomniac since I have other reasons why I am unable to sleep, but what really struct me the most is your:
QUESTION OF THE DAY: What change or decision has most improved your quality of sleep?
— For me, nowadays the influence of Internet, Social Medias and other stuffs like apps (gaming or social) in the tip of your finger tips has a huge impact on sleeping patterns or mainly for someone to get some sleep (I observed), usually for me, what I always do after work I check everything, mainly Emails and other Apps that are mainly for communication or getting to know people (dating apps).
Although, I have not tried most of the suggestions that you have posted but i have tried some “alternatives” on my own, mainly sleeping pills and the like but it really did not work for me, since I always check my phone or use my Laptop, hence (internet available).
What I did in-order for me to get a very good quality sleep is to switch off my Phone, and or Laptop put it somewhere far away from me like on my Study Table and just leave it there until I wake up, then that’s the time that I check on everything when I wake up, so far it did wonders for me, no need for pills and other stuffs, I just had to make sure that I manage and control myself from what really is important which is getting enough sleep and having a productive day when you wake up.
This may be happening to some maybe not all but its happening to me, and so far this is what I have done. If you have other suggestions please, I need some insights and suggestions. Thanks!
Tim, what happened to that light device that was orginally in the 4HB to make you go to sleep?
Thank you Tim,
Your podcasts are always full of practical information. Thank you ,a ton,for sharing.
I use this, low tech, but awesome. http://www.nitehood.com
Very interesting and thanks for sharing such a nutrition information. I am using [Moderator: link removed.] supplements for good sleep.
Tim I’m a huge fan, but I hate the fact that you use 99 Designs. Those ‘competitions’ totally take away from us hard working graphic designers.
A few vanilla but effective ones that work for me:
-pitch dark bedroom
-physical exercise (especially running) during the day but not in the evening
-having a coffee in the morning (never after 1pm) seems to have improved my sleep
Here is a mind technique that has knocked me unconscious many times (there has been times when it didn’t work tho, but when it does it’s really quick):
Look around the room and notice:
-3 things you see, 3 sounds you hear, 3 sensations (things you can touch )
-repeat the process with two of each: 2 things you see, 2 sounds you hear, 2 sensations;
-repeat with one of each.
Next close your eyes:
-in your mind imagine seeing one thing, hearing one sound, feeling/touching one thing
-imagine seeing two things, hearing two sounds, feeling/touching two things
-imagine seeing three things, hearing three sounds, feeling/touching three things
The idea is that you withdraw your attention from the outside world and focus it internally.
This is Betty Erickson’s technique, and yes, it really works.
Excellent podcast, could be helpful for many..
A meditation which also works great for sleep is to close your eyes and just observe what you see behind your closed eyelids. Instead of drifting off in your ruminations about the day, which if you’re like me is how you would normally start your sleep (or attempt it), watch the patterns & colors behind your closed eyes. These can be quite swirly and colourful. Even if you just see a greyscale blank, keep watching. Guaranteed to keep you from getting overly excited or caught up in emotions, worried, and anxieties. This technique is used in meditation and is called by Shinzen Young “see rest”.
Hi Tim, good podcast and tips! I used to be a terrible sleeper and I found doing some yoga then meditation and I quick read of my book always works a treat and i now never wake in the night.
My night time ritual is complete darkness and a foam rolling routine. In order to see, I wear a red light headlamp. It never fails, please try it out!
I was just wondering if the CiliPad makes much noise. The machine it attaches to looks like an air conditioner.
I’m combing through show notes looking for the app that dims screens for healthier consumption??
Try Betty Erickson self-hypnosis sleep technique, it really works.
I was searching for the sleep tips for my clients and ran into your wonderful website. The website is extremely helpful and professional
Tim, what is your take on the Aura alarm clock from Withings, for monitoring your sleep?
2. ZMA supplement (zinc and magnesium aspartate)
3. 5htp supplement (Griffonia simplicifolia seeds)
4. Binaural beats/isochronic tones (delta frequency)
thats awesome! I blindly stumbled upon this Post and found the Mask im useing for like 3 Weeks now. Its really good and I can tell everyone who is searching for a sleep mask, try it.
Holosync. They sell it as a meditation tool but I just put on one of their binaural beat soundtracks and I am out in minutes. It could be their accompanying sound effects, the binaural beats … Not sure but it is napping / sleeping induction on steiroids for me and a few others I know.
I have read your content and listened to your podcasts over the years with suggestions and battling insomnia. I tried the practical (cold shower) and disgusting (apple cider vinegar/honey hot mess of a drink) but nothing worked consistently. After 2 back to back sleepness nights I said “fuck it” and bought a Chilipad. What took me so long? Its genius. And it works. Keep doing what you’re doing and putting great content out there for all of us. And Thanks for the recommendation of the Chilipad!
I guess I dont understand why most of this AND the piece I previously found and still rely upon re: apple cider vinegar and honey tea didn’t make your recent podcast devoted to sleep.
Thank you for this one. I love the episodes where you synthesise answers from several topics as well as your in-between-isodes. I’m sure a lot of people out there struggle with sleep and these tips will surely help. Keep up the good work!
I thought in “Tools for Titans” I read the Chili Pad was one of those recommended purchases for under $100. The link and the ones I’m seeing are much more expensive. Is there a less expensive version that is decent? Thx.
Sex, WLAN off, Flightmode on,
Inositol and Magnesium.
Counting sheep helps me a lot. Also to sleep in complete darkness.
Ashwagandha massages have worked well for me, especially with body aches and countering lethargy.