Those who read my articles should already know that I am a certified sleep and recovery and Buteyko breathing instructor. The other thing that you might be aware of is my huge love and passion for experimentation – I am curious how various factors might improve or affect sleep. So I did a few 100-night experiments.
You might now be asking what 100-night experiments are. How it works is I took a list of 50-70 factors that have at least a bit of scientific proof that it affects the quality of your sleep, and I have tested them 3 days in a row.
I was measuring the quality of my sleep and other factors with my Oura ring. I know it is not a scientific study, but I had a lot of fun and discovered some trends.
So let’s check out what I’ve been up to.
The beginning of hacking my sleep
I tested a bunch of things from the 3 groups:
- Adding various foods and supplements.
- Doing body hacks or physical activities during the day or before going to sleep.
- Changing things around my bedroom.
Kiwi before bed
So I started with eating kiwi before going to bed. I started with kiwi because some studies are showing a positive effect of kiwi eating before bed.
It might sound like a bit of a strange start, but some studies show that Kiwifruit consumption may improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency in adults with self-reported sleep disturbances.
Use a sleep calendar
The other thing I did was fill up quite detailed daily objective and subjective data to my sleep calendar.
I was making notes if I was stressed during the day, had any physical activity, had consumed any alcohol, etc. In other words - I was noting many different factors that might have potentially affected the quality of my sleep.
I know you might think my experiments are quite odd, but even my wife, who is used to my strange science tests, looked strange at first. Here are some of the things she noticed during my experiments:
Bedroom lighting. She returned home and found that all the lightbulbs in the bedroom had been changed from regular ones to red ones. One might call it romantic, but it is very inconvenient - the lighting is too dim during the day.
Clean air in the bedroom. I have also placed some plants in our bedroom. Not just random ones, of course, but the ones that clean the air – fern, peace lily, and ivy.
Caffeine intake. I aimed to check what kind of effect caffeine has on the quality of sleep, so I started using caffeine in enormous quantities. And this one is quite a no-brainer; the quality went down quite drastically.
Hard surface for sleep. I tried sleeping on the floor. To be fair, this hack was not for me as I managed to do that only one night and decided to skip it.
Calming sounds. I was listening to the ocean waves and white noise throughout the night. On the first night, I kept waking up to use the bathroom – the water noises were giving wrong signals to my body.
What did I learn from hacking my sleep?
We are all different, and some of these hacks might not work for everyone, so my results might be quite subjective. There are, however, some methods of improving sleep that isn't very effective.
What do I mean? Let's talk logic, for example; you can eat 400g pistachios to improve your melatonin levels (which, as you might imagine, is quite challenging unless you are going through a pistachio obsession phase). But you can enhance the melatonin concentration by 2 hours of blue light control or be in the dark. So you do the math.
I want to share some of the things that worked for me and made a lot of sense. I found a couple of powerful game changers; based on this, I created the perfect bed routine, based on which you can devise your ideal sleep routine.
More advanced sleep hacks
So let’s concentrate on more advanced and effective life hacks.
Cognitive behavior therapy. In some places, in the west, doctors send the patients to this 4-6 week therapy before giving sleeping pills for insomnia.
The therapy consists of various methods and techniques focusing on changing the patients' habits and particular behavior, as the roots of insomnia are in your habits.
It is surprising how such a simple thing as plaster can have such a beneficial influence when it comes to breathing at night. Twenty-six percent of people have sleep apnea, and over 40% of men have sleep apnea.
Even a bigger number of people have breathing disruptions during night time which causes poor night’s sleep, always feel tired, and a lack of energy.
It might sound scary, but you will not suffocate from that, but you will switch from breathing through your mouth to breathing through your nose, which will help your body absorb oxygen.
Gravity blankets/weighted blankets
Some findings demonstrated that a weighted blanket improved abilities related to falling asleep, sleeping the whole night, and relaxing during the day.
Using a weighted blanket improved my morning/evening daily routine, including preparing/going to sleep and waking up in the morning. I believe everyone should try it—especially those with big stress or anxiety levels.
Intensive sleep retraining
Intensive sleep retraining (ISR) is based on the idea that prolonged sleep deprivation leads to the accumulation of sleep pressure, which should sooner or later make you fall asleep.
How does this treatment work?
Individuals are not allowed to spend more than five hours in bed the day before the treatment. The next night, they go to a sleep lab, where they are entitled to fall asleep every half hour for 24 hours.
The catch is that whenever the participant falls asleep, they are forced to wake up after just three minutes. This occurs throughout the night, and the continued sleep disturbance and sleep deprivation lead to boosted sleep pressure, inevitably leading to repeated short periods of sleep.
This process can lead to an individual falling asleep up to 48 times in 24 hours, thus allowing them to feel what it’s like to fall asleep and recognize that they can fall asleep. It also provides people with insomnia to reacquaint themselves with the feeling of sleepiness rather than fatigue.
Grab a good night’s sleep
If you want to improve your sleep, like most things in life, there is no one-fits-all approach to sleeping. But it would be best if you tried out some simple hacks that might make a huge difference in your life and drastically improve your sleep.
- NIH. Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems.
- NIH. The effectiveness of weighted blankets on sleep and everyday activities - A retrospective follow-up study of children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or autism spectrum disorder.
- Journal of Integrative Medicine. Using weighted blankets in an inpatient mental health hospital to decrease anxiety.