How to sleep like a baby - long term changes

In our previous newsletter [], I shared several hacks for falling asleep when it's a struggle. While these hacks are effective in many situations, truly optimizing your sleep involves improving your sleep hygiene and adopting long-term behavioral changes. This knowledge comes from years of research, including insights from Andrew Huberman's podcast on sleep, cognitive behavioral therapy principles, and other sleep research findings.

Understanding Your Circadian Rhythm:
Your circadian rhythm is your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, largely influenced by sunlight. One key principle I've learned is the importance of maintaining a consistent wake-up and bedtime. This consistency helps your body adhere to its natural rhythm. Shifting your sleep time can be challenging, especially when trying to change it for surfing. 

Adjusting for Surfing Schedules:
If surfing is a significant part of your lifestyle, adjusting your sleep schedule to accommodate early morning sessions is crucial. Aim for an earlier bedtime and wake-up time, even on non-surfing days, to ensure easy transitions on days you do surf.

Resetting Your Circadian Rhythm:
A major reset button for your circadian rhythm is morning sunlight exposure. Spending 5-10 minutes outside in natural light right after waking up can significantly help, especially when adjusting to time zones after returning from a surf trip.

Target a wake time not a bed time:
One of the biggest takeaways I got from a sleep researcher podcast is that most people target a bed time when in reality you should target a wake time. Despite the temptation to sleep in after a late bedtime, that just further cements you in the wrong circadian rhythm. Sticking to your target wake-up time can help reset your rhythm, even if it means feeling tired for a day or two because of lack of sleep.

Managing temperature:
In our previous newsletter, we discussed the benefits of saunas and hot showers. Regulating body temperature is essential for sleep. Your body needs to cool down to fall asleep effectively. By warming up before bed with sauna or hot showers, your body initiates a cooldown process, aiding in sleep onset. It's also important to maintain a cool bedroom environment. I aim to keep it as cold as possible while still being comfortable enough to sleep. Some individuals use cooling pads or devices that circulate cooler air under the covers, particularly useful for those with a partner who tends to be warmer.

Sleep Hygiene Essentials:
Many struggle with sleep due to poor hygiene practices, unaware of their impact. 

  • Avoiding caffeine after noon. This one is huge. I know people who complain about sleep but drink diet coke or coffee with dinner.
  • Avoid eating heavy protein rich meals too close to bedtime. Carbs are best because they make you sleepy
  • Avoid consuming alcohol - it makes you drowsy but disrupts your sleep
  • Minimizing light and noise in your sleeping area. I’ve experimented with everything and these eye masks and ear plugs are the best I’ve found:
  • Weighted blankets can provide a calming effect, and personally I’ve found that the pressure of sleeping with a pillow on my forehead to be strangely calming and something I still do
  • Winding down 3 hrs before bed:
    • No phone / work / social media 
    • Dim the lights and especially avoid blue lights
    • Listening to audiobooks so I can close my eyes also help shut my brain off

By understanding and implementing these principles and practices, you can significantly improve your sleep, benefiting your surfing performance and overall well-being. Let me know how it goes!

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