In today's world, long-hours work, deadlines, and exhaustion have become a norm for most adults. Now it's practically a part of our lifestyle, a definition of career growth & productivity. It's where sleep deprivation and insomnia step in and take the lead role in defining your everyday performance.
Sleep scientists believe that we need approximately 7-9 hours of sleep every night. These are the natural cycles of human beings in which our brains and muscles fully rejuvenate themselves before the work routine starts again. Sleep deprivation or insomnia, in turn, can permanently damage your system and disturb your lifestyle, which can affect you even in your career and personal relationships.
So many people are trying to find the best way to sleep well without sacrificing their career, evening plans, or morning workout. You can find tons of sleep advice (like turning off your devices before jumping to bed) but lack time to try them all and see whether they work. Most busy people need a sleep solution that helps - and we have found it for you! Dive in, and you'll learn how to hack your sleep without harming your health.
How many people don't get enough sleep?
According to the Princess Cruises' report, 51% of adults worldwide get less sleep than needed to feel rested. It works slowly - you won't notice the long-lasting effect after a few sleepless nights. But if insomnia becomes a part of your everyday life, it also destroys your health, like a wall - brick by brick.
Many factors contribute to your sleep deprivation. You need to be aware of those factors and how they could affect your daily life. One of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation lies in high social demands. Other reasons include heavy workloads, relationship conflicts, side effects from medication, physical pain, mental health issues, or any other type of trauma.
Another reason why you may lack sleep is a poor work-life balance. Many people need to sacrifice other aspects of life to meet their professional commitments. The lack of time to wind down before bedtime can lead to poor quality sleep, affecting your energy levels the next day.
It is essential to recognize the different potential causes of sleep deprivation to learn how to identify your triggers and find a way to get more sleep by modifying these triggers or finding other ways to manage them.
Sleep deprivation effects on your brain & energy
Regardless of the cause, there are many difficult consequences of sleep deprivation and not getting enough rest. One of those consequences is low energy levels, leading to decreased productivity at work and subsequently may lead to unemployment, which is just another stressor. Let's figure out how a poor sleep routine may affect your brain work and stamina.
Lack of sleep may worsen your concentration, memory & brain performance
Studies claim that the lack of sleep can lower your focus levels and memory retention and cause difficulties concentrating on tasks. Many compare the feeling of making decisions while they are tired - like having difficulty putting together words or calculating numbers - to that of drink/alcohol intoxication.
Poor sleep routine has many long-term consequences that can affect your brain's functions. One of them is narcolepsy. It is a sleep disorder characterized by sudden paralysis while awake or excessive daytime sleepiness affecting the quality of social life, school, and work performance. It may also affect your relationships and cause potentially serious disorders that may go undiagnosed.
Sleep deprivation also slows down fiber pathways to the brain. It can cause miscommunication between neurons which, in turn, reduces communication between regions within the brain cortex and slows things down as information flows to keep the memory intact.
Lack of sleep could lower your energy & weaken your heart
Poor sleep routine seems to be at the heart of many health problems. Not enough sleep is also terrible for your physical performance. Sleep deprivation causes severe health conditions such as weight gain and elevated blood pressure. Sleep deprivation may also lower your energy and weaken your heart.
Scientists found that the human body naturally adapts to its sleep deficit by lowering its basal metabolic rate by over one percent or 200 calories a day. The mechanism is not precise, but scientists noted an overall metabolic decline that could slow down reaction times and even affect coordination and muscle strength for some tasks.
Sleep deprivation increases heartbeat rates because the brain starts to release "energetic chemicals" after not getting enough sleep. These accelerated heart rates can "go unnoticed until it's too late" because this temporary disturbance isn't as severe as a stroke, leading to cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest is immediately reversible if treated before the loss of oxygen leads to cells dying and producing an irreversible brain injury. Unfortunately, the co-occurring lack of sleep can make a person more vulnerable to this outcome. Lack of sleep also disrupts blood sugar levels, which causes fatigue and decreased energy.
So it's clear that maintaining a healthy sleep routine is essential if you want to stay energized and productive. Still, what if you simply don't have time for 8-hour sleep? Or have so many urgent tasks that sleep can't be your top priority? Then you can try sleep hacking!
What is biohacking?
Don't think that biohacking is "something strange for geeks" - it's an approach that everyone can practice after getting a general overview. Biohacking is the pursuit of fine-tuning your biology and the body to function as well and as long as possible without drugs or surgeries.
Some practitioners of biohacking use special tools, such as a blood pressure cuff and an advanced blood monitoring system, to maximize their health. Others might engage in high-intensity exercise or abstain from coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, and saturated fats to allow their bodies more space to thrive.
Biohacking your body means adjusting its bio-rhythms and demands to your needs - through slight hormonal changes, intake of particular nutrients, and constant measurements. Meanwhile, sleep is probably the most popular body process suitable for biohacking.
Sleep hacking as an alternative for sleep aid pills & constant tiredness
Sleep hacking is a term coined to represent the use of sleep-enhancing methods. These days, many people like to keep themselves on their toes by first opting to take sleeping pills. The downside of this approach is that your bodies develop a tolerance to these medications over time. You will need to consume more and more just to find any effect.
Furthermore, even when you stop using sleeping aids for brief periods, the body eventually readjusts to its previous state. So the tiredness and depression may come back. It then leads into the inevitable scenario where there is no turning back - and you're stuck on sleeping pills for life.
In turn, sleep hacking aims to allow your body to sleep well without any meds. It's focused on gradually reducing the number of sleep hours (without leaving you tired and dizzy) or boosting your daily activity to increase stamina. You'll sleep less but still get the energy for effective performance throughout the day.
Sleep hacking may be effective when you apply a combo of measures - including reduced sleep hours, supplement intake, and increased activity. You can also practice particular sleep hacking approaches to reduce sleep duration without harming your health. Let's take a look at the most effective ones!
Sleep-hacking strategies to help you stay well-rested and productive
Biohackers have developed physical approaches that could deceive your body & brain to help it fall asleep when you want. You can try applying them and become a true sleep hacker!
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) practice
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is an established sleep breathing technique. It's derived from yoga and utilizes rhythmic tensing and relaxation of muscles to help you relax. It's also a well-trusted sleep hack that anyone can swiftly and naturally integrate into their evening routine.
When you tense a muscle or group of muscles and then follow by relaxing them, this sends messages from your brain to your body, telling it to relax. It slows heart rate, decreases the breath rate, and makes mental focus clear for the body, allowing you to get quality sleep and rest.
You can apply it in a few steps:Start contracting your leg muscles - from fingers to feet and shins, then thighs - and relax after achieving maximum strain and holding it for 10 seconds. Pause for a few seconds to feel the tension drop.Continue this contracting process with your stomach, chest, and shoulder muscles. Follow the process with deep, slow breathing.
Smile widely to contract the muscles of your face, hold the tension for 10 seconds, then relax. Then squint your eyes and raise your eyebrows, following the same process.
The Military method
The Military Method is one of the few natural ways to fall asleep. It has been proven through scientific research and empirical studies that it shaves about 30 minutes off the average time needed to fall asleep. Researchers also claim it can help you fall asleep in 90 seconds!
In a military environment, you constantly react to situations and stay aroused, preventing deep sleep. This technique replicates that state but without pressure. It teaches your body to fall asleep faster and rest better - each time you try the method. Good news - it doesn't require any expertise or advanced tech equipment, just some persistence!
This method should help you doze off in any circumstances, whether surrounded by loud neighbors or riding public transport. Plus, it's a bit similar to Progressive Muscle Relaxation method but without involving tension.
When practicing the Military method, you should gradually relax every part of your body while supporting every action with mental relaxation. Your steps could look like this:
- Relax all your face muscles, then release your shoulders and chest tension
- Put your hands along your body and relax them too. Then release the strain off your chest by exhaling
- Continue by resting your legs and feet
- Remove every thought from your brain
- If you fail to clear your mind, say "don't think" to yourself a few times.
The 4-7-8 breathing method
The 4-7-8 breathing method to fall asleep faster is a type of relaxation exercise from yoga. It has become increasingly popular nowadays. It is sometimes also called the "breathing awareness technique" because it makes us aware of our breathing as we follow it.
This "breathing" technique recommends concentrating on feeling the air go in as your stomach expands; hold for a moment before lowering your belly, breath out through your mouth, and get rid of all the air as possible. 4-7-8 breathing assists people with insomnia or stress by stimulating their parasympathetic system to calm them down.
You can use the following steps to learn how you can do the breathing technique to fall asleep faster:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale for 8 seconds with your mouse, making a whoosh sound
- Try to stay mindless while practicing this technique.
Supplements to hack your sleep
Can you remember when you have a good sleep for more than two days on the weekend? Surveys show that 1 in 3 people aren't getting enough sleep. No wonder — when you have a busy lifestyle, there's no chance you can get a quality sleep daily off your own bat. That's when supplements come to the rescue.
When you lack essential vitamins and minerals in your blood, you may become sleep-deprived or face restless legs syndrome. Driven by the advancements in technology, there has been a growth in sleep hacks - supplements that can assist with a particular sleep area. These components can give you more time to do things you enjoy and fall asleep to get a well-deserved rest.
Supplements are beneficial in preparing your body for a good night's sleep by relieving tension and anxiety. If you tend to wake up numerous times during the night, they will help you sleep tight and wake up with more energy. You can also take special supplements to regulate your wake-sleep cycle. They will help fix your sleeping regimen and start getting enough zzz's even with the busiest schedule.
Melatonin to fix your sleep hormones
One of the most effective supplements to hack your sleep is melatonin. It delivers a sleep-inducing hormone to your body, preparing it for adequate rest and normalizing your sleep routine. You can take it an hour before going to bed - to reduce insomnia and sleep disturbance.
The survey showed that taking melatonin supplements two hours before going to bed can make you nod off faster and sleep tighter. It does an excellent job of fixing your circadian rhythms when they're all messed up. And if your work routine includes frequent flights and business trips, this hormone is a proven solution for jet lag.
Magnesium to soothe a stressed mind before sleep
The reason why you may face sleep problems is that you endure high-stress levels throughout the day. Family issues, tight deadlines, conflicts, and news can make you anxious or depressed. Depressed mood, in turn, will stand on your way to a healthy sleep routine. So soothing your mind with the help of supplements is another way to get a night of restorative sleep. Magnesium would be of much use to you in this goal.
As magnesium deficiency is among the top reasons for insomnia, taking magnesium supplements will help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep tighter. This mineral can improve your sleep quality and fine-tune your sleep cycle. Research has discovered that magnesium supplements can also relieve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome that make you stay awake at night.
Ashwagandha to help you get more energy during sleep
If you’ve ever woken up with the feeling of more severe tiredness than before bedtime, you should know how annoying it could be. So it’s not enough to get a certain amount of sleep hours - you should also make sure you restore enough energy during sleep.
Ashwagandha is an herb that has a calming and stimulating effect on your mind and body, and it promotes good sleep. It slows down the production of cortisol and adrenaline - two hormones associated with stress reactions, combatting insomnia, which increases the likelihood of obtaining deep and restful sleep.
If you struggle with poor sleep quality or insomnia, consider taking this supplement. Ashwagandha also counteracts certain chemicals in the brain - substances that mediate inflammatory responses and molecules that promote shifting levels of wakefulness. It may help you on your journey to getting a good amount and quality of rest every night so you can live your day to its fullest potential.