5 min read

Your comprehensive no bullshit guide to fixing your sleep

Having had ineffective sleep over the years, trying a number of different experiments has now led me to deep sleep.
Your comprehensive no bullshit guide to fixing your sleep

Having had ineffective sleep over the years, trying a number of different experiments has now led me to deep sleep.

Caveats

  1. Some work cultures can promote “you snooze, you lose”. As much as this can be effective short term, it's common knowledge that it’s detrimental over the long term.

  2. A lot of the hacks below can apply irrespective of your sleep sensitivities and context, ie whether you are sleeping with another person/children, or are in your own bed or traveling, etc.

  3. The hacks below focus on what you can control, ie your habits, as opposed to changing external circumstances, ie noises in your neighborhood.

  4. Macros improve your health manifold and this is the first thing to experiment with, though media talks a lot about **micros, ie ***products/services *to buy that aren’t cheap, in part because they are tangible, smaller changes to make IMHO.

  5. As much as some of the below hacks have helped me, it's a constant ‘get back to the basics’ theme when I ever notice I am not sleeping well and changes take a couple of weeks at least to show up (aka no quick fixes)

Tracking

The best way to track sleep is obviously checking in with yourself how you feel, and ideally changing one variable (macro or micro) keeping other variables a constant, as much as possible.

The second best way is to use an app or service. In this case, I can’t wear a watch when I sleep, so I use

  1. Emfit Sleep Tracker / Mattress Sheet: I don’t need to worry about switching it on / off. It was traditionally used by nurses for senior patients. Has alerts for if you are not in bed by a certain time. Not user-friendly, but for data nerds.

Emfit Dashboard

  1. Oura Ring: Not *another *watch affecting my sleep and has given me the awareness of thinking of readiness as different from sleep.

Macros

1. Duration of sleep

Get in the hours, and for me, it's at least 6 hours. This duration is not when you enter and exit the bed but the actual total hours sleeping, so budget for ~30m before and after and keep the phones away from your bed (No reels!)

2. Your bed

  • Get a really good mattress. If there is one thing to invest in and get right, it's this. I have had an Ikea foam mattress (don’t remember the name) and it started to sink in, after which I switched it over to a thinner and slightly harder mattress. In addition, I got an Ooler Cooling Pad and it has anecdotally improved sleep (there are others like 8Sleep though I didn’t hyper-optimize)

  • Wash your bedsheets/quilts or get them washed every couple of weeks

3. Food and Drinks

  • Skip, and if not, minimize alcohol (duh)

  • No Caffeine intake in the evening (duh)

Micros

Forget the micros, if you don’t fix your macros. Not in any particular order.

1. Sleep time

Sleep at the approximately same time every day to not shake up your circadian rhythm. If you are tired in the afternoon, don’t nap — push through to sleep time.

2. Screen time / lights out.

  • If you are spending the last hour working before you sleep, use either Nightshift&text=Click%20the%20Night%20Shift%20button%20on%20the%20right%2C%20then%20turn,until%20you%20turn%20it%20off.) or Flux.

  • Candles (recommend) / IR lights (RLT) are believed to induce sleep (not tried) — importantly reduce white/bright lights in the work or sleep area / dim them down a couple of hours before sleep.

3. Smells / Aromatherpay

  • First as much ventilation as possible if you are not using the air conditioning/heater.

  • After, either essential oils or sprays, which include lavender, chamomile, and bergamot are helpful. Really, anything that makes you feel calm and relaxed.

  • Wash your quilt/bedsheets often or get it done. Game changer!

4. Bedroom temperature

Huberman recommends setting the temperature between 65–68°F (18–20°C) for optimal sleep. I go further below 18*C (if your aircon supports it) and get a thick quilt. Some folks are into 10kg heavy quilts, that I haven’t tried.

5. Sleep meditation

If you are mind is racing, either decide to use that time to actually work (it helps me) or try a sleeping meditation (Yoga Nidra). The absolute worst thing is to start scrolling reels again.

6. Eye rest

If you are like me stressing your eyes out spending 5+ hours in front of the screen, consider using a reminder app to give your eyes a break!

Worth getting a blue light-blocking glass (this hasn’t worked out for me so I go after the screen time tip above)

7. Water consumption

Too many liquids before sleep and you have to get up to pee. Too less and you feel thirsty (keep a bottle next to you nevertheless) You know the beautiful middle.

8. Supplements

  • Ashwagandha — for calming the mind, found it inducing deep sleep.

  • Magnesium (Citrate or Glycinate) — a few hours before sleep, has helped me get more REM sleep.

  • Your sleeping medicine is likely melatonin, and this is used when traveling, changing the timezone, where you pop one after you take off to sleep in the destination timezone.

  • Chamomile tea is sleep-inducing, along with lavender. I don’t enjoy the taste as much though it does its job.

  • The calmer your gut, the deeper your sleep. So spicy, oily or allergy-inducing food to the minimum.

9. Sounds + Travelling

Sleeping in another bed, or on a plane, I can’t do without

  1. Sleeping mask

  2. Earbuds — I like them attached so I can re-use them and they don’t drop off. If you use them while swimming, the same ones aren’t too shabby.

The above has become such a habit that it helps daily — especially if you have noises around the neighborhood or snoring partners.

For sounds, there are sleep playlists (binaural beats, or specific frequencies) that you can set up as part of your Alexa/ Google Home routine, and have it stopped within the hour, running in the background.

10. Air quality

  • Consider using Plumelabs to reduce air particle/pollution if you know that obstructs your breathing. I haven’t used it but friends recommend it.

11. Exercise / Baths

  • I avoid ice baths close to rest, makes me adrenaline pumped. Similar with exercise.

  • Alternatively a warm bath close to bed time can help drop the temperature just after, that induces sleep, per Huberman.

11. Others

  • Some folks advocate to breathe via the nose “only”, by taping your mouth so you breathe slower, inducing deeper sleep. I have only felt uncomfortable with tape on my mouth, so this hasn’t worked.

Hit me with what has worked for you — and if there is more tips that have helped you.