Sleep is extremely important. Unfortunately, most Americans are getting less and less sleep each year. Sleep is the time where are bodies heal themselves in myriad ways, and in young people, sleep is when they grow. The importance of sleep should never be downgraded.
A sleep ritual is the concept of creating a ritual for yourself to assist in making sure that you get a good night’s sleep. The ritual should be your own, and something that you develop over time through trial and error. I am a firm believer in sleep rituals, and I want to share a couple of examples in this article to help you get started on creating your own.
Many of you may have heard of Tim Ferris, who is a self-proclaimed biohacker and author. I have read all of Tim’s books and have learned a great deal from him. He has struggled with insomnia in the past and has biohacked (meaning experimented on himself) his way to a sleep ritual that really works well for him.
Tim Ferris’ Sleep Ritual (from Tim’s book Tools of Titans)
- Decompress the spine. Tim rotates through 3 different devices:
- Teeter EZ-Up Gravity Boots
- Inversion Table
- The Lynx Portable Back Stretcher
- ChiliPad. This device is a pad that keeps your side of the bed cool. It’s an extremely thin sheet that can be set as low as 55 degrees, and will help you sleep better if your partner sleeps warm.
- Honey & Apple Cider Vinegar. Tim considers this his go-to tranquilizer. 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar, 1 TBSP of honey mixed in 1 cup of hot water.
- Visual Overwriting. This is a technique used to “crowd out” any monkey mind activity going on in the brain. Tim recommends short and uplifting episodic television. His #1 recommendation is Escape to River Cottage.
- Sleep Master sleep mask and Mack’s Pillow Soft silicone putty ear plugs.
Some interesting concepts from Tim.
Now on to myself.
I have had insomnia for the past 5-6 years and have been working hard to deal with it using natural aids. I refuse to give in and take drugs. As such, I am going to open up and share my nightly sleep ritual with you.
- No caffeine after noon. I had some DNA testing done a couple of years ago, and it suggested that I was a fast caffeine metabolizer, which means that I should be able to drink coffee at night and still sleep. Maybe that’s true, but I won’t risk it. Coffee in the morning, decaf tea or water in the afternoon.
- Approximately 1 hour before bed, I put on my blue light blocking sunglasses, to block out artificial light and encourage a natural release of melatonin for sleep purposes.
- I eat my carbs at 2 points during the day; post-workout (breakfast for me) and before bed. Carbs at night help the body to release seratonin which aids in sleep. I do not eat any carbs for lunch, snacks or dinner (and I don’t consider vegetables as carbs in this context, as I eat copious amount of veggies every day).
- Approximately 15 minutes before heading upstairs, I go through my stretching and deep breathing ritual, which takes 10 minutes. It’s a little mini routine that I created. It combines yoga, tai chi and foundation training, and is awesome!
- I take my supplements next. 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar (no honey or other sweeteners – I like it straight!), magnesium, valerian, vitamin D3, and phosphatydlserine.
- Next, I make sure that my bedroom is DARK and COOL and QUIET. I absolutely cannot sleep when it is too warm. I like it quite cool and it definitely needs to be dark and cool.
- After final daily personal hygiene task, and right before lying down, I practice the EFT tapping technique. Full disclosure, this is new for me but it seems to to working.
My sleep is much improved over a couple of years ago. It’s not perfect but better, and I’m always looking for new information and techniques to biohack.
The point of sharing the various tools and techniques is to give you a sense of what a sleep ritual is so that you can start experimenting to find what works best for you. If you are one of the lucky ones who can go right to sleep and sleep all night regardless of anything else, well….good for you! However, if like me, you struggle with sleep, I strongly encourage you to find a sleep ritual and use natural aids before go the pharma route.