A couple of weeks ago I shared the natural principles you can adopt to wake before the world wakes and to bring in the mornings without fatigue and being totally content. However, in order for this to happen your evening routines have to be on point, as your evenings dictate your mornings.
For 2 years now I’ve been studying the principles of sleep and waking rituals in my long pursuit of allowing my body to feel new, strong, fresh, and energised.
It’s now my simple purpose and pleasure to share these awesome discoveries with you, arming you with the natural tools you need to get quality sleep and to once again become the CEO of your own body. These tools will help you wake up with a fresh mind and allow you to stamp out any challenges that may arise. They will help you keep pushing the envelope forward to greatness.
So, stick with me. It’s my hope that you’ll never fear another night and will find sleeping as natural as breathing.
Disclaimer: I’m no scientist, far from. I’m no sleep specialist, nor will I drop too many big scientific terms and anything that needs over explaining. I’ll keep it simple. My aim is to simply hand you the tools to commence your restful sleep.
Below is a brief example of how I believe most people can tear through the day forgetting the importance of their mind, body and sleep. Picture this:
You’ve completed your work day, mostly in a semi-recumbent position. For many, your standard work day is at home with a lack of outdoor activity and for some in a concrete, fluorescently lit office surrounded by unnatural light. The day is closing in, it’s 6pm. You’re rushing to squeeze in a late evening workout, so you chuck back a filtered coffee wishing you could have exercised earlier in the day. But screw it, you need to break a sweat and want to feel like you’re engaging in some sort of healthy balance. So, you hit a late evening run.
By 8pm you’re back home to devour a heavy dinner. It's now 9.30pm and time for yourself. You watch a movie in the dark with a can of coke whilst simultaneously checking your Twitter feed, swiping for your future partner/fling and checking notifications for recent likes on your IG post. Movie’s complete, it’s 11pm, you seem hungry. A quick slice of toast with some butter seems like a decent light filler. Then to the bathroom: switch on the blazing halogen lights, brush teeth, gargle and spit, chuck on your PJs, throw the phone to the bedside table to charge and hit the pillow and… sleep??
Your mind is still active and now racing with uncontrollable thoughts about the day in an unbreakable loop. Your heart rate seems to be up like you've just encountered a grizzly bear. You’re now conscious that your bedroom feels stuffy and hot, you’re out of bed cracking open the window, then back into bed. Lying down and now you can't get comfortable, shifting and shuffling. The bed is filled with pillows, so you shot-put one of them across the bedroom. Every 15 minutes you’re wondering “why am I not tired?” You look at your watch every 30 minutes, cursing that you just can’t sleep. You head down to the kitchen, open the fridge and get confronted by an intense blue light. You squint, grab some cereal, walk around aimlessly, slurp the last of the milk, then head back to bed frustrated. It’s now 2 am. Shit, 5 hours and you’ve got to be up! You grab a sleeping pill in the hope that you just switch off and worse case, grab a power nap at some point in the day.
A recent study showed that 93% of Americans spend their time indoors. 87% inside houses, 6% in cars and 7% in outdoor light.
Light is a major reason why sleep can sometimes be challenging. This is because your body’s melatonin levels are affected by light. Melatonin? Melatonin is an essential hormone that is naturally released when the sun sets and the lights are low, helping the body to fall into a good sleep cycle (a.k.a. your Circadian Rhythm).
Darkness signals your brain to release melatonin, while light – be it artificial, natural, or the blue light emitted from our TV and phone screens – halts the production of melatonin.
2 hours before bed, reduce the exposure of blue light (halogen lights, laptops, TV, movies etc). Blue light tricks the brain into thinking that it’s still daylight, which can slow the production of melatonin thereby affecting our sleep…
The darker the environment, the greater the increase in melatonin, easing you into a perfect uninterrupted sleep.
For the night owls who want to hack this and keep pushing their creativity whilst there is less distraction, or for those who want to watch a late night movie, I recommend purchasing a pair of blue eye blocking glasses that block out blue light. These can help reduce up to 98% of blue light. For a year now I have used RA Optics and they have been a blessing for my eyes and sleep health. Matt Maruca, founder and CEO of RA Optics, shares his pioneering success here.
RED LIGHT THERAPY (RLT)
Red-light therapy has become a bit of a buzz-word in the world of bio-hacking and for those wanting to increase physical recovery, mood levels, energy and sleep. A lot of us are becoming savvy about maximising healthy light. This comes as no surprise considering the growing number of studies which show indoor lighting, halogen lights, and blue light affect our circadian rhythm, mood and health.
I’ve been a red-light fien for the last 6 months and I am so bowled over by the results. I’ve seen huge progress with my state of mind both mentally, and physically, and by the increase in my sleep. The only side effect so far has been the mysterious brothel-like red glow that emits from my bedroom to passers-by …!
Red-light therapy uses low wavelengths of red light which work in conjunction with melatonin. These wavelengths of red light can specifically affect and improve cellular function. For two weeks, I mirrored a recent study where participants received 30 minutes of exposure to a red light device every night for two weeks. Results showed improved sleep, an increase in melatonin levels and also demonstrated increased endurance performance. For me, my latency increased (speed of falling asleep), I woke up without fatigue, more alert and wanting to air high-five the morning light.
To maximise the benefit of RLT I use DIRTEA Reishi whilst exposed to red light. Reishi helps calm the nervous system, reducing angst and allowing you to prepare for the best night sleep.
For any DIRTEA Lovers in the UK, tap into Red Light Therapy UK, the Founder Dan is pretty cool!
I would also recommend getting the Philip’s HUE 2,0 light set up. It’s a small and affordable portable light device that has several different lighting experiences. Their red-light function is perfect to shift the canvas of your room into a calming experience and is controlled from your iPhone.
For evening cardio, try to do this before the sun sets because this is when your cortisol levels are at their lowest point. When you engage in physical activity (especially running), your cortisol levels rise. Cortisol levels can reduce the output of three important anabolic hormones: testosterone, growth hormone and melatonin, all of which help sleep, repair, recover and are anti-inflammatory.
When training for the London Marathon, I was an evening runner, sometimes kicking off at 10pm and completing at midnight. This triggered restless sleep and symptoms of insomnia, which led to angst, low productivity, panic attacks… you name it, I got it. At the time I had no idea, but the more research I did, the clearer it became that my body was involuntarily stressed. To learn more, listen to a new friend of mine Dr. Craig Koniver who delivers a great podcast called Cortisol Decoded: The Myths & Truths About A Hormone Crucial To Your Health & Survival with Ben Greenfield. It's brilliant!
Stay with me. Kiwi is a sweet fruit, but don’t worry, it’s not going to spike your sugar levels. Kiwi is packed full of serotonin which in turn increases melatonin levels, which allow you to commence the cycle of winding down. Check out this study that helps us understand how incredible kiwi can be for those with sleep challenges.
A warm, hot bath with some candles and some calming music is also a great idea. Why do this before bed? Recent studies show that as the core body temperature decreases in line with the sunset, melatonin levels in the blood increases. A hot bath draws blood away from your core, cooling your body internally.
After this warm bath I always have a cup of DIRTEA Reishi. Reishi (a.k.a the queen of mushrooms, the calming mushroom, the miraculous, sacred-effective mushroom or the mushroom of immortality), helps reduce your cortisol levels and can help increase the secretion of melatonin, putting you in a chilled state.
Make your bedroom your sanctuary, the place of rest. Keep it as dark as possible. The darker it is, the quicker the body will secrete melatonin (your sleep hormone). Keep the bedroom at 16 degrees (cold I know!) but at this temperature your body can fall into some quality sleep cycle (light, REM and Deep).
Evil toxins in the room?
Reduce the toxicity in your room (smelly shoes, nail varnish, deodorant etc.) This will interfere with your sleep. How to hack this? My favourite is indoor plants, like the Snake Plant, which is one of the world’s greatest purifiers, breathing negative ions into your bedroom at night trapping any positive ions (toxic substances) and keeps your room fresh and clean.
A bit of science: negative ions are molecules floating in the air or atmosphere that have been charged with electricity, activated from the UV ray of the sunlight.
One of the final things I do is read fiction. This allows my mind to be distracted and enter fantasy land, allowing the mind to wander away from the mundane treadmill of life and relax. This can also allow you to feel more calm. I’ve started reading Harry Potter, so fantasy kicks in from the get go. Add Reishi into the mix!
There's so much more, but for now I feel I am taking up a lot of your time. Would you like more on these types of subjects? Do you have any questions? Was this too much information? I want to ensure I can hand over all my teachings to ensure you can add these tools to upgrade your wellbeing. Do you have any recommendations on improving your sleep? I would love to learn more and share with the community. Please reach out on twitter @dirteaworld.
Until then DIRTEA fam, I wish you better, healthier and sound sleep.