7 Ways to Sleep Better — Wake Up Rejuvenated to Face A New Day

Credit: Wan Ng

Co-written by Chen Yi Ting and Marion Neubronner

I am blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere. I slept on the road in the Philippines when I went to see the Pope in Manila. I have slept on planes, trains and buses. I have slept through boring lectures and I have slept my way to youth and vitality — as everyone (well, almost everyone) thinks I am younger than my actual age. (Btw , if you are also interested in learning more about longevity, I also follow the Prof. Brian Kennedy’s Healthy Longevity series — http://bit.ly/3buqAfB)

However, I have been reflecting more and more on sleep quality as the leaders I mentor — some of whom are Startup Founders or Healthcare leaders have precious little time to rest but when they lay down their heads instead of falling asleep, they are ruminating and tossing and turning.

I am fortunate through my #longevity work to meet and learn about the work of Dr. Brad Stanfield, Dr. Andrew Huberman, Prof. Michael Chee and Prof. Matthew Walker. Here is what I have learnt on how to better your Sleep Quality and the effects of Sleep on our Health.

  1. The Best Sleeping Position fills us with Energy

One of the potential mechanisms for how people develop Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is due to the build up of a protein known as amyloid plaques in the brain. [1] During sleep, the lymphatic system clears away these amyloid plaques. Therefore, sleep quality and duration are extremely vital to flush away these neurotoxins built up in the day.

Not sure about the best sleeping position to take? I have been following Dr. Brad Stanfied and these are positions he suggests to maximise your sleep quality.

2. Set Our Body Clock To Stay Focused, Alert and Emotionally Stable.

We spend around 8 hours a day asleep and that is approximately one-third of our lives. In the deep sleep stage, our body tissues and muscles are repaired from the stresses of the day. The majority of the time spent asleep is to replenish our energy. So, it is important to learn how to sleep better, which includes getting better at falling asleep [2], timing your sleep, and accessing better sleep quality.

The best waking practices include getting outside after waking, ideally 1–2 hours after sunrise, spending up to 5 minutes in outdoor morning light to set our body clock and not to wear blue light blocking glasses during the day, according to Dr. Andrew Huberman [6].

3. Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold — Adjusting the Room Temperature for Best Sleep

I decided to share some of my Sleep Rituals with you. As I have been practising finding the optimal temperature to sleep and making changes to my pre-bed habits to include some good sleep habits found in the Sleep Hygiene checklist.

4. Melatonin: One of the Most Underrated Supplements in 2021

Many studies show that sleep disruption results in slower or impaired cognitive function. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (Medic et al., 2017) reported that at least 45% of American adults struggle to fall asleep at least one night per week and 53% of American adults have trouble staying asleep so can melatonin help and if so, what dose should we take?

According to Dr. Brad Stanfield, melatonin is a hormone created in darkness, and its production peaks at night and stops in daylight. This is because it is the master regulator of our circadian rhythms. Prof. Matthew Walker agrees melatonin can be helpful with regulating the timing of our sleep [7], especially under conditions of jetlag. Dr. Brad Stanfield explains there are different dosages of melatonin for different brands and informs us which brands he recommends [3].

Melatonin is a hormone produced in response to darkness by the pineal gland, which gets increasingly calcified and less effective as we age. [3]

5. Grow our Muscle with Better Sleep

Working out creates tears in muscles and sleep is needed to heal the muscles. Without sleep, our muscles will be torn more and get weaker. It is therefore important to ensure our bodies get enough sleep to heal the muscles more than what’s torn [8] in order to build muscle. Dr. Brad Stanfield recommends getting at least 3 nights of sleep to heal muscles or to switch up the muscle groups you are targeting during workouts.

6. Is Sleep Essential for Weight Loss?

A major review on sleep and obesity showed that children with seven hours or less of sleep were 89% more likely to be obese (Beccuti & Pannain, 2011). This is due to factors like increased appetite, poorer food choices, less motivation to exercise and a decrease in metabolic rate, which refers to the number of calories you burn when you are completely at rest.

Sleep expert, Prof. Michael Chee, director of Duke-NUS Medical School’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, says sleep is a basic human need and is crucial to overall health and well being, and it lowers our risk of diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease [9].

Lack of sleep wreaks havoc with the hormones in your body by making less Leptin to signal fullness so you actually become hungrier with less sleep. [4]

7. Magnesium Supplements to Fall Asleep Faster and Longer.

Magnesium supplements are found in every pharmacy with promises that they lower risk of diabetes, improve blood pressure, strengthen bone and muscle, protect the heart and boost brain function [5]. They also help with better sleep quality and less time needed to fall asleep. Dr. Andrew Huberman says he takes 300–400 mg of magnesium supplements, 30 minutes before sleep and recommends we consult the doctor about the appropriate dosing [6] for us.

In a double-blind randomised clinical trial of 46 different people (Behnood et al., 2012), it showed that there were statistically significant increases in sleep time and an overall decrease in the time it takes to fall asleep for those who had magnesium supplementation. [5]

Photo credits to Dr. Brad Stanfield:

[1] What Is The Best Sleeping Position? Wake Up Refreshed. (2020, December 29). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drSJruyNXDk

[2] How To Get Better Quality Sleep | New 2019 Secrets. (2019, November 20). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJI_CPBcLo0

[3] Melatonin For Sleep | Underrated Supplement In 2021. (2021, March 7). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW94XiYgIhw

[4] Is Sleep Important For Weight Loss? | Sleep To The Top In 2019. (2019, November 18). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a4FEln8YnA

[5] Magnesium Benefits | Should We Use A Supplement? (2021, March 2). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR8ciG-yBh0&list=PLeRFbtgrUb3k2_QDOLf90iKJHAivNVuQg

Other video and article credits:

[6] Master Your Sleep & Be More Alert When Awake | Huberman Lab Podcast #2. (2021, January 11). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm1TxQj9IsQ

[7] Walker, M. (2020, June 8). Sleep better with these bedtime rituals. NPR. https://www.npr.org/transcripts/705224709

[8] Is Sleep Important For Muscle Growth? | 2019 Truths Revealed. (2019, November 13). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_7PncJKd8o

[9] Wen Li, T. (2017, March 16). Don’t sleep on it — discover benefits of snoozing longer. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/dont-sleep-on-it-discover-benefits-of-snoozing-longer

References

Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161–1169.

Beccuti, G., & Pannain, S. (2011). Sleep and obesity. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 14(4), 402–412. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283479109

Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep, 9, 151–161. https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S134864

Other resources

Ariana Huffington shares about her own experience of sleep deprivation during these trying times leading to #burnout and #stress as a #leader so we can learn from her own challenges:

https://www.ted.com/talks/arianna_huffington_how_to_succeed_get_more_sleep?language=en

Remember if you are also interested in learning more about #longevity, you can also follow the National University of Singapore: Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine Prof. Brian Kennedy’s Healthy Longevity series — http://bit.ly/3buqAfB

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store