You can have the best plan in the world, all the right tools and systems in place – then when it comes to execute your super productive methodology you’re stopped in your tracks by one thing, a lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter how many coffees you drain – if you don’t sleep properly you’ll never reach your full potential.
Throughout 2019, sleep has been a challenge for my wife and I. We’ve had a very busy year, some good things, some bad things. For me personally, everything is made even more difficult by suffering from CRPS which keeps me up with insane pain.
So… Tanya and I took it on ourselves to hack sleep and figure out how to consistently get our full 8 hours of restful sleep. Some of it may break conventional wisdom – so try it out and see what works for you!
Blue Light Filters
Pretty much every sleep-hacking-style blog out there has one thing at the top of the list, don’t take your phone into the bedroom. I completely disagree – I use my phone for various forms of meditation (later in the post).
Other posts are really focusing on 2 things: Blue light & focus. However, most phones these days have blue-light filters baked into the OS and you can even set a time. Mine automatically happens 7pm –> 7am, every single day. As for focus, don’t work, read the news or do anything taxing.
I also watch TV in bed (yep, I know, it’s next on the list), so purchased a blue-light screen (make sure you get a blue-light one not just anti-glare or privacy screens) for my TV. I also installed an app on my laptop called Screen Colors Filter in case I use that for TV.
So get your basis covered, have a blue-light filter for your phone, tablet, tv, and laptop.
TV in bed
Another thing that’s insane to right in a post about sleep, but really works for us – is watching TV!
The trick is to put something on you’ve seen before, preferably multiple times. Having something to watch stops your mind from wandering and thinking about your day, the next day or any other reason to be anxious – know what happens next in the show, removes the need to properly ‘watch’ the show.
So break out the boxsets – my personal favourites for this kind of sleep hack are Lost, Chuck and Suits.
White Noise Machine
The best investment you’ll ever make. If you’ve never tried it before, I really urge you to give it a shot. We got this one from Amazon (don’t worry, no affiliate links here) – the best £30 I’ve spent in the quest for sleep.
We don’t use the actual white noise setting, but opt for rainfall setting. Turn the volume up, the point is it drown out other things (except maybe the TV per the first item in the post).
It’ll change your life!
Newsflash – this is NOT sketchy. CBD is the NON psychoactive component of marijuana, emphasis on the NON! It’s 100% legal, you can buy it in shops all over the country including mainstream retailers like H&B. So get off your high horse and wake up (couldn’t resist) to the sleep benefits.
CBD is taken in 2 primary ways – as a topical gel and as an oral supplement. I personally find the oral one (it’s a pipette of the oil) knocks me out within about 15 minutes of taking it. It’s the single best thing I’ve ever taken to fall asleep.
I also use the topical one, to help with my chronic pain syndrome, it really does make a difference (bear in mind hardcore prescription drugs don’t help).
CBD is here to stay, it’s an amazing supplement and if you struggle to sleep, give it a shot.
We actually bought a humidifier for the apartment and originally put them in the lounge. However, when you add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil into these badgers, they become an awesome tool for falling asleep.
The scent is relaxing, similar to the effects of lavender (later in the post) and supports sleep. Don’t believe me? Google it.
Meditation in various forms
When I was first advised to consider meditation by my doctor, I think I laughed. It didn’t strike me as something that would work for me at all. However, meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting on the floor with your legs crossed humming. It means different things to different people and it’s an area that you really see the personalization between two people.
For me, I use the white noise machine mentioned earlier (just put all your focus into the individual sounds). I also play repetitive simple games like Tetris on my phone and sometimes use an app called Insight Timer for 10 minutes of headphone in focussed meditation – I even find Virtual Reality (Oculus Quest) to be something that is meditative in nature for me, probably related to being able to ‘move’ without pain. Tanya on the other hand, is a lot more creative minded and finds painting and writing things down to make a difference.
You can get lavender oil to put in the humidifier but we prefer the eucalyptus. Lavender however is the mother of all smells when it comes to feeling sleepy. We have a lavender candle and pillow mist sprays.
This one’s simple, but it’s effective. Plus, I needed to make it a standalone point so I could use this meme:
Routine! Bringing it all together.
Probably the most important part of the whole thing – is routine. It’s the one constant (other than not using your phone) across all posts about sleep.
The blue light filters are automatic or already setup (like the TV) so no prep needed there. But as it takes me about 10 seconds to get ready for bed, I take care of most of what’s left.
Every night when Tanya’s getting ready for bed, I setup the humidifier, then get the TV ready to go but pause the show. When we’re in bed, the meditation side kicks in – then I turn on the white noise machine before trying to go to sleep.
Then on nights when we expect it to be harder to sleep, we light the lavender candle an hour before bed then blow it out in another room (so no smoke smell), then take CBD seconds before trying to sleep.
Having 2 routines means we don’t get too used to anything and we have the ‘escalation’ for nights when it’s harder to pass out. This is what works for us, but figure out your own routine(s) and stick to it!
Something I want to try in 2020
This looks really cool, and I’m intrigued by it’s claim to improve the time taken to fall asleep by 2.5x.
I score this productivity hack as:
Sleep problems are not an easy thing to solve, they take time and often multiple components and are all about routine – so I score this 3 for habit forming and setup. It carries a cost and a lot of the other things on my blog don’t, but the cost is low so it gets 4. Productivity is a solid 4, I considered giving it 5 but it’s an indirect link more related to energy and clarity of mind. So overall we come in with 3.5/5!
Thanks for reading – this completes my 2019 new years resolution to blog once a month for 12 months. Thanks for coming along for the journey!