By James Razko
In this article you will learn:
- 11 actionable tips to improve sleep quality instantly.
- how a lack of sleep is harming you,
- why you should stop using an alarm,
- how light affects sleep quality, and
- How to use light to sleep better.
To jump to the 11 Tips:Click Here
How a Lack of Sleep is Harming You
Improve sleep quality to live longer. Like food, water, and air, sleep is a necessity. And, despite what you may be tempted to believe– you can’t live without it. In fact, the CDC considers sleep deprivation to be an epidemic. (r)
That’s right. Without adequate rest, your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and ultimately death increase dramatically. And, besides shortening your life span, lack of sleep also deprives you of the ability to concentrate, decreasing performance for the entire day. (r)
If you are looking to live longer and be a better you, make sleep a priority. One way to begin is by taking the alarm out of your alarm clock and wake up with light. After all, Light is natures wake-up call.
How to Improve Sleep by not Using an ALARM Clock
Waking up with an ALARM is a good idea gone wrong and an unfortunate consequence of modern living. Our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t use alarms, and when they were awoken suddenly, it was likely to avoid danger. It is very probable that our ancestors evolved to associate sudden noises while sleeping with danger and we certainly still have the same genetic programming. For this reason, you should avoid using harsh and unexpected sounds to wake up.
Consider that, Google defines alarm as “an anxious awareness of danger.” Waking up with alarm-clock is precisely what it sounds like—an ALARM. This is not how you want to start your day. So, trade you alarm clock for a wake-up clock that uses light and sweet sounds like birds chirping to get you out of bed.
What is a Wake-Up Clock
A wake-up clock is anything that gets you out of bed gently, without startling you. Some examples are birds chirping, the sun, your mother gently whispering in your ear, and a sunrise simulator. These are all miles better than your smartphone’s alarm.
How to Use Light to Improve Sleep Quality
To avoid being jolted out of bed, and initiating your fight or flight response, wake up with a wake-up clock like the sun, or if you are a night owl or city dweller like me, wake up with a human-made clock that uses light to simulate a sunrise.
Sunrise simulators improve sleep quality by hacking our bodies wake-up system. Research has shown that sunrise simulators improve sleep quality, alertness, and cognitive and physical performance. (r) This happens because as the light increases during sunrise photo receptions in your eyes send signals to your body to “wake-up.” Waking with light jumpstarts your hormones and warms your engines, preparing you to wake up.
Swap your ALARM for a sunrise simulator, and you will ease yourself out of bed, feel less tired, be in a better mood, start working faster and be more likely to complete your last sleep cycle fully.
If you need sound to get out of bed, many sunrise simulators have considered noises (like birds chirping) that gently increase with the light to wake you up. Also, there are probably a few apps that do something similar. These apps, however, don’t have a light and light is what signals “wake up” to your brain.
A Case Study of One
I’ve never been a good sleeper. After feeling tired all day for years and doing a considerable amount of research, I ended up getting a sunrise simulator to improve my sleep quality.
I noticed a difference right away. I got out of bed faster, felt less tired and could start working without a need to sit around and finish waking up. It used to take me an hour to start my day. And now, after I have been using it for a while now, I wake up in a few minutes without any noise, feel more energized throughout my day, use less caffeine, and I find falling asleep easier.
Blue light is Affecting Your Sleep Quality
Besides telling you to wake up, light or a lack of light also regulates when you go to bed.
Consider the following true parable. Evolution has taught baby sea turtles to run towards the full moon, moments after they hatch. The moon is their North Star, and it guides them to the safety of the sea. Unfortunately, many hatchlings suffer an early demise because they end up running in the opposite direction toward blaring city lights, instead of the full moon. They never make it to sea. That’s sad.
We in some respects are like baby sea turtles, and electric light is confusing our brains. We too have evolved a special relationship with light. Light not only wakes you up, but it also puts you to sleep. When the sun sets, and there is very little blue light in the environment, our body begins to produce melatonin to tell us to go to bed. After all, our ancestors up until very recently only had a campfire and the moon to see in the dark.
Evolution has trained our brains to start producing melatonin when there isn’t much blue light. Because of this, many modern humans aren’t getting the hit of melatonin they desperately need, and this ultimately leads to an early death and contributes to the sleep epidemic. Don’t end up like the baby sea turtles.
Remove Blue Light Before Bedtime
It’s nearly impossible to turn off all the lights, especially if you live in an urban environment. For this reason, I recommend removing as much blue light from your night environment as possible and wearing blue light blocking glasses a few hours before you go to bed. 3 or more hours is optimal and 1 hour is the minimum. Research has shown wearing blue light blocking glasses before bedtime improves sleep quality. (r) Also, research has shown blue light contributes to macular degeneration by killing photoreceptor cells in your eyes. (r) If you plan on seeing clearly past the age of 50 and want a good nights rest, start wearing blue light blocking glasses.
11 Tips to Improve Sleep Quality
- Use a sunrise simulator to wake up feeling less tired and improve cognitive/physical performance. I like and use this one. Cheaper models don’t have the brightness (or LUX) needed to get you out of bed, and this was the only model that also simulated the colors of sunrise.
- Go outside early and get some sun. Sun exposure helps regulate Circadian rhythm. Also, it provides Vitamin D an essential hormone that much of the population is deficient in.
- Exercise, it makes you tired, stronger and smarter.
- Have more sex, it’s exercise, makes you happy, and releases hormones that make you sleepy.
- Consume less caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially before bed.
- Install warmer lights throughout your house, especially in the bedroom.
- Remove or tape over all the blue lights inside your bedroom. Blue light sends a signal to your brain to stay awake.
- Install blackout curtains if you live in a city. Even small amounts of light interrupt sleep. Make sure the curtains rest firmly against the window to prevent any light leakage. As a bonus, they also keep your room cool in the summer.
- On all devices make sure night mode is turned on after sunset. Also, if your reading on a device before bed, change the entire color of your screen to red. On the iPhone, accomplish this by navigating to Settings, General, Accessibility, Display Accommodations, and Color Filters.
- Look silly and feel smart by wearing blue light blocking glasses a few hours before bed, 3 hours is optimal while 1 hour is the minimum. I like and use these inexpensive glasses because they wrap around the corners of your eyes. However, if you would like a stylish option, these are popular.
- Sleep with an air-purifier, especially if you live in a city. It will also double as a noise canceling device.
- The sun sets the rhythm of the planet, and we evolved to wake up with sunrise and sleep after sunset.
- Waking up with light helps you feel less tired and boosts cognitive and physical performance.
- Blue light after sunset negatively impacting your sleep and health. Get blue lights out of the bedroom and wear blue light blocking glasses before bedtime.
- Exchange your alarm clock for a gentle wake-up clock. Use either the sun or a sunrise simulator to improve sleep quality.
Be a pioneer! Sign up to the newsletter and be the first to receive articles like this.
Compliment this read with: Tap Into Your Reticular Activating System to Accomplish More Goals