How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) | Dr. Michael Van - The Science Of Optimal Human Performance

Can you optimize your sleep environment and ramp up your deep sleep?

The content of this article will ensure your body will be able to regenerate, recover, and repair damage in the most efficient way as possible, giving you INCREDIBLE energy during the day.

 

So far in this deep sleep optimization series, we have learned why deep sleep is so crucial for overall health and recovery, how to optimize our circadian rhythms, and how to incorporate easy-to-follow steps to avoid EMF.

Besides taking the VITAL steps to optimize your circadian rhythm and reduce EMF exposure to get quality deep sleep, there are some additional steps you can incorporate into your lifestyle to optimize your sleep environment and ramp up your deep sleep. This will ensure your body is able to regenerate, recover, and repair damage in the most efficient way as possible.

In fact, the topics we are going to explore in this new article include:

  • Your Body Temperature
  • Substances That May Interrupt Your Deep Sleep
  • How To Time Your Exercise For Perfect Sleep
  • The Air Quality In Your Bedroom

Watch my new video now, or keep scrolling if you prefer to read the whole article…

 

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment - Deep Sleep Part 3

 

 

Optimize Your Body Temperature

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Let’s start with optimizing your body temperature…

As you may already feel, your body temperature has a natural fluctuation during the day. It is at its peak in the late afternoon, and then it starts to cool down. Your body temperature is regulated by your circadian rhythm. When your temperature drops in the evening, that plays a part in stimulating and signalling the release of melatonin, helping you sleep1.

Therefore, it is imperative your room temperature isn’t too warm.

The best temperature your room should be for optimal sleep is approximately 60-67°F. Temperatures below and above this will impair your sleep quality2.

 

 

What I Do

I personally always sleep with my window open when the outside temperature isn’t too hot. I am in Southern California, so this strategy is great except for the summer time. In the summer, I utilize my room air conditioner.

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Besides optimizing your room temperature, I have the following tips to reduce your body temperature before bed. To fall and stay asleep, your body has to drop its core temperature 2-3°F.

Strategies to lower your body temperature at night include:

 

1. Use A Cooling Sleep System Like The Chilipad

These are a little pricey and not required if you have an air conditioner. I have both as I personally run very warm.

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

 

2. Extremely Hot Baths Or Showers

These are effective for a restful sleep based on many studies. A hot bath increases sleepiness at bed-time and your ability to get slow wave stage 4 sleep3.

Dr. Matthew Walker says to take a hot bath or shower before bed, as this causes your blood vessels to open up on the surface of your skin, resulting in blood moving from your core to the surface, lowering your core body temperature. and allowing your body to lose heat.

I want to point out that some people believe adding some cold exposure before bed also helps them sleep. Not sure if research backs this up, as it seems to say just the opposite, but I have personally noticed that if I end my shower with cold exposure, my deep sleep scores go up. Try each and see what works for you.

 

3. Use Socks While Sleeping

For the same reasoning as a hot shower, this will help dilate your blood vessels on the surface of your skin, lowering your body temperature.

 

4. Sleep Naked

 

 

Optimize Air Quality

We spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, and indoor air can be anywhere from 2-5 times more polluted and toxic than the fresh air outside4. Poor indoor air can predispose us to many respiratory infections, and since respiratory disturbances harm sleep quality, we need to make sure this air quality stays premium5.

Like I mentioned before, I always keep windows open. Even when it’s cold, I keep at least one window open at my house to keep the air ventilation at its peak. Other tips I like to optimize air quality are:

 

1. Use Indoor Plants To Increase Oxygen And Release Negative Ions Into The Air

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

 

2. Use A HEPA Air Filter

 

 

Be Aware And Avoid Substances That Negatively Impact Sleep

 

1. Avoid Caffeine Late In The Day

As stated in my previous article on circadian rhythms, avoid caffeine after 2 or 3pm.

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

 

2. Reduce Or Eliminate Evening Alcohol Consumption.

Alcohol suppresses REM sleep (in addition to cannabis and specifically THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)) and will actually cause you to wake up more during the night. Although these substances can help you fall asleep faster, it destroys your sleep quality.

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t seem to have the same effect at reducing REM sleep. In small doses, CBD can actually make you more awake, while higher doses seem to help people sleep.

 

3. Avoid Late-night Theobromine.

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

Theobromine is a stimulant found in dark chocolate similar in nature to caffeine.

While theobromine has health properties and has been shown to increase brain function, it may not be smart to consume this substance later in the day as it causes an elevation in your heart rate and does cause sleeplessness in some people.

I know dark chocolate is an awesome late-night dessert, especially the ones very high in cacao, so this can be challenging. Just be mindful that chocolate does contain both theobromine and caffeine, which are stimulants and can affect your sleep quality.

I would say try eliminating late-night dark chocolate consumption for a few weeks and see how it changes your sleep scores.

 

4. Avoid Eating Too Close To Bedtime.

Eating too late in the evening is HARMFUL for our health in a multitude of ways. Eating too close to bedtime causes a rise in blood sugar. Insulin will bring it back down, but usually the pancreas delivers too much of this hormone, causing a drastic drop in sugar aka the crash.

When blood sugar crashes, you get hypoglycemia and it causes your sympathetic fight or flight nervous system to activate, elevating cortisol. This can cause you to wake up and be unable to fall back asleep during the night.

It also creates excess free radicals because you are consuming more calories than your body can immediately use…because you are asleep. Altogether, this decreases your sleep quantity and quality.

 

Time Your Exercise Properly

Regular exercise is IMPERATIVE for balancing out your circadian rhythm6.  In addition, virtually every single parameter of sleep, including deep sleep and total sleep time, is increased by exercise. In fact, exercise interventions have been shown to help alleviate insomnia without the use of sleep-inducing medications7.

“Virtually every single parameter of sleep, including deep sleep and total sleep time, is increased by exercise.”

Vigorous strength training also seems to increase levels of deep sleep8. This seems to stem from the fact that after an intense strength training session, your body will need more time to repair itself. As you learned before, these repair processes occur mostly in the deeper phases of sleep due to parasympathetic activation and the growth hormone releasing properties.

How To Sleep Longer And Fall Asleep Faster By Improving Your Sleep Environment (Deep Sleep Optimization, Part 3) - Dr. Michael Van (Michael VanDerschelden)

 

 

Take Home Point

Strength training in general seems to not just increase deep sleep, but all phases of sleep. Make sure you also exert yourself enough to stimulate your repair mechanisms, which occur during deep sleep.

 

Best Time To Exercise

But when is the best time to workout and does timing even matter?

It turns out that the timing of your exercise plays an important role in sleep quality9.

Exercising activates your sympathetic or fight or flight nervous system, which is not what you want activated right before bed. To get great sleep, you need your parasympathetic nervous system firing on all cylinders.

This means you should NOT train too close to bedtime.

 

• • •

 

Summary

You have just heard ALL the important basic principles on how to optimize your environment for getting the best deep sleep possible. In this article, we specifically went over ways to optimize:

  • Your Body Temperature
  • How To Time Your Exercise For Perfect Sleep
  • The Air Quality In Your Bedroom
  • State Of Physiology And Nervous System Function By Removing Substances That Can Interrupt Deep Sleep

As I often say, my number one goal is optimal human performance in every phase of my life. And to use a quote from the sleep doctor himself, Dr. Matthew Walker:

“There is no physiological system in the body and no operation of the brain that isn’t wonderfully enhanced by sleep when you get it or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough.”

By now, I’m sure that you understand how taking care of your sleep environment will be another huge step in optimizing your deep sleep.

This will help you get better, deeper sleep, and as you know this will give you INCREDIBLE energy and mental sharpness during the day.

And in my next articles of this series we will explore what supplements you can integrate in your everyday nutrition, to get the highest-quality sleep ever.

Stay tuned!

 

References:
1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079203000236
2. https://www.sleep.org/articles/temperature-for-sleep/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2578367
4. https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949406/
6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2286092
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6045928/
8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079216301526
9. https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.00127.2015

 

P.S.

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