How to Redesign Your Sleep Routine

images (3)

Alright, it’s time to get analytical.

Sorry – it’s just the way I’m wired

I’ve been messing around with my night-time routine for a while now. I value this time in my day, as it allows me to wind down and reflect. I focused on a few different aspects when structuring my routine. A few of these in no particular order:

  • A quality night sleep
  • Feel good in the morning
  • Vivid (or lucid) dreaming
  • Reflection on the day and addressing any issues I want to deal with
  • Relaxation
  • Reinforcing mental strength/spirituality

These are all important to me in maintaining a useful balance in my life. I also am beginning to greatly value the very beginning of my day – possibly even moreso than my nights – but that is a separate issue.

Everything listed below is based on my personal experiences. What works for me may not work for you.

All of this fits in a 5 – 30 minute window before I go to bed.

We have ~960 waking minutes in a day – there’s definitely some time to implement a system for yourself.

So a couple of the areas I focus on are obvious. I mean who doesn’t want a good night sleep or to feel good in the morning? I’ve come across a few things that have helped me improve these areas.

One is eating a tablespoon of honey before I go to sleep – in some chamomile tea recently. This helps keep your blood sugar stable so you wake up feeling nice and fresh. Highly recommended. I just bought some real bee honey which tastes much better (and I believe is more effective) than popular clove honey.

I also have been using an alarm clock app called Sleep Cycle. This wakes you up when you are in your lightest sleep and you can set a range to wake up (preferably 30 min or so). I also like it because you can create variables to test each night. The app provides your night’s quality of sleep, as well as the individual variables’ effects.

I would also recommend to reduce your exposure to light – especially blue light – before you go to sleep, as this affects your melatonin response (allows you to reach deep sleep). Because of this, the TV (and sometimes the computer) goes off an hour before I want to go to bed. I downloaded f.lux software on my computer, which adjusts the background light to help this issue. I also keep melatonin next to my bed, which I occasionally take. Melatonin is naturally produced in your body, so it appears to be a safe measure.

I have really grown to enjoy my dreams and evaluating them for what I’m worried about or other issues I should be dealing with. I believe dreams, in a way, gives us some exposure to our subconscious. But in order to do all of this, I need to first dream and then remember the dream. I have couple ways that helps me increase the probability of me dreaming. One is I occasionally take Alpha Brain, a Nootropic that helps our brain focus and receive more oxygen. I use this supplement for more than just sleep, but it does have a crazy effect to make you have lucid dreams. I also found that the more relaxed you are, the better chance of dreaming. I sometimes use some stimulating music to get my imagination going – often Radiohead. Other times, I read novels. Another trick I use sometimes – okay, often – is having a glass of whisky at night, which also aids in making my dreams more vivid.

At the end of the day, I always enjoy just 10 minutes where I can just sit and relax. My routine changes quite often based on my mood, things I need to work on, and what I have present.

At times, I will just clear my head – or meditate.

Sometimes I listen to music.

Occasionally I read.

When needed, I repeat positive things in my head to help instill confidence and strength.

I may find a minute or 2 to pray.

One thing has stayed pretty consistent though. I keep a journal. This journal is where I keep a collection of anything I learned that day, which I have titled as Philosophy/Notes. I have personal notes back 3 years. I’ve noticed a lot of common themes going on in my life with this practice. I also have used pages to write down anything that is really on my mind or how I’m feeling that day. I find that writing things down is an effective way to organize my thoughts.

Other things I’ve tried (or trying):

  • Try and spend a minute or 2 focusing on what I want to accomplish the next day. Just write down the 1 or 2 things that, if I accomplish the next day, would make me feel satisfied. I enter these either in my calendar on my phone, with a reminder on if it is time sensitive. If I think of something that I want to do with no time frame, I enter it on my app called Errands. I like this app because it is basically a checklist that you can check off when completed.
  • Pick out my clothes, make my lunch, and automate as many morning decisions as possible. This will help me get out of the decision-making thought process early in the morning leading to a calmer mind to start my day.
  • Taking a Magnesium pill before I sleep.

This is where I’m at in my process to get a better sleep and improve many areas of my life in those minutes before I get some shut-eye. This may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. I pretty much focus on whatever is on my mind, with a couple routines. This system is far from perfect and is always being tinkered with. For most of my life, I never focused on anything like this. However, I realized the use of these final minutes of my day can be some of my most productive and set the tone for my next day.

If you have anything that works, please add them in the comments. I’m always interested in seeing what works for others.

What I’m Implementing

This is a new type of series I am starting. I am always testing different things in my life and I figured I would share them with you. You can follow my progress/updates/results on the Experiments page above.

Below are a few things I am implementing into my routine.

  1. Doing intermittent fasting 1 day a week. For me, this involves not eating anything after 9:00 p.m. and nothing before 12:00 p.m. the following day. This is a 15 hour fast. All I can consume is water and coffee. The one exception is I can use my home-made coffee creamer, which contains good fats like MCT Oil to help my body get into a state of ketosis (fat burning mode). I have done this in the past without much trouble and with positive results. I plan to bump this up to 2 days a week. Fasting is one of the topics that 2013 taught me about. This is for health benefits and to test the effects on my mood, energy, and weight.
  2. I am applying the same fasting principles to the vitamins and supplements I take. So 1 day a week I will go without any pills. This is to make sure that my body does not become dependent on these. I’ve never really heard of anyone recommending this, but I have a feeling there is something to it. I haven’t done much research about supplement cycling so I am starting here. This may get more detailed…especially if I get a micronutrient test in the near future.
  3. Plan my morning the night before. I will pick out which clothes I am wearing the next day, my breakfast and lunch, and have my vitamins/supplements ready, and basically turn my first 10-20 minutes into a routine. Everything I do during this period will be planned out the night before. The purpose of this is to eliminate any unnecessary decisions at the very beginning of my day. I want to have a clear mind so I can focus on what I want to and set the tone for the day.

In order to stay on top of the fasting and supplements restriction, I have set reminders on my iPhone Calendar. I will be fasting on Tuesday and not taking supplements on Wednesday. I may adjust this accordingly.

These habits above should not only improve my well-being, but will exercise my very under-utilized “discipline muscle”.

1/24 Good Reads

Jock,_the_Gorilla_(2)

Seen vs Unseen

“We are most often held back by obstacles we aren’t even aware of–bad habits, flaws, ego, neuroses, self-destructiveness, aversions and fears we hardly know we have.” Also see Soft .

Tucker Max Testosterone Ebook

If you are on the ball, you can grab this ebook for free. I just signed up for it. I’ve read his other posts on naturally boosting your testosterone and find a lot of value in it. He’s an extremely smart guy despite being perceived as the party-animal. I’d recommend starting with a few of his articles about testosterone – including the hilarious story of how he got into the mess of having low levels. Story, Intro, Eating, Exercising, Sleeping

Plants Don’t Grow Near Wi-Fi

So we needed 9th graders to figure this one out for us. The more I hear about this, the more i’m scared of technology’s effects on our long-term health. If plants aren’t growing properly with this radiation, how do you think this is affecting our bodies. I definitely make an effort to keep my phone off my body whenever I can, but who knows what else is going through the air. Medicine better catch up.

The Primate Awards

I just found this to be funny. I could look at these dudes all day. Who wants to go to the zoo?

Work Less, Play More

playmore_1

You know when you look at a little kid without a care in the world? I want that.

You know why?

Because I had it. All of us did.

Growing up is a tricky thing. We graduate grade school, which is the end of the period where we had really no responsibility. Sure we had to do an hour or two of homework a week to pass our classes. But we chose the additional activities in our lives, whether it be sports, music, or dance. We then moved onto high school. Things got a little more serious. We had to pay a little more attention to our grades because they will affect which college we would get into. The sports and extracurricular activities became a little more important to us. We possibly had to get a side job to make a little extra money, since we were now driving and spending a little more. Once high school ended and college began, we noticed things became even more complicated.  We didn’t necessarily treat it this way, as this was probably one of the best periods of our lives. We met a ton of friends. We partied. We slept in till 12. But still, those grades mattered at the time. Our work on the side became more important to get by. We had more responsibility.

Now, being in the “real world”, things continue to move in that direction. More responsibility. Less social life.  More work.

I’ve noticed in myself that I have a very addictive personality. I tend to really fixate on different aspects of my life, which often consumes my attention much more than I would like it to. Many of these issues are not important in grand scheme of things. But still, they may affect my mood – sometimes for the whole day – without me understanding what’s going on. This fixation on things has led me to take things more seriously and try to fix them in a systematic way. I became more serious and calculated. I focused on these problems with more intensity than ever. My schooling conditioned me to do this. My personal life soon became a job in itself, beyond 9-5.

I’ve recently discovered that the more you focus on something, the more power that specific problem/issue has over you. It’s a very odd dynamic. I was noticing that many of the problems I was trying to overcome couldn’t be solved the way I was attacking it. The solution wasn’t more focus and problem solving. Instead, it was changing my attitude. 

As I mentioned, I find myself thinking too much about certain problems – and this has haunted me in the past. I don’t know if I will ever be able to simplify my wandering mind. But one thing I can change is how I approach the problem. My goal going forward is to treat the experience in front of me less like a job and more like an adventure. I can begin to treat going to the gym as a personal challenge instead of something I have to do to stay healthy. I can be compassionate and even laugh at my failures. Instead of attacking my fears and worries with more thinking (which compounds the effect), I can face them head on with a positive energy and loose, playful attitude. This will have no effect on the pride of my work or my work ethic. This is only a shift in attitude.

This will be a challenge it itself for me. But there’s no going back…I just made my decision.

Time to play.

1/20 Good Reads

ml-king-quotes_1389412184

Here’s MLK preaching some truth! Now, some other quality and inspirational reading for the day.

What is a Warrior?

Here is a short, inspiration video from the powerful Aubrey Marcus, the WarriorPoet.

Because he believes in miracles, miracles begin to happen. Because he is sure his thoughts can change his life, his life begins to change. Because he is certain he will find love, love appears. – Paulo Coelho

How to Get an MBA from Eminem

One of the better reads on sales in a long time. This is a creative breakdown (wouldn’t expect anything less from James Altucher) of Eminem’s rap battle in 8 Mile describing how he used many common psychological biases to defeat his opponent. Very practical.  –  Also includes an addition from Tucker Max at the end

Portugal Decriminalized All Drugs Eleven Years Ago and the Results are Staggering

It’s always interesting to see different experiments going on across the world. One is Portugal decriminalizing all drugs (not legalizing). Huge reduction in addictions. Drug usage rates are down. Drug related diseases and overdoses have fallen. This is some useful data for the US. One thing is obvious, the “War on Drugs” in America is a failure and change is definitely needed.

Your Movie Screen

thCAMO31N5

Here is an excerpt from one of the crazier – and more entertaining – books I’ve ever picked up, Pimp – The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim. Below is from a conversation between Iceberg Slim and a mentor he met in jail, who Iceberg Slim claims to be the driving force to becoming the most successful pimp of his time. If it makes you more comfortable, replace “pimp” with “entrepreneur”. Anyway, this powerful quote has stuck with me.

He would say, “Always remember whether you be a sucker or hustler in the world out there, you’ve got that vital edge if you iron-clad your feelings. I picture the human mind as a movie screen. If you’re a dopey sucker, you’ll just sit and watch all kinds of mind-wrecking, damn fool movies on that screen.”

He said, “Son, there is no reason except a stupid one for anybody to project on that screen anything that will worry him or dull that vital edge. After all, we are the absolute bosses of that whole theatre and show in our minds. We even write the script. So always write positive, dynamic scripts and show only the best movies for you on that screen whether you are a pimp or priest.”

1/15 Good Reads

1_14328

I came across a few articles and podcasts today that I want to share.

Shamanic Biohacking with Alberto Villoldo

Discussed here in this podcast are the topics of fasting, fish oil, slowing the aging process, natural healing, good fats, better mental performance, and a brief history of the change to new agricultural food and how we struggle with digesting carbs among many other things. I really enjoyed the view of Alberto Villoldo. I’ll be paying more attention to his work as I am becoming more fascinated with natural healing.

Science’s obsession: The search for a “smart pill” 

Some topics I was intrigued with here are the different forms of stimulation, Provigil (smart drug), and surprisingly Nicotine’s effects on mental performance. I knew there were benefits to Nicotine when isolated. However, many people associate Nicotine with smoking tobacco – and all the chemicals in it. I wonder if the same benefits can be gained from an e-cig?

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram 

I always enjoy hearing these new theories, whether it be that the universe is a hologram or that we live in a simulation. Whatever the truth is, at least we are expanding our minds to more possibilities. Because guess what, we know nothing…

Obama debates President Obama on Government Surveillance 

This is just scary. Does anyone know who is really running this country? It’s probably not who we think.

What did you find today?

Changed Views in 2013

2013_574

Just sitting down thinking about the things I have changed my mind on in 2013…

  • Fats – For the longest time I grew up thinking fats were bad. I knew there were such things as good fats, but I was misinformed. Now I consume good fats like crazy – eggs, butter, avocados, almonds, coconut oil, mct oil, olive oil, bacon, animal fats – and I love them. Oh did I tell you that you can lose weight, increase focus, and increase energy with these.
  • Salt – Again, for the longest time I thought of salt as bad – and some is (like iodized or table salt). However, I realized that we have all been tricked by marketers when it comes to salt. Too much is still not good, but some each day can bring some good benefits. So I bought some pink Himalayan salt recently and throw it on my eggs every day. I am starting to add this salt to even more things with the amounts of minerals and health benefits associated with it.
  • My Workout Routine – I used to go with machines and dumbbells for the longest time. Now I am starting to believe in natural movements, stretching, and making use of kettlebells and continuing with the dumbbells. I am also looking to get back into yoga again. I’m trying to really balance myself out.
  • Fasting I tried some intermittent fasting this year with some good results. I only tried it for about 2 months (doing it maybe 2 days a week). I usually fasted from around 8 p.m. until 12 p.m. the next day. Nothing crazy. Could still have coffee and water. I had some good results and it also helped with my discipline.
  • Drugs  Ohhhh prescription medicine…you slow killers. The complications involved with taking these pills are endless. If you have a minor sickness, I think it is better to fight through though natural measures than pop a pill. This goes for hangovers, minor colds, and stuff like that. As for these “necessary” pills for older people like blood pressure medication, maybe that person needs it. Or maybe not. It’s better to remove the cause than fix the problem. Doctor’s won’t tell you that though. You know why? No money for anyone. All that being said, I still try some supplements to work towards better performance and well-being. I do like the aspect of self-experimentation.
  • My time The older I get, the more I value my time. Instead of going out every weekend night until 3, I am beginning to evaluate the effects on my next day. Of course this happens at times, but at least these thoughts are conscious. I enjoy feeling good in the morning and waking up early. I like being productive and getting that morning workout in after a cup of coffee. Remember, time is your most valuable resource.
  • My attention This goes along with the above. I have began thinking of things in terms of what provides me the most benefits (and we’re not talking immediate gratification). Should I watch this show again or should I take the time and knock out 30 pages of this book? Should I continue to work mindlessly or take a 10 minute nap to recharge? These are the questions I am beginning to consciously ask myself.
  • Conceiving Ideas – I have noticed recently that calming my mind is the best way to get original ideas. I knew this, but never took action. In 2013, I continued practicing meditation and taking a little time to relax each day. Ideas began to come – with these ideas being more purposeful that the rational ideas you get when your mind is a little strained.
  • Podcasts – 2013 was the year I became obsessed with podcasts. A few of the podcasts I follow have been extremely influential and eye-opening – Joe Rogan, Joey Diaz, Aubrey Marcus – to name a few. The podcast platform brings us closer to the truth than anything else out there. There’s too much bullshit on tv, radio, and even many of these blogs.
  • Investments – Being in your mid 20’s, many people will tell you to start your retirement plan right away. This isn’t bad advice, as I started a ROTH IRA and contribute some monthly. The only problem is this money is no longer liquid and inflation may eat it up. I would rather have more money now and spend it on something else: Investing in myself. The younger you are the better the time to start. Invest in your learning, in your side project, or in your health. This is truly money well spent.
  • My faith – I have been tweaking my faith for a while now. Growing up Catholic, you go to church and follow the words in the bible. I just don’t like the fear aspect. Actually, I hate fear. I want to focus on getting in touch with my true self and help others. I’m mixing the best pieces of everything in order to better myself. Love>Fear is the direction I am moving right now.
  • Blogging – So yeah, now I have this blog. Enjoy!