Biohacking Your Sleep
By Susie Willis
Good sleep quality is essential for healthy brain function, such as memory, problem solving skills, creativity, decision-making, and focus, as well as immunity, and even body weight. Yet according to The Direct Line Group, one in seven of us survive on under five hours sleep a night, with nearly 71% of UK adults not getting the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep a night.
Your skin produces new collagen while you sleep, preventing sagging and leaving skin plumper and less likely to wrinkle. A study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that people who slept just five hours a night had twice as many wrinkles, compared to those who slept for seven.
Getting the right quantity of sleep is crucial for good cellular skin health, but it’s even more crucial to get a deep sleep. Biohacking your sleep can be an effective tool if you’re struggling to get high-quality overnight recovery.
Understanding your circadian rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle repeating roughly every 24 hours and, to put it simply, responds to sunrise and sunset. Understanding your circadian rhythm is the foundation to biohacking your sleep.
In today’s fast-paced world, we spend far more time working at our computers, ‘socialising’ on our phones or unwinding in front of the television, throwing off our circadian rhythm which relies hugely upon natural light. We need to biohack our bodies to adjust to the new normal to help us thrive – and finally get a good night’s REM.
5 tips to biohack your sleep
- Chase the sunlight: If you can expose yourself to sunlight at the crucial moments of the day – sunrise and sunset – your body will thank you for it. It keeps your circadian rhythm in balance, and helps your body begin melatonin production when the time comes to unwind, helping you into a deep sleep. Sunset lamps that slowly brighten with sunrise and darken with sunset can be a great way to trick your body into getting your circadian rhythm in check if getting exposure to the real thing is a challenge.
- Put away your tech: Too much artificial light after sunset will quickly throw off your circadian rhythm. Make sure you activate night mode on your phone to reduce blue light, or invest in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses to reduce that artificial light glare if you like to unwind in front of the television before bed.
- Smart switches: We’ve heard it a hundred times before but… switch to decaf after 2pm. Save the extra-shot flat white for first-thing in the morning, and keep in mind that drinking alcohol in the evening is a stimulant – resulting in less time in the all-important REM stage of sleep so you’ll wake up feeling less refreshed.
- Eat early: Your digestive system functions best when the sun is still up – as the sun begins to set, your body naturally gets ready to rest and sleep. So, eating right before bed can significantly impact your sleep quality as the muscles that digest and metabolise our food are forced to keep working when they should be resting.
- Power down hour: Our favourite tip – relax without social media, television, catching up on emails, or anything related to tech. Instead focus on your evening skincare routine, a relaxing ritual to help you unwind with a sleepy tea and a good book.