3 Practical Solutions to Better Sleep

It’s 10pm, you FINALLY got everything done at a manageable hour, the kids are asleep, your significant other is out cold, you rest your head on your pillow with a smile on your face because you know that tonight you are getting some good ol’ ZzZz’s!

It is now 11:30pm and you are still wide awake. Well, there goes that plan.

What gives? Why does this happen? You’ve had a long and fulfilled day, so why can’t you just fall into a deep sleep that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the task at hand come morning time?

It can be extremely frustrating.

I’m writing this article to provide you with 3 scientifically proven ways you can catch some high quality sleep. I mean it, with these tips you will fall asleep quicker, and stay in deep quality sleep longer.

Good sleep is one of the cornerstones of optimal health.

Newborn baby

Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious effects on your health.

For example, interrupted or impaired sleep can:

  • Dramatically weaken your immune system

  • Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions

  • Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you’ve already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight

  • Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day

  • Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem solving ability

When your circadian rhythms are disrupted, your body produces less melatonin (a hormone AND an antioxidant) and has less ability to fight cancer, since melatonin helps suppress free radicals that can lead to cancer. This is why tumors grow faster when you sleep poorly.


Impaired sleep can also increase stress-related disorders, including:

  • Heart disease

  • Stomach ulcers

  • Constipation

  • Mood disorders like depression

Recent studies show poor sleeping habits cause both brain damage and brain shrinkage, and may even accelerate onset of Alzheimer’s disease. [1] 

Research published in the journal Science[2revealed that your brain removes toxic waste during sleep through what has been dubbed “the glymphatic system.”[3], [4], [5This system becomes active during sleep, thereby allowing your brain to clear out toxins and harmful proteins.

Sleep is also necessary for maintaining metabolic homeostasis in your brain.[6], [7],[8] Without sufficient sleep, your neurons will actually begin to deteriorate—and catching up on sleep during weekends will not prevent this damage.


Sleeping soundly appears to be key for aging well, and maintaining healthy brain function into old age.


Add these few changes to your bedroom for a significant increase in sleep.

Adjust the temperature.

Studies have found that in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.[9] Temperatures that fall too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

Temperatures in this range help facilitate the decrease in core body temperature that in turn initiates sleepiness. A growing number of studies are finding that temperature regulation plays a role in many cases of chronic insomnia.

Researchers have shown, for example, that insomniacs tend to have a warmer core body temperature than normal sleepers just before bed, which leads to heightened arousal and a struggle to fall asleep.

Make your room as dark as possible.


Unplug everything that glows, cover your windows with black curtains. Yes it might feel like you are about to begin a 3 month hibernation, but you’ll sleep like a baby.

Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed.

This may be the hardest tip to do. You read from your Kindle, check your email, text friends, all while trying to fall asleep. Many experts feel that our excessive use of communications technology (e.g. cell phones, laptops, television, etc.) is driving this significant level of sleep deprivation. It’s no wonder so many Americans struggle with poor sleep, since 95% have reported using some type of electronics at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.[10]


Research has showed that nighttime light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin, as mentioned previously, is the major hormone secreted by the pineal gland that controls sleep and wake cycles. [11] Therefore, it would make sense that a reduction in melatonin at night is associated with subjective levels of sleeplessness. [12], [13] But melatonin suppression has far worse consequences than simply poor sleep outcomes: it has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function, and possibly lead to cardio metabolic consequences such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease. [14], [15] This is some serious business.

Listen, if you are not willing to shut down the Macbook, or power down the iPhone, at least reduce the brightness on the screen. Setting the cell phone on ‘Airplane Mode’ is also a good idea.


Sometimes you need to signal your body, and tell it “Hey, I’m ready for sleep so let’s start shutting down now”. These supplements will relay that signal.


The most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep.

Magnesium from Mendeleev's periodic table

A deficiency in this critical nutrient makes you twice as likely to die as other people, according to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine.[16] It also accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases — which are easily helped and often cured by adding this nutrient.

Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, crampy, irritable, and stiff – whether it is a body part or an even a mood is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.

Take 400mg magnesium 30-60 minutes before bed. Too much will result in diarrhea aka disaster pants. The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, threonate, or aspartate.


fotolia_1866134_XSSynergistic with magnesium; the combination will remove nighttime leg cramps for most people.  Less cramps equals more sleep.

A recent study demonstrated results that may indicate an improvement in sleep consolidation with potassium supplementation.[17]

Take 400-500mg of potassium citrate 30-60 minutes before bed.


MCT or Coconut Oil.

This works well if appetite cravings are keeping you awake, but you don’t want an insulin spike from carbohydrates or protein. This strategy works well for people who are on a diet or who have really stepped up their level of physical activity.


Take 2-3 tablespoons MCT Oil, Brain Octane or coconut oil 30-60 minutes prior to bed.

Raw Honey.

During the night, your brain uses a lot of energy.  One efficient form of brain energy comes from sugar stored in your liver, called liver glycogen.  Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting your muscle glycogen (stored sugar in your muscles), so having a little extra sugar before bed can help your brain function better at night.  Raw honey is preferentially used to stock liver glycogen, so it is used first for brain function.


Raw honey is 22% better at making liver glycogen than the cooked, conventional stuff you’re likely to find at the supermarket.

Take 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey before bed if it helps with your sleep.


If you are a regular reader of mine, you know how much I love my coffee; specifically my Bulletproof Coffee as it puts my mind into an amazing place where I become more productive and perform better.

lark-caffeine-and-sleepHowever, you also need to let your mind rest after its high output performances.  In general, don’t drink coffee after 2:00 PM, or at least 8 hours before bedtime, which ever comes first.  This will make sure you get all of the cognitive benefits of caffeine without sacrificing your sleep. Some people need more than 8 hours of caffeine avoidance to sleep with maximum performance.

If you’ve been cutting it close with your caffeine and bedtime, consider this study which showed that caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep.[18]



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References and Sources:

[1] http://www.neurobiologyofaging.org/article/S0197-4580(14)00203-6/abstract

[2] http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/373

[3] http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=3956

[4] http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/17/your-brain-cells-shrink-while-you-sleep-and-thats-a-good-thing/

[5] http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-the-brain-takes-out-the-trash-while-we-sleep?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1f13ae0363-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6de721fb33-1f13ae0363-282120781

[6] http://www.jneurosci.org/content/34/12/4418.short

[7] http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2014/03/veasey/

[8] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/274258.php

[9] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8022726?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

[10] http://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/annual-sleep-america-poll-exploring-connections-communications-technology-use-

[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21552190

[12] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22526883

[13] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/

[14] http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07853890.2011.586365

[15] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-079X.2010.00773.x/full 

[16] Tong, GM and RK Rude. 2005. Magnesium deficiency in critical illness. J Intensive Care Med 20 (1):3-17. Review.

[17] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1947601

[18] http://www.aasmnet.org/jcsm/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=29198


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