Bulletproof Radio Short Report: The Art & Science of Sleeping
By: Dave Asprey
Why you should listen –
The Bulletproof Radio Short Report is a highly condensed show to quickly bring you the most important ways to upgrade yourself and kick ass at life. This week is about all the different biohacks you can use to ensure the highest possible sleep quality. Sleep has a huge impact on health and performance, and about 48% of Americans claim that they are sleep deprived, but using these techniques will allow you to track your sleep and make changes to your sleep routines and environment that will help you get a good night’s rest. Enjoy the show!
What You Will Hear
- 0:19 – Sleep hacking
- 3:30 – Quantity vs quality
- 4:45 – No-cost hacks
- 6:04 – Top sleep hacks
- 8:15 – Food and sleep
- 11:30 – Supplements and home remedies
- 13:55 – Sleep Tracking
- 16:28 – EMFs
- 17:30 – Acupressure
Questions for the podcast?
Leave your questions and responses in the comments section below. If you want your question to be featured on the next Q&A episode, submit it in the Podcast Question form!
Dave: I’m Dave Asprey, and you’re listening to Bulletproof Radio’s Short Report, a highly condensed show to quickly bring you the most important ways to upgrade yourself. Today we’re going to talk about how to hack your sleep, the art and science of sleeping. Sleep hacking is so important, and just getting it right can change the quality of your day, the quality of your inflammation, whether you’re likely to get cancer. It’s a huge, huge thing. That’s why I spent so much time on myself, learning how to make myself feel better.
It’s been shown that the quality of your sleep matters more than the amount of sleep you get, but what are the best ways to perfect your sleep? In a post I wrote with the same title as this short report, I explain all the biohacks you can do to get the most out of your sleep, such as tracking your sleep. There are apps that track the sleep quality that you get based on how much you move during the night. Those apps will help you discover what works and what doesn’t, so you can optimize your sleep patterns. I was actually CTO for a little while of one of the companies with a wristband that also optimizes your sleep, and I’ve been doing this for quite a few years. It’s transformative to wake up and get a report on how you slept, so you can do it better the next night.
Make sure that your room is as dark as possible. Unplug everything that glows. Cover your windows with actual blackout curtains. There’s some links on the website where you can actually be connected with people who make Velcro and things like that. If you’re in a big city, you’re always getting light, and you’re never going to sleep as well as you could. Your bedroom may end up looking like it belongs to the Unibomber, but you’ll sleep like a baby. Black rooms where you can’t see your hands in front of you are transformative.
Next up, develop a bedtime routine that starts about 2 hours before bed. You want to start eliminating glowing screens then. That means, either turn it off, or at least run software that dims your monitor and makes your screen more like a sunset. Staring at a full-intensity iPhone or iPad right here in your face, seriously bad idea before you go to sleep. As much as we all love bulletproof coffee, stop drinking it around 2:00 p.m. It’s really a bad idea to have some for dinner. If you’re going to do that, at least make it decaf.
Ideally, and I don’t actually do this, you want to make sure you go to bed before 11:00 p.m., especially if you have adrenal fatigue. Different people have different linked circadian windows. Some people are night owls. When I want to write, like I’m doing for the Bulletproof Diet book, at bulletproofdietbook.com, you definitely want to make sure that you are up during hours where you’re most productive. I do my best writing between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., so I’ll pull an all-nighter if I’m really just going to zoom in on stuff. But I take care of myself the next day, and I recover, because I know I’m taking something out of myself.
Don’t exercise within 2 hours of going to bed, because it’s going to raise your cortisol, your heart rate, and your temporary, right at the time they should be going down.
Consider taking supplements like magnesium, or upgraded collagen, or krill oil, all of which can have different effects on sleep. Different people respond differently to different supplements. It depends on what your body needs. Almost everyone needs magnesium, and it really helps. It’s also a very affordable supplement. It’s one of those things, huge impact, low cost.
Getting good sleep is both an art and a science, but the overwhelming majority of people have trouble sleeping, even like the really high-performance people who come to me for bulletproof coaching. Even if you have time to sleep an entire 8 hours a night, would that be optimal, uninterrupted sleep? Would you wake up feeling 100% refreshed, or would you spend an hour just wondering, “Why can’t I sleep?” before you went to sleep? You didn’t really get 8 hours of sleep. You got less than that.
Either you don’t get enough quality hours of sleep, or you got too much sleep, and then you woke up feeling groggy and unrested. In fact, there’s research out there showing it’s not the number of hours of sleep you get that matters the most, it’s the quality of the hours you’re getting. The largest sleep study ever conducted was on 1.1 million people. That study showed that it’s quality, not quantity that matters most. For more research on why sleep matters so much, visit all of my past writings on sleep hacking. Just go to the bulletproof.com site and look for sleep hacking.
This short report covers the bulletproof practices to upgrade your sleep from getting the right food and nutrients and technologies that can improve your sleep itself. You’ve seen some of this in my writing before, and this conversation’s going to sum up your top action items all in a single place. Here are the basics of sleep that don’t cost you anything. Whether or not you currently have trouble sleeping, you can improve what you’ve got. These are the most basic, yet most critical hacks that help you upgrade the quality and quantity of your sleep, so that you can rest every night and kick ass all day.
Number 1, which we talked about a bit already, sleep in a pitch black room. Make it super dark, the darker the better. You might need to just pin your curtain to the wall, pin up fabric. Seriously, I know people who have blankets over their windows. Blackout curtains are a huge, huge thing, and they don’t cost very much money. You can go to the fabric store and buy light-blocking fabric and stick it to the back of your current curtains.
If you have LEDs in your room, black electrical tape. You can cut little squares that fit right over them. It becomes invisible. That little glowing charger light on your Apple computer? Mine has duct tape on it. Kind of ruins the design aesthetic, but do I really want a bright green light all night long interrupting my sleep in my hotel room? I actually don’t.
Next up, start winding down 2 hours before bed.
Third, this is kind of obvious. Caffeine isn’t actually a sleep aid. So as we mentioned, don’t have it after about 2 o’clock.
Top hacks for better sleep. If you stop listening about 2 minutes from now, the 5 things you’re going to hear will dramatically improve your sleep. It’s because they prepare your body for sleep, long before you actually go to sleep, so you can lower your stress and activity levels in the hours before bedtime.
One of the supplements that has a really surprising effect on sleep is the upgraded coconut charcoal. When your sleep cycle is disturbed, like when you’re jet lagged, or when you’ve stayed up late, your circadian rhythm gets broken. But it’s not just you who gets stressed by this. Your gut bacteria actually make more endotoxin that can slow you down the next day. This is one of the contributing factors to jet lag. So if you take the activated coconut charcoal, it can bind to endotoxins and I definitely take it when I fly, especially over time zones, and I notice a difference. It just makes me clearer.
The next sleep hack that can make a difference is upgraded glutathione force. Glutathione force is an antioxidant that specifically helps your liver do its detox work, and your body’s in detox mode at night. So support it.
Next up. Put your phone on airplane mode to lower your exposure to EMFs, which do change your sympathetic nervous system function, and have been shown to disturb sleep. It’s really surprisingly effective. If you’re going to use your iPhone as a sleep tracker, make sure you do this.
Next up. Check out the Inner Balance sensor, which we sell on the bulletproof.com store. This sensor can teach you to turn off your fight or flight response, which lets you go to sleep very quickly and stay asleep longer. I’ve never had a client with normal sleeping issues, who didn’t get substantial benefit from learning how to use this simple thing. Inner Balance sensor on bulletproof.com.
And number 5, I’ve said this before. I’m going to say it again. Stop the coffee after 2:00 p.m. It’s not going to work for you. Some people have to stop at noon. If you metabolize caffeine slowly, it might even be 10:00 a.m. Know your weakness. Know your limits.
Let’s talk about food and sleep. Your brain uses a lot of energy while you’re sleeping for critical resting, healing, and repairing functions. It helps you to fill your brain optimally so it can get its job done. There’s a powerful connection between what you eat and how you sleep. Following the full Bulletproof Diet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure better sleep quality over time. Within the whole spectrum of healthy eating, here are the specific sleep-focused guidelines you can use that aren’t really obvious when you just look at the main diet infographic.
Number 1 is eat low-mercury fish and seafood at dinner. This would be wild caught fish. You could also consider taking krill oil a couple hours before bedtime. Omega 3’s have been shown in studies to help your sleep processes, and krill oil in particular works in the brain because its omega 3 oils are bound to phospholipids via a process called phosphorolation. Krill oil helps with my sleep, and a little bit more fat in your body can keep your energy level stable for longer, and you want stable energy in order to do all the detox things that your body does when you sleep.
Some of my coaching clients do really well with adding up to a tablespoon of Upgraded Brain Octane or Upgraded MCT Oil before bedtime. They blend it into herbal tea. They put in a little bit of butter, and they use it as a way to provide fat to the brain for stable energy during sleep. You can try this to see if it works for you. It’s kind of amazing. If you’re having energy problems while you sleep and that’s what’s waking you up, this can totally help.
This, by the way, is compatible with the next hack, which is, try up to 1 tablespoon of raw honey before bed on an empty stomach. It must be raw honey, not cooked honey or some other kind of sugar. Your brain uses liver glycogen. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate storage. It uses it at night. Raw honey replenishes liver glycogen preferentially compared to muscle glycogen, which your body tends to use. So a little bit of honey, surprisingly, can create stable glucose levels for maybe 6 hours. If you take it with Brain Octane, your brain can get some glucose from the honey and some ketones from the Brain Octane. If you have both of those present while you sleep, it can be a surprising effect.
Other clients have improved their sleep by taking a couple tablespoons of our Upgraded Collagen Protein from grass-fed cows. If you’re short on amino acids, the enzymatically processed, undenatured protein doesn’t require digestion the way normal protein does, so it just kind of absorbs into the body, and you feel really good.
Maybe you’ve heard this before. Don’t drink coffee after 2:00 p.m., because it’s going to mess with your sleep.
If you put everything food related together, you could take a gram or so of krill oil. You could take a tablespoon of Brain Octane oil, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of collagen protein, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw honey, maybe even a whole tablespoon. I wouldn’t do everything all at once the first time you try this, because then you won’t know which one worked best, and these things can cross react. Isolate each one separately and try them out 1 by 1. Everyone’s a little different, but 1 of these is very likely to improve your sleep quality.
If you’re looking for additional natural supplements and home remedies to improve your sleep quality, there are several potent ones that I’ve written about and that you’re hearing about that you can try. Here are my favorite supplements for sleep.
GABA is an amino acid you take. It’s good for its natural calm and relaxation effects. I’ve got to point out our supplement called GABA Wave, which is a modified form of GABA that really, really gives me the deepest sleep. I just love taking it. It’s the sort of thing that you take every other day, because it also gives you a lot of focus during the day. When I’m traveling to a new zone for jet lag, I’ll take it in the morning. I feel great all day, but when nighttime comes, I don’t care what my home time zone says, I’m going down. I’m sleeping.
You could consider valerian root, which is a really powerful herb for sleep and insomnia or anxiety. It smells really bad. For me I’m really groggy in the morning. I don’t recommend using it every night. But if you’re on a flight, or you’re just stressed, you just can’t sleep, you had a bad day, valerian can basically knock you out.
Passionflower is another herb. It acts kind of like valerian, but it doesn’t smell nearly as bad, and it’s less intense. I’m happy to take passionflower if I’m really kind of stressed. But to be honest, it’s not really a big problem for me.
You can get kava stress release tea. I would describe this as like chamomile tea on steroids. It calms some people down really nicely.
Another big thing is called Natural Calm Magnesium. This is a magnesium supplement, but you drink it as a hot tea. It reminds me of the taste of like Sweetarts or Smarties, those things that I liked when I was a kid, those candies. The only thing you need to know if you’re going to be using Natural Calm is that you need to brush your teeth or rinse with baking soda afterwards. It’s a highly acidic drink. It can and will remove your teeth enamel if you sleep with it on your teeth. I know this from experience.
Finally, there’s 5HTP. This is a calm and sleep supplement. It stimulates more natural melatonin production, which makes you sleepier. If you’re interested in things like lucid dreaming, check out our new Choline Force supplement. Take that a few hours before you go to bed, along with 5HPT, and see how you feel. Having that extra acetylcholine while you’re sleeping, if it doesn’t keep you up, can really help with just intense dreaming.
Let’s talk sleep tracking, not just sleep hacking. In order to do this, if you have an iPhone, download my favorite iPhone sleep app, which is called sleep cycle, which helps you track your regular sleep patterns. You just put your phone on airplane mode. Put it on your mattress under the top sheet, and you set the alarm. Actually, you set the alarm before you put it under the sheet, but hey. It’ll track your sleep quality using the microphone on your phone, and it wakes you feeling way refreshed, because it knows when you’re in deep sleep of the top of a sleep cycle, and it has a sleep window.
So you can say, “Wake me up by 6:45 a.m., no matter what.” But it’ll find in those few minutes before 6:45 when you’re already almost awake, and just kind of nudge you up. So you don’t wake up like, “Oh, what? Where am I?” I haven’t done that in a long time, because this app always wakes me at the right time. Seriously, I’d pay a hundred bucks for this app, and it’s like so inexpensive. I don’t know how much it is. Do this for at least a week so you get a sense of your baseline sleep quality.
I already said this, but I’m going to say it again. Put your phone on airplane mode. Do not sleep with your phone turned on under your top sheet right next to your head. Your brain matters.
Once you’ve tracked your sleep, you’ll have the data ready to hack your sleep. And check this out, you can change in the app different variables. So you can tell it, as you’re going to sleep, “Today I exercised. Today I had sex. Today I took collagen before bed. Today I …” You touch these little surveys. It’ll show you a report over time. Funny. Every day you have sex you sleep better or worse. Every day you have collagen you sleep better or worse. It totally just makes it simple to know what affected your sleep quality. What did you do today? How did it affect you tonight, which is going to affect how you feel the next night. Once you’ve got your baseline, you can experiment with sleep hygiene, making the room darker, supplements, and the food hacks.
The other thing I recommend is that you get plug-in lights that don’t put out any blue spectrum. We carry a little nightlight type of thing on the bulletproof.com store, and it’s inexpensive. It plugs into an outlet in your bathroom or somewhere else. You can turn this light on, and it doesn’t make any blue light, so it doesn’t interrupt your melatonin. So when I wake up in the middle of the night and I want to go to the bathroom, I’ll switch on one of those lights, and then I stay sleepy, and I go right back to sleep, so I don’t get disturbed sleep, and I don’t get disturbed circadian rhythm. Like I said, I turn on the bright spotlights in the bathroom. It’s not the same effect, and I don’t go back to sleep as well.
This next part is going to actually piss some people off. Look for electromagnetic field or EMF filters that plug into your wall. On the store we carry the Greenwave filters. Depending on where you live and how clean the city or state electrical grid is, there can be perturbations that affect some people. I have a friend who woke up, and this is in San Francisco, every night at 2:04 a.m. It had been happening for more than a decade. We plugged the filters into her house, and that night she slept through the whole night, and from that night on the problem went away.
What was going on was an electrical substation was kicking on somewhere, creating a spike, and her body was just sensitive enough that she kind of woke up. Didn’t know why. It was very subtle. But these things happen. They’re almost invisible. If you dig in on the research on EMFs and biology, you realize that our bodies are chemical, physical, electrical, and we’re also electromagnetic, and that’s okay. We have all of these effects in our body. We’re not robots.
Finally, check out what acupuncture or acupressure points can do. The sleep induction mat that we’ve got on the bulletproof.com store is profound. It’s a mat with little spikes on it. You put it on your bed, take off your shirt, lay on your back. For about a minute, you feel like you’re going to die, because clearly you’re sleeping on a tenderizer, and this is impossible. Your body’s freaking out, but after a minute or 2 when you don’t get off of it, the body stops. That stop response is a relaxation response, and you just kind of melt into it. What used to hurt now just feels relaxing and stimulating. You lay on it for about 20 minutes. Then you sort of roll over, toss it off the bed, and you go into this deep, most relaxing sleep. It’s kind of amazing what you can do.
Thanks for tuning in to the Bulletproof Radio Short Report. Check us out on iTunes and YouTube. If you enjoy this, please do me the favor of quickly logging in and on iTunes just leave a review. Let people know whether this is helpful for you, because reviews are going to help other people to find this information. I go to a lot of trouble in order to put it out there for you, and I’d just appreciate it if you shared it, if you find it valuable. Thank you.
If you haven’t had a chance to learn about our sleep induction mat, check it out on the website at upgradedself.com. It’s a Bulletproof product that allows you to reach a deeper sleep more quickly by triggering an endorphin surge. It helps me get to sleep faster, and very specifically, to bet more deep sleep.