Last week, I reviewed some scary stats and facts about not getting enough zzzs. Yet, thankfully, I suggested ways to get more sleep as well.
Dan Pardi, a researcher who works with the Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford University and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, reported in an interview with Dr. Mercola the three aspects of sleep.
1. Duration-length of sleep
2. Timing-being consistent with bed time
3. Intensity–how your brain and body respond to different stages of sleep
Continuing on the subject of sleep from last week as promised, it’s time to discuss sleep hacking. So, what is sleep hacking?
It’s finding ways to decrease the risks associated with less than optimal amounts of sleep while optimizing quality and preferably quantity OR just getting better sleep.
1. Light Manipulation
Different wavelengths at different times of day modulate melatonin secretion and affect the ability to fall asleep. Sleep hackers will decrease their exposure to red wavelength during the day, get out in the sun in the AM, and decrease blue light at night.
If you want to learn specifics, I went into detail here.
2. Supplement Sleep Hacks
Using supplements to modify brain response to lack of sleep and enhance cognition is another trick sleep hackers use. Some use “smart drugs” which range from stimulant medications to l-theanine, a compound found in green tea.
In an upcoming podcast with Ben Greenfield, I discuss how essential oils can modulate concentration and focus without excessive stimulation, while also helping you sleep.
3. Tracking sleep and Upping Intensity
Many sleep hackers are monitoring their sleep and using sleep induction mats which stimulate meridian points in the body and help one fall asleep faster.
4. Old Sleep Hygiene Hacks
The tried and true techniques such as sleeping in a colder room, sleeping in complete darkness, stress modulation, and adrenal and hormonal support are also incorporated in any good biohackers tool kit.
5. The Question of Timing
Sometimes these hackers are manipulating the amount of sleep they get by going to bed late and getting up with less than the recommended 8 hours.
It stands to reason that modulating or manipulating biochemistry by doing something that is “not natural,” such as “being a night owl” would have downside effects. For example, it could affect hormone levels whose release relies on light and dark cycle. A 1998 article in Sleep Medicine reports:
From studies using experimental strategies including complete and partial sleep deprivation, acute and chronic shifts in the sleep period, or complete sleep-wake reversal as occurs with transmeridian travel or shift-work, it appears that prolactin (PRL) and growth hormone (GH) profiles are mainly sleep related, while cortisol profile is mainly controlled by the circadian clock with a weak influence of sleep processes. Thyrotropin (TSH) profile is under the dual influence of sleep and circadian rhythmicity.
Furthermore, as mentioned last week, lack of sleep could contribute to a wide array of issues such as to obesity and blood sugar issues. Therefore, when “hacking” sleep, it’s important to monitor performance and function. There is a financial commitment to this hacking that needs to be considered as well. In other words, you do need to invest in supporting your body if you aren’t getting the proper quality, quantity, and timing of sleep.
I have to say, some of these hackers seem incredibly bright. I’m interested to read more studies about their experiences and in how individual variations in sleeping patterns affect our bodies.
The True Cost Of Multi-Tasking. Psychology Today. September 12, 2012.
Mercola, J. How the Cycles of Light and Darkness Affect Your Health and Wellbeing. Mercola.com. January 19, 2014. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/19/sleep-light-exposure.aspx
Dr. Mercola Interviews Dan Pardi About Sleep. YouTube. January 19, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R44hcu295l4
Pardi, D. How light exposure affects health – an interview of Dan by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dan’s Plan. January 19, 2014. http://www.dansplan.com/blog/tag/sleep
Aprey, D. Sleep Hacking Part 1: How to Sleep Less & Do More. Bulletproofexec.com. https://www.bulletproofexec.com/sleep-hacking-part-1-how-to-sleep-less-do-more/
Ameer Rosic. How to get Better Sleep: 25 Steps to Hacking Your Sleep .ammerrosic.com. July 8, 2014.
Ben Greenfield. Podcast Episode 295: Red-Light And Blue-Light Biohacking Tips, Can Coffee Raise Cholesterol, The Ultimate Guide To Stretching & More! Ben Greenfield Fitness. October 1, 2014. http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2014/10/295-red-light-and-blue-light-biohacking-tips-can-coffee-raise-cholesterol-the-ultimate-guide-to-stretching/
Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Applied Ergonomics. March 2013; 44 (2): 237-240. DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2012.07.008.
Rattue, G.Sleep Can Be Affected By Back-Lit Tablet Computers. Medscape Today News. August 24, 2012. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249402.php
Red Light and the Sleep Quality and Endurance Performance of Chinese Female Basketball Players. J Athl Train. 2012 Nov-Dec; 47(6): 673-678. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-47.6.08
Kresser, C. RHR: Why Most People Are Sleep-deprived and What to do About it. Chriskresser.com. October 2012. http://chriskresser.com/why-most-people-are-sleep-deprived-and-what-to-do-about
Gronfier C1, Brandenberger G. Ultradian rhythms in pituitary and adrenal hormones: their relations to sleep. Sleep Med Rev. 1998 Feb;2(1):17-29. PMID: 15310510
Lisa Morselli, Rachel Leproult, Marcella Balbo, & Karine Spiegel. Role of sleep duration in the regulation of glucose metabolism and appetite. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. Oct 2010; 24(5): 687-702. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2010.07.005