Biohack is commonly used as a term to describe the management of one’s personal biology using an approach that employs a combination of nutritional, medical, and even electronic solutions.When was the last time you woke up without an alarm clock, feeling energized and not needing caffeine? Have you slept well this past week? If you answered no to either of these questions, you are in good company. Two-thirds of Americans report getting less than the ideal 8 hours of sleep per night.
Why Sleep Matters
In this modern age of “wake up and grind”, it can be almost shameful to announce to your friends and family that your bedtime is 10 pm. We live in a culture that is in a constant state of stimulation and hustle. No wonder we are seeing an increase in diseases like Alzheimer’s, obesity, and autoimmune disorders.
While sleep is not the only factor in sustaining weight loss, it is a key component that is, often, overlooked. If you have a serious problem getting enough sleep, seek out the help of a functional medicine practitioner to help you get your sleep under control.
How Your Brain Functions Without Sleep
Have you ever craved a carrot at 1 am while binge-watching a show? Of course not! We crave foods like cookies and chips when we are sleep deprived. Sleep decreases glucose to the brain, which is its’ primary fuel source. Our bodies naturally seek out quick forms of glucose even when it’s not healthy for us.
Another way your brain suffers dramatically from sleep deprivation is the hippocampus This is —a region critical for the storing of new memories. When people are deprived of sleep for even one night, their ability to memorize new information in the hippocampus compared to rested participants. This deficit in the hippocampus could be caused by sleep deprivation reducing its ability to write in new information.
Alternatively, the hippocampus may need sleep to move new information to be stored in other areas of the brain. In this case, lack of sleep may cause the storage capacity of hippocampus to fill up, preventing new information from being stored.
Biohack Your Sleep With These Steps
Step 1: Control Your Exposure to Light
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm.
Step 2: Exercise during the day
People who exercise daily, regularly sleep better at night, and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea, and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, thus restorative stages of sleep.
Step 3: Watching what you digest
Your daily daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep—especially right before bedtime.
Limit caffeine and nicotine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems even up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. Smoking is another stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, especially if you smoke close to bedtime.
Avoid large meals before bed. Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
Once you have a handle on the whole biohacking process, start making small changes that will help you identify what works best for your entire bedtime routine. Remember balancing your hormones through diet, exercise, and natural supplements is the best biohack to better sleep.