“Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 24
Good sleep is not only a human right, it is critical to our long-term health, especially our brain health. An astonishing 35% of the population is sleep deprived. There is a solution to this epidemic. We at AGEIST approach sleep the same way we do nutrition and exercise: good sleep is a fitness activity that requires preparation, proper set and proper setting.
We have a saying here: “Gently land the plane; don’t crash the plane,” meaning that falling sleep is not a simple switch we activate; it is an easy yet deliberate process that ramps us down from the activity of the day into the recovery mode of sleeping.
Good sleep doesn’t just happen; we need to design for it. The idea that our brains can just switch off as we switch off a light doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead of attempting to immediately go from daytime high mental engagement to sleep, we need to land the plane that is our brain slowly, and avoid this sudden “crash,” the likes of which often result in less restful nights.
After all, getting good rest is not just about falling asleep. Being able to sleep through the night is a vital piece of the puzzle, and there are several variables that play a star role in our rest. Here are some tips to prepare for a great night’s sleep as we age. Key factors along our sleep runway include temperature, caffeine intake, alcohol, brain stimulation activities, eating, and blue light exposure.
Temperature: Falling body temp is a powerful signal that it is time to switch off for the night. The 68 degree mark that is often published is a myth; everyone has a different internal thermostat – some may like the room quite cool, while others not so much. Figuring out your perfect sleep temperature can be tricky at best. Moreover, your “Cinderella climate” could be quite different from that of your sleep partner.
In cases like this, we highly recommend the temperature-controlled Eight Sleep Pod cover. Using innovative technology and personal biometrics, their products are designed to restore individuals to their peak energy levels each morning. The personalized dual-zone technology is clinically proven to increase sleep quality by 32%. This means both you and your sleep partner can get the essential, high-quality restorative sleep you deserve. Eight Sleep also allows you to warm your bed if you or your partner runs cold. Finding this ideal temperature is one of our crucial tips to prepare for great sleep at any age.
Caffeine: Depending on your ability to metabolize caffeine, you will want to establish a cut-off time. For some, it will be 11 am; for others, it could be 2 pm. Remember that caffeine has a half life, meaning the average amount of time it takes to reduce its impact 50% is 5 hours. That is just the average; for some people, the half life could be much longer. If you notice caffeine interfering with your sleep, make your cut-off earlier in the day, or switch to a beverage with less zing.
Alcohol: Although drinking a glass of wine before bed may seem relaxing at the time, there is a very good chance there could be a rebound effect and after a few hours you may find yourself wide awake. If you are going to drink, try to give yourself 2-3 hours for your body to fully process the alcohol before you go to bed.
Brain stimulation activities: You will want to downshift over the 2-3 hours before going to sleep. These include work, high-intensity exercise, scary movies, and even social media if you find it to be something you think about a lot. We need to ease our minds into a slower mode, and this takes some time. We find reading, listening to calming music, and meditation to be surefire ways of easing into relaxation.
Eating: Try to give yourself 2-3 hours between eating and sleeping. Eating has a circadian rhythm component to it, meaning the amount of time after your last meal of the day is a signal to begin the sleep cycle. This is especially true if you have a protein-rich meal which seems to be particularly stimulating.
Blue light: After you wake up, try to receive outdoor blue light exposure as soon as you can. This will start your 16-hour waking clock. At night, do the reverse and avoid blue light as it will inappropriately signal to your brain that it is morning, shutting off your melatonin production and preventing you from falling asleep. Places like fluorescent-lit big box stores (or casinos, for that matter) are prime examples of what you don’t want before bed. At home, go for warm light bulbs, the 2800k ones, not the daylight-balanced ones, and if you can, turn down the intensity an hour before bed. Candlelight is perfect for a wind-down, a daylight-balanced iPad much less so.
Overall, we find that the adjustments we make to our sleep habits tend to work best when we introduce them one or two at a time, and commit to cementing them into our routine. Make each of these tips your own, and take control over how you prepare for a great night’s sleep at any age. Interested in learning more? Check out our conversation with sleep researcher, Dr. Satchin Panda.
Use code AGEIST at checkout for an additional $50 off your Eight Sleep order sitewide.