(Breather) You know that feeling: you’re reading a book, or watching a movie or tv show you’re really into, and then your eyelids get heavy. You can actually feel the droopiness kicking in, but you fight it, because you were really into that film or that conversation you were in the middle of. But the feeling persists; it doesn’t go away. Why? Because it’s melatonin kicking in and coming to tell you it’s time to wrap it up and get some sleep!
At night, a variety of wonderful circadian biological processes help you feel sleepy and transition into a peaceful night of sleep. But what happens when melatonin is suppressed? If you keep watching TV or checking your email for instance, cortisol spikes, and keeps you awake when you really should be sleeping.
This is why it is key you spend those few hours before bed doing restful activities to help you wind down your day, rather than stimulating things that keep you alert and up. For example, taking an evening walk is a great way to facilitate a good night’s sleep. In this 10-part breather show series, I will focus on a different MOFO Mission, and the reason why we are starting with sleep is simple: you can’t even think about all the other things you need to tackle until you’ve locked in good sleep. In this show, I’ll discuss all the actions you can take to ensure you’re having uninterrupted, peaceful sleep every night.
Sure, everyone knows that sleep is super important, but it’s probably the one thing most people compromise on and don’t employ discipline with. Unfortunately we humans have a huge propensity for digital stimulation and instant gratification, and dopamine triggers seriously interfere with long-term, healthy lifestyle practices. There is a cost to mindless pursuit of pleasure and only seeking out things that deliver instant gratification, and it’s usually at the expense of your health.
I think one of the best things you can do for the quality of your sleep is simply being aware and planning ahead. Take note of when the sun goes down – think of it as your cue from nature that it’s time to mellow out. Also, try to get all tasks that need to be done on a screen taken care of before the evening, as you don’t want to interfere with Dim light melatonin onset (DLMO). DLMO is what helps your body stay on a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, because your body produces its own melatonin beginning 2 hours before bedtime, as long as the lighting is dim. But when your suppress melatonin, you can’t go to sleep when you eventually decide to, and you get increased sugar cravings, usually resulting in munching on a snack (or two or three) and to top it all off, snacking so late means you’re more likely to store those calories as extra fat.
First of all, a good night’s sleep actually starts first thing in the morning. When you wake up near sunrise, this allows you to expose your eyes to direct sunlight, and you’ll feel a natural boost of energy. What else can you do? Let’s get into it.
How To Get Started With MOFO Mission #1:
#1: Minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark.
Getting some blue-light/UV-blocking glasses is a must. Check out Ra Optics, founded by previous podcast guest Matt Maruca for some great quality frames, and there’s also some lower-priced pretty decent glasses on Amazon. Also, minimize the light sources in your home. Think of getting a Himalayan salt lamp, switch out white bulbs for orange bulbs (“bug” bulbs in any home supply store), and download f.lux to moderate the light emission from your screen after dark.
#2: Engage in mellow activities, not stimulatory activities, in the hours before bed.
This could be foam-rolling, taking an evening walk, reading a book, or a calming, evening ritual. Ariana Huffington has a wonderful book called The Sleep Revolution where she talks about how helpful it is to create an association in your brain by doing the same calming, pre-bedtime activity every night before bed to ensure restful sleep, like taking a bath.
#3: Create a sleep sanctuary.
The bedrooms should be for sleep only – no office desk, no paperwork, no computer or TV screens, no clutter, no junk – it should be a place your brain associates with calmness, a place you can go to escape and relax. Listen to my show on the importance of creating a pitch-black sleep experience here, maybe invest in some blackout curtains, and definitely keep all chargers out of the bedroom – charge your phone and computer in a hallway if you can, because having your devices in your room just creates more temptation to reach for it in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning. Unless you’re a doctor and need to deliver a baby or do emergency surgery in the middle of the night, I can’t see a reason why anyone would need to charge or keep their phone in their bedroom overnight, of course, unless there’s a family situation going on. The second thing to work on is having a quiet sleeping space. You can’t control outside noise, that’s for sure, but you can do things to make your sleeping experience as quiet as possible, like getting a noise cancelling machine, or using an app to play soothing nighttime sounds, like rainfall or ocean waves. I also would recommend a Hepa Air Filter/De-Ionizer to clean and remove negative ions from the air.
#4: Keep it cool.
Keep the thermostat between 60-68 degrees year round, and don’t overdo it on blankets and covers. You shouldn’t wake up freezing and shivering in the middle of the night, but you could also consider seeing if your body actually feels better sleeping in a cooler temperature.
#5: Having a good morning routine.
Like I said earlier, a good night’s sleep starts right after you wake up. Establish an activity that forces you out of bed and ensures your eyes will be exposed to natural light. I’ve been sticking to and expanding on a morning routine consisting of stretches I do before even getting out of bed (click here to see how to do them) and the ‘Unfrozen Caveman Runner.’
#6: Nap when you need to.
Especially if you’ve had a sleep deficit overnight, take a nap if you need to! If you feel a decline in productivity or feel distracted, let yourself take 20 minutes to restore your alertness, mood, and energy levels. Napping works because it refreshes the depleted sodium potassium pumps in your brain neurons. That’s where the commonly-used expression of ‘I feel fried’ comes from – the electrical circuitry of how your brain fires gets depleted, because you haven’t given your brain proper restoration over the course of a day. Humans are simply not designed to spend hours a day on a screen in peak productivity mode with no breaks. Think of a nap as something that boosts and supports productivity, rather than taking away from it. Even if you can’t really fall into a deep sleep, you can still close your eyes in a dark space and disengage with your brain as best you can.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your sleep is to modify your belief system: actually take the steps necessary to prioritize sleep; and make it your top priority. Create your sleep sanctuary, refine your night-time routine, and commit to doing everything you can to make sure you are having peaceful, restful sleep, every night of the week!
Sleep is the number one assignment on your MOFO mission. [04:36]
Is it because you need instant gratification that you sacrifice sleep? [05:47]
The introduction of artificial light throws off our delicate circadian rhythm. [07:42]
Do whatever you can to minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. [11:44]
In the final hours before bed do mellowing activities rather than stimulating activities. [14:43]
Your bedroom should be for sleep only. It should be pitch dark, quiet, and cool. [16:41]
First thing in the morning, expose your eyes to sunlight and move. [22:28]
Take a nap. Napping is a miracle cure. [23:34]
- Brad’s Shopping Page
- The Hacking of the American Mind
- Breather Show re Dr. Lustig
- Ra Optics
- The Sleep Revolution
- Brad Kearns’ Morning Routine
- Dr. Jack Kruse
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
What’s up MOFOs? Cue the music it’s time for the MOFO mission and a series of 10 breather shows getting into detail about the 10 lifestyle assignments of the MOFO mission. Oh my gosh, you’re going to love it. We’re going to string them together. We’re going to be the best that we can be good for ladies too. If you’re listening or good for your man, if he’s a little stubborn and thinking that he knows everything, it’s time to become an even better MOFO. And we’re going to start with number one on the list of 10 and that’s sleep. Sleep is number one. That’s right, because we don’t even need to talk about any of the other matters until we get this sh-ee— handled. And unfortunately we pay a lot of lip service to the importance of sleep. Everyone knows how important sleep is, and we tend to drift away from these high minded ideals, uh, stated commitments and get leakage here and there and compromise on the most precious health, vitality and peak performance instigator of them all. Why do you think this happens?
I think that we have an amazing opportunity for instant gratification, constant stimulation, digital entertainment, especially at nighttime when you feel deserving. cause you’ve had such a busy, stressful, hectic day. And you just want to sit back, not have some guy on a podcast scold you for, staying up too late and binge through your episodes. Especially when they autoplay the next one in 10 seconds. Who thought of that, man? Now you have to push a button to stop the show instead of push a button to get the show going anyway, it’s these dopamine triggers these desire for this powerful instant gratification that you get from watching a great show in the way of our big picture, longterm healthy lifestyle practices. Listen to my Breather show where I cover Dr. Lustig’s amazing book, The Hacking of the American Mind, where I talk in more detail about the costs of these instant gratification, this pursuit of pleasure that counteracts or takes over everything.
The dopamine pathways in our brain become flooded to the extent that we suppress our serotonin receptors, which is the way that we access longterm happiness and contentment, such as getting a good night’s sleep and waking up in the morning, feeling awesome, ready to go kick some butt, get some exercise, do what we gotta do. write in our gratitude journals, do all those things that we think sound good, except when you wake up and your head’s a little heavy and your drag ass, and you’re wondering why you watch that third or fourth extra show last night. So let’s get this thing straight. And first of all, acknowledge that pull that allure of instant gratification that is throwing us off track. So I’m trying to do the best of myself and throw in some recommendations and relate with you.
Things that have worked for me, one of them is man, when that melatonin hits, I am bouncing no matter what, I don’t care if it’s a party halfway through a great movie, when those eyelids start to feel heavier and heavier and get sleepier and sleepier, I think, you know what I mean? That’s melatonin kicking in working its magic and also triggering the lowering of adenosine and other neurotransmitter and also dopamine. And that’s what is making our eyelids feel heavy. So all these wonderful circadian driven biological processes are kicking in at nighttime to help us feel sleepy and transition into a peaceful night of sleep. And guess what ? We can short circuit those override those with the introduction of excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. You’ve probably heard me say this term over and over any chance I get, but that’s probably the number one genetic disconnect of modern life. Maybe the nasty ass food is number one. And, uh, the introduction of artificial light throwing off this powerful and extremely delicate circadian rhythm is one of the biggest health disconnects. And we can do something about it, right? So when it gets dark and your environment, whatever time of year, winter time, that means a much longer period of sleep and downtime than summertime. When it gets dark, you can go to sleep an hour or two later, whatever.
So that’s also natural part of the biological processes of having a slower, a more mellow winter experience than a higher active and more out and about summer experience. But as soon as the sun sets, I’m going to have that be your cue to start looking for ways to mellow things out and get your screen use over with, on the early side of the night, rather than driving it into the later portions of the night, especially when you’re doing a lively, active engagement, such as answering emails or playing video games or things that require a lot of your cognitive energy. A less objectionable we might say is sitting back on the couch and being entertained by a television program. But either way, when you throw this light into your world after dark, you suppress, you interfere with this delicate process called dim light melatonin onset D L M O.
And that is where we are starting to compromise our health and interfere with the all these natural processes that are so important. And when you suppress melatonin in order to stay awake and keep engaged to your email inbox or your show that you’re watching the prominent stress hormone, cortisol spikes in the bloodstream to keep you awake. When it’s a time when you really should be sleeping. Guess what that does. It increases sugar cravings. My now world famous brother, Jeff, cause I’ve mentioned this anecdote several times. He says, he’s eating well. He’s doing well. He exercises, he’s trying to be this primal ancestral aligned, but he says his biggest problem is he has to reach for this bowl of cereal every night, around 11:00 PM. And he says, brother, Brad, what can I do about it? And I go, I have a perfect solution. It’ll never happen again.
Go to sleep at 10 30. Okay.
Hey. So when you’re up, when you’re throwing this light into your face, especially a mobile device, cause it’s so easy to have that light blasting into your eyeballs wherever you are, even in bed, this is what increases sugar cravings and makes you more likely to store those calories as fat due to the hormonal dysregulation. It also messes up your sleep cycling. And what do you get as a payoff in the morning, especially if you did hit the sugar is you get kind of a high insulin drag-ass level where you can’t get out of bed and that’s too bad. You know why? Because first thing in the morning, that’s when our bodies are naturally optimized to deliver spikes in the mood, elevating energetic hormones, like cortisol in the positive aspect, like serotonin and suppress melatonin. Everything works wonderfully. When you wake up near sunrise and get your eyeballs exposed to direct sunlight, first thing in the morning, you’ll feel a natural boost of energy.
So yeah, Let’s talk about some assignments to get MOFO on this deal here. And the first one is to do, you can to minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. A very popular practice is to wear the orange or yellow colored. UV protective eyewear in your home environment in the evening. So when you have orange or yellow lenses, you can see perfectly well inside. Not perfectly well, sometimes you’ll stumble over stuff cause it does dampen the, uh, the blast of light that you get from indoor light bulbs screen light. They call that blue light because it’s the visible spectrum on the scale of light. The stuff that we can see is termed blue, even though it’s coming from a white light bulb or a white screen emission, right? So we want to protect against that blue light exposure at nighttime by using the darkening lenses.
So if the lens has UV protection, it is blocking a great portion of the blue light. You can go visit raw optics.com. My main man, Matt Maruca, former podcast guest, the boy wonder in the ancestral health scene living the dream, living a great life and dispensing wonderful quality eyewear, very fashionable. So you can wear it out and look good at night and block that harmful blue light emission. You can also buy inexpensive pairs on Amazon. There’s one called UVX for 10 bucks. It’ll change your life. Now, the other thing you can do is minimize the light sources in your home. So get one of those super cool Himalayan salt lamps that are also thought to purify the air and look awesome. And turn those on. Switch out some of your choice lamps. Switch out the white bulbs with an orange bowl. They call them bug bulbs. You can find them in the home supply store. Uh, it’ll have a nice orange hue. You can also get the now popular, uh, the retro old school tungsten bulbs. You know, you can see the filament inside and those emit an orange hue rather than that blasting white hue. Uh, they’re also stylish. So you can put those into your light fixtures and do a much better job of having an mellow evening experience. Um, with your are insisting on working with a screen, you can get the new technology very popular. Now you’ve probably heard of f.lux Or Iris tech. Iris tech is great cost like $15 big deal, and it has all kinds of different choices to, uh, moderate the light emission from your screen after dark, same with f.lux F dot L U X. And I think the website is just f.lux and that’ll be a free program. That’ll moderate the color temperature of your screen in conjunction with sunset. Uh, fortunately the, uh, device makers have technology now, blue light minimizing technology, uh, called night shift on the iOS, the Apple products and night mode, I think in the Android products. So make sure that is activated and enabled. This is the number one enemy of your circadian rhythm.
And then in the final hours before bed do mellowing activities rather than stimulatory activities. This could be foam rolling. This could be casual chatting and visiting. Oh yeah. I forgot about that in our obsession with screens these days. This could be leashing up the dog and walking him or her around the block as your last hurrah for the evening to mellow out, get some fresh air, maybe a little bit of a chill help, lower the body temperature, which is a great way to facilitate sleep.
Uh, if you want to do rituals, Arianna Huffington, her wonderful book, The Sleep Revolution talks about how you can, uh, make a strong association in your brain between a calming evening ritual and falling asleep. So especially if you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, do some ritualistic behaviors. For example, taking a bath, putting the candle light on in the bath, then getting into your favorite soft pair of pajamas. The attire, the brain will associate all these things with sleep, getting into bed. I like to use those miner’s lamps. You know what? The strap, you can also find those online or in a home supply store or a sporting goods store. So you have a nice small beam of light shining on the book page. That’s vastly better than looking at your mobile device and having that bright light shining on your eyeballs suppressing melatonin. So that’s your first assignment is to minimize artificial light and digital stimulation after dark. The second assignment being mellowing out, especially in that final hour. A foam rolling has been found to stimulate parasympathetic activity very quickly because of the good pain, the endorphin rush that you get from the discomfort that occurs when you’re rolling along stiff tight muscles. So that pain relieving effect, uh, will also help mellow you out really quickly. So if you’re going to watch your final show, get down on the ground for a five minute rolling session, anything you can do to wind down that final hour.
Then for the third assignment, we’re going to look at your sleep environment and it’s absolutely essential to create a wonderful mellow sleep sanctuary. AKA your bedroom use for sleep only. There’s no office desk in the corner, no paperwork, no computer screens, no TV screens, no clutter, no junk, no half finished home improvement projects, just a nice austere spartan minimalist bedroom. You can Google the term minimalist bedroom design and see all that, these beautiful, uh, effects and, uh, choices for decor that, uh, associate your brain with calmness mellowness and actually a respite from the hectic activity and energy across the other areas of your home. Granted, there’s going to be a lot of things happening in the kitchen, dirty dishes, gotta remind the kids to clean those. Uh, maybe there is an unfinished home improvement project in one corner. Okay, but just make that bedroom super cool and mellow and chill. Then the objective is to make sure that you can achieve a pitch dark sleeping experience. So get your blackout curtains. Tape up with black electrical tape. Any of those annoying little power, light emissions that you see on your air filter, your essential oil diffuser, your device, chargers, all those kinds of things. And speaking of that, if at all possible charge your mobile device in the hallway, outside of the bedroom.
So you won’t be tempted to reach for it in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, if it’s not at all possible. And I’m gonna argue that it’s at all possible for almost all of us, except for dear sister, Katie, who might be on call to deliver a baby in the middle of the night. So guess what? She has permission to have her phone at her bedside. The rest of you all, what excuse you got, you don’t need that phone, charge it in the hallway or at least charge it out of arm’s reach and make sure that there’s no light emissions anywhere. So if you have night lights going on or anything that’s causing light to come into the sleeping environment, take care of business, maybe get some, uh, tape or even a low budget, you know, tape black construction paper to the edges where the curtains don’t cover.
It has to be absolutely pitch dark. Uh, there’s a great article on Dr. Jack Kruse’s website, the biohacker extraordinare, and he has a 24 hour, uh, circadian function, uh, with a whole bunch of commentary about what systems in your body are optimized at what times of the day. And one of the big points he makes is that from midnight to 3:00 AM, that’s when the big boys and girls come out to play. The adaptive and restorative hormones like growth hormone, testosterone, the immune function, everything kicks into high gear to restore and refresh and rejuvenate you. And those hormones are very, very light sensitive. So even tiny emissions of light under the bloody door for Christ’s sake, I have a wadded up towel that I put in my napping room, my recording studio slash napping room. I know, multipurpose. I stuffed that under the door. So that light can be stuffed up when I’m taking my Saturday afternoon nap after my hard HighJump practice. Yeah. Okay. So the room has to be absolutely dark.
The next thing you want to achieve is quiet. So whatever it takes, you can’t control your outside environment, but you certainly can get a noise canceling machine or device that emits white noise. They call it. That’s a steady noise that the brain gets used to and is not disruptive as all. It’s actually a very soothing and can be a trigger to help fall asleep. I have an app on my phone. It’s for a rainfall there’s ocean waves. You can find all kinds of stuff that you can use when you’re traveling, but at home, the best thing, the best thing I recommend is a air filter, a HEPA air filter slash D I and nicer. So it actually energizes the molecules of air in the room when the machine is working and it also emits a nice steady hum.
And you can get a lot of benefits in one machine. So you have the white noise, you have the air filter and you have the ionizer admitting negative ions, electrically charged, energetic particles. Wonderful stuff. So find one of those HEPA air filter slash de ionizer, um, anything to make the white noise to make sure that your room is quiet. Okay. And then finally, the temperature is really important. The body is designed to sleep in cooler temperatures. How about that? We’re cave men, right? We got to have a cool in our cave and this is our modern cave. So the thermostat should be somewhere between 60 and 68 year round. You want to err on the low side with your covers and your attire. So if you do get cold, of course, you can pull on more covers, but you don’t want to get under a big giant pile and then get the night sweats.
And speaking of maintaining the optimal temperature throughout the night, that’s why this Chilipad device has become so popular. So, uh, check out that website, you can just Google chili pad and they have some good educational material on there as well. But basically this is a water circulating mattress cover. So the cool water circulates all over your, uh, this cover underneath your sheets. And it helps you to jump into a bed that’s been cooled to your specifications to facilitate a good night’s sleep. And then of course, keep the mattress at the proper temperature throughout the night. So you don’t wake up and get disturbed, uh, when your body temperature naturally rises. And in the morning time, I talked about the, uh, the burst of cortisol serotonin. You also have an elevation of body temperature coinciding with sunrise to help you feel like getting up as well as transitioning out of the deep sleep cycles into the more REM dominant cycle.
So the goal of a good night’s sleep actually starts first thing in the morning by exposing your eyes to sunlight. And then you lock into a really good circadian rhythm. So the first thing to do in the morning, instead of reaching for your phone, like 84% of Americans have reported to do, do something that’s proactive and energizing. I have my Brad Kearns morning routine. You can watch it on YouTube, where I do a bunch of leg exercises, core exercises. I keep getting more elaborate with this because I love it so much. It’s such a centerpiece of my life and it sets the tone for a productive day. So I’m doing my leg moves. I’m doing my yoga bridge. I’m doing my cold plunge. Something that you can devote and commit to every single morning, uh, the best bet would be to get outdoors and do some gentle movement with your body. So if that’s a sun salute sequence in the backyard, if it’s just leasing up the dog and walking around the block, something that gets you out into a fresh air, open space, sunlight is a great way. As soon as you awaken and then you can go about all your other business. Okay?
That’s a lot of assignments for one item of the 10 on the MOFO mission, but this one is so incredibly important and all those things flow together so nicely. It’s not too much to ask right. To make a dark quiet, cool room. So get to it. If you’re noticing any areas of optimization from the discussion I just delivered. And then I’m going to add one more assignment. Nap when you need to, especially when you’ve experienced a sleep deficit overnight, for whatever reason. Napping is a miracle cure for the afternoon. Blues, the brain fog, the decline in productivity that is natural. We have a natural dip in our circadian rhythms in the afternoon, and I am a very passionate napper. I’m a professional napper now. I’m very good at falling asleep on cue in the afternoon. And what happens is if not every day, it used to be a lot more. I think I’m feeling better now for whatever reason. Uh, but if I’m feeling a decline in productivity, feeling distracted, all of a sudden I’m watching YouTube videos instead of, uh, working on my, uh, manuscript or what have you. I will go down and take a quick nap. And in 20 minutes you can achieve an amazing burst of restoration alertness. A change in mood change in energy. What’s happening is you are refreshing the depleted sodium potassium pumps in your brain neurons. So you can literally fry yourself. You know, that expression, I feel fried. I’m pretty fried this afternoon.
This is a literal truth because the electrical circuitry of how your brain fires is depleted because you haven’t given your brain proper restoration over the course of the day, humans are not designed to stare at a screen for hours and hours on end demanding peak concentration and productivity without breaks. And we’ll talk about some of this more in the other missions, but if you can take that nap, if you can discipline yourself to get away from the high stimulatory workplace environment, anytime you feel a slight decline in productivity, it will work wonders because you’ll come back feeling refreshed and energized your brain neurons firing. You’re more alert. You get more done in less time. So the nap didn’t even cost you any productivity. Absolutely not. There’s tons of books and research to validate this. And even if you claim to not be very good at it, you try, you lie down, you can’t fall asleep. You can still get a tremendous benefit from just laying down in a dark area, or even just tipping the seat back in your car if you can’t find anything appropriate and just disengaging the brain for a while, just staring off into space, daydreaming, resting, getting away from the screen.
So in summary, the number one most important assignment is I think, to, uh, modify your belief system to place sleep as your top priority. So when it comes time to that alert of instant gratification in the evenings, you will make the decision. You have the commitment and say, Nope, I’m feeling my eyelids getting a little heavy. I’m out, peace out. See it tomorrow. Everything can wait. Especially now we have programming on demand. Come on. There’s no excuse. Okay. Then we want to minimize artificial and digital stimulation after dark with the various strategies that I wear, the orange hued, uh, lamps and lighting, of course, candlelight and firelight goes in that same category of less offensive, less disruptive, uh, light frequencies, anything that’s orange yellowish, reddish, uh, get the, the programming software for your devices to minimize the, uh, the offense there, and then wind down in that final hour. Do parasympathetic stimulating activities, create rituals like taking that bath, giving your brain association strong cues for, uh, going to sleep. A.
nd then the sleep sanctuary has to be pitch dark cool, 60 to 68, quiet with the noisemaker, if necessary and free from clutter or distraction. Very simple minimalist bedroom style. Maybe consider the cooling devices or just making sure that you’re not too warm when you go into bed and then awaken at the same time every day, uh, near sunrise and get immediately outdoors, exposing your eyeballs to direct sun and doing some exercise, some body movements, something that gets the blood and oxygen flowing. I don’t mean stare at the sun. I’m just saying that you want sun hitting your eyes without glasses on, because that is a critical for the hormonal processes that get you alert and energized in the morning and have a counterregulatory response later in the evening. Finally, if you have any deficiencies or you notice decline in productivity, go take a nap. 20 minutes will do your wonders. Thanks for listening MOFOs that’s number one out of 10. We are on our way. Whew.
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