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Optimize Your Sleep

Getting right on sleep

Sleep was a lower priority for me for a long time, and I was a night owl for most of my life. But I traded it in, after hearing a compelling argument — for me, the case is biological. This is how our bodies adapted, so we'd do well to optimize our sleep to help our bodies feel best.

Why is this so important?

Our bodies are our main vessel. If we're excited to do something — learn, make change, grow, do work, whatever — but our body's tired and our brain's feeling sluggish and fatigued, we're undermining our efforts.

Let's support those efforts. Having gone down a research rabbit hole on this, here's what I recommend:

#1: Low Angle Sun Exposure

The biggest win is getting sunlight exposure shortly after sunrise, and shortly before sunset. That lower angled sun viewing ( which I shorthand / affectionately refer to as "photons" ) sends signals to the rest of your body about what time it is, which re-enforces a good circadian rhythm.

Simply put: 45-60 mins after sunrise, and 45-60 mins before sunset, go outside and look toward the sun. That exposure is going to send your body all kinds of signals to either ramp up, or ramp down, the day.

If you've got meetings or other obligations conflicting, stepping away for even 5-10 mins can help. Telling your meeting leader is a good idea if it's a recurring meeting; heck, you could formalize a short recess with everyone in attendance.

#2: Cold Bedroom ( 65-70 )

I generally avoid A/C, but for sleep, it's indispensible. Cooler body temperature ( following in the adaptive pattern of cooler temps at night ) is an imperative for falling and staying asleep. I fought against buying an A/C for years, and finally took the plunge after hearing this argument — and it was worth every penny. You can find smaller, portable A/C units in the range of ~$100. If you need help, I'm happy to set you up a GoFundMe campaign, hit me up directly: — hell, we can make the case for a Groupon if we get enough people assembled. 😏

#3: Avoid light at bed time

Black out curtains. Banish your devices. I even tape over little LED power indicator lights. This one takes a little willpower, but it's huge — light sends signals to your brain saying "OK, time to be awake!" so every second of screen time when laying down to sleep is working against you. Tamp down on that impulse, and you can win the battle and the war, both.

There's more, but those are the biggest ones.

Andrew Huberman does an intense ( hour-forty ) deep dive on this topic, which is where I clipped most of these highlights from. If you're hungry for more, he's pretty good.

Yeah OK but are we going to "just sleep better" our way into fixing our planet, mending political polarization, etc. ?

Hot take, perhaps stretching credulity, but — I call it entirely possible ! One person improving their sleep on their own, isn't going to do it, no. But if everyone's feeling closer to their best selves, and showing up to do the work on that strongest possible footing ? I'd argue it could go a real long way in hearing eachother out, helping cooler heads prevail, and working most effectively to solve problems. As a lifelong night owl I can attest: it was life-changing for me, personally.

And zooming out, we have all the tools we need to fix the big problems in front of us. Let's start with setting ourselves up for success, and build up from there. 💪🏻