8 Hacks that Took my Sleep to the Next Level

circadian biology open access optimization May 23, 2022

For the past year, I've been working on improving the quality of my sleep daily. If you get eight hours of sleep a night and spend 6-7 hours in light sleep, that doesn't qualify as good sleep. Good quality sleep means that you are getting uninterrupted sleep and enough deep and REM sleep. When sleeping 7-9 hours a night, a good rule of thumb is to spend at least 90 minutes in each phase.

Before I fixed my sleep, I was getting 60-120 minutes of deep sleep and less than 40 minutes of REM a night despite sleeping for 8-9 hours. These past two months, I started getting optimal sleep scores on my Oura ring (save $40 with link) daily: 120+ minutes of REM and 120+ minutes of deep sleep on most nights. I felt the shift in my body before I realized it had become the new normal. My energy and mental clarity improved remarkably. I was overjoyed to discover that, after numerous sleep hacks, I was finally obtaining the deep, restful sleep I craved. If you’re like me and can't function when you don’t get good quality sleep, this article is for you.

Sleep is necessary for a variety of reasons, but one of my favorites is its role in the glymphatic system. The glymphatic system is the brain's lymphatic system. It operates while you're sleeping, allowing the brain to drain and eliminate toxins. You may feel brain fog, forgetfulness, have difficulty making decisions or focusing, and other symptoms when the glymphatic system is interrupted (due to waking up numerous times during the night, insomnia, etc.). Furthermore, during the healing process, deep, restful sleep should be a must. This is the time when your body needs to focus on healing and restoration.

It's important to go over five foundational habits before I share the hacks and tools I used to take my sleep to the next level:

  • Spend more time in the sun during the day (without getting burned). It will promote deep quality sleep. It is also the best way to reset your circadian rhythm if you’re jet-lagged especially if you are catching sunrise and sunset.
  • Avoid coffee after 2 PM, particularly if you are a slow metabolizer (you can check your CYP1A2 genotype to learn about how fast you metabolize coffee). Slow metabolizers may get anxious or jittery after drinking coffee. They also have a hard time falling asleep if they drink coffee late in the day. 
  • Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. This frees up your energy to concentrate on restorative sleep rather than digestion.
  • Take deep breaths throughout the day. Become mindful of your breathing and practice belly breathing for 5-15 minutes a day. This stimulates your vagus nerve which promotes a relaxation response. 
  • Make your room cool (67 degrees Fahrenheit) and completely dark to stimulate melatonin production. I bought a black curtain on Amazon to achieve the latter. 


Take your sleep to the next level with these 8 hacks:

  1. Turn off WIFI when you go to bed. To avoid forgetting this, I purchased this timer. Every night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., the timer switches off WiFi. Non-native EMF are very disruptive at the cellular level. 
  2. Move your bed away from the wall by a few feet to avoid the electric fields coming from wires within the bedroom walls.
  3. Wear daylight blue light blocking glasses during the day when you spend time indoors, around LED and fluorescent lights, and in front of your laptop, TV, and phone. This will not only help you sleep like a baby, but it will also help you stay focused and have more energy during the day. I recommend Ra Optics (code PAOLA). 
  4. Expose your eyes to red light for 20-30 minutes during the day if you don’t spend much time in the sun (although the latter is superior). I recommend EMR-Tek (code PAOLA). I have Firestorm and it is a beast. 
  5. Wear sunset or red lenses when the sun goes down to stimulate melatonin production. This will help you fall asleep easily and support deep sleep. I recommend Ra Optics (code PAOLA).
  6. Wear an eye mask when sleeping especially if your room is not dark enough. I recommend a 100% silk one such Amazon.
  7. Invest in a good air filter that filters mycotoxins (mold toxins) if you have mold symptoms or suspect that you are being exposed to mold. Mold may disrupt sleep and predisposes you to be in a sympathetic state characterized by shallow breathing. AirDoctor (the link automatically applies the discount) is the only air filter I trust and recommend.
  8. Finally, listen to the BrainTap App when you go to sleep. BrainTap was created to aid in the creation of extremely relaxed mental states. It can be used to improve vagal tone, improve sleep, increase energy, and reduce anxiety, among other things. This has been a game-changer for both me and my clients on so many levels.

Happy Deep Sleep Friends!

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