Struggling to perform at your best from the moment you wake till you go to sleep at night?
In today’s episode, we’re talking about a key component of your physical and mental foundation to be a high-performing human, and one that we probably don’t give a lot of thought to.
Still, it’s something you spend roughly a third of your life doing, so it’s a huge lever to pull in terms of optimizing your energy and your output in the world.
Yes, we’re talking about sleep.
I promise this episode won’t put you to sleep as we explore 9 quick ways to optimize your horizontal hours to wake up feeling superhuman.
Riley started through his own health journey many years ago and discovered that sleep was the missing link that brought everything together.
After some biohacking and learning from top doctors in the field, he now helps others get the root of their sleep issues rather than masking the symptoms — all about building that foundation so you can feel amazing and be the best version of you.
Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to hear 9 of Riley’s top tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
1. No Caffeine After 2pm
“It’s case by case for each person all based on genetics and many other factors, but usually 2pm — or 8 hours before we go to sleep — is the sweet spot,” Riley told me.
Riley explained that caffeine has a half-life of about 7-8 hours. That means 7-8 hours after consuming caffeine, half of the caffeine is out of our system.
For most people, this is usually enough to stop the caffeine from harming their sleep. However, some people are more sensitive and will need to leave it longer.
If you are sensitive to caffeine — maybe you get the jitters or a huge crash — Riley said you can add butter or MCT oil powder to your coffee to slow-release the caffeine.
Another tip Riley shared is to drink water before coffee in the morning. Coffee dehydrates us, and we lose around a liter of water while sleeping naturally.
Try drinking 500 ml to a liter of water after you wake up and about 90 minutes before your first coffee of the day. Riley said you’ll feel a lot better for doing so.
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure at Least 2 Hours Before Bedtime
Blue light really reduces our melatonin, the hormone responsible for helping us get to sleep.
When we wake in the morning, our melatonin level is at its lowest point so we’re awake and alert.
As it gets closer to the evening, our melatonin levels start to rise so we can get to sleep naturally.
However, by exposing our eyes to blue light Riley explained that we delay our body’s natural rhythm and the production of melatonin.
There are a few ways you can reduce the blue light you’re absorbing, these are:
Use Blue Light Filter Apps
For desktop or laptop users, Riley recommended a software called Iristech.co. This app reduces the blue light being emitted from your monitor or laptop.
For mobile use, both Apple and Android have native apps built-in that will reduce blue light. These are usually found in settings > display and will be called “blue light filter”, “night shift”, or similar.
Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Riley said wearing blue light-blocking glasses for 2-3 hours before going will also have the same effect. His recommendation is the Twilight Classic range on Amazon. (Though I have a much cheaper pair!)
Dimming lights a couple of hours before you want to sleep will also make a big difference.
3. Keep Your Bedroom Temperature Cool at 70°F (20°C) Or Below
“Our bodies sleep most optimally in a cool environment,” Riley told me.
Part of the reason for this is that our bodies will naturally drop to its lowest temperature while we’re sleeping
If you keep your bedroom too warm, this will alter your body’s natural rhythm and interrupt the quality of your sleep.
If you’ve been sleeping in a much warmer room for a while, your body will have adapted, and you might not think it’s harming your sleep.
Riley said sometimes people need “a taste of what that new normal is” and recommends lowering the temperature in your bedroom to 70°F or below for a week or two.
4. Completely Black Out Your Bedroom
“We wanna block out our room as much as possible, pretty much to the point where we can’t see any light coming in,” Riley told me.
Riley explained that even though your eyes are closed while you’re sleeping, we have receptors that absorb and detect light around our eyes and on our skin.
If light is getting into your room, there is a good chance it’s affecting the quality of your sleep.
Riley recommends putting masking tape over any light-emitting diodes, using blackout curtains, and finding ways to block any other sources of light.
If you’re finding it difficult to create a completely dark room, Riley said you can try wearing an eye mask.
It’s not as effective as blocking out the light as those receptors are still going to detect light, but it’s better than nothing.
5. Don’t Eat Any Heavy Meals 4-5 Hours Before Bedtime
Riley said eating a heavy meal within 4-5 hours before going to bed can harm the quality of your night’s sleep.
There are two main reasons for this:
- Digesting food while you sleep can cause a spike in blood sugar or cortisol levels, causing you to wake.
- Digesting food takes a lot of energy and resources, resources that could be better used to help us sleep. This extra work can also cause your core body temperature to rise.
This one might sound counterintuitive to some, as eating a big meal can make you feel sleepy.
Riley explained that you may be able to fall asleep easier after a big meal, but you’re more likely to wake up and you’re not going to get high-quality sleep.
6. Don’t Perform Any Intense Exercise 4-5 Hours Before Bedtime
Intense exercise before going to bed can be very disruptive for sleep. Riley said a brisk walk or some light exercise is fine, but any exercise that elevates your heart rate is bad for a good night’s sleep.
7. Expose Your Eyes to the Sun Upon Rising and Throughout the Day
To help get or keep our circadian rhythm – the internal body clock that lets us know when we should wake, sleep, etc. – in sync, Riley said we should expose our eyes to the sun when we wake up.
When we wake up, our cortisol is at its highest and our melatonin is at its lowest. When we’re ready to sleep at night, our cortisol is at its lowest, and our melatonin is at its highest.
Some people can’t get to sleep because their circadian rhythm, or cortisol and melatonin levels are out of sync at night.
Riley explained that exposing your eyes to light when you wake up each day helps to sync your internal body clock.
Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, this might be easier said than done.
It’s gloomy in the winter months where Riley lives, so he uses a Wake-Up Light. This is a white light that you can shine on your eyes for 30 minutes in the morning to mimic sunlight.
You should always get professional advice before taking any supplements to help you sleep, but there are some Riley has used and does recommend.
- Vitamin D – Per Riley, most people will need about 1,000 IUs for every 25 lbs of bodyweight if their levels are low.
- Melatonin – Riley said melatonin pills are really good, as long as you don’t take too much. Riley will take a little melatonin sometimes if he’s had a busy day and not had time to detach from blue light naturally. Riley said somewhere in the range of .2-2mgs is usually enough.
- L-Theanine – L-Theanine is a compound found primarily in green tea. It’s effective at reducing stress, relaxing the body, and reducing insomnia. Riley said this is a good supplement for people jacked up on caffeine and suffering from the jitters. Somewhere between 100-400mg should do the trick, you’ll have to find out what works for you.
- GABA – GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter inside our brains. It’s one of the chemicals that makes us feel relaxed and can help us sleep better. Riley said GABA is a supplement that works well for some people.
8. Do a 20-Minute Guided Meditation Before It’s Time to Go to Bed
Riley explained that we should try and relax our bodies the best we can before we go to bed. One of the ways Riley recommends relaxing is by doing guided meditations.
Another thing Riley recommends is journaling for 5-10 minutes for going to sleep. Riley explained that we can wake up in the night due to our brains processing things we’ve been thinking about.
Getting thoughts down on paper can help combat this. Meditation and journaling “can kind of empty the mind, give it kind of this blank slate-effect,” Riley told me.
9. No Alcohol Before Sleep
“We want to reduce or at least eliminate all alcohol prior to sleep,” Riley told me.
Drinking alcohol seems sleep-inducing, but it actually reduces our REM sleep which is very important for restoring our mind for the next day.
If you enjoy a glass of wine with your evening meal, this shouldn’t be a problem. The sweet spot is usually cutting out alcohol 6 hours before going to bed for most people.
Riley is currently working with people all over the world helping them get better sleep. He said people seem to be more stressed nowadays than ever before, so he’s in demand.
The tips he shared in this episode will help you form a good foundation for better sleep. If you want to go a level deeper, you can reach out to Riley and book a 1-on-1 consultation.
For general tips or more mainstream advice, you can check out SleepForSideHustlers.com where Riley offers some free training.
Riley’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
Links and Resources from this Episode
- How to Start a Sleep Consulting Business
- Twilight Classic blue light blocking glasses on Amazon
- The Honest Guys – YouTube Channel
- Sam Harris – YouTube Channel
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