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Chances are, you’ve heard the trendy buzzword “biohacking” in recent months or years. But what does the term “biohacking” actually mean? Biohacking refers to experimenting with techniques known to help you “hack” your way to improved health. A huge pillar of good health? Proper sleep quality. Most of us don’t get enough sleep – and certain biohacking supplements and techniques can help you ramp up the quantity and quality of your rest. Nootropics and melatonin provide external supplements that can take your sleep health from zero to hero. Cold therapy helps to control your morning stress responses by keeping inflammation low, making sleep more easily achievable later in the day. Red light exposure in the evening ensures that your circadian clock remains uninterrupted, so you’ll drift off easier than usual. Finally, mouth tape prevents open-mouth snoring that may wake you up throughout the night.
Do you sleep on your back, stomach, or side? Sleeping on your stomach benefits your airway health by preventing snoring more than sleeping on your back. But it also places the spine in an unnatural position that leads to neck and back pain. Moreover, stomach sleeping may worsen wrinkles and skin irritation, as one side of your face is typically smashed into your pillow in this position. If you’re pregnant, stomach sleeping only intensifies your already aching joints. Sleeping on your side offers superior benefits for spine alignment, reducing pain across the body while offering the most support for an open airway while you rest. (Pregnant or not!) That means a lowered risk of snoring, which boosts your overall sleep quality. That said, if you breathe in and out of your mouth, snoring is still possible. Mouth tape provides an adequate lip seal that prevents open-mouth snoring. Therefore, side sleeping and mouth tape are a perfect match for achieving your best sleep yet.
It’s no secret that waking up with lower back pain in the morning is, well, a pain. So is having trouble falling or staying asleep due to discomfort caused by an aching back. Recent research has found that there’s a correlation between lower back pain and insomnia. Lower back pain leads to poor sleep and, conversely, poor sleep worsens back pain. When pain is the only thing you can focus on when you lie down for the night, falling asleep is near impossible. Furthermore, back pain is notorious for causing you to toss and turn all night, waking you up from deep sleep. As sleep quality worsens, so does your pain. Trying out the best sleeping positions for lower back pain (while avoiding the worst ones) is key to keeping pain in check. Avoid sleeping positions that throw the spine out of alignment and cause unnecessary strain on the neck and back. The worst culprit? Sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees is one of the best sleeping positions for lower back pain, but some find it difficult to sleep on their back all night long. Sleeping on your side in the fetal position with one pillow under your head and another between your legs provides proper spinal alignment if you find it challenging to sleep on your back.
It seems like there are always new fun facts about sleep that we could all gain perspective from learning. Researchers are constantly uncovering new information about the importance of sleep. However, regardless of how much we know about sleep, most of us still don’t get enough. As many as one-third of adults are seriously sleep-deprived. That’s why we’re debunking common sleep myths once and for all, starting with the idea that the brain isn’t active during sleep. This couldn’t be further from the truth! While we’re unconscious, the brain is busy cleaning house in more ways than one to keep us feeling restored and healthy. Another common sleep myth: the idea that alcohol is a sleep aid just because it helps us fall asleep faster. In reality, it disrupts our sleep cycles and leads to fragmented sleep, only worsening sleep quality. Speaking of sleep quality, it matters more than sleep quantity! Six hours of quality sleep is better than eight hours of disrupted sleep. Disrupted sleep causes sleep debt to build – and it’s hard to pay off! Sleeping in only worsens it. And if you’re snoring during sleep, it’s nothing to ignore! Snoring disrupts our sleep and leads to poor oxygenation, health problems, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
Working the night shift is often demanding and challenging. Working while the world sleeps and sleeping while the world is awake isn’t exactly ideal. Moreover, shift work quickly becomes dangerous if you don’t prioritize your sleep schedule and quality. In fact, many shift workers are at risk of Shift Work Sleep Disorder, a condition that includes both cognitive and physical impairments that can cause dangerous workplace errors and accidents. So what does the best sleep schedule for night shift workers look like? It includes firm boundaries around bedtime – even if it falls in the middle of the day. Blocking out disruptive noise and light are both vital for preventing sleep deprivation. Moreover, refrain from working back-to-back day and night shifts that further disrupt your internal clock and lead to worsened sleep deprivation. Finally, address sleep-disordered breathing known to cause snoring that fragments sleep!
Chances are, you were repeatedly told to sit up straight as a young child. Proper posture helps prevent back pain and misalignment throughout the body. That said, did you know that the posture of your tongue influences the positioning of your head and spine, too? Poor tongue posture leads to forward head posture, slouched shoulders, jaw pain, headaches, and more. But what makes or breaks tongue posture? A proper tongue posture includes sealed lips and slightly parted teeth with the tongue suctioned against the roof of the mouth at the front, middle, and back. This ensures nasal breathing over mouth breathing – which is great news for our airway health. Nasal breathing is the method of breathing we’re designed to use, but many of us are habitual mouth breathers, only worsening forward head and body posture. By maintaining proper tongue posture during the day, improved breathing and body posture follows. You can even work toward correcting forward head posture while sleeping by nasal breathing during the night with the help of mouth tape. While it may sound intimidating, mouth taping during sleep reinforces the proper lip seal and tongue posture required to keep the body in alignment.
If you can’t fall asleep without the sound of your bedroom fan regardless of the temperature, you’re already harnessing the power of sound to fall asleep faster. The sound of a bedroom fan refers to white noise – a soothing, static sound that drowns out other disruptive noises, like the sound of passing cars on the street. White noise isn’t the only sound color that promotes better sleep, though. Brown, pink, and green noise (nature sounds) are also known to help ease the brain into relaxation, encouraging the onset of sleep. White, brown, and pink noise apps allow you to harness the rainbow of sound colors right from your smartphone. Podcasts and audiobooks help to distract your mind from anxious thoughts that may otherwise keep you awake – as long as you pick a soothing podcast topic or book genre. Moreover, music is proven to shift brainwaves into alpha brainwaves that lead to relaxation. Binaural beats take it a step further, helping the brain shift into delta brainwaves that occur during deep sleep. Guided meditations offer an easy-to-follow script that can help us drift into sleep, too.
Always feeling tired and groggy? Constant fatigue may be linked to a hidden hormonal imbalance. Our endocrine system helps to regulate our hormones, which are sensitive to changes in our sleep routine. Conversely, our hormones control our energy, metabolism, and even our moods – all of which play a role in the quality of our sleep. Therefore, our hormones and sleep patterns both affect one another. Breaking this cycle lies in understanding the endocrine system and balancing both hormones and sleep patterns to correct the issue. For example, the endocrine system controls almost every process within the body. Within it are our adrenal glands and pineal gland, the smallest endocrine gland. When the adrenal glands are overworked, anxiety follows, keeping us up at night. Moreover, the pineal gland controls the release of the sleep hormone melatonin based on exposure to light within the environment obtained through the eyes. To balance our fatigue, we must balance our hormones, and vice-versa.
Ever feel a lift in your mood after humming along to a song in the car? It’s not just in your head. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Is humming good for you?” the answer is yes! Science shows that humming activates our vagus nerve, taking us out of a state of stress and into a state of relaxation. It lowers blood pressure and improves heart rate variability all while improving lymph flow. In fact, the vibrations created during humming may help the lymphatic system to pump out waste from the body just as well as cold plunge therapy or a lymphatic massage. Moreover, humming reduces happy hormones like oxytocin while surging the body with feel-good endorphins, meaning it’s just as beneficial for the brain and body as a consistent exercise routine. It even causes increased melatonin production which leads to the onset of quality sleep. Bee breathing offers a quick, easy-to-follow humming exercise that you can practice anywhere, anytime. All in all, humming provides a shortcut to calm in any situation, whether practiced before a stressful meeting or before you drift off to bed.
There’s a quick hack for most things these days, including better sleep and pain management. Cold exposure is a popular topic, with many people filming their morning cold plunges in freezing cold water or practicing Wim Hof breathing in extremely cold environments. But does cold exposure really boost sleep, reduce pain, and improve healing? Science suggests that it does. Cold therapy reduces our overall body temperature, boosting the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Moreover, exposure to cold temperatures may even help us to burn more brown fat, improving our overall calorie expenditure and metabolic health. What’s more, cold exposure therapy offers muscle and tissue repair while promoting accelerated healing. Better yet, you don’t need a fancy cold plunge tank or cryotherapy machine to practice it. The Breg Polar Care Cube offers cryotherapy for at-home use, while DIY ice baths and cold showers provide a free solution to help anyone achieve the benefits of cold therapy, anytime.
Supplements fill in the gaps of our nutrition. Wherever our food intake is lacking, vitamins and supplements can help to maintain and boost our health and well-being. What’s more, sometimes they’re necessary. Calcium helps maintain healthy bone density, while prenatal vitamins like folic acid reduce the risk of birth defects in pregnant women, That said, some supplements are proven to cause sleep disruptions. For example, weight loss supplements usually contain caffeine known to keep us up at night. The timing and dosage of certain vitamins matter, too. Taking vitamin C too closely to bedtime fragments our rest, while a high intake of vitamin D and insomnia are closely linked. In summary, if you want better rest, there are certain vitamins and supplements that you should steer clear of entirely or closely monitor your dosage of to ensure your best sleep yet.
Believe it or not, snoring isn’t normal. It’s usually a sign of sleep-disordered breathing that may lead to sleep apnea, which increases the risk of many harmful health conditions. Moreover, it interrupts our sleep (and the sleep of anyone we may share a bed or room with). So why has snoring become so popular? It’s the same root cause as the reason dental problems have become so commonplace: our jaws are shrinking. Over time, our skulls and airway have decreased in size due to our soft, processed modern diet. As a result, narrow palates, underdeveloped airway muscles, and improper tongue posture have become a modern epidemic. Without enough space for our tongues to rest, our mouths have fallen open more often than not, leading to mouth breathing. Mouth breathing causes over-breathing and leaves our air unfiltered, full of harmful pathogens and bacteria that wreak havoc on the immune system. Nasal breathing, on the other hand, leads to efficient breathing and nitric oxide production for better oxygenation. But as chronic mouth breathers, does mouth breathing treatment exist to help us make the switch?