I'm a real stickler when it comes to sleep hygiene. When I tell people that my room resembles a cave, I'm not joking! The temperature is cool, there's no sound, and it's pitch black. You can't see your hand in front of your face. These conditions help me sleep well every night.
Normally, I go to bed just after 10 p.m. My head touches the pillow and I'm out! I wake up at 5 a.m. sharp ready to start the day.
Of course, my lifestyle plays a big role in how well I sleep: I eat healthy and exercise regularly, I don't use drugs, I don't abuse caffeine or alcohol, I'm not addicted to digital devices, and I don't stay up late. When 10 p.m. comes around, it's time for bed.
Nothing Beats Sleeping in Your Own Bed
Going on vacation can certainly pose a problem because sleep conditions aren't always ideal. That was the case during a recent trip to Las Vegas.
We stayed in a very nice hotel, but the room did not resemble a cave. Not even close! Yet, I was able to experience deep sleep practically every night that we were there.
Well, we did plenty of walking and I'm sure that jet lag played a role, but that should have worn off after a day or two. In my opinion, the reason why I slept so well was due to "intense" sunlight exposure.
You see, Las Vegas is based in the Mojave Desert and you can bet that you're going to get some serious sun at the beginning of July. Thankfully, the temperature was slightly below seasonal while we were there. It averaged only 104 degrees Fahrenheit!
So I was getting a good amount of midday, full-body, intense sunlight exposure for 7 days straight. When you do that, you experience deep sleep.
The Trump Factor for High-Quality Sleep
Your sleep system is heavily influenced by your wake system. Sure, you need to eat right and be active during the day to get good sleep at night, but one factor that seems to trump them all is the amount of sunlight that you're exposed to through the eyes and skin.
In Powerful Sleep, author Kacper Postawski contends that high-intensity light is important for high-quality sleep. According to Postawski, if you expose yourself to intense light during the day, your body temperature rhythm will “peak” at a higher point and will fall at a later point, and thus you'll experience better sleep at night.
The greater the intensity of light that you're exposed to, the higher that peak will be during the day, and the deeper your sleep will be at night!
That's exactly what I experienced in Las Vegas.
If You Play With Fire, You'll Get Burned
Now keep in mind that I didn't subject myself to an extended amount of intense sunlight right off the bat. Although I had a base tan to begin with, I started with a small amount of sun exposure and built it up each day.
It's no different than weight training. Even with a decent strength base, you're not going to use an extremely heavy, maximal load the very first workout. You start with less weight and build it up each session. It's just common sense.
What Happens in Vegas Doesn't Have to Stay in Vegas!
If you happen to work indoors or live in an area where exposure to intense sunlight doesn't happen often, consider full-spectrum lighting and the occasional use of a safe tanning bed. We'll talk about these more in a future post.
For now, take advantage of the beautiful weather and get some sun. Not only will you look and feel better, you'll sleep better too!
To a good night's sleep,
John Paul Catanzaro
Posted Jul 28, 2016