Sleep Hack

Living in the modern western world it is drilled into us to work more, do more, consume more and we sacrifice our poor sleep the most to gain more “time”. But as Dr. Matthew Walker suggest we will massively reduce our life expectancy, more likely to develop diabetes, cancer or alzheimers. So are we really gain more time?

I have recently done 2 podcast on sleep. Episode 1 we cover some of the reasons we should sleep and in episode 2 we go over how we can improve our sleep.

Below are all our show nots from episode 2 so you can see how you can improve your sleep now:

The Lack of sleep will;

  • Slow the metabolism
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Increase risk of heat disease 
  • Increase resting heart rate
  • Decrease reaction time and accuracy
  • Risk of obesity
  • Risk of Depression and Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Impaired moral judgement
  • Impaired immune system
  • Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increase risk of car crashes as assessed by the Foundation for Traffic  Safety (figure below);
    • 5-6 hours 1.9x more likely to crash
    • 4-5 hours 4.3x more likely to crash
    • <4 hours 11.5x more likely to crash

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation;

  • Severe Yawning
  • Symptoms similar to ADHA
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss

First approach is address your sleep hygiene which you can find below. If symptom persist then you may have sleep Apnea which is also detailed later in this handbook. 

Sleep Hygiene 

Sleep hygiene are things you can do to improve you sleep to help the body work with its natural rhythms. 

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning including the weekend. 
    • To work out your bedtime select your wake time and calculate to bed in bed 8 hours and 30 mins example. 6am start, go to bed at 9:30pm. 
    • If you are getting enough sleep you should find you don’t need to sleep in. If you have the “need” to ‘sleep in’ you are probably sleep deprived. 
    • If you want extra sleep go to bed and start your routine earlier. 
  • Never use you room to watch TV, be on your phone, do work, study. Must do all stimulating things in other rooms. 
  • Don’t go to bed unless your are sleepy and go to bed as soon as your sleepy. If you are not sleepy at bedtime, then do something else. Read a book, listen to soft music etc. Find something relaxing not stimulating. 
  • If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, then get out of bed. Find something else to do that will make you feel relaxed. You can simply be in another room which can be effective. Don’t do anything simulating, keep the light to a minimum. 
  • Have a warm bath or shower 1-2 hours before bed.
  • Don’t go to bed worried or anxious.
  • If you nap, keep in short. Never more that 20 mins to an hour and before 3pm. 
  • Avoid caffeine after 12pm if you are a slow metaboliser of caffeine. Fast metabolisers can get away with 2-3pm. 
  • Avoid nicotine or alcohol before bed.
  • Cover all lights in the room including standby lights. Recommended to blackout curtains in any populated areas. Use dim warm light for the bedroom. 
  • The room should be cooled. If your worries about electricity bill then use a fan or cool the room beforehand and set aircon to a timer. 
  • Do not sleep with you pets

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is serious and should be treated. Not just for performance but for your health. 

  • You are 23x more likely to get a heart attach 
  • 3x more likely to develop diabetes

Common Physical Findings

  • Enlarged Uvula
  • Hyperplastic soft palate
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Nasal Polyps (growths)
  • Enlarged Tonsils
  • Small Lower Jaw
  • Receding Chin
  • Neck > 17”
  • Overweight & Obese

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Snoring 
  • Stop Breathing at night
  • Excessive Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning Headache
  • Nighttime Gasping
  • Restless Sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability 
  • Memory Loss
  • Decrease Attention and concentration
  • Performen Deficiencies 
  • Depression
  • Shortness of breath
  • GERD
  • Nocturnia
  • Impotence
  • Poor Sleep Quality


There are a lot of option but the best 2 are:

  • Continuous open airway therapy also known as a mandible splint
  • CPAP and this will always be the best option 

Recommended CPAP

Resmed devices are recommended. See your GP if you want to see a sleep specialist about it. 

Sleep Performance to Improve Sleep and Athletic Performance 

A lot of research shows the performance benefits of sleep and has been stated by Dr. Matthew Walker that its the single most powerful performance enhancement that athletes aren’t utilising. 

Rank your sleep

Epwork Sleepiness Scale

0 = Would Never Doze

1 = Slight chance of dozing

2 = Moderate chance of dozing

3 = High chance of dozing

Screenshot 2018-12-22 10.08.04        


0 – 5 Lower Normal Daytime Sleepiness

6 – 10 Higher Normal Daytime Sleepiness

11 – 12 Mild Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

13 – 15 Moderate Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

16 – 24 Severe Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Sleep Study

#1 get a sleep study done. Most weight trained males would develop or have mild to moderate sleep apnea especially if your high musculature. Doctors will say that mild sleep apnea is fine but is NOT for ‘performance’ and our only suggesting to use a CPAP machine. Other treatments are available but aren’t as effective but can be trialed first.

Track your sleep

#2 Measure your sleep. There are a lot of apps you can use to measure sleep. From this you can develop a sleep ritual or program. This will also be helpful what interventions improve your sleep. This isn’t to be replaced by a sleep study

Tips to improve performance.

  • Improve you Sleep Hygiene
  • Treat any Apnea. CPAP is your best option
  • Track your sleep. There are a lot of apps you can use to measure sleep. From this you can develop a sleep ritual or program. 
  • Exercise daily will improve sleep.
  • Studies show athletes require 9-10 hours of sleep and maybe a nap to maximise recovery and performance. You can tell how much you need depending if you can wake up naturally before your alarm and you can adjust from there. 
  • Be in bed before 11pm. Work with a 10-11pm bed 6-7am wake up. If you need more sleep go to bed earlier not sleep in. 
  • Don’t train 3-4 hours before bed. Ideally, don’t train 6 hours before bed. 
  • Eat an hour or 2 before bed. Don’t go to bed hungry. Ensure you have protein and carbohydrates as it helps with melatonin and serotonin production and prevents the brain for signalling hunger and stress.
  • Cool the room to <21 degrees. 
  • Obsessively block all light including standby light and use blackout curtains. 
  • No work, TV, study, reading anything in bed. Treat the bed room as a sacred place for sleep. 
  • Sleep in separate rooms to partner if need to but always from children and pets.
  • If you have exposer to blue light or electronics close to bed. Use blue light blockers to reduce blue light entering the eye which prevent the production of melatonin and delays sleep need. 
  • Stop using electronics 30-60 mins before bed
  • Make sure your teeth are brush 60+ mins before planned bed time
  • Reduce the light in your house once the sun is down by at least 50% and take it down to candle light or very dim warm light as the need for light reduces. 
  • Have a hot bath or shower 1-2 hours before bed. Has showing to reduce the time it takes to sleep and increases how long someone can sleep. It decrease the core body temperature which helps signal the release of melatonin
  • Take a 20 min nap before training if you train late or 2 hours after training 
  • Use earplug if you wake with noise 
  • Don’t take stimulants like caffeine, nicotine or drink too many fluids too close to bedtime. 
  • Take Vit D3 If blood levels are low. 100+ ng/dL is the optimal range.

Sleep Aids

  • If you have irregular bed time due to things outside your control weather you have to go to bed earlier or later use 2mg melatonin supplement 2 hours before bed. Do not take every night only when sleep patterns change. No research suggest that melatonin helps to take regularly but if you feel it does then placebo is a powerful thing. 
  • Melatonin help mostly with jet lag and can help reset your circadian.  
  • Sleeping pills don’t improve sleep, they just sedate you. You lose a lot of your stage 3, stage 4 and REM sleep
  • Creatine Monohydrate has shown some promise with helping sleep but not conclusive at this stage. 
  • Improving magnesium status is associated with better quality sleep, Mimics the action of melatonin. 
  • Vitamin 12 normalises circadian rhythms.
  • Folate & Vitamin B6 both are cofactor for several neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine, many of which regulate hormones
  • Vitamin B3 increase REM sleep. Improves both quality and quantity of sleep by converting tryptophan to serotonin. 
  • Any nutrients suggested should be achieve through food first. Supplements should not be taken unless advised by your coach or doctor ideally with a blood test. 
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