February 10, 2024




The Only Sleep Guide You’ll Ever Need

At a glance

Today’s Fast Summary:

  • Humans spend ⅓ of their lives sleeping. You can survive longer without food than you can without sleep.

  • Great sleep impacts your mood, growth and development, bones, muscles, hormones, and memory.

  • However, the erosion of sleep has hit an all-time high. We are now sleeping less than we have ever done in history. Use these tips to get better sleep.

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The Only Sleep Guide You’ll Ever Need

Breakfast isn’t the most important time of the day—it’s the time you sleep. 

Humans spend ⅓ of their lives sleeping. You can survive longer without food than you can without sleep. 

How you sleep, including duration and quality, positively or negatively impacts how you feel throughout the day. Great sleep impacts your mood, growth and development, bones, muscles, hormones, and memory. 

However, the erosion of sleep has hit an all-time high. We are now sleeping less than we have ever done in history. Worse—we brag about it. 

If it’s so important, why do we receive so little? Most importantly, how can we improve it? 

In 2021, I wrote a long article on Sleep. In today’s newsletter, I’m sharing all of the practical tips from that article.

Sleep well, my friend!

The Five Most Important Factors For Maximising Sleep Quality:

1. Consistency 

Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Your body struggles to keep its circadian rhythm in check when you don’t stay consistent. 

If you’re choosing between the two to stay consistent, choose wake time because it’s more important. Not to mention we usually have more control over it anyway.

2. Light

Get lots of darkness at night and make sure you get daylight during the first half of the day. 

Darkness triggers melatonin secretion, promoting sleep.

3. Temperature

Your core body temperature needs to drop by 2–3 degrees Fahrenheit (~1 degree Celcius) for you to get to sleep. 

Make sure your room is cool, or have a warm shower before bedtime. It brings blood to your extremities, cooling your core.

4. Wait until you’re tired

 Don’t lie awake in bed. It trains your brain to be triggered by your bed and force you awake because you create a learned association. 

Think about it, you don’t sit at the table waiting to eat dinner. Why would you lie in bed waiting to fall asleep? The body knows when it’s hungry and sleepy — take note.

5. Avoid

Avoid alcohol, naps (in the late afternoon), caffeine, large meals and beverages late at night.

Additional Factors For Maximising Sleep Quality

Pre-Bedtime (Before You Go to Bed in the Evening):

1. Go from Light to Dark

Switch off or dim most of the lights in your house starting 90 minutes before bed. Darkening your environment promotes melatonin secretion, which promotes sleep.

Avoid longer wavelength light (“blue light”). It puts the breaks on melatonin secretion more so than warmer coloured lights.


- Flux on your Mac or PC and Nightshift/Mode on your IOS or Android

- Himalayan Salt Lamps

-True Dark Blue Light Blockers

2. Go from Warm to Cool

Your core body temperature needs to decrease by 2–3 degrees Fahrenheit (~1 degree Celcius) to initiate sleep.

Having a hot shower before bed will bring the blood to the surface (your skin). When your surface is warm, it dumps all the heat from your body’s core, making you cooler.


-Wear appropriate clothing

-Keep the bedroom at 65–68 degrees Fahrenheit (18–20 degrees Celsius)

- Chilisleep — ChiliPAD or Ooler

3. Relax

In the last hour before bed, find a wind-down routine that involves at least one of three activities: Meditation, Relaxation, or Journalling.


-Meditation— lowers your heart rate and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for relaxation)

- Journalling — helps ‘download’ your day and remove ruminating thoughts

- Light stretching — promotes relaxation

- Acupressure Spike Mat— promotes relaxation

4. Avoid Mental Stimulation

Things that cause stress and anxiety (emails or social media) make you ruminate over negative thoughts and release cortisol (stress hormone), promoting wakefulness. Avoid these activities for at least one hour before bed.

5. Avoid Caffeine 12 hours Before Bedtime

Remember the sleep chemical called adenosine that builds up sleep pressure, making you feel tired? Caffeine works by battling with adenosine to latch onto adenosine receptors (like the lock that a key enters) in the brain. By occupying these receptors, caffeine blocks the sleepiness signal generally communicated to the brain by adenosine.

Caffeine has a half-life on average for most people of about 6 hours and a quarter-life of 12 hours. In other words, after 6 hours, 50% of the caffeine is still in your brain, and, after 12 hours, 25% of the caffeine is still there.

It’s worth noting that not all people are affected equally by caffeine. But if you are one of the people it does affect, make sure to avoid drinking caffeine at least 12 hours before you go to bed.

6. Avoid Alcohol Too Close To Bedtime

Many people believe alcohol helps them fall asleep more quickly or even offers higher-quality sleep throughout the night. Both of these beliefs are untrue.

Alcohol does three things to sleep:

  1.  It’s a sedative, so it works like sleeping pills. That is, it doesn’t induce natural sleep. The electrical brainwave state you enter via alcohol is not like natural sleep; instead, it’s akin to a light form of anesthesia.

  1. It fragments sleep, making you wake up many more times during the night, often so brief that you don’t remember, but they impact your physiology.

  1. It blocks REM sleep and keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep. You wake up feeling unrefreshed and unrestored.As with caffeine, alcohol impacts people differently. For some, the stress release from a drink or two might outweigh any potential impact on your sleep. Find out what works for you.

7. Avoid Naps During The Day

If you find it hard to sleep at night, do not nap during the day — especially in the late afternoon. Adenosine builds up in your body beginning when you wake up. The more that builds up, the sleepier you feel. After ~16 hours, you should have enough to fall and stay asleep. During a sleep (nap), the brain will clear adenosine away. This makes it harder to fall asleep at night because you’ve released the valve on the pressure cooker of sleep.

The same rule applies if you’ve had a shitty night's sleep and feel as though you need to nap. Resist the temptation to do so. You’ll thank yourself when you’re getting into bed that night.

All that said, if you can nap regularly and are still able to fall asleep at night, naps are fine.

8. Avoid Exercise 2–3 hours Before Bedtime

Exercise during the day is great because it’s been shown to build sleep pressure (adenosine). 

However, make sure the latest you exercise is 2–3 hours before you go to bed. This will ensure your body temperature and heart rate have time to lower, both critical biological changes that allow your body to sleep.

9. Understand The Associative Strength Of Your Brain

Your brain is an incredibly associative organ. It learns to associate things in a “Pavlovian way” (external cue triggers internal response).

If you lie in bed awake, you will very quickly learn that your bed is a place for being awake, not being asleep. Further, if you read, spend time on your laptop/iPad, or do any other activity, not including sleep, it will associate your bedroom with that. 

This negatively impacts your sleep.

Break the associations. Keep your bedroom only for sleep. If you are struggling to fall asleep, go to another room, dim the lights, and read a book.

Remember: you wouldn’t sit at the table waiting to get hungry, so stop lying in bed waiting to get sleepy.

10. Avoid Large Meals 3 Hours Before Bedtime

Eating late can cause acid reflux or digestive issues. Further, it can raise your core body temperature, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Make sure to avoid drinking large amounts of fluids before you sleep. It will cause you to wake during the night to go to the toilet or remain in a shallow state of sleep. Both will ruin the quality of your sleep.

11. Trial Supplements

There is yet to be any solid scientific evidence indicating that supplements such as magnesium or chamomile tea promote deeper sleep. However, anecdotally, many people have spoken of magnesium’s positive effect in promoting relaxation in the body and muscles. Once there are promising scientific studies completed, we may find it helpful.

Until then, we should remember the placebo effect is one of the most reliable effects in all of pharmacology. If you think a supplement gives you better sleep quality, it probably is, and there’s no harm in taking it.

Bedtime (When You’re In Bed):

1. Comfort (Sheets/pillow/mattress/body position)

Use Hypoallergenic and breathable bedding to keep out potential impediments to sleep and regulate your body temperature. I use Mellani.

Use fresh sheets 2x per week. A lot of sleep is psychological. Using fresh linen is psychologically enticing — think of that feeling you get when you get into a new hotel bed.

There is no specific prescription for a pillow. You need to find one that’s ergonomically effective for you. This is a process of trial and error.

How to find your ideal mattress

  1. The ideal mattress shouldn’t have any gap between your head and the bed (even without a pillow).

  2.  The bed’s material isn’t what matters. What matters is that the mattress takes your entire body weight with ease, such that it gives you the sensation that you don’t need any pillow to sleep with.

  3.  Your vertebrae should be in line, so there’s no pressure building up.

  4.  Size matters, particularly when you have a partner. Buy as big as you can.

Body position

  1. Your optimal body position is whatever feels most comfortable for you. There’s no firm evidence indicating an optimal choice. If you’re already comfortable, don’t force a change.

  2. If you suffer from sleep apnoea/heavy snoring, it’s best to not sleep on your back. When you sleep on your back, you’re more likely to snore because it relaxes your throat, causing a narrowing of the airways.

  3. 45% of people sleep on the non-dominant side of their body in the fetal position. This is likely because it creates an unconsciously safe psychological state where you’re protecting your genitals and heart with your dominant hand.

2. Temperature

As discussed above, keep your bedroom at 65–68 degrees Fahrenheit (18–20 degrees Celsius) for optimal sleep.

3. Sleeping With A Partner

There is a certain stigma associated with not sleeping with your partner at night. That is, people seem to believe that if you’re not sleeping together well, you’re not having sex, and your relationship is suffering as a result.

Counterintuitively, this isn’t the case. By having a sleep divorce, you increase the quality of your sleep. Better sleep quality leads to a better mood. A better mood leads to improved interpersonal relationships (more patience, and more energy for each other).

Luckily for us, there’s a way we can get the best of both worlds. When we think about sleeping with a partner, we generally think about the ‘bookends’ of sleep. That is sex in the evening and a cuddle in the morning — or vice versa.

We can retain these ‘bookends’ by creating an evening and morning routine where we go into the bedroom together when the first person likes to go to bed. We ‘hang’ out and say goodnight to each other. The 2nd person then goes to a separate room. Then in the morning, we reverse-engineer the same trick. In this way, we’re able to get 99% of co-sleeping benefits without the need to sleep next to each other.

4. Sound Disruption

This one is obvious. Limit exposure to sounds that could cause you to wake during sleep. Wear earplugs if necessary.

5. Darkness

This one should also be obvious by now. Keep your room as dark as possible. Use blackout curtains if necessary.

6. Remove All Clock Faces From Your Room

Knowing that it’s 3:35 am in the morning is only going to trigger more anxiety. The same goes for your phone: keep it on the other side of your room, so you’re not tempted to check it during the night.

Post-Bedtime (When You Wake Up In The Morning):

A good night's sleep begins when you wake up in the morning. A post-sleep routine will help you move from a sleep state to a fully awake state effectively.

1. Go from Dark to Light

This is another side of the light coin discussed in the pre-bedtime routine. Instead of reducing light before bedtime, we want to increase it. This raises our alertness, helps set our body block, and allows us to make the final hormone shift from melatonin to serotonin.

The easiest way to action this is to open your curtains, turn up your lights or go outside into daylight in the morning. If you want to go a step further, you can look at a Dawn Light Simulator.

‍2. Limit Anticipatory Anxiety

Devices and technologies cause what’s called anticipatory anxiety

When you wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is check your phone (Emails, texts, social media, etc.), you’re essentially training your brain to anticipate that wave of anxiety every morning.

This anticipatory expectation in the morning lessens the amount of deep sleep you get and keeps you in a shallow state. The greater the anxiety that there is coming in the following day, the greater the reduction in deep sleep you have the night before.

The ultimate form of anticipatory anxiety comes when you have an important event you can’t miss in the morning — a meeting or a flight to catch. Have you ever experienced this yourself? Lying in bed, eyes wide open, heart beating out of its chest. The same thing happens when you check your phone first thing in the morning, only on a lesser scale.

3. Eat Breakfast To Set Your Biological Clock

Eating time is the second most important indicator that your circadian rhythm (biological clock) uses to regulate itself.

When you eat breakfast in the morning, you’re essentially telling your body that it’s time for wakefulness.

Eating first thing further reinforces the impact of a consistent wake time and will help your body retain a regular schedule.

4. Limit Artificial Awakenings

This one is wishful thinking, but if you can avoid using an alarm clock, it will be constructive for your sleep.

Alarm clocks increase anticipatory anxiety and prematurely end sleep. This isn’t what Mother Nature intended.

There’s a lot here. Remember the most important: Consistency, light, temperature, don’t lie in bed awake, and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and large meals.

Reflect on your sleep habits. Then, consider ways and methods you can practically incorporate into your routine to sleep more effectively.

  1. Examine current sleep habits. 

    a. How long do you typically sleep? Consider recent examples. 

    b. How is your sleep quality? Do you wake up feeling well-rested? 

    c. Do you experience ‘slumps’ throughout the day? 

    d. If you responded negatively, why? What is negatively impacting your sleep quality/quantity? Which habits harm your sleep?

  1. Pre-bedtime. Based on the newsletter, pinpoint the pre-bedtime factors harming your sleep. 

    a. Feasibly, can you alter the temperature and light in your sleep space? Why or why not?

    b. Are you avoiding alcohol, naps, meals, stimulation, and exercise before bed? Why? 

    c. Are you engaging in positive sleep associations? Why or why not? 

    d. How can you enact changes to your habits? Create a practical pre-sleep plan. Write it out.

  1. During sleep. Identify what’s harming your comfort and rest. 

    a. Is your space comfortable? Why or why not? 

    b. Is there temperature, sound, or light impacting your sleep? Why is this the case? 

    c. Do you sleep with a partner? 

    d. How can you enact changes to your habits? Create a practical sleep plan. Removing clocks should be a step.

  1. Waking up. What’s harming your mornings?

    a. Are you maximizing light in the morning? Is the process gradual? Why or why not?

    b. Consider anticipatory anxiety. Do you think this is at fault?

    c. Are you eating breakfast? Why or why not.

    d. How can you enact changes to benefit your sleep? Create a post-sleep plan.

“Don’t give up on your dreams so soon, sleep longer.” — Anonymous

Get so good at sleep you can do it with your eyes closed.


I’d love to hear from you:

  • How is your sleep quality and quantity? 

  • What can you do to boost your sleep? 

  • Do you think sleep is important?

Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.

Have a wonderful Saturday, all.

Until next time,


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