Sleep Tips

Should You get Sun Exposure in the Morning?

✔️ Takeaway: humans live and thrive by sunlight. It’s essential to get enough sun/light exposure during the day to signal your brain to be awake and focused. If you don’t get enough light, it can bring your circadian rhythm out of whack. It’ll be more difficult to stay awake during the day… and more difficult to sleep during the night.
Time to read: 6 minutes 23 seconds.

Ask any Dutch person on a sunny day how it’s going and he’ll say:

Well, sun’s shining. Everything’s great!

I never paid attention to it, but a quick look on a sunny day in Amsterdam shows you that everyone is walking on the sunny sidewalk. And avoiding the shade as much as possible.

Turns out it’s actually a great thing to do for your health.

Today we’re going to discuss how sunlight regulates your circadian rhythm.

And 5 ways to get more light exposure in the morning.

Ready? Let’s go.

How does sunlight regulate your circadian rhythm?

Light is an important factor to regulate your circadian rhythm. 

Why? Because all in history our days were regulated by the sun.

If it was dark outside, it was basically impossible to get anything done.

Try hunting when you can’t see the animal.

So over hundreds of thousands of years our species got a rhythm that worked WITH the sun.

In short. We are wired to be active when the sun is up.

And we should chill and sleep when it’s night.

What is wrong in modern society?

Well, we don’t get as much natural light as we did even a hundred years ago.

Many of us are living in boxes. Then taking our box on wheels to go to our work box.

So we don’t really get outside.

Add to that the fact that TOO MUCH sun can cause skin cancer. And we’re a nation of people avoiding the sun even more.

Too much sun is bad. But recent studies are showing that avoiding the sun is a hell of a lot worse.

If you don’t signal your brain that it’s time to wake up, your circadian rhythm can get out of whack.

Activity is supposed to peak during the day. So that you can chill at night.

It’s like an up and down line.

So if you don’t cause that upward peak… your downward peak will also be less intense.

Which then causes stuff like insomnia, worrying at night… or being overactive at night.

All stuff that millions of people are struggling with.

And what about lightbulbs?

When you turn on the light in the morning, you might feel as if it’s incredibly light. Your eyes are still sensitive, so you experience the light as very bright.

So doesn’t this count as a signal to your brain to wake up?

Well, yes. It does.

However, studies have shown that to give a strong wake up signal, the light needs to be at least 1000 lux.

For reference. Walking outside on midday on a bright day, the lux can be high up tens of thousands.

Or even on a cloudy day, you still get a couple thousand lux.

So, lamps are not a substitute. In most cases. We’ll talk about that later 😉

So should you get sunlight in the morning?

The burning question.

Should you get sunlight in the morning? 

The answer is an absolute yes.

By getting sunlight in the morning… you:

  • Signal your brain that it’s time to wake up naturally
  • Set yourself up for good sleep at night
  • Have more natural energy and focus throughout the day

getting sunlight throughout the day is important. But in the morning it’s even more important.

As you’re setting up a good foundation for the whole day.
Added to that, you are also more receptive to the stimulating effects of sunlight in the morning.

But it can be difficult to get enough light in the mornings…

Some common obstacles are:

  • Waking up too late
  • Sun coming up too late in winter (after you’re already at work)
  • Working inside
  • Working from home
  • Taking the metro to work

Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure you get at least 20 minutes.

5 Simple ways to get 20 minutes of light in the morning

It’s best to see if you can get your sun/light exposure before 9AM. However, if that’s impossible for your schedule, then don’t sweat the details. If you can only get it from 9.30 to 10 AM, then that’s a lot better than no sun at all.

Also, some people say it’s best to shoot for at least 20 minutes. The more the better. However, I understand that’s also not possible for everyone. So I personally aim for anything is better than none.

Even if I can only chill for 5 minutes outside on a busy day, I like to take the opportunity. 

Let’s go to the 3 simplest ways to get at least 20 minutes of light exposure in the morning before 9AM:

#1 Take a walk

Walks are great. They get your blood pumping, give your body some exercise and you can slowly prepare for the day. You get to think about what you want to do, and how you’re going to tackle today’s challenges ahead.

What is also does is get you sunlight. You take walks outside. So you get light.

If you’ve got the time, this is the best way to get active and light in the morning.

Walks have tons more benefits for your optimizing your day/night cycle, but we’ll cover them in other articles.

How to: if you have the time, take a 20 minute walk in the morning before work. You’ll feel energized and ready to take on the day. Plus you’ll sleep better at night.

#2 Maybe you already get it during your commute?

This is one thing many don’t consider: light through the window actually count for light exposure. So if you go to work by car, chances are big that you already get your 20 minutes of light exposure.

That is, if you drive when it’s light. Also, if you travel by train, you need to sit next to the window. Otherwise you won’t get your 1000 lux.

A downside is that traveling by metro doesn’t count. As there’s only artificial light underneath the ground.

How to: if you travel by car or bike to work, then you most likely already get enough light in the morning. Be happy that you don’t need to change your routine 😉

#3 Have a coffee outside

This option is great if you need to be at work in the morning before the sun goes up. You can simply take a break around 9 and drink a nice cup of coffee outside. Or any beverage really. Doesn’t need to be coffee.

That will get you your light exposure and wake you up. 

It’s also a great option if you’re on holiday or just chilling on the weekend. You might not be in the mood for a walk. In that case just chill outside and have a nice warm drink.

How to: if it’s impossible for you to get light in the morning because of work, it’s a good idea to take a break and spend it outside around 8 or 9 AM.

#4 Put your desk next to the window

We just discussed that light through a window counts. So you can just place your desk next to your window.

Studies showed that office workers who worked next to a window got one average 47 minutes more sleep at night than workers who worked not next to a window.

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That’s huge.

If you have the chance to do this at your work, you’d be stupid not to do it.

How to: sit next to a window while you work. Once a while, just look outside for a minute or so, to expose yourself to light. 

#5 get a STRONG light source

If none of the above work for your situation, you can try this.

See if you can find a very strong light source. There are lamps created by Philips I think that you can place in your bedroom to mimic the sun’s light.

They’re not as strong as it would be on a good warm sunny day, but they can come close.

Most of them get higher than 1000 lux.

Also, if you don’t want to buy a special light box for this, you can experiment with stronger LED lamps.

I’ve got one at home and it actually gets above a 1000 lux if I’m pretty close to it. 

It’s so bright that I can’t look at it directly. But I like to sit next to it if I need to wake up early, or if it’s a cloudy rainy day.

How to: if you cannot get natural light in the morning, then see if you can get a lightbox or very strong LED light that offers enough lux.

And please don’t be too cool…

You know those people that just seem to be wearing their sunglasses everywhere they go.

With the least amount of sunshine getting through, they put on their glasses. Or even worse: when there’s no sun at all.

Now you’ve got a great valid excuse to laugh at them.

Not only are they making a fool of themselves by acting too cool for everyone… they’re also depriving themselves of natural light. 

After all, your eyes contain the most receptors that signal your brain that it’s light outside.

And if you’ve made this mistake in the past? Don’t worry. Just use sunglasses what they’re meant for from now on. Only wear them on when you’re driving against low sun, or when it’s really incredibly bright outside that you can’t see a thing without them.

Wearing them in most other situations is unnecessary and often even pretty dumb from a circadian perspective.

Sleep Tips

Should You Worry About EMF’s (Electro Magnetic Fields)? Plus 7 Tips to Remove Unnecessary EMF Sources.

Takeaway: EMFs might be harmful. Or not. Science doesn’t have the definitive answer. That’s why you’d do well to remove a couple of unnecessary EMF sources, and then forget about it. Excessive worrying about it will only do more harm to your body.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 49 seconds.

A day doesn’t go by you hear someone claim your phone is killing you. Most of us just mentally zone out when we hear those doomsayers again.

After all, even if my phone would be killing me… I’m not sure if I could give it up completely.

Today we’re going to be talking about EMF’s.

Your phone emits them. It’s the main reason why those anti-tech monikers says you should avoid using your phone.

Those claims should be taken with a grain of salt. Though it’s probably not a bad idea to reduce some easy EMF exposure in your life.

What is EMF (electromagnetic force)?

The sun sends out waves that create electric and magnetic fields. Conveniently we’ve called them EMF’s.

So an EMF is a wave that creates an electric and magnetic force.

Now, not only the sun does this. Scientists found in the previous century that also electric power lines were sending out these waves of energy.

Now our lives are basically overrun with appliances that shoot out these fields. Here’s a short list of common appliances that create EMF’s:

  • Microwave
  • Phone
  • WI-FI routers
  • Computers

How does EMF affect humans?

There are 2 types of EMF’s: non-ionizing and ionizing.

We know ionizing radiation is harmful. This is ultraviolet light and X-rays. So sleeping in an x ray chamber wouldn’t be recommended.

But when talking about the non ionizing EMF’s, things become unclear.

A list of things that create non ionizing EMF’s:

  • microwave ovens
  • computers
  • house energy meters
  • wireless (Wi-Fi) routers
  • cellphones
  • Bluetooth devices
  • power lines
  • MRIs

So far the research hasn’t shown that EMF’s are dangerous. 

But, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says that “EMF’s can be possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Now, in the last couple of years, many things  have been implied to be cancerous. Living is a carcinogenic, since normal cell division can cause cancer.

However, I believe this claim is better taken seriously.

After all, even though I’m super happy to live in our times, it’s a good strategy to watch out for new things we humans create. Especially when they deliver us super doses of something that’s natural – EMF’s.

One study you should know about compared cancer rates in cellphone users and nonusers. This was back in 2000, so there were people without cell phones 😉

They compared cancer rates in more than 5,000 people in 13 countries and found a loose connection between exposure and glioma a type of cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord.

Healthline says the following guidelines should be fine for your EMF exposure:

  • natural electromagnetic fields (like those created by the sun): 200 V/m
  • power mains (not close to power lines): 100 V/m
  • power mains (close to power lines): 10,000 V/m
  • electric trains and trams: 300 V/m
  • TV and computer screens: 10 V/m
  • TV and radio transmitters: 6 V/m
  • mobile phone base stations: 6 V/m
  • radars: 9 V/m
  • microwave ovens: 14 V/m

You can check these with EMF meters. I haven’t yet checked my apartment, but plan on doing this in the near future.

EMF and sleep

Use of cell phones in bed have been linked to insomnia or sleep disturbances. I’m a bit sceptical if this is due to EMF’s, as the blue light from phones wrecks melatonin productions.

Also, if you get an email from your boss about a big project due tomorrow, you’re naturally going to ruminate about that. Instead of nicely calmly falling asleep.

However, you  may be sleeping with your phone on your nightstand. Or maybe even in bed? This will definitely increase your brain’s exposure to EMF’s, regardless of whether you believe that it’s harmful or not.

And if we then look back at those studies with cell phone use linked to brain cancer… I wouldn’t take the risk.

Thought question: what benefits does having your phone close to you give you at night?

And think about it: what does having your phone close to you at night give you? Nothing basically. It only acts as a thing that might possibly harm you and your sleep. So you might as well remove it from the bedroom. Or at least charge it on the other side of the room if you still use it as an alarm clock.

Should you worry?

I’m NOT worried.

Sure, there might be negative consequences, but worrying about it won’t help.

You’d do best to remove all possible high sources of EMF. And then stop worrying.

Sure, you can start living on an island without electricity, but I’d rather not.

The best thing to do is to see where you get a lot of EMF exposure, and then see if you can remove those things.

After all, better safe to be sorry 🙂

Thought question: wouldn’t it be a smart thing to remove the highest sources of EMF, especially if there’s an easy alternative that has other benefits?

My approach to reducing EMF

A quick look around my house showed that the main EMF appliances I’ve got are:

  • Cell phone
  • Fitbit Charge 3
  • Microwave
  • Router
  • Computers

So here’s 7 super easy things I’m doing to reduce EMF. I love these choices, since they literally take 0 – or close to 0 – sacrifice to me. But still remove a lot of exposure.

If I’d get brain cancer in 10 years, and I wouldn’t have done those things… I’d be hating myself so badly.

#1 Charge phone in another room

This is probably the most difficult for most people. Still, you get used to it easily. Just put your charger in your living room, and then start charging it there.

One objection is that you might need your phone as an alarm clock. SOlutions are:

  • Put it on loud and if you’re a light sleeper you still are awoken
  • Charge it just outside of your bedroom so you still hear it.
  • fIf you’re a super deep sleeper, charge it on the other side of your room
  • Get an old fashioned alarm clock. But make sure to cover the lights!

Even if you’re the most pro EMF guy out there, and you sleep with your head in a proverbial microwave, you’d still do well to put your phone somewhere else.

There are so many benefits to this:

  • You’ll get your deep sleep as you’re not awoken by notifications
  • You won’t be tempted to quickly check your email or messages before and during sleep. Which can wreck a good night’s sleep.
  • Less melatonin wrecking blue light exposure
  • No stupid charger light
  • Beat your phone addiction.
  • Be one of the remaining 20% of people who don’t check their phone first thing in the morning.

Time to implement: approximately 2 minutes. You need to walk to your bedroom, take your charger. Find a new place according to charge it. 

#2 Don’t keep my phone in my pocket when not necessary

This one is also about your phone. Since it’s so close to us all the time, it’s the under most suspicion.

Another easy win is to NOT have your phone with your when you don’t need it.

What do I mean by that?

  • Leaving it in the locker when you go to the gym – enjoy more intense, uninterrupted workouts 😉
  • Going for a walk once a while without your phone
  • Leaving it on the table when you’re at home, instead of in your pocket.
  • Putting it in your desk drawer when you’re at work, instead of next to you or in your pocket.

Again, so many benefits to keeping your phone away from you.

I’m not advocating you to be an anti tech monniker, but your phone can be so incredibly interrupting. 

The list of notifications, calls, phantom buzzing etc just goes on and on. Not to speak of that annoying habit of people to check their phone when they’re talking to you.

Your work, social relations, anxiety all will improve if you just have some time every day without your phone.

Time to implement: 5 seconds several times per day. Leaving your phone on the table instead of your pocket is an easy decision. But most people don’t think about it.

#3 Use speaker when calling

I recently started doing this for another reason. My right ear started hurting after a lot of long phone calls. Since I was having them in the evening at home, there wasn’t anyone to eavesdrop. So out of  ear pain I put my phone calls on speaker.

Only just before writing this article, I thought of the fact that it also decreases close contact exposure of my phone with my brain.

The more distance between the brain and the phone, the less EMF will get through.

Again, at first this may seem like an anti-tech monniker advice. But my ear was hurting anyways, so why not kill 2 birds with one stone.

If you’re out and don’t want people to overhear your conversation, sure. Just put your phone against your head. 

Or use headphones.

That might actually be a great idea if you’re on the phone all day for your work.

Just be sure to watch out for the next mistake…

Time to implement: pressing speaker costs you around 0.5 seconds every time you get a call.

#4 Use headphones with a cord

The research isn’t out on this matter yet. The Sound Guys say no. Radiation Health Risks says it’s better to limit our exposure.

It’s another case where I’d rather be safe than sorry. 

And I’ve heard too many stories of friends and coworkers dropping their earplugs in the toilet.

Why I’m sticking to corded headphones for now:

  • I would lose the headphones for sure
  • Most people with bluetooth headphones wear them all the time. Bad for your ears and bad for your social connections. It’s just plain rude.
  • Oh yeah. Almost forgot. You might decrease your chances of  getting brain cancer because of EMF’s.

Time to implement: 0 seconds. Just don’t buy bluetooth headphones.

#5 Turn off continuous synchronizing on my sleep tracker

I’m still not sure what to do here. I’m using a Fitbit Charge 3 to keep track of my sleep. This is important, as I’m running Sleep Investor and need my sleep data for experiments.

However, it does emit bluetooth – and therefore EMF – radiation.

At the moment I’ve done a compromise by:

  1. Having my phone in another room during sleep
  2. Turning off continuously synchronizing

I do not want to be bathed in bluetooth every 10 minutes.

Plus, it makes checking my daily stats, heart rate, steps etc a lot less addicting.

Now 3 to 5 times per day I manually press synchronize and then see how I’m doing. Makes it more intentional as well.

Time to implement: 1 minute to turn off synchronizing. Then it saves you time as you’re looking at your stats less 🙂

#6 Don’t use unnecessary devices

The trend these days is to have all your devices be smart. And I get it. It’s cool to have wifi lamps that you can control by voice. But on the other hand, if you don’t have it, you’re also not missing out too much.

You can get all the smart home stuff if you want. And not worry about EMF’s. 

I’m not using it because my apartment is older, and it would be a hassle to get everything ‘smarter’. Once I move to a modern apartment, I might get all those things. And not worry about EMF.

If you are worried a lot, then it makes sense to not smartify all your appliances 😉

Time to implement: 0 minutes. Don’t buy them.

#7 Keep router away from bedroom

Last one. Also an easy one. Do not put your router in your bedroom. Probably few people have this anyways. But if you do, see if you can place it somewhere else.

If this is not possible, then it’s a good idea to turn off your router while you go to sleep.

Time to implement: 5 minutes to place your router somewhere else. Otherwise 20 seconds at night and in the morning to turn it on and off. Or plug it in a time socket.

Worry… but don’t worry 😉

EMFs and human health is incredibly interesting. If I were you, I wouldn’t take all the claims from the doomsayers and anti-tech monikers to heart.

On the other hand, also don’t take the claims from the pro techies to heart that EMF’s are safe. 

Just remove the main sources of them in your life, and wait till research figures out how harmful – or not – EMFs are.

And if they turn out to be harmful, I’m sure smart silicon valley guys will very quickly figure something out to make them less harmful.

Sleep Tips

How Necessary is it Really to Sleep in a Complete Dark Room Without Any Lights at all?

✔️ Takeaway: making your room pitch black is one of the easiest ways to get more deep sleep and wake up better rested. It literally takes less than an hour to implement it, and the rewards you reap are out of proportionally good.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 23 seconds.

Everytime I visit my parents, I sleep like a baby bear. I go to bed at 11PM and at 9AM in the morning I feel as if I’ve awoken from a long winter hibernation.

Why do I sleep so well there?

I asked myself the same question regularly when I wasn’t that interested in sleeping well.

Looking back, it’s incredibly obvious.

My parents live in the countryside, and there’s literally no light in my bedroom there.

Chances are you’ve heard about removing lights in your bedroom, but how important is it, really?

Let’s find out.

A picture I just made of my bedroom at 11.50 AM. Curtains closed.

So is it really important that your room should be pitch black?

If you’re anything like me, you know you should be sleeping in a black room.

I’ve known for years that making your room black is the way to go for deeper sleep.

But the problem is that we don’t know HOW necessary it is.

It’s the main problem with looking for solutions on the internet.

You look up how to sleep better.

You get thrown a 100 tips at your plate. Now enjoy figuring out what you should focus on.

Improving your sleep is not rocket science. There are a couple of things that are incredibly important.

Plus there are some things that cost you an hour or less to set up… and bring you benefits for years to come.

Making your room PITCH BLACK is one of those things.

Let’s dig into history to find out how exactly this stuff works…

Let’s go back a couple thousand years

If we go back a couple thousand years, people lived with the sun. In the morning you would wake up when the sun came up. And at night, you’d stop what you were doing when the sun went down.

Humanity did have some artificial lightning in the form of fire. So in most societies you probably wouldn’t go to sleep right away after the sun went away. But since wood wasn’t always available, it’s a good guess people weren’t staying up till 2 at night. Unless you’d have guard duty.

Now go back 200 years

Now we go back 200 years. It is estimated that if you were living 200 years ago in a civilized area, you’d get approximately 9 hours of sleep.

Sure, there were more types of light, but still not nearly as much as today.

Things changed when the lightbulb was invented and light became more accessible everywhere. Now suddenly it seems like we’ve won the battle against the night.

Productivity goes up everywhere, and people get more time to chill at night. More time to read. More time to enjoy friends and family. More time to do things that are not conducive to good sleep.

Light fucks up your sleep

In the last couple of decades, things have become even worse as far as lightning is concerned. Now we’ve got a little screen with us at all times that emits light that blocks melatonin production: Smartphones. What this means is that when your eyes receptors get exposed to blue led lights, your brain gets the signal that it’s daytime.

This is bad news. Since your circadian rhythm depends on simple cues to know when it’s time to wake and be active – or sleep and slow down.

Therefore you need to be careful what you expose yourself to.

Getting your circadian rhythm back in order is a biggie for a lot of issues, but it’s too big to talk about in this post.

Unnatural light at night is a big one though.

So let’s assume you’re a body. You’re carefully regulated by light to know when to be active or not.

Hundred thousands of years of evolution shaped you in a way that when it’s dark…. You go into rest mode.

Now science comes along and creates artificial light.

It’s 11 PM and after a long day you’re tired. But the light in your house tells you that it’s still 6PM.

What to do? Should you be active or rest?

Now, if you’re young and are generally healthy, your sleep drive will win. But if you’re a little older, have sleeping issues, or just want to optimize your sleep… it’s a super easy win to get rid of all the light

That way you won’t confuse your body with mixed signals.

What happened to my deep sleep after I got rid of all the lights in my bedroom?

Recently I started measuring my sleep. To measure is to know, and it’s super interesting to see how much REM and deep sleep I get.

Before a little light used to enter my bedroom. I had black out curtains, but they were not completely blacking out all light.

This is a night how I’d sleep before.

Here’s a screenshot of how a regular night looks now:

This is not an isolated case. Can you see that I get more deep sleep? And a longer stretch in the beginning of the night?

Another benefit is that it’s easier to fall back asleep after an awakening.

You know that feeling when you wake up in the middle of the night, and there’s light coming in? You suddenly become aware of your environment and start thinking. 

Without any light. E.g. pitch black, there isn’t anything to take your attention. So what I’ve noticed is that it’s much easier to quickly fall asleep again after these short awakenings.

Your mileage may vary, but if it’s something you struggle with… it might just be an incredibly easy solution for it 😉

Extra benefit: apart from more deep sleep, I also noticed it was much easier to fall asleep again after short awakenings at night.

Go on a pitch black adventure quest

So how do you go on a quest to make your room super dark? There are 3 simple steps. First you need to get rid of the electronics, then install dark curtains and finally do a check for the remaining light sources.

Kill electronics

Led lights emit the most wakeful type on the light spectrum. Especially if it’s white or blue. But others also need to go.

Take a good look around your room and make a list of how much electronics you see.

Best time to do this is when it’s dark, as you see them better.

Here’s a short list of common electronics:

  • Phone charger
  • TV
  • Laptop
  • Tablet charger
  • Humidifier
  • Music box

You really don’t need any of these electronics in your bedroom. Better to get them all out in your living room. 

Extra benefit: the less electronics you have in your bedroom, the less chance they will distract you from your sleep. Less light + less distraction = double whammy of better sleep.

Upgrade with pitch black curtains

The main source of light in bedrooms is street light. Especially if you live in a city, chances are you’ve got quite the influx of light.

It’s also easy to fix. Most furniture or DIY stores sell super black curtains. Otherwise, you can also buy them online.

I’m sure they can be found crazy expensive, but I’ve had great results from regular cheap ones. Around $50 if I remember correctly. And taking into account how costly sleep deprivation is, NOT getting black out curtains is more expensive than buying them.

Say you invest $50 in black out curtains. 

As a results you get 10 to 20 minutes per night more deep sleep. Now you feel more rested in the morning.

This makes you more clear minded at work. And you get a couple of small things done more every single day.

After half a year, your boss notices you’re getting more done than your colleagues.

Someone higher up is leaving, and now there’s space for someone up and coming.

The position pays $10.000 more per year, and your boss picks you.

That’s an increase of 20000% on your original investment of $50.

Talk about a high ROY investment in your sleep 😉

Anyway, the point is to illustrate that it’s a little thing to do, but can actually have a big impact on your life.

Good sleep is just a matter of doing a lot of little things correctly, and having a dark room is one of them.

Install black out curtains. You won’t regret it.

Extra benefit: installing black out curtains will make it easier to get enough sleep in summer. When the suns comes up at 5 in the morning, you won’t be woken up.

Slay the remaining light sources

Now your room should be much darker already. But. Chances are that there’s still a lot of remaining light.

After I installed black out curtains, there was still a lot of light coming around the curtains. Sure they worked. Only, they didn’t cover all the light entrances.

So I took an old plaid and covered the light coming from the top.

Beautiful? No.

Effective? Yes. 

My girlfriend had to laugh a lot when she saw this solution. She enjoys everything being beautiful and nicely organized, but I haven’t heard her complain either. Point is, good sleep is more important.

You might find some other places where there’s still light. See if you can remove it. Or otherwise hide it by putting a towel on it.

Extra benefit: you get to practice your creativity 😉

Happy sleeping

Alright that was it. Go take 20 minutes today and remove all your electronics from your bedroom. After that order black out curtains. When they arrive, install them and see if there’s any light remaining.

Go and remove that. Or put a towel over it.

If you’ve never slept in a completely dark room before, you’re going to be in for a cool experience.

It maybe a bit weird at first, but it will definitely help you sleep better.

Going to bed feels even more natural to me now, and I just feel calmer in bed. I also fall asleep faster.

Removing light is one of the few things you can do to improve your sleep massively that only take about an hour maximum to implement. You’d be a fool not to take advantage of this simple method 😉

Sleep Tips

Why I love to Dream About Work

✔️ Takeaway: if you like your work, dreaming about it means your brain is actively processing information. During REM sleep new information is mixed and matched with older knowledge to create novel solutions. If you dream about work, be on the lookout for a creative solution to a work-related problem.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 36 seconds.

“Fuck, I missed the deadline to submitting that presentation to my client.” was the first thought when I woke up in the morning.

Raged out of bed.

Check my watch.

Wait a second.

That presentation is due tomorrow…

It was all a dream.

A dream about work…

Sound familiar?

Why I’m always happy to dream about work

You might feel weird when you dream about work. But it’s not as bad as you may make it out to be. On the contrary… I’m always happy when I’m dreaming about sending emails, writing new blog posts or even missing an important deadline.

When I was working on the website of an IT recruitment company, I also occasionally dreamed about getting more leads… updating code to increase lead sign ups doesn’t sound too inspirational, but it never felt stressful.

My girlfriend usually wakes up earlier at 6.00 Am. This gives me about 1 to 2 hours to get back to sleep. I’ve always noticed that this hour is my most dreamy hour. It’s fun to to have sweet dreams about flying, going on holiday, or being Harry Potter. But it’s even more fun if you know that those dreams are actually helping you advance your career.

So why would you be averse to work dreams? I get that if your work isn’t fun, you’re not going to like even more time thinking about it.

Yet, if your work challenges you, gives you plenty of control and freedom to give your own input…. Dreaming about work is an great thing.

REM sleep and creativity

Before we answer why it’s such a nice thing, let’s first dig into the science surrounding dreams.

Dreams happen during the REM stage of your sleep.

REM sleep is a lighter form of sleeping, where your brain resembles being awake.

The name is an acronym and means rapid eye movement“. Cause your eyes move rapidly from side to side.

But the main gist of what happens is this:

During REM sleep, your brain is mixing and matching information. It adds new information from the previous day to information in your long-term memory.

Little example: Im an avid gym goer. I’ve been doing it consistently for the last 6-8 years. And through this consistency, I’ve made a ton of progress. I know that progress there doesn’t come from 1 workout.

Let’s say I’m also working on improving my health. I’ve decided to quit caffeine. After 2 days of quitting, I haven’t noticed any benefits. I’m still feeling shitty because of the caffeine withdrawal. I’m on the verge of saying fuck it and getting back to fountains of black gold in the morning.

Now I have a good night’s sleep, and during REM the caffeine problem gets matched with my gym consistency experience.

1 + 1 = 3.

“Hey, maybe you should give it a couple more days. Be consistent. And then you’ll start to feel a lot better, maybe?”

This sounds obvious. But it’s during REM sleep, that your brain connects the dots.

So whenever I dream about work, I know that my brain is actively trying to solve work problems.

You must have a couple of things at work, that are not going well. Maybe you’re not getting the amount of sales you need for your bonus. Maybe you’re trying to butter up your boss for that promotion.

Hey, maybe you’re eyeing after the girl from HR, and trying to figure out a way to get to know her without it messing up your career? 🙂

In order for you to get the reward from solving those problems, you need…

Creativity is what you’re after.

To be successful at work, you need to find creative solutions to problems. That’s the only way you’re going to get paid a good salary. Or if you’re in your own business, to earn a good living.

If you’re getting paid to follow other people’s orders, and not add anything new to your job. then there will be a cap on your maximum salary.

The people that add new value and propose new solutions to problems, are the ones that get paid a lot of money. The simplest way to be more creative and have a higher problem-solving capability, is to have more REM sleep.

So if you’re serious about your career, earning money, and basically making something of your life… then you better make sure you get your REM sleep at night

2 Tips to increase REM sleep

Studies have shown that you mainly get your REM sleep at the second half of the night. So here are two simple tips that you can implement to get more REM sleep, for more creativity at your job:

Sleep longer

Below you can see a graph of how I slept a couple nights ago. As you can see I do get more REM sleep the second half of the night. So, what would happen if I would wake up 2 hours earlier? Of course, I would lose at least 20 to 30 minutes of REM sleep.

If you are currently sleeping less than 8 hours, you almost surely are not getting enough REM sleep that you need. So this is the first thing that you need to start working on. I recommend you go to bed earlier. Or see if you can skip several unnecessary morning tasks . This way you’ll be able to get more REM sleep to dream about work 😉

More REM sleep tip: you get the bulk of your REM sleep in the second half of the day. So the longer you sleep, the more ‘creativity’ sleep you’ll get. Also, waking up much earlier then usually can therefore decrease your amount of REM.

Skip the alcohol

I love to have a couple of drinks. But I also know that alcohol can have serious ramifications, if I use it at the wrong time or too much. Especially for sleep, alcohol can have serious consequences.
While you fall sleep faster, it will also decrease the quality of your deep sleep in the first half of the night. And later on it tears your REM sleep to shreds.

  • Don’t drink throughout the week
  • Behave yourself on the weekends (anything after the 6th drink is often unnecessary and worsens your nights anyways)
  • Drink earlier! That way your body will have cleared the alcohol by the time you’re going to bed.
  • Skip the late night shoarma. Don’t give your body more to process than the debauchery you’ve just gone through.

More REM sleep tip: alcohol makes it more difficult for your brain to get REM sleep. Try to drink earlier or skip the alcohol completely if you want to get more REM sleep.

Creativity is your superpower in 2019 and beyond…

In the book deep work Cal Newport says that one of the main superpowers in 2019 and beyond, is your ability to find new solutions to challenges. If you can help a thousand people with a $100 problem, your potential earnings to be $100.000.

Every big company that is making tons of money, can only do this because they’re solving big problems for a small amount of people. Or small problems for a huge amount of people.

I don’t have Netflix, but they’re a good example of solving a small problem for millions of people. Before Netflix there was limited selection of good series. You had to wait till a specific time of the week to watch it. And you couldn’t binge watch them, unless you illegally downloaded them.

Netflix solves all these problems, for just $10 per month.

You’re likely not going to create the new Netflix, but remember that whatever you do… people are willing to pay handsomely if you can solve their problems. You boss included.

So next time you wake up in the morning from a nice dream about spreadsheets, clients and software tooling… please put a big smile on your face. You’re getting ahead of all the competition in your sleep 😉

P.S. did you know that your brain turns off the part for rational thought in REM sleep? Even more opportunities for solving problems!

Sleep Tips

Ultimate Power Nap Guide: Improve Your Health, Productivity & Focus


Napping is for old people.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

How many times have you heard that? Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger told everyone to “sleep faster if you’re in bed for 8 hours” or Donald Trump saying “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?”, people have been trying to take time for sleep and use them for *productive* means.

Is it really a good idea to sleep less to be more productive? Does napping not work anymore?

No, not at all. Getting enough sleep is more important than ever and napping still is a great way to be more productive, alert, creative and healthy. The people who can get by on 4 hours of sleep are genetic outliers—and if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t among them.

What does this mean for productivity hackers and health enthusiasts?

It means that if you’re looking to live a healthy life—a productive life—that sleeping less is not one of the magical things you can do to achieve that.

Every hour of sleep that you miss has consequences in regard to your focus and functioning. And the sleep debt you’re creating might even never be repaid fully.

It’s really a shame that we as a society have so much distractions that sleep falls along the sideway.

I get it, life is hectic and most of us are juggling so many balls (health, work, friends, family and hobbies), that it’s tempting to sacrifice those ‘useless’ hours in bed.

Not to talk about Netflix who officially claimed sleep as its main competitor.

One look around the metro in a big city in the morning shows that we’re on our way to becoming a sleepy caffeine-driven zombie nation…

What if you could take advantage of this?

You know… the ones who actually get enough sleep, wake up with energy, full focus for the day and actually thrive in our hectic society.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to use powernaps to get more out of life.

Getting more out of life is NOT a matter of doing more things in the 24 hours you have each day. It’s about doing the right things…

Power naps are a valuable weapon in your arsenal

Naps are one of the few things in life that don’t cost much time—and have tremendous benefits for your health and mind.

You can lay down for 20 minutes after lunch (when you’re not productive anyway) and wake up ready to go with full energy.

The only thing that’s keeping most people back is the old beliefs that napping is for old people, that real adults should be able to get through the day normally.

So we throw more coffee at our sleepiness.

For my own life, my afternoons and evenings are so much more rewarding and productive if I take a nap after lunch. It’s just 10 to 20 minutes, and it clears my mind and gets me ready for the second half of the day. Taking a nap gives me a reset for the day, a second chance.

If you picked up this guide, you’re miles ahead than the majority of people out there. Not many people know how to nap properly. They try it for 2 days, oversleep their nap, become incredibly groggy, and claim that napping just doesn’t work for them.

Napping might be the most powerful ‘skill’ for boundless health

Getting good sleep is one of the biggest factors for great health. If you know how to get enough sleep—whether that’s only at night or with naps—you are set up for a life of health and focus.

Put simply, if you know how to get enough sleep, your cells repair themselves faster, you become less sick, have more energy and even less chances of dying.

If there would be a supplement that costs 20 minutes to prepare and in return you’d get:

  • Better focus
  • Higher productivity
  • More creativity
  • Less chances of heart disease
  • Healthier organs
  • Better hormone balance
  • And more energy

Wouldn’t you buy it immediately? That is exactly what a quick powernap can do for your life.

Sure, sleep won’t cure all your problems. Not getting enough will surely make you less able to cope with them.

What you’ll learn in this guide ( + short overview )

In this guide, I’m going to explain HOW to become more focused and healthy through using naps.

We’ll go over the 10 benefits that napping has for. Both the long-term effects, as well as the immediate benefits that having a quick nap has on your mind.

Then we’re going to discuss the 7 different lengths of naps and how they affect you.

After that, we’ll take a look at the 5 steps you must take to get the most out of your powernaps (and how you can fall asleep FAST).

In the final chapter, I’ll guide you step-by-step through which nap is the most suitable for you and how you can get started with it right away.

The best part about napping is that it doesn’t cost much time, it’s pleasurable and it has so many countless benefits that are hard to get any other way.

Sounds awesome?

Let’s get started!

Chapter 1: Ten Ways Power Napping Makes You More Productive and Healthier

Since sleep is one of the important things in your life, there are countless benefits to getting enough shut-eye time. What if you don’t get enough? In that case powernaps are here to help you.

Below you’ll find 10 of the most important benefits of taking a quick nap. The great thing is that napping is both good for long-term health—and you’ll also experience immediate benefits from taking a sleeping break.

They say that there are no free lunches, but the closest thing we’ve got as humans is the powernap.

It’s important to notice though, that many of the benefits of powernaps come from helping you to catch up on sleep that you didn’t get through the night. Although many studies also found that napping does have additional benefits, even if you already got enough sleep at night.

Immediate benefit #1: Increased productivity, alertness & concentration

Looking for an easy way to get more out of your working day? NASA has done a study on pilots who took a nap of 26 minutes each day, and found that this nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

Even if you don’t have as much responsibility as an astronaut on the job (who doesn’t?) these findings are pure gold.

Most people experience an afternoon-slump, in which concentration drops and you find yourself looking for 10 minutes at a paragraph, with continuous re-reading without getting what’s written.

Another study at Stanford among 49 physicians and nurses who worked the night shift found that they benefitted from a 40-minute nap (on average each participant slept for 25 minutes). The results? “Fewer performance lapses, reported more vigor, less fatigue and less sleepiness

If both these professions with an immense responsibility benefit from taking a nap at work – why shouldn’t you?

Further reading

Immediate benefit #2: Improve learning & memory

Have you ever experienced the following scenario? You’re learning something difficult (playing the piano, coding, crafting or any other skill-based activity), and it’s just not working out. You call it a day and come back the next day—only to find that after a good night’s sleep what was difficult yesterday is now second nature.

That’s the power of sleep on memory and learning.

A study from Saarland university tested the memory recall of 41 participants. They were asked to learn single words and word pairs. After that half of the group took a 45-60-minute nap—the other half watched a DVD.

Guess who had the better memory recall? The students who took a nap remembered on average 5 times more words than the control group.

Everyone can benefit from learning new information and skills—your job and livelihood may depend on it.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #3: Stop information overload

A friend of mine is a doctor who has his own clinic. He swears by taking a nap every afternoon. Why? Because he needs to take in much information about each patient, assimilate that with his own knowledge, make a diagnose and recommend what to do next.

If he doesn’t take his nap, he’ll find that he loses focus around 3 to 4 and can’t focus on listening well to the patient. In his job, this can have huge consequences.

A Harvard study found that naps have a restorative effect on visual test results. Subjects were asked to do 4 visual tests (9AM, 12PM, 4PM and 7 PM), and found that those who took naps required less time on the later tests.

Humans are information processing machines, so it makes sense to get the most out of this ability, right? Taking a nap will help you take in more information, and you’ll make better decision as a result.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #4: Relieve stress & boost your immune system

What’s more relaxing than taking half an hour for yourself during a busy day to recharge? Power naps have been shown to physiologically decrease stress markers in the body.

One study found that in 11 healthy man, 30 minutes of sleep restored biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels after a night of limited sleep. Neuroendocrine is a hormone that’s responsible for the fight or flight response.

Stress hormones are through the roof if you only get limited sleep throughout the night—and taking a nap can reverse some of these negative effects in the body.

It can be difficult to fall asleep—or take time away from your day—if you’re already stressed. But the decrease in stress will allow you to come back calmer and fresher.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #5: Elevate your mood

Winston Churchill said that sleeping during the day gave him 2 days in one day. And I agree, who doesn’t love a good nap? You get a new chance at the day, and if your morning didn’t go as planned, you can try again after taking an afternoon nap.

Now science has also shown this mood-enhancing effect of naps. The study found that, even for people who generally get enough sleep they need very night, napping may lead to considerable benefits for mood, alertness and cognitive performance.

So if you’re feeling grumpy, why not lay down for 20 minutes? You’ll awake with a fresh perspective and good mood.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #6: aid creative insights

The story goes that Salvador Dali used to take naps in his chair with a key in his hand. Next to his chair is a plate upside down. When he’d drift off to sleep, he loses the control over his hand muscle and the key drops on the plate.

It’s in this moment that he got is most creative insights.

He wrote about this moment in his book the 50 Secrets of craftsmanship:

“The moment the key drops from your fingers, you may be sure that the noise of its fall on the upside-down plate will awaken you, and you may be equally sure that this fugitive moment when you had barely lost consciousness and during which you cannot be assured of having really slept is totally sufficient, inasmuch as not a second more is needed for your physical and psychic being to be revivified by just the necessary amount of repose.”

We’re not master painters, but we can learn a lot from this. Have you experienced this state Dali talks about? I do know when I take a nap, the creative juices start to flow in my head. If I take a long nap I forget them—if I have a micronap, like Dali, then when I wake up I still remember.

In this hectic world we can all use an extra dose of creativity to help us overcome obstacles. The great thing about the Dali nap is that it doesn’t even take much time.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #1: Lose weight

The short-term benefits of napping are nothing to scoff at. Taking a powernap becomes even more impressive when you look at all the long-term benefits as well.

For example, naps are one of the most important things you can do for your health and weight loss.

Losing weight is all about eating less or burning more calories. Another component is stress. You’ve probably experienced cravings or hunger when you’re stressed out?

WebMD says that stress and tiredness can make your brain’s reward center more active—so you’ll start looking for something that feels good. Many turn to food in this case.

Sleeping enough will make you less stressed and less tired. If you can’t get enough at night, then taking a nap is s surefire way to combat stress and fatigue—so the chances of finding yourself at the office snack machine at 3.30PM decreases as well.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #2: Good for heart health & prevent a stroke

Which lucky people haven’t lost anyone close (friends or family) to a heart attack? Few. Data from 2012 showed that 28% of Americans over age 40 are taking cholesterol lowering medicines.

It’s one of the silent killers in our society, next to cancer and Alzheimer.

Now, I don’t want to put napping here as a miracle solution, since there are obviously many other factors in play for stroke and heart health, but midday naps are associated with reduced blood pressure and fewer medications.

The study checked 386 middle aged patients (average age 61) and found that—after taking into account factors such as age, gender, BMI, smoking, alcohol and coffee intake—that afternoon nappers had on average 5% lower systolic blood pressure compared to those who didn’t sleep.

Another study in Greece, where the siesta is still part of the culture, among 23,000 adults, found that those who took siestas showed a 37% reduction in coronary mortality rate.

It seems to me that we can learn something from the Mediterranean siesta habit. It’s a free way to reduce heart attacks and lower blood pressure.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #3: Prevent cell damage

Being sleep deprived not only hurts your ability to focus. Research has shown that sleep deprivation literally causes damage to cell in the liver, lungs and small intestine.

Luckily, the study also found that recovery sleep was effective in restoring the balance and decrease cell injury.

Which means that if you’re having a late flight scheduled, and only can make 4 hours of sleep—you can catch up with that by taking a longer nap.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #4: Boost testosterone

Just as with some of the previous findings, a lack of sleep has a detrimental effect on testosterone production in men. Not getting enough sleep decreases the production of testosterone in men.

On study in aging men found that there’s a correlation between amount of sleep and testosterone levels. Men who slept for 4 hours had around 60% less serum testosterone than those who slept 3 hours more (7 hours).

Why is testosterone important? It’s responsible for wellbeing, weight loss, muscle mass retention and having low testosterone relates to overall risk of mortality in men.

A lack of sleep can also cause problems for women with hormones, and a power nap can help to restore the balance.

Further reading

What does this mean for you?

With all the benefits surrounding powernaps, it’s one of the few things that you can do that only takes a small investment of your time and has dozens of incredibly benefits.

On the concrete side, it means that you can lose all the guilt that you might have when taking a nap.

I’m still working on this – and it’s getting better – I feel it a little when I’m taking a nap. For some reason napping is associated with older people. When you’re an adult, you should be able to cope with the stresses of life without *needing* a nap is still the current thinking.

Also, there are quite some practical things that impact your naps. Such as timing of your nap, how to fall asleep quickly, and what to do if you’re working in an office and can’t just go off and take a powernap.

In the following chapters we’ll discuss those—beginning with the different lengths and types of naps…

Chapter 2: How Long Should a Nap Be? (And Which Types of Naps Are There?)

There are different types of naps—depending on duration each offers a different use for you. Below you’ll find the main 7 types of naps that you can choose.

The type you’ll want to take depends mainly on the amount of time that you have. It goes without saying that it’s tough to fit a full sleep cycle nap of 90 minutes into your lunch break at work.

Sleep Tips

8 Lessons I learned From taking the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha 21 Nights in a Row

This summer, I could lay down in bed at 11 PM and be completely off the earth at 11.02 PM For some reason the last month it takes longer to fall asleep and I’m tossing and turning a lot at night…Suspected causes:

  • Less physical activity
  • Not enough sunshine
  • More work-related stress in my life.

I’m already working on these things–but it’s also the perfect time for a little sleep experiment:

Ashwagandha (that’s ash-wa-gan-dha) is a herb that’s used for thousands of years for all sorts of physical troubles. One of the main things it’s know for is that it’s an adaptogenic herb, which helps you cope better with stress.

This is what my pure ashwagandha powder looks like.

Less cortisol at night = better sleep, Right? Let’s find out!

Why am I doing this experiment?

Because people say good things about taking ashwagandha before sleep:

  • “I’m now in a much better mood when I wake up”
  • “I feel physically and mentally relaxed and well-rested, something that hasn’t happened in years”
  • “I can think clearer after waking up without needing coffee (although I still drink it)”
  • “My stress levels decrease noticeably for the next morning”
  • “I haven’t woken up with upper back/neck pain (something that used to happen, even with good posture)”
  • “My dreams became extremely vivid and realistic”
  • “The good night’s rest seems to help me build muscle faster, although I can’t confirm this”

If I even can get half of these benefits from taking it on a regular basis, sign me up!

Another thing is that ashwagandha is cheap. I got 200 grams for 10 euro 2 years ago. A normal dosage is .5 grams, so that’s 400 dosages for 10 euro) and has virtually no side effects. So there’s nothing to lose. 

I’ve taken ashwagandha at night before, but it was irregular and never more than 1 or 2 nights in a row. So I can’t really tell too much about the long-term effects on sleep from ashwagandha.

suspect that it helps with sleep, but for all I know, other factors just lined up and gave me good sleep.

In the following section you can read what I’m going to do learn the real benefits of ashwagandha for sleep:

What’s the setup?

So here’s the deal: I’m going to take ashwagandha for 21 days to see what the effects are on my sleep.

It’s to keep myself accountable. As I’ve tried doing these experiments countless times before, but never stuck with it for more than a couple of days.

This time, I’ll describe my progress here for you.

Current sleep routine

As I said before, I don’t have any huge sleep problems at the moment. Here’s my sleep routine:

  • Avoid screens at least an hour before bed. Unless I’m reading on my non-backlite-reader or watching a movie on a projector.
  • Go to bed around 11 PM
  • Take zinc
  • Read for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Wake up around 7.30 through my girlfriend’s alarm
  • Sleep till 8.00 and get up

My girlfriend sleeps like a baby, so she’s not waking me up in any way. She does notice whenever I’m stressed so I wake her up when I’m turning all night.

Reason again to solve this!

How do I expect my sleep to improve?

No supplement has miracle effects. Unless you’re deficient in a specific mineral or vitamin. In other cases you shouldn’t expect super effects on your sleep.

So many factors go into sleep. A good night’s sleep is caused by 50+ factors all pointing into the right direction.

Bad sleep is caused by several factors pointing in the wrong direction.

So I’m not expecting ashwagandha to magically make my sleep a blissful wonderland full of good dreams.

I’ve read the literature, countless of other sites and anecdotal experiences from others. And here’s what I roughly suspect will happen after taking ashwagandha for a couple of weeks:

‘Sure’ effects

  • Less stress
  • Easier to wake up in the morning
  • Less turning at night

‘Maybe’ effects

  • Clearer skin
  • Heightened libido
  • More progress in the gym?
  • Vivid dreams
  • Less dependent on coffee in the morning

There’s one negative though. If I take anything calming (ashwagandha or l-theanine) for several days in a row, my motivation tends to go down a bit. 

This was always from taking it in the morning though. So I hope that it won’t affect me if I take it before sleep.

What does the literature say about ashwaghandha?

(skip this section if you want to get to the ashwagandha sleep experiment)

Ashwagandha’s real name is Withania Somnifera. And if you take 300 mg of extract for 60 days, you experience a reduction in all stress related markers and serum cortisol goes down.

Another study found that the active component of ashwagandha, triethylene glycol, induced sleep in mice. It decreased non REM sleep latency and induced physiological sleep. It works by involving GABAergic modulation.

This review study from 2011 listed all the previous ashwagandha studies and their conclusions:

  • Ashwagandha was shown to increase swimming performance in rats as judged by increase in swimming time during physical endurance test.The cortisol content of adrenals was reduced significantly in animals subjected to 5 h constant swimming as compared to non-swimmer group.
  • Ashwagandha was found to be useful in the prevention of stress-induced ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • There was a significant increase in the body weights of the Ashwagandha treated group as compared to control for a period of 3 months in rats.
  • The cognition-promoting effect of ashwagandha is best seen in children with memory deficits, or when memory is compromised following head injury, or a prolonged illness and in old age.
  • There are dozens of studies that show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss.
  • Ashwagandha induced a calming anxiolytic effect that was comparable to the drug Lorazepam in all three standard Anxiety tests.
  • It also exhibited an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine, in two standard tests.
  • Ashwagandha is an analgesic that soothes nervous system from pain response.

If you want something more digestible than these studies, check out for ashwagandha. I absolutely love the site and they’ve done a great job making the scientific literature for supplements 1000 times more accessible.

Also, here’s what Lorna Driver-Davies, a nutritional therapist has to say about ashwagandha for sleep:

“Ashwagandha enhances GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, working to reduce neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. Essentially, this means that ashwagandha is able to help the body and mind feel more relaxed or ‘wound down’ –  which is an important state to be in to fall asleep. Our own Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to support anxiety and stress; and works to modulate cortisol production. This is helpful for those who find it hard to switch off before bed when worrying about the day or just feel too stimulated before bed time. Clients of mine typically report finding it quicker to fall asleep and the next day, feeling as though they have experienced a longer, deeper sleep.”

So, there are a lot of studies done on the effects of the herb, and it seems to work for about everything. Now, the majority of the studies was done on mice – so if you’re a student, PhD, or professor doing any sort of health-related research… why not conduct another human trial with ashwagandha!

Ashwaghanda sleep experiment setup

Healthline recommends taking around 500 to 600 mg per day. This is for insomnia and other stress-related sources. So that’s what I’m going to do. 

My pot says to take more, but I’ve always had good experience taking less. So I’m not going to take 2 or 4 times more than what’s proven to work.

With supplements I always like to take as less as possible for a working effect 🙂

I’ve got myself a nice little weighing scale,

There’s no recommended time when to take it, but since the main goal is to reduce stress before and at night, I’ll take a fairly liberal approach.

So I’ll take it anywhere ranging from 2 hours before bedtime to right before bed. (as I’m sure I’ll forget on many occasions and have to get up to take some)

My pot says: “Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approximately 1.3 to 2.5 g) and mix with juice or yoghurt. Don’t use if you’re pregnant.”

The only other supplements I’m taking at the moment are cod liver oil (1tbsp), vitamin D (3000IU) and zinc.

Note: as of writing this, my ashwagandha pot is from 2016. I’ve checked and the expiry date was 30-07-2019. That’s why I bought new fresh ashwagandha on the third day of my experiment.

Curious how my little ashwagandha sleep experiment went? Read below what the results were!

Daily sleep log

  • Week 1 
  • Week 2
  • Week 3

Day 1

Took half a tablespoon of ashwagandha last night. Woke up slightly more tired than usual. My girlfriend had the same thing, so maybe it’s something to do with the pressure (we live close to the sea) Slept 8 hours.

Day 2

The second day was better. I went to bed very early (10.30), and slept completely through the night, only to be waken up by my girlfriend’s alarm at 7.30. It’s now 8.55 and I’m focused and energized. Slept for 9.5 hours.

Day 3

I went to sleep approximately around 11. So slept for 9 hours.Read for 10 minutes and fell asleep quickly. However, during the night I was half awake and tossing for quite a while. Luckily fell asleep after half an hour maybe and woke up feeling fine.

So far ashwagandha doesn’t feel like it’s helping too much. Maybe it will change after taking it for more days.

Day 4

Weekend. Slept for 9 hours. I didn’t sleep in and woke up at 8. Still turning a lot in my sleep. Though I woke up feeling good. Maybe it’s because I’m going to Venice for a weekend with my girlfriend. Still keeping up the experiment there!

Day 5

Slept for 8 hours after 2 bottles of wine (for 2 persons). Remarkably no headache, even though it was red wine. Slightly dehydrated, also because the heating was on all night in our hotel room.

Note: need to check the effects of ashwagandha with alcohol/hangovers. And if there’s an effect with hydration levels.

Day 6

Second day in Venice. We were only here for a short 2 nights, so we’re waking up early to catch out flight back. We mixed beer, spritz, red and white wine. But again, feeling good in the morning – albeit very dehydrated and slightly tired. Mind is clear though. Got 8.5 hours of sleep.

Day 7

Back home. I slept very well in one go. Woke up a bit tired, but that might’ve been because my sleep schedule was thrown off a bit in the weekend. Slept for 9.5 hours.

Week 1 thoughts

It’s difficult to measure progress on a day by day basis. However, when you take a further view, things often become clearer.

Here are some of the things I’ve found this first week of taking ashwagandha before sleep:

I feel calmer in the mornings. And in general I’ve got the feeling that I’m a bit more emotionally stable. I was going (and still am) going through a stressful period in my life for my work and business, but taking ashwagandha at night seems to give me that extra edge in emotional resilience.

Also, my muscles (especially around my neck and shoulders), feel less tense. I’m unsure if this is because of ashwagandha, or because I stopped doing bar pull ups – instead doing them on rings.

So far, I haven’t noticed any negative effects. Sometimes I feel a bit too chill, and wasn’t too motivated, (which could happen because of too much GABA). But so far I’m enjoying the experiment and am happy to continue.

Day 8

Slept for 9 hours. Just woke up with surprisingly much energy. I do remember laying awake for 20 minutes or so in the middle of the night. Dreams were very vivid the last 2 hours of my sleep. Feeling ready to get to work!

Day 9

Slept throughout the night without breaks. No turning, which is good. Let’s see if this keeps going the next nights. Slept 9 hours.

Day 10

Slept alright. Approximately 8.5 hours. It was cold, though, so I woke up several times because of that. Feeling more tired than usual.

Day 11

Went to  a party with a friend of mine. Drank approximately 10 beers. Then I slept from 3 to 9. Upon waking up (it was a Saturday), I felt surprisingly normal. A bit tired from the lack of sleep and drinking, but that was it.

Day 12

My body noticed that I didn’t sleep enough yesterday and I slept in 1 go from 12 to 10. I’m noticing that I’m turning less in my sleep.

Day 13

Back to the alarm clock. Got a solid 8.5 hours of sleep. Again with minimal turning. So far taking ashwagandha has already become a habit, and I’m not forgetting it before sleep. The taste isn’t too good, but the brand I’ve got now, doesn’t have a too bad taste.

Day 14

Slept for 9 hours = woke up a bit later because my phone’s alarms didn’t work (was updating). Slept fairly well throughout the night. Great that I haven’t tossed in the last couple of days and my sleep quality seems to be up.

Week 2 thoughts

Ashwagandha has already become a habit. I’m enjoying the calmness before bed – sometimes I take it about an hour before I go to sleep. This makes me chill out a bit more, and virtually every night I fall asleep within 5 minutes (after reading for approximately 5-15 minutes to tire my brain).

I feel more focused in the mornings. Although it’s more of a slight increase in emotional control.

Also, I feel more relaxed and less bored throughout the day. Whenever I have nothing to do, I’m quick to take up a book or go for a walk (even though the temperatures are almost falling below freezing point here.)

Day 15

Slept for straight 9 hours. No night-time awakenings.

Day 16

Had a regular night’s sleep. 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It did take 20 minutes or so to fall asleep.

Day 17

8.5 hours of quality sleep. Although it was more difficult to fall asleep (took me 10 to 20 minutes), but I took a nap in the afternoon–so that might’ve been the culprit.

Day 18

Weekend. Had a good 8 hours (including sleeping in on Saturday). Plenty of energy and slept well.

Day 19

Woke up around 9. Eight hours of sleep again. Had a long day with family meetings and was in a very good mood.

Day 20

Back to work again. Slept 9 hours. Basically everything was in 1 go without tossing and turning.

Day 21

Last day of my experiment! Slept very well for about 9 hours. Again, no tossing or turning throughout the night. You might’ve noticed that my descriptions of the night have gotten a bit shorter. This is normal, since after a while not much new things happened. Read on for the results of my experiment!

Thoughts after the experiment

I like ashwagandha. It’s perfect for calming your mind and getting into a chill mode.

It’s one of the few natural supplements (together with L-theanine) that you can take and expect to feel calmer within 20 minutes. (I suspect this is partly due to placebo, since I’m associating taking these supplements with the state they provide. So for you it might be longer until the real effects kick in).

In the beginning I started taking ashwagandha at night because my sleep was interrupted by short stretches (sometimes longer) of tossing and laying awake thinking. Unable to get comfortable or fall asleep again.

I hadn’t experienced this in the last 1-2 years. So I thought it would be a perfect timing to see how ashwagandha helps sleep. And it did.

Now I’m (most of the time) sleeping in 1 go throughout the entire night. I still wake up sometimes (bathroom or my girlfriend waking up early to go to work), but I’m asleep quickly again. So for that part I consider my ashwagandha for sleep experiment a total success.

But how about the other expectations I had?

Here’s a recap of what I was expecting:

‘Sure’ effects

  • Less stress
  • Easier to wake up in the morning
  • Less turning at night

‘Maybe’ effects

  • Clearer skin
  • Heightened libido
  • More progress in the gym?
  • Vivid dreams
  • Less dependent on coffee in the morning

Did I experience those?

8 Things I learned from taking ashwagandha for 21 days:


I felt calmer throughout the days. It feels as if I have more emotional control now.


I find I’m laughing more than before during the day.


It’s easy to wake up in the mornings. My alarm goes off and I jump out of bed, make coffee, take a shower and go to work. My morning ritual solidified in the 3 weeks I took ashwagandha. before I sometimes used to sleep in a bit, or get distracted with other things. Now, it’s easier to just do what I have to do.


My tossing and turning at night also decreased. It’s nice to sleep without breaks of being awake.


I’m not napping as often anymore. Before I used to take at least 2 to 3 naps of at least 20 minutes per week. Now I’m doing maybe 1 or 2. And it’s only 10 to 20 minutes. I take this as a sign that my sleep quality has increased.


I’ve found that I’m less prone to anxiety or overthinking specific bad things that are happening.


Even though I felt calmer, I also felt less ‘life’ motivation. It was still very easy to get up and do things (no procrastination), but there was simply less desire to. I suspect this was because I’m already a calm person, so it might’ve been a GABA overkill.


I started to like the taste of ashwagandha. There’s a reason why manufacturers put on the bottle to mix it with fruit juice or yoghurt. Because it tastes like sand water mixed with licorice. But after taking it for 3 weeks, the taste became more bearable and actually ‘tasty’ in a weird way.

When we look back on the expectations I had, I’ve got to say that the sure effects all were there.

But how about the ‘maybe’ effects? The truth is honestly don’t know. My skin may have improved. I could’ve made more progress in the gym. And libido? Probably about the same. I feel like I’m less dependent on coffee in the mornings, but since it’s a habit I haven’t actively checked this.

One thing is for sure: all these areas didn’t get worse. So I’d say that there probably were small improvements. But they were not so noticeable that without intense introspection I noticed them.

Am I going to continue taking ashwagandha at night?

Yes and no. My policy on supplements is that you should take them with a purpose. Ask yourself with every pill/powder/capsule that you take:

Why am I taking this exact supplement?”

For example:

I take vitamin D in winter when I don’t get any direct sunlight.

I take a spoon of fish oil because virtually everybody is deficient in omega 3. I notably feel better (and sharper) after taking it for a while.

I take melatonin very rarely when I need to fall asleep at a certain point or need to reset my sleep schedule (for jet lag).

Same with ashwagandha. Now that my sleep has improved, I want to take a couple of weeks to see what happens if I don’t take it.

I’m also travelling for a week next couple of days. I’d hate to be the person carrying 12 tubs of supplements through the airport customs.

Also, I think ashwagandha is a good supplement to be taken on an ad hoc base. Whenever you feel like you need that extra bit of calmness–on a rough day– take a teaspoon and relax.

Taking it everyday might be a bit overkill. But several days per week is a fine middle ground in my opinion.

Again, I won’t take it for the next couple of weeks to see if anything in my life changes. See it as the control group of the experiment 😉

Should YOU try this experiment?

Yes! Ashwagandha is not expensive–I got my second tub of 150 grams for $10. Which is enough for a year of daily supplementation. So taking it for 3 weeks will cost you less than 1 dollar.

The studies show that it might have great benefits for your health and mind, so why not try it? You don’t have a lot to lose. And if you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re not sleeping as well as you used to… there’s a lot to gain.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed it, forward it to someone you know who’s not sleeping well. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see how useful ashwagandha can be.