Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Nov

How to Manufacture the Best Night of Sleep in Your Life

SleepAh, sleep: is there anything quite like it? So easily discarded and discounted when nighttime attractions present themselves and yet so dearly missed and pined after the next morning. You’ve heard me say it enough, so I’ll keep it short. A good night’s sleep is the foundation for a healthy, happy, productive existence. Good sleep keeps us lean and thinking clearly. And without good, regular sleep, we just go through life in a scattered daze, everything foggy, slightly confusing, and less enjoyable. We’re not really ourselves if we haven’t slept. We desperately need a good night’s sleep, every night.

So how do you get one? What would a day of optimal sleep promotion look like?

Let’s start from the beginning. Let’s start with the morning.

Early Morning

Use a dawn simulator alarm clock. These are alarms with lamps that slowly and gradually brighten as your wake time approaches. It’s not the same as having the majestic sunrise beam into your room and very soul, but these contraptions have been shown to improve sleep quality. Another advantage: waking up won’t be so jarring.

When you wake up, get up. Do not hit snooze, sleep for five minutes, hit it again, sleep for five more, and keep doing that until you can will yourself to rise and stumble off to begin your day. You may think you’re effectively chipping away at sleep debt with those little bits and pieces of “sleep,” but you’re really just fragmenting your sleep (PDF), which leads to “sleepiness-related daytime impairment,” compulsory afternoon caffeine infusions, and less productivity. If you hit snooze today, you’ll probably end up sleeping badly enough to have to hit it again tomorrow.

Upon getting up, you expose yourself to bright light. Ideally, this is the sun. If it’s still dark out, you can use the brightest artificial light you have. 10,000 lux lamps are best (and in fact are used to effectively treat Seasonal Affective Disorder), but anything is better than no light at all. Our bodies, brains, and biological clocks expect bright light during the day, and meeting those expectations has been shown to improve sleep (as well as alertness and productivity during the day), even if the light is artificial.

Before “the day” starts, you get some physical activity. Go for a short walk (great way to get some light, too!) with the dog, do a light stretching or movement routine for five minutes, have sex, dance to your morning playlist as you get ready for work, roughhouse with your kids, swing a light kettlebell for a few minutes, read your email on the treadmill, ride your bike around the block, whatever. You don’t even have to work up a sweat or anything if you don’t want to. Just move a little. There’s some evidence (albeit uneven) that morning activity can improve sleep later on that night.

Brew your coffee, tea, or legal stimulant-containing beverage now if you’re going to have any today. Caffeine has a half life of up to six hours, so having that Americano after lunch could disrupt your sleep tonight.

If you eat breakfast, eat a good portion of animal. Meat (and not just turkey) is a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, and high-tryptophan breakfasts have been shown to improve sleep quality. Steak, eggs, and whey protein, anyone?

If you don’t typically eat breakfast, you probably don’t need to start. Intermittent fasting can also improve sleep. If your sleep is suffering, you might want to try the meat breakfast, though.


Work hard, be proactive, and stay focused. Getting as much work done as you can before noon will take the mental load off the rest of your day, allowing you to relax a bit. Procrastination will only make you stressed out, and stress is the enemy of good sleep.

While you’re working, take a minute to install f.lux on your computer. F.lux is a free program that changes your computer’s color spectrum automatically according to the time of day. When it’s dark out, an f.lux-enabled computer gives off very little sleep-disrupting blue light.

Last call for caffeine. If you do go for coffee, grab a cup of good green tea to go with it; green tea contains L-theanine, which can partially counteract the sleep disturbances caused by caffeine. Primal Calm also contains L-theanine, as well as other stress-modulating ingredients, so that’s another option.


Sometime after lunch, meditate for twenty minutes. Several studies have shown that meditation practice can improve sleep, including cyclic meditation (a kind of yoga-meditation fusion) and mindfulness meditation. There’s even evidence that meditation can decrease the amount of sleep you need to function.

When and if you nap, do it closer to midday than to your bedtime. A nap taken too close to nighttime can interfere with your sleep.

Go for a barefoot stroll in the grass, dirt, sand, or the natural surface of your choice. Even a quick walk on the lawn outside the office works. Though earthing is controversial, its proponents may be overstating its benefits, and the studies connecting it to better sleep may not be the best-designed, who doesn’t feel better and more relaxed after letting the leaves of grass trace their way between your toes, feeling the cool damp earth underneath, or tromping an uneven unsteady path through soft white sand? It certainly doesn’t hurt.

Early Evening

If you plan on drinking, do so around this time. Alcohol too close to bed – even just a couple glasses of wine – can impact sleep. You’ll sleep, but it’ll be poor quality sleep fraught with frequent disturbances. This validates both happy hours and day drinking, in a way.

Eat most of your carbs at dinner. A recent study showed that eating carbs, even high-glycemic ones, at the last meal shortened the sleep onset. In other words, packing your carbs into dinner can help you fall asleep faster.

Eat animal fat and/or olive oil at dinner (and lunch, and breakfast). Both animal fat like lard or beef fat and olive oil (or macadamia nuts, for that matter) are excellent sources of oleic acid, a precursor to the sleep-inducing oleamide.

Dim the lights when darkness falls. If it’s dark outside, your body needs to start winding down, and excessive artificial lighting will get in the way of that.

Turn off the screens an hour or two before bed. Smartphones, laptops, computers, TVs, tablets – they all emit melatonin-disrupting blue light directly into our staring, transfixed eyeballs. If you miss the entertainment factor, play board games. Heck, start a board game night and invite people over.

Use blue blocking goggles after dark. These, coupled with the f.lux you installed earlier, should block out the harmful blue light when you need (or “need”) to use electronics. I like this pair, while this pair fits over glasses.


Drink some bone broth, eat some gelatin, or take glycine. All of those things either contain or are glycine, an amino acid with sleep promoting effects.

Clear your mind. Meditation can work here, again, or you could make a to-do list for the following day so that you don’t lie awake obsessing over everything.

Rub your body down with magnesium oil or lotion. I go for the softest areas, like under my arms or along my rib cage. If it stings, you know it’s working. Bonus: it gives you (or me, at least) really cool, really vivid dreams. Some people are paradoxical responders who actually sleep worse on this stuff, just so you’re aware.

Read some dense fiction in bed, in actual physical book form (nothing against ebooks at any other time, but they represent a light source that can disrupt sleep). Don’t read easily digestible stuff like an old John le Carre spy novel. Instead, go for something like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian that has you parsing paragraph-long sentences. Great book, but you’ll be asleep in no time.

Eliminate, remove, or cover up any sources of light in your bedroom, even the tiny blinking ones. Black-out blinds over your windows, duct tape over your blinking lights, and towels under doors may be warranted to achieve true darkness.

Use white/brown noise or nature sounds before bed. Falling rain is a good sound to fall asleep to, as are the somewhat haunting but eerily beautiful whale songs.

Guided meditation can help you get to sleep. Search iTunes for “guided meditation” and a bunch of podcasts will pop up. Just don your blue blocking goggles before using your phone to play one.

Take a tablespoon of honey, preferably raw, right before bed. Seth Roberts has shown through rigorous self-experimentation how it might very well improve sleep, perhaps by keeping liver glycogen full.

Middle of the Night

Improve your aim and reduce your reliance on lights. If you get up in the night to urinate, don’t flip on every light as you pass them. Most people can adjust to the darkness if they let themselves.

Don’t check your email just because you woke up. It’s not that important (if it were, they’d call), and whatever you read is only going to keep you up. Also, blue light!

General Advice

Make sure to eat enough salt throughout the day, since a depletion of bodily sodium stores can trigger overtraining-like symptoms, raise blood pressure, and impair the quality of your sleep. I won’t give an absolute amount, because that will differ based on size, activity level, stress, and many other factors. Just salt your food until it tastes good. So much for total salt avoidance, eh?

Exercise regularly. Regular exercisers report getting better sleep than people who don’t exercise at all, even on the same number of hours. In people with sleep disorders like insomnia, exercise can make things worse in the short term or have no effect at all. Working out once probably won’t help once. It’s over the long term (4 months) that exercise can improve sleep quality in insomnia patients. Exercise also increases sleep quality in sleep apnea patients.

Exercising at night is generally fine. Get it in whenever you can fit it. However, really intense pulse-pounding glycolytic work an hour before bed (like Crossfit or HIIT) might impact your sleep onset, simply because your cortisol is momentarily elevated. Proper cool downs should help get you back to baseline, as should food and a cold shower.

Align your life schedule with your chronotype. This isn’t possible for everyone to do perfectly – we all have to pay the bills, and that often means working on someone else’s schedule – but even small strides in the general direction of our genetic chronotype can help.

Obviously, not everyone needs to do or try every suggestion on here. I just combed through the research and put everything out on the table so you could pick and choose and experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. We’re all different.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know what works for you and what does not work. I can always use better sleep, so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for new tips.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz

    Groktimus Primal wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Is it getting like Sleepy Hollow around here?

      Nocona wrote on November 6th, 2013
  2. Good article.
    Just one note: I think you are referring to brownian noise, not white noise (which is quite disturbing).

    Primal_Alex wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I think Mark actually means white noise, which masks background sounds. There are lots of “white noise” machines on the market, and although I’ve never tried one, they seem to work.

      Adam wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • Technically, the white noise is the harsh noise heard when the television is receiving random signals and is showing “snow”. I challange anybody to relax with it.

        I know that in general speech white noise is the waterfall, the wind, etc. but from a physical point of view they are called brown (or more correctly brownian) noises. The physical equation of the sound itself is different. And yes, *that* is relaxing, I used to generate my own brown noise tapes 20 years ago.

        Primal_Alex wrote on November 7th, 2013
        • Actually, I sleep every night to the sound of static on the radio. It’s not my first choice, though, but it works fine. I’d prefer a waterfall.

          John C. A. Manley wrote on November 12th, 2013
        • Close, but not quite. White noise is defined by having a flat frequency spectrum, meaning it contains the entire range of audible sound frequencies – akin to how white light contains the entire range of visible light frequencies. Something like a waterfall or the wind would not be white noise, though they may sometimes be close. You are correct that a waterfall would be a natural source of brownian noise (defined as noise produced by brownian motion).

          Mark wrote on November 13th, 2013
    • He definitely means white noise. I use it before bed and find it very very sleep inducing!

      Jenni wrote on November 7th, 2013
      • Definitely. I’ve used a TV’s white noise (way back in the days of Cathode Ray Tubes) to fall asleep in the past. It was my stand in for falling rain.

        It’s not relaxing so much as it’s random, meaningless and doesn’t leave you in that vacuum of sound where every little noise variations catch your awareness. Granted, the light itself is annoying, so a recording or an alternative will always be better.

        Reventon wrote on November 7th, 2013
  3. Oh this article comes at a great time! I recently discovered that I have Epstein-Barr and one of the side effects is insomnia. So it’s pretty imperative I get good quality sleep if I am to get better.

    Katie wrote on November 6th, 2013
  4. Good Aricle, but i cant see the sense behind making everything completely dark by closing the blindd of the window, since Grok must have been exposed to moonlight at night too, didnt he?
    (Yeah, of course you have to check if any street light falls into your room, but ive bern sleeping with moonlight shining into my room recently, and ive noticed i get up more easily in the morning this way( although falling asleep is harder this way, but may be just due to lacking habituation if sleeping with moonlight…
    Your opinion, Mark?

    Jonas Hohmann wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Perhaps Grok slept in a cave or some form of teepee that blocked the light from the moon.
      Prior to getting my black out shades, I was often woken by moonlight.
      I’ve taped over any light source I cannot shut off at night (the little green lights on my smoke detectors, etc).
      I am so pleased with my dark room now and do sleep better – well, I wake less often in the night – I’ve never had much of a problem falling to sleep).
      I had to pay extra to get my black out shades to operate via remote and at the time I questioned if it was worth it. I do not regret my decision at all. I love sleeping until my body wakes naturally and then being able to open the shades before I get out of bed.

      JulieD wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I had the same thought — while I know TV isn’t exactly the be-all and end-all of Grok knowledge, the few shows I’ve seen about modern-day hunter-gatherer and herder-gatherer tribes all indicate that they sleep in shelters. Campers and backpackers sleep in tents or under lean-tos and whatnot, so I actually imagine Grok didn’t get that much exposure to moonlight when sleeping. I’m curious about anyone else’s thoughts, too.

      Deanna wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • Tents let in a lot of light…

        But surely it’s not natural to sleep in pitch darkness? If one of the tips here is to buy a lamp that simulates sunrise, why not sleep with the blinds open in the first place? Unless there is a streetlamp shining in your face, of course.

        I find sleeping in pitch darkness very disorientating. I can’t tell what time it is when I wake up, and I tend to sleep too long, which leads to feeling groggy the next day. Also in a blacked-out room, those little bits of light are more obvious.

        Pen wrote on November 7th, 2013
  5. Men can sit, you know. And some do so they don’t have to turn on the light.

    Diane wrote on November 6th, 2013
  6. don’t agree 100% but i do agree on some tips
    the tips that will naturally lower stress

    Stefoo wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Same. This huge article and no mention of sex? Boo!

      Matt wrote on November 7th, 2013
      • Pretty sure it is there almost at the beginning of the article… in the Before “the day” starts, you get some physical activity section.

        Anyways, I would assume that this is a given… sex is good for sleep and for other things… does it really need to be said out loud?

        Erik Erosa wrote on November 7th, 2013
  7. Thanks for all the tips. Magnesium in the evenings has really helped my quality of sleep.

    Unfortunately for me is that I have 3 kids under 4 who still haven’t bought in to the idea that staying asleep all night is a good thing…

    Richard wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I was about to say something about Magnesium Supplemntation also. I read about the benefits at Evolutionary Psychology and ordered some, which should arrive tomorrow. Thanks Amazon! I tend to fall asleep without problems but I will usually wake up, wide awake, after 3-4 hrs. Then spend an hour trying to relax my mind to fall back asleep for another 2-3 hrs. Then to wake at my “normal time” feeling like crap. My hope is that I have a deficiency in Mg and that supplementation will take care of it.

      Hispanicgamer wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • This is my problem, too! I go to sleep without much trouble, waken around 2 and lie awake until 4 or 5, then fall asleep for an hour and wake up exhausted. So it could be something as simple as Magnesium deficiency?

        I’ll have to look into a supplement without added vitamin D — just getting over a really bad reaction to D supplements, where I even had to avoid sunshine for days.

        Schnauzermom wrote on November 8th, 2013
    • Magnesium supplements have helped me hugely too. I take a couple throughout the day, and then two about twenty minutes before I go to bed, and I have the most amazing, deep sleep. I also have wonderful dreams when I take them, which last until I wake up. I am a life-long insomniac and also have two small children, so the magnesium was a huge breakthrough for me.

      Primal Mummy wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Try magnesium sulphate (epsom salts) spray, instead of mag chloride oil – no sting + much more effective in my experience:

      If you wake up in the middle of the night take some carbs – spoon of rice/mash potato.

      shtove wrote on November 7th, 2013
  8. Even though we live in the country, there is a yard light out by the barn. So it shines all around the house and yard. I have to use black out curtain to get darkness in my bed room. Once I started using them I sleep much better. I get up when it is light out side, so in the winter it is latter in the day.
    Seems to work most of the time.

    Debi wrote on November 6th, 2013
  9. Will combining magnesium oil with a chapter of Blood Meridian promote vivid nightmares?? Blood Meridian alonewas pretty effective at that.

    Rand wrote on November 6th, 2013
  10. I stopped reading after “have sex,” figured I would just start with that one first. Don’t wanna take on too much at once!

    On a serious note, great list. I’ve been using F.lux sense you first mentioned it and now it even cues me to wind down when at night I can see it shift color tones. Beyond the light blocker it’s a subtle reminder. Il tell all my busy clients to use it!

    Luke wrote on November 6th, 2013
  11. I recently had some difficulties staying asleep (waking up after three or four hours in the middle of the night) the past few weeks. Incorporating “night-time” yoga sequences – light, slow movements and stretches – close to bedtime has helped a lot in keeping me asleep for longer periods of time.

    Don B wrote on November 6th, 2013
  12. Thanks for the article, I’ve been trying to improve my sleep for months but my body is not having it. On only 1 cup of coffee per morning (I’m a writer and I simply refuse to give it up) I’m waking up consistently after 7 hours of sleep (if I’m lucky. 5 or 6 if I’m not). I think the sleeplessness is also part of the reason I’ve had trouble breaking through the belly fat. I’ve implemented many of these suggestions but see some new ones to try–maybe bone broth before bed. Thanks!

    Jacki C. wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Wow. Seven uninterrupted hours of sleep? Even six–that would be an awesome night. I have been working on trying to figure out what the problem/solution is, and I found that eating dinner too close to bedtime keeps me restless all night. I’m definately trying the mag lotion.

      Trish wrote on November 6th, 2013
  13. How about sex? Seems like that would be a natural and zesty way to relax and wind down from a frazzled day. More fun than CrossFit too.

    Geoff wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • If you think sex is more fun than crossfit then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough in your crossfit work outs. Go hard or go home dude!

      goldfish wrote on November 7th, 2013
      • that’s what she said! (sorry, someone had to say it)

        Erik Erosa wrote on November 7th, 2013
  14. For the record, ereaders emit NO LIGHT at all. E-ink works a lot like one of those old etch-a-sketch doodlers. So, use your ereader all you want! It’s really just like using a paper book.

    Tablets and phones, on the other hand, are backlit and should be avoided.

    Audrey wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • The (very popular) Kindle Paperwhite is backlit, unfortunately. When it came out I was very sad that so many MORE people would be reading in bed with a lit screen….

      Andrea wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • It is but it is also optional – you can turn it off and it becomes like a normal kindle.

        Arpit wrote on November 6th, 2013
        • Actually, the Kindle Paperwhite is front-lit, not backlit. The light is not pointing at your face, but at the “page.” That is an important difference from tablets, laptops, etc. However, if you’re still concerned, it’s important to know that the Kobo and Nook equivalents (also front-lit) let you turn the light all the way off, but the Kindle does not. Turn the Kindle to its lowest setting in a dark room, and it is still being lit.

          HeadDoc wrote on November 7th, 2013
        • Anyone have any experience with the bluelight screen protectors for tablets? I received a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas; nice gift but my sleep is suffering, even on the lowest setting.

          Jessica wrote on December 30th, 2013
  15. Valarian Root has been very helpful for staying asleep. I have been trying it for a week or so, and have slept through to morning each night. The pills (500mg) smell just awful, but I have not noticed any negative effects so far.

    Susan Wilson wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Valerian root gave me intense vivid dreams, sometimes too nightmarish. I don’t take it anymore.

      Hispanicgamer wrote on November 7th, 2013
  16. A teaspoon of raw honey and a tablespoon of coconut oil right before bed and I sleep like log.

    Mack wrote on November 6th, 2013
  17. Ive been using Epsom salts as a morning shower exfoliating rub (when I dont have time for a soak in the tub with it), which helps not only my “colon-action” but also my general sleep. You didnt mention melatonin in your list, but I take a little each night during my wind down, and find that very helpful as well.


    Veronica wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Whoa! Brilliant idea. I have been putting off my epsom baths, takes too long. How do you apply it? Just grab a handful and rub?

      Gayle wrote on November 6th, 2013
  18. Can’t I just get into bed and full asleep??

    Oliver wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Haha, sure thing, if you’re getting a good night’s sleep! We may be a fortunate minority who get good sleep easily.

      Tom B-D wrote on November 6th, 2013
  19. I find that tryptophan before bed works wonders. Fall asleep easily and stay asleep all night if I do that.

    maidel wrote on November 6th, 2013
  20. I find that high-energy workouts keep me awake until 3 am. Is there something I’m not doing right here? Workouts at night would be more ideal based on my schedule although I prefer the mornings, but I’ve avoided it because it keeps me awake for hours after.

    Think: a 7 pm class and I’m still going at 3:30 am.

    parson wrote on November 6th, 2013
  21. Just a quick addition – there’s a blue-light blocking app for Android that does basically the same thing as f.lux on yoru smartphone. It’s called Twilight ( and it’s free. Sorry, iPhone users, I think you can do something similar but it requires a jailbreak.

    Nicholas wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Awesome tip, thank you so much! Just installed it on the phone and will be installing it on the tablet tonight.

      Tina wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Thanks for the tip! Just installed on my work phone.

      Terrell wrote on November 6th, 2013
  22. I don’t remember where I read this, but apparently we aren’t “wired” to sleep for 8 hours straight, but rather two stretches of about 4 hours. There seems to be evidence that in the middle ages, people would wake up in the middle of the night and tell each other about their dreams, or meditate/pray, read, have sex etc. and then go back to sleep. The two halves were called first and second sleep and were apparently of a different quality (dream-wise, for example).
    A lot of people wake up somewhere halfway through the night and then worry so much about having woken up that they can’t get back to sleep. Maybe realising that waking up once or twice is completely normal and healthy could help to de-stress the whole situation and fall back asleep more easily.

    Linda wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Mark mentioned this in an article a few months back or so. I’ll see if I can find a link.

      Brianne wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I think it’s called bi-phasic sleep and Mark wrote about it previously.

      Leah wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • It is called biphasic sleeping and I experimented with it for a little while. – – I am very curious to hear what Mark has to say about all-nighters…

      Michael wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Mark did an article on this very subject a while back – it relates to me so that’s why I happen to remember it!

      PrimalGrandma wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Mark actually did a post on that a while back.

      Darcie wrote on November 6th, 2013
  23. Is magnesium oil any different/better than magnesium pills? I’ve been taking magnesium glycinate before bed, and haven’t noticed any difference in my sleep quality.

    Jordan wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • They both have magnesium. Biggest difference is that taking magnesium internally may wreck havoc on your gut, leading to multiple trips to the bathroom.

      The oil/lotion or epsom salt/magnesium chloride bath is absorbed through the skin. I use a home made version of the oil (recipe found on Wellness Mama’s website) and spray it on my neck and back.

      One note if you have long hair – getting the oil on the hair causes lots of tangles. Put the mane up and let the oil dry/absorb first, or put a shirt on to protect it.

      Beth K wrote on November 6th, 2013
  24. I raise show chickens. There are always at least a dozen roosters within 20 feet of my bedroom window. I can easily fall asleep anywhere and stay asleep all night because, I think, I have become immune to distractions. Instead of stressing over providing the perfect conditions, I just get in bed and sleep. I have traveled with people who obsess over every little noise and bothersome thing, like the princess and the pea, and seem proud of being tired all the time. Sometimes you just need to tweak your mind. Life doesn’t need to be sterile and perfect just so you can do something basic, like sleep. There’s one organic sleep inducer I didn’t see on this list – a cat. A purring cat on my pillow puts me right to sleep.

    Janice James wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Unfortunately some of us can’t sleep through noise disturbances no matter how hard we try. I’m awakened by the slightest sounds at times and it’s very frustrating. I have a huge bottle of very uncomfortable ear plugs that I have on hand no matter where I’m sleeping, just in case.

      Brianne wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • This is just my very humble opinion, but I think that younger women are really in tune to just about any noise at night or when sleeping because we either have kids (ie: babies) or will probably have kids soon some day.

        When I was younger, I would wake up at the very slightest sound – even if it was just the cat clawing on an area rug 3 rooms away.

        Today, at age 69, I don’t hear squat anymore when sleeping, and my hearing is still very good, thank you. I don’t hear the phone, I don’t hear the rain beating on the roof, I don’t hear the thunder from a storm unless the storm is right on top of the house. So i really tend to think that our basic biology is definitely in play here.

        Case in point: a few years ago when I was babysitting my infant grand daughter over night, I heard every sigh, roll-over and grunt (indicating a possible dirty diaper) as I had her crib in my bedroom. This grandma was awake at the slightest sound. After i quit babysitting her overnight, I was back to my old self and sleeping like a rock.

        Maybe it’s one of those “chick” things!

        PrimalGrandma wrote on November 6th, 2013
        • Amusingly, my wife has programed herself to wake up to anything that might be related to sounds our boys make. The alarm takes forever to wake her. Every sound wakes me.

          ioelus wrote on November 7th, 2013
    • Show chickens? There are chicken shows? I once attended a cat show and was pretty disturbed by the kinds of people involved in that world (just a very odd group, as you might imagine). What is involved in a chicken show? I may lose sleep until I learn more…

      HeadDoc wrote on November 7th, 2013
      • Chicken shows are low key in comparison to dog and cat shows. Birds are judged by the standards published by the American Poultry Association or Bantam Association for each of more than 300 breeds. You can clean up your bird (I wash mine in the kitchen sink and dry it with a hair dryer), take it to the show in a cardboard box, put it in the show cage next to other birds of the same breed, then visit with the other exhibitors for the rest of the day while the birds are being judged. There’s seldom any money involved, entry fees cover the show expenses and pay for the judges. There are shows all over the U.S. that will have at least 1000 entries. A national show can have as many as 10,000. It’s a fun hobby for a limited budget.

        Janice James wrote on November 7th, 2013
  25. I’ve been struggling with insomnia on and off for the last 2 years, but lately it’s gotten worse. I’m really stressed right now, and it’s impacting my weight and psoriasis in a negative way. I’ve been using Melatonin and Valerian drops, but lately those don’t do a thing for me. I’ll definitely give the raw honey and magnesium oil a try… Thanks for the tips Mark!

    SweetieKat wrote on November 6th, 2013
  26. One clarification: if you use a Kindle reader for your ebooks (vs. a tablet) you don’t have to worry about the light source.

    Mike Torres wrote on November 6th, 2013
  27. I have tried green tea and Great Lake gelatin to improve my sleep, but both cause me to have very vivid unpleasant dreams that make sleeping impossible. Anyone with a suggestion of where to look for a possible reason please tell me.

    Jim E wrote on November 6th, 2013
  28. One more suggestion to help sleep. Make sure you have a B12 level above 650 on a lab test. (If you take, B12 lab test are unreliable) Leg cramps ruined my sleep most nights until I started taking B12 shots every two weeks.

    Jim E wrote on November 6th, 2013
  29. Also, consider looking into the information Seth Roberts has put together on the effect that the time of day of consumption of Vitamin D has on sleep. (Filed at

    Jaber wrote on November 6th, 2013
  30. i love the title of this post. sounds wonderful!

    Jenny wrote on November 6th, 2013
  31. Up in the morning with 20 push-ups and balancing on one foot while brushing my teeth. Hot tea and 5 flights of stairs up to my office.

    Captain Comptition wrote on November 6th, 2013
  32. Tip!

    Highly recommend ‘Cobra pose’ as your first morning stretch.

    It does so much for your whole body. After doing a cobra pose, I have so much energy and alertness.

    I find with other yoga poses they either make me too relaxed or are too hard to get into cause they require the body to be vigorously warmed up.

    Search cobra pose in Google image search to see how the pose looks like.

    Sam wrote on November 6th, 2013
  33. I have had chronic & debilitating insomnia for 30 years. I’ve tried everything. I get a lot of exercise, eat well, dont drink, have a regular sleep wake pattern, and yet most nights I get little to NO sleep at all.Im starting to think it may be a food intolerance issue, but dont know what. For last three weeks have eliminated wheat & most gluten products. No help. Recently seen a correlation of histamine & insomnia. Means cutting out tomatoes, spinach, vinegar. So after cutting out wheat based products & these I dont know what (or what not) to eat. And I still cant sleep. Freakin nightmare (no pun intended). Any suggestions, beyond the conventional, would be welcome.

    Mark wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I haven’t heard any mention of GABA. I have had insomnia for many years also and now take ambien for sleep. I stumbled onto a product called RelaxAll with phenibut. Google it. It works!!

      tracy wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • There is research showing that many of us have “hyper-arousal” of the nervous system, which is not as fun as it sounds. Basically, we can’t switch off despite doing everything right. It is true to say that I am an anxious sort of person, lean with a quick metabolism (I think). My life is otherwise delightfully stress-free now, but temperamentally I’m anxious, as are my sisters and were my parents. I’ve had insomnia for 15 years now and tried everything. Recently tried playing pink noise at night. It ended up just being really annoying.
      You are not alone. You might find this article interesting:

      kater wrote on February 21st, 2015
  34. Aww those dawn simulating alarm clocks are amazing! Mine wakes me up every morning at 6am with warm light and singing birds. I’m always shocked for a second, thinking I must have slept in, cause it feels like I just woke up naturally. Then I check the clock: it says 6am and it never fails to make me giggle. Great way to start the day!

    Jess wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • What kind of alarm do you use? I’ve been looking for one ..

      Amy wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • I love my sunlight clock! I use a Phillips Light Therapy wake-up light. My favorite part is that the alarm is chirping birds, but it has several different kinds of birds to choose from. When I got it for Christmas, I just set it to the first chirping birds option, which sound just like the birds outside. Then spring came, and the birds started arriving, and my clock sounded SO MUCH like the real outdoor birds that every time a bird chirped, I would wake up, even if it was 5:17am. I had to change it to the cuckoo so I knew which bird chirp was the alarm and which bird chirp was the clock!

      I prefer the ridiculously natural bird chirps. Makes me smile every time!

      Deanna wrote on November 6th, 2013
      • I love the idea of this (though not the price, and several reviewers seem to have had problems with the light conking out), but this article has me thinking in exactly the same way as several others of Mark’s (though I love them). Many, or most, or the articles come off as being targeted at individuals. That’s why I love the posts that mention or incorporate spouses/significant others/relatives/kids/etc. I wake up sometimes more than an hour before the other members of my family. Are there suggestions for those of us who don’t wake up the same time as others in the room?

        ioelus wrote on November 7th, 2013
  35. The lymphatic system is a circulatory system that runs through the body carrying lymph and waste for filtering and elimination. However, it does not have a main “pump” like the blood’s circulatory system has the heart. Muscular action is what pumps lymph. If a person does not get enough exercise (or just plain movement) during the day not enough pumping action occurs.

    This results in you feeling “antsy” during the night and unable to sleep. (your body is trying to rid itself of toxic buildup, the biproducts of metabolism)

    Sometimes you can do a quick fix… get up and do stretches and anaerobic exercises. Don’t be shy about this. Do a thorough job, working from one end of your body to the other. Use your hands to massage yourself as well, gently squeezing and moving the blood in, and interstitial fluids around, your muscles.

    If you pay attention, you can actually FEEL blood, interstitial fluid and lymph flow when you squeeze muscles and lymph nodes. And actually, YAWNING is part of this process of squeezing the lymph nodes at your neck. People have always wondered why they yawn… it’s no secret!

    While you are up, pee and have a bit of water to help flush your system.

    -Christopher Grove

    Christopher Grove wrote on November 6th, 2013
  36. Great list Mark! F.lux is definitely a must-have on your computer. I often feel pretty wired after getting blasted by bright computer screens so having the dimmed tones helps…

    Also, I wonder if insulin somehow promotes sleep. The study showing that nighttime high GI meals (hefty insulin dose) improve sleep might suggest this. If you think about it evolutionarily, then it makes sense: you just found a rich source of carbohydrates (energy) so it would be prudent of your body to slow down a bit so that you don’t waste all that energy you just found. Interesting to think about!

    Ian Williams wrote on November 6th, 2013

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