Sleep Aids for the Wired

photo: Jack Brauer;


In the very few times that I have gone camping or backpacking, it always surprised me how great my sleep was despite having no bed or any modern comforts. Perhaps because the entire day was spent hiking or doing some kind of strenuous physical activity that 9pm often felt like 2am—with my entire body falling asleep the minute I lay down. Despite the regular habit of sleeping late, camping made me fall asleep only a couple hours after the sun went down. This makes sense—there have been a lot of studies showing how camping resets your biological clock allowing you to go to sleep and wake up earlier. Unfortunately, sleeping early is hard to come by in civilization. There are too many distractions: all manner of lights and noises and gadgets and Netflix shows pretty much guarantee I’ll be wired till close to midnight or later.

I find that my mind and body and mood functions so much better if I get good sleep, so over the past year, I’ve tried to “hack” my sleep using sleep aids. I remember one night while coming back from Asia, my Auntie Jan gave me an Ambien to combat jet lag and I literally K.T.F.O. while in the middle of typing (thanks Auntie Jan!). I wish I could sleep that easily every night but without taking Ambien (because I can’t be bothered to get a prescription). So, I will share from personal experience the best sleep hacks I’ve used when I need to get to sleep early.

Orange Glasses

source: NY Times

TV’s, phones, tablets, and laptops, all emit blue light—which inhibits the body’s production of melatonin. Essentially, these gadgets act like the sun, emiting light that confuses your body to think its still daytime. That’s where these glasses come in handy: they block out the blue light allowing you to sleep like you’ve been outdoors camping. I recommend these Uvex glasses from Amazon for only $8.99. Its original purpose is supposed to be for protective eyewear, but all the reviews are related to people buying it to block blue light. Probably because of this New York Times article.

From personal experience, I found that when I wore these around 8pm, I would knock out sometime before 10pm. Usually though, I just wear them while watching a documentary on youtube right when I’m about to sleep. If you’re hesitant on buying these, I know what you’re thinking: But Deo, won’t I look like a major tool? The answer is: Yes you will! You tool! But who cares! Bzzzz

Apple Cider Vinegar, Honey, and Warm Water


I know this sounds like a grandma’s old remedy, but it really works. A cup of hot water, two table spoons of apple cider vinegar, and one tablespoon of honey. It’s the closest thing to that feeling of being knocked out by Ambien that I’ve experienced. Not as strong of course, but man it really hit me. Although I couldn’t find much science on why this works, I only found some good (and reliable) anecdotal evidence by Seth Roberts. I think the best time to take this is the last moment before you go to sleep and not when an hour before or earlier as the feeling of drowsiness will not last.

Cold Showers


Over the last few years, I’ve come to really like taking cold showers. It’s by no means comfortable while you’re doing it, but it feels so good after. As a sleep aid, you don’t want to take a cold shower right before you go to sleep, as the cold will actually wake you up and heighten your senses. What I do is take a cold shower an hour or two before going to sleep. Cold showers decrease your core body temperature that will in turn initiate sleepiness (after the initial shock of feeling frozen). Plus, there are so many benefits of cold showers, like losing fat.

Sweet dreams!


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