Sleep: How can we sleep better?

By Mike Hazle, Sep 21, 2021

Part 2 in the series: Re-Engineering Human Performance Through Sleep

Watching the sunrise and/or sunset can help you sleep better
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset. Retinal ganglion cells in your eye respond best to sunlight at low solar angle light (yellow and blue contrasts that are only available at early sunlight and sunset).
  • Try to get at least 10-50k lux in the morning and the evening. Sunlight through windows is not as strong as direct sunlight. Give your neurons and internal mechanisms an anchor to hold onto for timing and rhythm as these systems run on averages.
  • Limit caffeine exposure late in the evening, unless you are caffeine adapted.
  • Limit artificial light in your homes in the evening, choosing red lights or natural lights such as candles and fireplaces. If you have artificial lights on in your house in the evening, try to place them low to the ground. The Retinal ganglion cells neurons are at the bottom of your retinal lens, which means they look upwards (for daylight overhead), so you can place lights on the floor for reduced impact at night.
  • Phase advance and phase delays: Light exposure in the middle of the night will make it harder for you to wake up in the morning, harder to go to bed later, and vice versa.
  • There is an asymmetry in the autonomic nervous system, meaning there is a difference and unbalance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
  • It’s very hard to control the mind with the mind, so you need to be able to control the mind through the body. Focus on what you can control, which is light exposure and breathing. Parasympathetic breathing techniques can help wind down the nervous system and allow you to fall into sleep easier. We can all stay up longer if we’d like to (in other words, we can make ourselves stay awake) but we can’t make ourselves fall asleep.
  • Temperature could be perceived as even more important than sleep because temperature will dictate the quality and depth of your sleep. Make sure you choose a sleeping temperature environment that is suitable for your ideal sleep preferences.

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About the author

Mike Hazle

Human Performance & Education Specialist

Articles by Mike Hazle >

After a 10-year career on the World Athletics Tour and the Olympics, competing in 23 countries, winning 5 National Championships medals, working with the world's elite Special Operators as a U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Combat Controller (CCT)...Mike was left injured, exhausted, and empty inside even after achieving what most would call "The American Dream." A dream full of glamour, lights, material wealth and superficial possessions.

Over the years, the lights and fireworks of the Olympic stadium have faded and the wounds of Special Operations Training have healed. Mike has learned lessons from a life in the arena of the world's most stressful environments. These lessons will carry him farther than any athletic accomplishment or experience he has ever had. Now, his unwavering mission is to help people across the world learn the tools and techniques he has mastered and help them recover from high impact, high stress careers.

In his expansive 20-year career, on top of the highest level of athletics on the World's largest stages and Military Special Operations, Mike has been educated from the best sports physiologists, nutritionists and strength & conditioning coaches across the globe. Not only that, Mike has picked up along the way a master’s degree in Sports Management, a Bachelors in Kinesiology, a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Cross Fit certifications. Mike has also spent 6 years on the resident athlete advisory board at the US Olympic Committee's (USOC) Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.