Techniques and Tips From War Fighters, Astronauts and Sleep Experts

Sleeping is such an important part of a healthy human system yet for so many of us it can be particularly elusive. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of adults in the United States report that they usually get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Sleep helps to regulate metabolism, hormone production, memory, cell repair, mood balance and just about every other bodily function. So if it’s so important why can it be such a struggle to perform properly.

 

In this article you will find consolidated tips and ideas from the world’s leading organizations and experts, and realistic compromises to help make sleep more abundant and life better. No time wasted let’s get into it.

 

Reasons for sleep difficulty

  • Some of the primary reasons that may be affecting your sleep are:
  • Broken sleep routine ie, waking to pee
  • Blue light/ Screens
  • Caffeine
  • Eating too late
  • Stress, anxiety, depression
  • Irregular sleep schedule
  • Alcohol, Nicotine
  • Temperature
  • Intrusive thoughts

 

OK so what we are being told here is that doing fun things before bed can keep us up. So how can we eliminate the issues while still keeping the fun. Consider some of the following practical compromises.

 

  • Broken sleep routine ie, waking to pee
    • You know the answer here… Grab that goose and let it loose, then back to sleep with no time wasted.
    • Drinking more throughout the day may allow you develop a bigger bladder helping you sleep through the night. This issue could be brought on by medical issues so it’s probably best you go see a doctor as well.
  • Blue light/ Screens
    • Wear blue light blocking glasses.
    • Apply Blue light blocking screen protectors.
    • Set devices to night mode to limit blue light production.
  • Caffeine
    • Switch to Decaf after mid-day, or tea especially chamomile closer to bed time.
  • Eating too late
    • If you must snack consider these CBD drops­ to mellow you out and help you drift off.
  • Stress, anxiety, depression
    • Again CBD drops from may help, or a more thorough fix could be found with therapy and joining the other honkeys in our free Discord support network “Brain Camp” https://discord.gg/x4Q6P3vD.
    • Talk to your Thirsty Goose to get it off your chest.
  • Irregular sleep schedule
    • Try to create a more structured  sleep pattern so you train yourself into a sleep time. (This may be the most useful tip according to Matthew Walker, more on him below)
    • Alcohol/ Nicotine
      • There’s not much that can be done here other than drink 0% alcohol drinks.
      • Temperature
        • The body has to cool before it can sleep. Excess bedding, clothing and room temp can keep you too hot without knowing. If in doubt err on the side of cool.
        • Intrusive thoughts 
          • Look into CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which involves re training the brain to reax and sleep. See Astronauts section below for more information.
         

        Things you don’t want to do, but should be doing

        • Exercise regularly
        • Get your mind ready to sleep
        • Having a sleep routine that gets you ready, can train your mind to know that its time to slow down.
        • Read a book
        • Journal. Yes. Really. Do it. Just write about whatever comes up. This can give you a place to put you issues other than your head. Seriously, do it.
        • Sit quietly on the edge of the bed or seat allowing your mind to slow down. Then get into bed with the intention of sleeping.

        USA Military

        So let’s get into the real beans of it how to fall asleep while in an active warzone with bombs and ammunition going off all around you. This is the technique various army personnel have developed and employed while in combat zones.

        Start with a full body scan shutting down systems that won’t need to be used.

        • 1.Slow your breathing
        • 2.Start at the top of the head relaxing the scalp and brow
        • 3.Then face and jaw
        • 4.Neck and traps
        • 5.Shoulders, arms etc
        • 6.Run through this as many times as needed
        • 7.Imagine yourself laying in a velvet hammock in your favourite beautiful setting
        • 8.Imagine a warm current running from your chest to your finger tips and back to your chest. Then from your chest to your toes and back. Repeat
        • 9.If you get caught in thought. Repeat the words “Don’t think” 7 times.

        UK Royal Marines Special Reconnaissance Unit

        Some of the highest trained and most skilled people in the world can be found in this organization. The following is their practice in visualization which occupies the active mind with mundane repetitive tasks allowing it to slow down and relax.

        With your eyes closed imagine a layout where the 4 corners of your visual field and the very Centre are labelled. Top left = A1. Top right = B2. Bottom right = C3. Bottom Left = D4. Centre = E5. See diagram below.

         

        Once you have completed the same full body scan mentioned in the USA Military technique. You then (with your eyes closed) project your attention to these points in your visual field while reciting the number and letter in your head. The recital will eventually slow until you drift off to sleep.

        Astronauts

        Sleeping in space would perhaps be one of the most challenging environments due to the unique lack of gravity. Humans, not being designed for this environment poses many strange challenges to overcome. Before NASA sends astronauts into space they are trained in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). This allows the astronaut to take control of their thoughts and environment to remove the intrusive sleep depriving distractions that surround them. Below is the fundamentals of what they focus on.

         

        • 1. Sleep Hygiene: Developing healthy sleep habits, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding screens before bed.
        • 2. Cognitive Restructuring: This technique involves helping astronauts identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that may be interfering with their sleep.
        • 3. Relaxation Training: Here astronauts use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery (sleep stories, guided relaxing) to help them relax and fall asleep.
        • 4. Stimulus Control: This is where astronauts learn to associate their bed with sleep and no other activities such as watching TV or working. Only getting into their sleep sacks when they are intent on sleeping.
        • 5. Sleep Restriction: Limiting the amount of time astronauts spend in bed to the amount of time they actually sleep. This helps to reset their sleep-wake cycle and improve their sleep quality.

         

        Matthew Walker Professor of Neuroscientist and Psychology – Sleep expert

        Dr. Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. While recommending and developing many of the techniques and processes already mentioned above he also recommends avoiding naps during the day, and encourages taking baths before bed if possible (this actually allows the body to cool once out of the bath), avoid exercise before bed and talking with your doctor about any prescription medication you are taking as it could be affecting your sleep. His book Why We Sleep is packed with useful information and is a highly recommended read.

         

        Andrew Huberman Neuroscientist and Professor of Neurobiology and Psychiatry -Stanford University

        Both Andrew Huberman and Matthew Walker both agree that routine is one of the most fundamental factors in creating good sleeping experiences. Huberman however goes on to add that receiving sunlight into the eyes and face as early as possible in the morning for 10 minutes sends signals to the brain and body to activate. He stresses that this sunlight must not be filtered by glasses, windows or any other material. He goes on to add that after 3 days of this you will have kicked your body’s routine into action and falling asleep should become continually easier.

          

        Ok but what can I do if I still can’t sleep

        If you are struggling to fall asleep don’t stay in bed. According to Matthew Walker professor of neuroscience and psychology and sleep expert. If you stay in bed while you are awake you are training yourself to not associate the bed as a place for sleep. Instead you should get up and in as low light as practical read a book, meditate or undertake other low effort work until you feel tired again. Then once sufficiently tired you can head back to bed and try again.


        Getting a full night’s sleep is vital to our mental and physical health. Despite practicing for hours every night, it can still be a difficult task to master. The hardest part however can be the act of falling asleep. However armed with knowledge of how to conduct yourself leading up to bed and the used techniques to relax while distancing yourself form invasive thoughts, a peaceful and restful night’s sleep should be all the more attainable. Better sleep, better life.