Hack Sleep by Danny Flood

How to fall asleep faster, improve health and memory, and always feel refreshed

There is a beauty to the hum and bustle of the city. Everything has a natural rhythm. Insomnia sucks because you will pay the price the next day. I didn’t know to tame this beast called insomnia. I couldn’t turn anywhere for help or respite. Naturally, you will feel helpless. The lack of structure in your life will make sleep even harder. I was suffering and needed to do something about it for good. It is not easy to train something like sleep. Anxiety might cause you to lose sleep. Some form of insomnia is actually very common among people. Essentially, one-third of our life is spent sleeping. It is truly a sad and pathetic existence. Often, it has bad consequences for our lives. Sleep deprivation can affect many aspects of our lives. To solve my problem, I studied about sleep for 9 months straight. Naturally, everyone wants to achieve a better sleep routine. Sleep is basically moving from short frequency brain waves to slow brain waves, to REM and then to repeat the cycle. There are basically 5 factors that must be in place for sleep to occur: 1) social; 2) neurological; 3) psychological; 4) cellular; 5) molecular. This book will contain many practical tips which you can apply to improve the quality of sleep. Nothing in this book should be considered as medical advice. Focus only on the aspects of sleep which you can control. Approach the book with an analytical mind-set.

Rhythm of the Day and Night. Nathaniel Kleitman studied about sleep in 1962. Our body clock follows a circadian rhythm. It varies between 24.2 and 25.5 hours a day for humans. If you can understand your natural cycle well, you should be able to sleep better. You will know when is the best thing for you to engage in activities like exercise, for instance. REM sleep usually occurs in the hours before wakeup time. There is also a deep non-REM sleep phase. You have to succumb to your natural rhythm and there is no way to overcome it. There are also 90 minutes of energy cycles that occur during our waking hours as well. For every 90 minutes, you will need a 20 minute break. Body temperature has an effect on your energy levels too. Circadian rhythm is more reliable than the ultradian curve. You can eat foods that contains amino acids to facilitate increase in dopamine levels. REM is a period where there are rapid brain waves, which indicates high activity in the brain. During the REM phase, you tend to move a lot and fidget about. REM sleep is close to wakefulness. Also, there are other phases known as light non-REM sleep and deep non-REM sleep. It is very difficult to wake up if you are in REM sleep. REM sleep is longest during the period from 4 to 6am. If you think about a project just before you go to sleep, your brain might think of creative solutions for this project during the REM phase. Some research has revealed that REM sleep is not that useful. It is more important to have longer stages of deep non-REM sleep. It helps to promote our growth hormone and stimulate muscle growth. It also helps to prevent illnesses from forming. Even if you sleep for 10 hours, the amount of deep non-REM sleep isn’t much more than someone who slept 6 hours. Hence, to a certain extent, sleeping more will not help you very much. Deep non-REM sleep is the best for our bodies. It is much better to wake up during light non-REM sleep or REM sleep. Try to be active in the day. As one is the most alert in the morning, schedule the difficult tasks for that period of time. Nap when your body temperature is at its lowest. Visualize what a perfect day will be like and then work towards it.

The more active and awake we are during the daytime, the better and more soundly we sleep at night. Accumulating the right substances in the brain such as adenosine (from intense and physical activity) and serotonin (from light exposure) during waking hours also contributes the most to the process of falling asleep. – Danny Flood

The Physiological Process of Sleep. There are hypnogenic substances that can lead us to sleep more easily. Some of them are serotonin, adenosine, melotonin and cortisol. Cortisol production is highest at mid-morning. This is when you are at the most alert during the day. This is also known as the stress hormone. Too much it and you won’t be able to sleep at night. It also inhibits production of insulin. Reduction of stress will result in a reduction of cortisol levels. The consumption of magnesium tablets after exercise can also help. Try to do it naturally so as to avoid dependency to the drug. Sleep aids should only be used as a last resort. Adenosine helps to provide energy for cells. Use ‘sleep restriction therapy’ so that you can fall asleep more easily in subsequent nights. Using more brainpower also increases levels of adenosine. Caffeine can block production of adenosine. The effects of caffeine can last up to 12 hours. It is important that there is no caffeine during your deep sleep hours. Your last cup of coffee should not be after 2pm, as a rule of thumb. To replace caffeine, you can consume a fruit shake or smoothie etc. The presence of light affects your circadian rhythm. Exposure to light inhibits melotonin production, making it more difficult to sleep. Seratonin and melotonin usually have an inverse relationship. Try to take a walk during lunch time. Light exercise or walking will help boost energy levels in the afternoon. Increased light exposure in the day can help you sleep better at night. It can also fight depression. In the night, one must block blue light as much as possible. There is an app which one can use. It is called F.lux. Always sleep in a dark environment. Eat the right fruits in order to increase melatonin production. Seratonin is the activity hormone. It is produced during light exposure in the day. Exercise is a good way to increase body temperature during the day. This will usually mean that you will be able to sleep better at night. Our body temperature is highest when we are awake, and lowest when we are sleeping. Sleep in a cool room as that will help as well. Massage can also aid the sleep process.

In order to facilitate greater production of adenosine, we need to make sure that we are indeed spending enough time awake. The longer we can stay awake, the greater our adenosine, and our ability to fall asleep. That’s why we can sometimes try and use willpower to struggle to stay awake, only to eventually succumb. – Danny Flood

To achieve better quality sleep at night, let as much light pass through the retinas during the day as possible. Direct sunlight is the best – take breaks of 15 minutes or more to go outside for a walk and let the light in. – Danny Flood

Another potential hazard where many of us disrupt our body clock and damage our ability to sleep is the use of electronic screens before bedtime. Electronic screens emit blue light – the strongest and brightest form of light. – Danny Flood

How to Nap Like a Ninja. Do you suffer from chronic fatigue? Take naps at strategic intervals. Modern society requires us to be productive, but at what costs? Sleep patterns shouldn’t be so rigid. Rather, they should be flexible. Napping is also associated with many health benefits. If possible, one should take a daily afternoon nap. Daily naps can help to boost productivity and keep you fresh. Humans are definitely not machines. We can definitely use a nap sometimes. The quality period for a nap should be 20 to 30 minutes maximum. If you sleep too much, it will be difficult for you to get up and function. After lunch, you can embark on a hacking nap. In order to nap, you need to empty your mind. Focus your attention inwards and take deep breaths. Naps can correct sleep deficiency problems. Use anchors like soft music so that you can fall asleep easily. Try not to do things on the bed as the bed should only be used for sleeping. The effect of eating a heavy lunch is that it will lull you into sleep quite easily.

The ‘big picture’ message is that napping is a necessary and effective tool that can be used by anyone in pursuit of optimum health, happiness and productivity. I want to make you a napper. – Sara C. Mednick

Meditation, Hypnosis, and Breathing Techniques. We have a lot of power over our thoughts. It is important to understand the power of your thoughts. Let your mind go free. It is easy to change your thoughts. Learn to take a step back and feel relaxed. You can use the power of hypnosis to induce yourself to sleep. There is certainly some truth as to the power of hypnosis. It is important to break the pattern of thought associated with wakefulness. There is an app which may help you. It is titled ‘Pzizz’. Deep breathing is useful when you want to fall asleep. The best way is to breathe in for 3 seconds, and out for 3 seconds. Learn to be fully aware of your breathing. If you have a partner, you can practise with your partner as well. Meditation has a whole range of benefits as well. The brain waves become longer and more drawn-out. Meditation helps to tame your ‘monkey’ mind and help you to relax. The aim of it is to clear your mind. Imagine a tranquil lake. Immersing yourself in water has some healing properties as well. There is certainly a lot of power that is associated with self-talk. There is wisdom in time-honoured traditions. Train your ability to think clearly.

How to Enter Lucid Dream States. Sometimes, you might imagine yourself in a virtual reality world. You are extremely aware of your surroundings in the dream. There are a lot of visual assets. This actually requires the use of heavy brain waves. You will also be able to manipulate the dream at will. We have the power for lucid dreams. Regular dreaming is normal among people. Can one teach themselves to lucid dream? Lucid dreaming can be an extremely liberating experience. There is a sense of euphoria that is associated with it. The possibilities are really endless. How can one induce lucid dreaming? It is important to write down your dream when you wake up in the morning. Use affirmations and visualizations to help you.

How I won my struggle with Insomnia. Wake-up time is the top priority for you. Use light to wake you up. Your body will get used to it after a while. Medication usually does more harm than good.

The idea to manage your sleep patterns is to wake up at the same time each day. Consistent with what my sleep therapist said, the time of waking up is more important than the time of going to sleep and/or staying asleep. To accomplish waking up consistently, you need to set a time where you get out of bed and start your day no matter what. – Danny Flood




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