Stopping is cheating! But to sleep is to leave again. We've made sleep a top priority here and want to share a decade of extensive research condensed into one crazy article to help you sleep better. With all due respect to those who think they will sleep when they are dead, we have decided to make sleep the cornerstone of a healthy life. Firstly because sleeping is a pleasure but above all because sleeping well allows you to appreciate every moment, to live to your full potential and in good health.
In this most comprehensive practical guide to sleep:
🧰 The Sleep Improvement Toolkit
🔟 The 10 essential tips to know how to improve your sleep
💡 Optimize light
⏱ What hours?
🌡 Reduce temperature
🏋️♀️ Doing the right exercises
🥗 Eat better, at the right time
💧 Drink more H2O and less aperitif
☕️ Understanding caffeine to take it at the right time
👩❤️👨 Choosing to sleep alone VS sleeping together
🧘♀️ Reduce anxiety
💊 Food supplement and medicines
The toolbox for restful sleep
To sleep is above all to free oneself from one's day. It's completely relaxing to give the body the opportunity to regenerate fully. Far be it from us to stress you out about absolutely having to equip yourself with a whole bunch of high-tech equipment. We're just giving you some recommendations of tools that we've been able to test and that really help.
⌚️ Sleep tracking device (Oura, Apple Watch...)
䷣ Blackout curtains and/or sleep mask
🔇 Quiet room or constant sound volume
🛏 Comfortable mattress not too soft (if it is thermoregulated it is a must - see Eightsleep)
- 💨 Cushion to support the head and keep the spine straight
🩳 Appropriate clothing (light, not tight)
📲 Relaxation app (headspace, calm)
🤓 Blue light blocking glasses to block light in the evening
How to sleep better: The 10 optimizations that will change your life
1 - The key factor: Light
Nothing is more important for our body than light to regulate our sleep-wake cycles. And so to sleep better, learning to regulate your exposure to light is key and it's not as simple as it seems!
Our society is quite paradoxical:
☁️ We don't get enough exposure to natural light during the day (many of us are in offices, some without windows even (should be illegal!))
💡 We are deprived of darkness in the evening or even at night.
The thing is that our body is equipped with sensors that allow it to regulate the production of hormones linked to our circadian rhythm (a mechanism that has developed since the dawn of time, keyed to the natural cycles of day and of the night). Our rhythm as a modern man and woman therefore has a strong impact on our body.
To answer it is quite simple: the main thing is to expose yourself to natural daylight for as long as possible during the day, and stay in the dark as much as possible when the sun goes down. Here is your prescription:
🌅 2 to 10 minutes of sun when you get up : Bright light helps stimulate cortisol production and will make you feel more awake, productive. We often talk about cortisol in a negative way, but this hormone is naturally present and necessary for the proper functioning of your body.
🏋️ ♀️ Doing a little exercise while getting up also triggers a mechanism that signals to the body that it's time to be active, again activating our biological clock.
☀️ 30 to 40 minutes of natural light in the morning (and not behind glass which always filters part of the light, even if it is transparent).
🤩 Avoid sunglasses in the morning (provided the sun is not too intense of course, but natural light in the morning is excellent)
Start reducing your exposure to light in the late afternoon around 6 p.m. or more simply when the sun goes down.
😎 Reduce brightness to a maximum of 3 hours before bedtime (using blue light blocking glasses and/or using dim lights at home)
🏮 Avoid any light in your bedroom . The smallest diode will be picked up by your body and have a detrimental effect on your sleep. Complete black!
⚠️ Absolutely avoid any light between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m. (if you have to get up to go to the bathroom, use red light or as dim as possible and/or protect your eyes with powerful anti-blue light glasses or even sunglasses .
2 - Schedules: The importance of being consistent
Our body works like a machine with complex mechanics regulated by a biological clock.
🕰 To adjust it and give it the right automations, you have to set a specific time every day to go to bed AND to get up.
It was easy before, at the time of the cro-magnons because there was no Netflux to suck us into an infernal spiral of addictive series. The sun was setting, signaling to our bodies that it was time to rest. There are many more stimulations possible in our homes today.
Without going into a complex explanation, if you go to bed at a different time every day, your body does not acquire these automatic mechanisms and will have a much harder time preparing for quality sleep.
Optimization 👉 Set a bedtime schedule and respect it as often as possible. You will be surprised to see that after a few days, your body will be so used to it that you will start to feel tired systematically around the same time.
3 - Temperature
To fall asleep and stay asleep, the temperature of your room and your bed plays an essential role.
First, a cooler internal temperature mimics the natural pattern of evenings (+ cooler than daytime) and is essential for reducing core body temperature. Here we aim for a temperature around 16-18 degrees for most adults.
📉 Then, to fall asleep, you have to know that the body temperature must drop by about 1 degree Celsius.
This is done in a natural way but it is possible to help the system. Core body temperature can be manipulated by a hot bath, shower or sauna - these will raise the body temperature, then when you go to bed the temperature will drop and artificially create the temperature swing needed to trigger a good sleep.
This can have dramatic effects on your ability to fall asleep!
- 👉 Adjust room temperature around 18 degrees Celsius
- 👉 Create a temperature drop by taking a hot shower that first raises and then quickly lowers your temperature.
- 👉 Use a thermoregulated mattress or mattress top. If you're really serious, nothing better than an eight sleep!
4 - Exercise: A natural relaxant
Exercise is good for you for a whole host of reasons. One of the most important is sleep!
Your body is a machine created to move. It is the product of millions of years of evolution that have led us to conquer the world, in particular because it has allowed us to move over long distances with remarkable endurance.
And just because you can read this cushy article in your Ikea couch and you don't need to hunt the ashy galinette for your daily meals doesn't mean your body doesn't need to move to function well.
✅ Improves sleep quality
Physical activity increases the time spent in deep sleep , the most physically restorative phase of your sleep cycles . Deep sleep helps boost immune function, support heart health, and control stress and anxiety.
⏳ Increase sleep time
Physical activity makes you expend energy and helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day . Research indicates that regular exercise can help increase the duration of sleep, in addition to its quality.
🧘♂️ Reduces stress and helps you fall asleep faster
Exercise is a powerful remedy for anxiety . Five minutes of exercise is enough to trigger anti-anxiety reactions in the body! So we stick our fingers out.
Exercises like yoga can help calm the parasympathetic nervous system, which will help you relax. These exercises can help lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, while also having positive effects on mood.
5 - Food: quantity, quality and meal time
A particularly important element for us French: the impact of the evening meal. The closer the meal is to bedtime, the more it will have an impact on falling asleep and on the quality of sleep. And in France we eat late on average (8:15 p.m.), we must be able to do better!
⌚️ Eat earlier
The absolute ideal, not easy to achieve, is to have dinner no less than 3 hours before going to bed.
This gives your body plenty of time to digest so it doesn't disrupt your sleep, but still leaves enough time so you don't go to bed hungry. It also gives acid reflux sufferers time to avoid symptoms before bed.
Another slightly more subtle but equally impacting element is that by eating too late, body temperature increases, which goes against the principle of lowering the temperature mentioned earlier.
🪶 Eat better and lighter
The quality and quantity of the food you eat for dinner will obviously have an impact on your sleep. It is necessary here to privilege light foods, easy to digest to prevent your body from being overheated to digest all this fuel.
So yes, you can have a good raclette from time to time, but in general it is better to have a light and balanced meal, with more protein (a little chicken with vegetables) than carbohydrates (avoid legs, potatoes, bread, etc.).
Horus X optimization for good sleep
👉 Stop eating within 3 hours of going to bed
👉 Satisfying foods, high in nutritional density, low in calories and easy to digest.
6 - Better hydration and less alcohol
It is obvious but this subject deserves to dig a little because it is not so simple.
Proper hydration allows your body to function optimally. During the day but also during the night! You don't need too much or too little.
- ➕ Too much and you risk getting up several times and interrupting your sleep ( Nocturia )
- ➖ Too little and you risk disrupting the functioning of your brain for a good night's sleep.
How much water to drink? It depends above all on the conditions in which you find yourself (cold? hot? heat wave?) and much less on the weight of the body as one might think, as neurobiologist Andrew Huberman points out.
The ideal formula for the majority of us:
👉 The general rule is about 2.4 liters of water in the first 10 hours of your day (about 236 milliliters of water per hour on average).
Why 10am? Because your kidneys are working at full capacity during this period. Then it slows down! And so much the better. And if you followed our advice, you should be much less thirsty in the evening.
📉 The goal is to reduce your water consumption in the evening so you don't have to get up at night while staying hydrated: 150 ml would be ideal (obviously if you're thirsty or it's hot, drink + ).
Anyway an important rule when you drink in the evening :
Avoid drinking this volume of water too quickly. The same volume ingested faster will tend to come out of your body faster. If you manage to drink gradually throughout the evening, in small sips, you will wake up less during the night!
Note for athletes: When you play sports, a simple little equation: 2 ml of water multiplied by your weight in kg every quarter of an hour.
So yes, if you're a little plump , you're likely to fall asleep faster (if your head isn't spinning too much). But this sedative effect of alcohol, which one might think is positive, is largely offset by the ultra harmful impact of alcohol on sleep.
🧠 In fact alcohol knocks out your cortex and makes you lose consciousness faster but you don't really find natural sleep.
⃜ The second problem is that alcohol interrupts your night. You will wake up much more, your sleep will be much less restorative because it will not be "consolidated" as Matthew Walker, sleep expert explains it well.
💭 The third problem is that alcohol blocks a good part of paradoxical sleep, the one where you dream.
If you want to sleep better, you will have to drink less!
7 - The little-known impact of caffeine
Most of us are well aware that caffeine (contained in coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.) has an effect on our sleep.
Many of us cannot "function" without our morning cup.
💥 The explanation is simple : caffeine blocks adenosine receptors (which itself is responsible for the drowsiness signal for our brain). It is useful in the morning, much less when you want to sleep.
There are three important myths to dissect here.
We love coffee at Horus X, but we also know, after having studied it for several years, that coffee or rather caffeine has a particularly harmful impact on sleep. We therefore adapted our consumption.
🙀 An anxiety-inducing stimulant
The first is that not only is caffeine a stimulant, it is also an anxiety-provoking substance . This means that it allows you to function a little more efficiently even if you haven't had a very good night's sleep, but it also increases the feeling of anxiety.
For many of us, this disadvantage is to be taken into consideration because beyond allowing us to be better awake, we run the risk of being much more stressed and ultimately, less relevant in our projects.
⏰ A very long lifespan
The second thing to know is the lifespan of caffeine in your body. When you drink a cup of coffee, it takes about five to six hours for your body to eliminate half of it. It takes 10 to 12 hours to eliminate 3/4 of it.
This means that if you drink coffee at 1pm (as many of us are used to), around midnight, there will still be a quarter of the amount of caffeine you ingested earlier in the afternoon! Not ideal if you're already struggling with your sleep.
😴 The third with the effects on sleep cycles.
Caffeine destabilizes your sleep, whether you like it or not. For those who are more sensitive, it will be harder to fall asleep AND stay asleep due to increased sensitivity to the slightest movement, sounds etc...
But it goes further. Absolutely everyone is impacted by caffeine, even your friend Marc who talks about it while drinking two espressos right after dinner. The thing is, he doesn't realize it. The truth is that caffeine has an impact on your deep sleep, especially two hours after falling asleep. A study conducted by Matthew Walker, an American scientist specializing in sleep, showed an average reduction in deep sleep of 30% when drinking coffee in the evening! You won't realize it, but the impact will be real and lasting.
Horus optimization x
👉 Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon.
8 - Sleeping together: reduce disturbances from your partner
When you sleep as a couple, it can sometimes be difficult to have restful sleep.
Between different bedtimes, snoring, movements, different preferences in terms of mattress or duvet thickness...
So many reasons that risk disturbing your sleep (and that's without counting on the exacerbated libido of a somewhat nympho partner ˆˆ).
And it's scientifically proven! When we sleep as a couple, we sleep a little less well.
For many, this is not a problem because these constraints are compensated by the feeling of well-being and security.
For the others, optimizations are possible.
🛏 ⎸ 🛏 The most extreme case: bedroom divorce!
We separate the beds, and we each sleep in their own room. It's quite radical but sometimes necessary for the well-being of the couple (especially if your other half snores like an extreme warthog).
It may seem weird but everyone is different, no need to judge, if it allows you to find sleep and therefore a fulfilled waking life then there is no debate! And it can save a couple!
Especially since what is missing the most in this solution is ultimately + bedtime, this cozy little ritual between the two partners, or the time of getting up when we kiss before starting the day.
Finally, these moments can be kept, around a small ritual before going to bed each in their respective bed. It takes a little extra effort but it's totally doable.
🛏 🛏 Hybrid Solution
We separate the beds, we stay next to each other. This solution is not bad because it makes it possible to remedy a lot of concerns (bedding adapted to everyone's comfort, reduction of movements, etc.) while remaining present one next to the other.
9 - Reduce anxiety
You can't talk about sleep problems without talking about anxiety. This is THE determining factor that disturbs sleep.
Anxiety often manifests as insomnia, especially in those genetically predisposed to anxious behaviors. We then observe:
Or difficulty falling asleep
Or difficulty staying asleep
Either the 2
These difficulties are linked to a disruption of the rhythm of cortisol release via the sympathetic nervous system (which is very badly named).
In addition to exercise, which is the most effective natural antidepressant, stress can be reduced with a very effective, scientifically proven method.
It's very simple but many don't succeed because it requires getting used to it: meditation. She will help you:
🧘♀️ Improve your state of mind : Focusing on the present moment during meditation can help you think less often about the past or the future and soften your reactions to difficult experiences.
💨 Slow down your breathing : Focusing on calm, deep breathing using the diaphragm seems to be one of the main ways meditation reduces anxiety
❤️ Reduce your heart rate and blood pressure
Our guide to meditation and concentration will help you put it all together. We really recommend you to try it, it's not complicated and so effective. We use the headspace application in the team and it's really effective.
🚭 Smoking a joint to fall asleep is not a lasting solution :
A little weed to fall asleep? Current research tells us that this is not such a good idea.
Cannabis contains two substances:
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) : the psychoactive component (which will get you high)
CBD (Cannabidiol) : the non-psychoactive component
The main problem comes from THC:
🥱 It can make it easier to fall asleep (that's cool!)
💭 But it blocks paradoxical sleep which is essential for good sleep (less paradoxical sleep, later at night and change in intensity).
♽ And it is very addictive. Once you use it to fall asleep, it becomes difficult to fall asleep without it!
📈 And we develop a tolerance (it takes more and more to be effective).
🏀 With a significant rebound effect if you stop (sleep is even worse after stopping than before starting, which encourages you not to stop).
And even at the level of CBD, recognized as anxiolytic , the dosage is difficult to know and could have a negative impact (at certain doses CBD promotes wakefulness rather than sleep!).
If we had to recommend one of the two, it would therefore rather be CBD (legal in France) which could have positive effects, but the research is still too limited to be able to recommend it with certainty for its effects on sleep.
🍆🍑 Interesting note: Less talk, more S*xe
It's quite interesting to note that an intimate relationship before going to bed drastically increases the speed of falling asleep (if there is an orgasm). And this is also the case if you only use your hands, with a falling asleep speed of over 47%!
The first studies tend to show the important role of certain hormones on this phenomenon (probably oxytocin for women and vasopressin for men).
We do not yet know enough but it seems that a relationship before sleeping can stop the sympathetic system in favor of the parasympathetic system.
Be careful if you're looking for some inspiration on your screen, don't forget your blue light glasses 😅
10 - Supplements and medications: our opinion on melatonin and sleep medications
If you've tried to optimize your sleep, you've certainly heard of melatonin, the hormone that conditions good sleep. It is naturally present in the body but it is also possible to take it in supplements.
Good idea ? Not so sure !
We talked about it in our guide to alternatives to melatonin , we do not really recommend taking melatonin as a supplement because its use is not yet well mastered: melatonin potentially has other impacts on the body (the heart, the immune system, bones...), in short, its dosage is not yet well understood and could have the side effect of destabilizing your body.
Today no drug completely reproduces a natural sleep. If we look at the electrical frequencies of the brain when we take a drug to sleep, they are not the same as when we sleep naturally.
What's worse is that the health risks and side effects associated with taking these drugs are real. We still have to dig deeper to find out more, but current drug treatments are not yet efficient enough.
How to sleep better: The final word
There is no point in running, you have to sleep well.
Beyond the fact that bad sleep makes us feel almost worse than an evening ending in sewage (tequila, pastis, malibu, orange juice), lack of sleep has real repercussions on our health. This little handy guide aims to guide you to test the tricks that will work for you!
At the same time, if despite all your efforts you suffer from a lack of sleep, we can only recommend that you make an appointment for a complete sleep examination to ensure that there is no health problem under underlying.
PS : For all night workers, some applications like Timeshifter allow you to adapt your behavior to minimize the impact of these hours on your sleep. Same thing if you suffer from jetlag, this application allows you to adjust a lot of things!