Optimizing Sleep Quality: My Bedtime Habits

Optimizing Sleep Quality: My Bedtime Habits

The interventions I put in place to help improve the quality of my sleep, given that sleep plays a pivotal role in optimizing both immediate and long-term health outcomes, as well as influencing day-to-day functionality.

I use both my Fitbit and Oura Ring to track the duration of my sleep, my sleep efficiency (how much of my time in bed is spent sleeping), and the key components of sleep (light, deep, REM and awake times). Each person is unique and using the global average values isn't the best way to determine what is right for you, so I decided to first benchmark what my personal average values were for these parameters over a month. Once I had that in place, I then experimented with four specific lifestyle habits to see which of them impacted these parameters, and to what extent.

They were (i) the amount of time between finishing dinner and getting into bed, (ii) how many grams of carbs and added sugars I consumed in my dinner, (iii) how many minutes of walking I did after my dinner and (iv) the impact of artificial light before I went to bed. There are many more factors I tried over the years (the role of alcohol, how much time after eating should one walk, impact of water, how it differs for people who are more hypoglycemic vs. hyperglycemic, etc.), but I am highlighting a few of the factors that were each statistically significant. I cover a lot more of the details about all the things I have tested for in the seminars I do for members in our program, and why they work, but I am going to summarize a few of the key takeaways for those that are interested in the bottom line.

I found that I had the best quality of sleep when I kept a 3 hour time lag between finishing my dinner and getting into bed, tried to keep my carb and added sugars low at dinner (and had more of it for lunch), walked for 15 minutes after my meal (while listening to a podcast so the walk isn’t boring), and for the last 1 hour before sleeping, turned off the lights in the bedroom and avoided my mobile phone screen. It has gotten so consistent that I can almost perfectly guess what my sleep score (that the Fitbit provides) is going to be the next morning even before I go to bed, based on how much I was able to follow the aforementioned habits that day. Try it out and see if you find it as effective.
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Mitesh Sanghani: Loved this detailed analysis. Let’s see if I can implement the same.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Mitesh thanks. Hope it is helpful.

Mitesh Sanghani

Lata Kumar: Very informative and inspiring. Shall follow it and hope to be more calm with proper sleep patterns. Thanks for sharing.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Thank you

Lata Kumar

Sameer M-Pathak: Thanks much for the post Nickhil Jakatdar!! Great scientific information as usual. Message to the rest of the gang following these posts: Nickhil found the time to talk with me for an hour about his journey last year. It motivated me to take more control of my health through a modified diet and exercise program. I wish my PCP had given me this information years back that has benefited my metabolic health significantly!

Nickhil Jakatdar: Sameer thank you so much. Glad it has made such an amazing impact to your parameters and more importantly to how you are feeling on a day to day basis.

Sameer M-Pathak

Madhu Vudali: There was an article from many years back that standing improves sleep – I think from Seth Roberts. Is standing part of your routine as well?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Madhu I haven’t explicitly tested standing as a parameter in my experiments but walking throughout the day at zone 2 heart rate levels definitely impacted sleep positively. But I had to stop any form of intense exercise activity for at least 3 hours before going to bed.

Madhu Vudali

Amarnath Tee: Surprised alcohol intake didn’t make it to the stat sig list. It is expected to have a big impact on REM. Where did it rank?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Amarnath it absolutely is ranked #1. I have pretty much eliminated it from my routine because whatever data I collected from even my limited consumption was very compelling in its adverse effects on every metric. It hit both REM and deep sleep hard and although it was easier to go to bed with it, even the duration was impacted. I found absolutely no redeeming qualities. And recent studies by others have also debunked the whole “glass of red wine a day is good” theory. If someone wants to have it, I would suggest having it with some protein to go with it and at least 3 hours before bed time.

Amarnath Tee: Thanks. Given you mention alcohol as one of the factors you tried earlier, some of us may happily conclude it didn’t matter 🙂

Nickhil Jakatdar: Amarnath Tee lol true. Thanks for pointing it out 😀

Amarnath Tee

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