4 Hidden Causes of Poor Sleep (and How to Hack Them)


Getting good sleep is both an art and a science. It’s one of the most important biohacks you can do—yet the overwhelming majority of people have trouble sleeping, even those who have mastered every other aspect of their lives.

I’ve written before about how to hack your sleep. One thing I overlooked was mattress quality.

You spend about a third of your life on your mattress, so it’s worth your time to invest in a good one. A low-quality mattress introduces a bunch of problems to your sleep environment that screw with your recovery and keep you from performing your best.

In a recent episode of the Human Upgrade, I sat down with Jack Dell’Accio, the founder and CEO of the mattress company Essentia.

Jack has been studying the causes of poor sleep for more than 15 years. His company has a whole team dedicated to sleep research, and they’ve made some badass discoveries about how to sleep better.

On the podcast, Jack and I talked about hidden sleep problems—things that you may not even realize are happening, even though they have a massive impact on your sleep quality and performance during the day.

Here’s a look at four of them, and how you can hack each one for an instant sleep upgrade.

1. Off-Gassing Toxins

You know that plastic, chemical smell that fills your bedroom when you get a new mattress? That happens because of off-gassing—a combination of volatile chemicals that turn into gas and fill the air in your bedroom as you break in your new mattress.

A lot of off-gassing chemicals are respiratory irritants and can cause you to develop chemical sensitivities[*][*]. They’re nasty compounds and you don’t want to be breathing them in all night.

Memory foam mattresses are especially prone to off-gassing, and because of legal regulations around making mattresses flame retardant, virtually all commercial mattresses contain added chemicals designed to make them “safer.”

Jack’s company, Essentia, is the first in the world to make a natural memory foam mattress. It retains all the support and comfort of standard memory foam, but it’s made of organic materials that don’t off-gas, so you aren’t breathing in a bunch of respiratory toxins while you sleep.

2. Pain and Discomfort

If you’re sore when you get up in the morning or you wake up tossing and turning in the middle of the night, you probably have a mattress that doesn’t suit your biology.

Good mattresses are dense enough to support your posture, while adaptable and forgiving enough to conform to your shape and redistribute pressure. That way you don’t wake up with an aching back or destroy your sleep quality by tossing and turning all night.

Memory foam mattresses are the best solution for most people–although again, virtually all of them contain chemicals that off-gas while you sleep. Essentia hits the middle ground: plenty of support and pressure distribution, no toxins.

3. Temperature

If your bedroom is too warm at night, you’ll see a dramatic decrease in sleep quality[*]. More precisely, it is allowing for an active temperature drop slowly throughout your sleep cycle as the body is designed to do naturally. Ideally, you want your bedroom to be somewhere around 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, unless you run especially hot or cold.

Essentia’s research has found that turning down the thermostat is one of the most impactful ways to get more deep sleep. For even better sleep, choose a mattress and linens made of organic materials. They breathe better than synthetic materials, absorbing and dissipating heat in a way that allows your body to gradually decrease in temperature throughout the night. Essentia’s patented organic foam technology allows the surface temperature to drop at an average of 7º over an 8 hour sleep period, whereas other materials accumulate body heat at the surface. 

As you can see in the images above, Essentia patented natural memory foam allows for heat to flow away from the body and through the mattress core, much like the way the body naturally dissipates heat on a regular basis. This is a much more comfortable sleep, as your body is not on a surface that then traps the heat your body is expelling at the surface of the mattress.

4. EMFs

EMFs are a type of damaging radiation that comes from electronics. WiFi, cell towers, laptops, phones, and other common electronics release EMFs. So does the Earth, at a much lower intensity.

For a long time, EMFs weren’t a problem. But as technology has gotten stronger and more widespread, we’re starting to realize that EMFs have a major negative impact on your biology, including your sleep[*].

Some of Essentia’s most fascinating sleep research involves EMFs. Their mattresses are the only ones on the market that protect against EMF exposure while you sleep. Here’s a look at one of their recent studies.

Essentia Dark Film Microscopy Results:

– Image A – After having been in a geopathogenic area for about 30 mins. Blood work shows flow-through properties and distribution of platelets as observed through a dark field microscope appears normal.

– Image B – Massive Rouleau formation after 6 minutes of cell phone use. The thrombocytes become stuck together. This condition usually ensues somewhere between minutes and hours.

– Image C – Blood extraction 10 seconds after exposure to Essentia’s EMF barrier foam. Platelet distribution returns to the state depicted in image A, however with slightly improved flow properties.

– Image D – After 5 minutes of exposure to Essentia’s EMF barrier foam, the platelets’ flow properties remain optimal.

– Image E – Repeated cell phone call for 12 minutes while maintaining exposure to Essentia EMF barrier foam. Less viscous than in the initial state. The detrimental effects of the geopathological area and cell phone radiation have been neutralized.

This was one of the coolest takeaways from my interview with Jack. Basically, EMFs from your cell phone cause your blood to clot, messing with your blood flow. Essentia’s mattress blocks those EMFs, returning your blood flow to normal and improving your sleep quality.

How to Upgrade Your Mattress

If you’re sleeping on a cheap mattress or on conventional memory foam, you may want to think about upgrading. A low-quality mattress will sabotage your sleep and quietly sap your focus and productivity.

If you aren’t in the market for a new mattress, these hacks work fairly well:

  • Keep your bedroom temperature in the mid-60s at night
  • Turn off WiFi and other electronics and leave your phone out of your bedroom to decrease EMF exposure
  • Use an extra pillow either between your legs (if you sleep on your side) or under your knees (if you sleep on your back) to increase support and take pressure off your back and hips at night

For a true, long-term upgrade, I suggest an Essentia mattress. They’re natural, organic, don’t off-gas toxic chemicals, keep you cool, and offer enough support and pressure redistribution to help you sleep pain-free.

I always try to get you good deals on the best biohacking equipment, which is why I’ve partnered with Essentia to offer an exclusive discount to my readers. Just use code DAVEVIP at checkout.

If you’re looking for a new mattress, give Essentia a try. I suggest tracking your sleep quality before and after it arrives; you might notice a bigger difference than you’d expect.





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Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want is about helping you to become the best version of yourself by embracing laziness while increasing your energy and optimizing your biology.

If you want to lose weight, increase your energy, or sharpen your mind, there are shelves of books offering myriad styles of advice. If you want to build up your strength and cardio fitness, there are plenty of gyms and trainers ready to offer you their guidance. What all of these resources have in common is they offer you a bad deal: a lot of effort for a little payoff. Dave Asprey has found a better way.

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