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Sleep Hacks: Tips for Getting Those Crucial 40 Winks

Sleep Hacks: Tips for Getting Those Crucial 40 Winks

    Sleep is a weird thing, an elusive state that is crucial to maintaining our health and sanity. And yet, it can be so easily interrupted. If you’re like most people, you have difficulty with sleep, whether it’s falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough quality sleep. So what sneaky hacks can you use to get better sleep?

    Understanding Sleep

    Your body is programmed to fall into a natural sleep rhythm, known as a circadian rhythm. This “internal body clock” regulates your body’s metabolic processes: everything from sleep schedules to hormone production to blood pressure. The circadian “clock” in humans is located mainly in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is a group of cells located in the brain.

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    When daylight hits your eyes, cells in the retinas signal your brain, which in turn can help to keep your circadian rhythms running according to schedule. As you age, the cells in SCN part of the brain may start to die off, causing disruptions in sleep, whether its a hard time getting to bed, or more frequent sleep interruptions.

    Other things can cause interruptions in your ability to sleep include working late or irregular hours, pregnancy, jet lag, or new medications. There are also a number of sleep-related disorders that can affect a person, including Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS), a disorder where a patient will fall asleep at very late times and then have difficulty waking up in time for work or school.

    Tips and Tricks for Better Sleep

    1. Chill Out

    You need to control the temperature of your sleeping environment, and also be aware of the changes in your own internal body temperature. Generally speaking, your brain will cue up your sleeping desires as the air temperature dips, causing you to sleep the most soundly during the cold hours in the morning before sunrise. So, make sure that your bedroom has plenty of fans or air conditioners in hotter months to help you nod off.

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    It’s also worth noting that your body temperature tends to rise in its own circadian rhythm each day, usually nudging you back towards wakefulness between 6 and 8 in the morning.

    2. Fast

    Starving yourself is never healthy, but one of the best ways to reset your sleep-wake cycle is to abstain from food for between 12 and 16 hours. This trick is a great way to combat jet lag, as well as to reset your sleep schedule when you work the late shift, according to a study from the Harvard Medical School.

    This hard reset of your biological clock takes just one day, making it better than exposure to light or day to trick your sleep-wake cycle into doing what you want it to. Once you start eating again, your internal clock will be reset as though it is the start of a new day.  Your body will consider the time you break your fast as your new “morning.”

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    3. Invest in a Dimmer

    If you live in a big city, chances are that you sleep with heavy curtains to help block out the light from buildings and signs. But with such heavy curtains, you’ll also block out the sun as it rises, increasing the likelihood that you will oversleep.

    To combat this, invest in a timed dimmer switch for your bedroom that will gradually increase the amount of light in your bedroom, mimicking the gradual rise of the sun over the horizon.

    4. Keep it Simple

    Sometimes the simple tricks are the best ones. Try dampening a washcloth with warm water, and then place it over your forehead and eyes. The darkness will help your brain to switch off, and the gentle heat can help to relax any tension you might be holding on to after a long, stressful day.

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    5. Try Something New

    Specifically, try out a brand new style of sleep. Dustin Curtis has a great chart that breaks down the differences between polyphasic sleep, normal sleep, Everyman, and Uberman sleep patterns.

    You don’t necessarily need sleep, at least not in the traditional sense. What you need are REM cycles. Just because you are asleep for 8 hours doesn’t mean you get 8 hours worth of sleep, since you really only need four or five 20 minute REM cycles. If your work schedule allows for it, you might want to try sleeping for 6 hours, and then taking a 90 minute nap in the afternoons, or going whole hog and sleeping 90 minutes a night and taking 4 20-minute naps throughout the rest of the day.

    Conclusion

    Our own Seth Simonds once gave some excellent advice when it comes to reclaiming 10-12 hours of productive waking time each week. By sleeping on an uncomfortable bed, you’ll be less likely to sleep in, and tired enough from early rising that you will fall right to sleep at night.

    Ultimately, getting a good night’s sleep is about setting up a routine, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and trying to minimize the amount of bright lights that you are exposed to after sundown. The method that works best for you may take some trial and error to find, but hopefully these tips will help you to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

    What do you do to get a good night’s sleep? Tell us in the comments below!

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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