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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 January 25, 2021

    What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

    What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

    It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

    If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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    What should I do today? No ideas?

    Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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    Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

    1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
    2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
    3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
    4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
    5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
    6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
    7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
    8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
    9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
    10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
    11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
    12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
    13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
    14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
    15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
    16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
    17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
    18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
    19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
    20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
    21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
    22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
    23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
    24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
    25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
    26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
    27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
    28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
    29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
    30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

    Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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