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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 February 25, 2020

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    Face Adversity with a Smile

    I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

    My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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    Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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    Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

    How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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    1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
    2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
    3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
    4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
    5. Smile and get cracking.

    The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

    Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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