Nine Ways To Sleep Smarter

Nothing kills your ability to get things done faster than a bad night's sleep. Studies show that sleep deprivation comes at a significant cost to work productivity — yawning employees find it hard to stay alert, make good decisions, focus on tasks or even manage a friendly mood at the office. There are lots of ways to beat insomnia, increase the quality of your sleep, and master the power nap. Here are nine of our favourite sleep techniques, tips and facts.

#9 Reduce Screen Time Before Bed

Stop checking your email or watching TV just before bedtime and you'll sleep better. Studies have shown that people who consume electronic media just before bed report lower-quality sleep even when they get as much sleep as bedtime screen refrainers.

This is because direct exposure to such abnormal light sources reportedly inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin. They essentially instruct your brain to stay alert. Smartphones and tablets amplify the effect because you are holding the device close to your face and staring directly into the light.

#8 Exercise In The Mornings

You already know that exercising provides lots of good health benefits, with a good night's sleep being one of them. But make sure you exercise in the morning or afternoon, not at night, to see the benefits while you dream. As CNN reports:

A 2003 study found that a morning fitness regime was key to a better snooze. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center concluded that postmenopausal women who exercised 30 minutes every morning had less trouble falling asleep than those who were less active. The women who worked out in the evening hours saw little or no improvement in their sleep patterns.

Oh yeah, exercise enhances that other bedtime activity, too: sex. (But that's a whole other top 10.)

#7 Eat To Enhance Sleep

Some foods are more conducive to a better night's sleep than others. You already knew about warm milk and chamomile tea, but Yahoo Food lists others, like bananas, potatoes, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. You find yourself fighting off afternoon droopy eyelids at the office? Here are some pointers on eating a less nap-inducing meal.

#6 Master The "Power Nap"

Slowly but surely, the benefits of the classic, 20-minute power nap are getting more recognition, with big companies installing sleep pods at the office and more software applications like Pzizz helping to set the right power nap aural scene. Here's how to get the perfect nap from the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. You can pick up some additional tips here.

#5 Avoid Soul-Shattering Alarm Buzzers

No one likes starting the day by getting ripped out of bed by that evil "BEEP BEEP BEEP" of the alarm clock, but some sleepyheads ignore anything gentler. Lifehacker reader Jason beats the buzzer with a dual clock radio system:

Put one alarm clock on your nightstand, the other across the room and make sure they're in sync. Set the alarm clock on your nightstand to go off at, let's say, 6:30 a.m.. I set that one to use the radio, and make sure it is loud enough to wake me up, but not too loud (I don't want to wake my wife on purpose). The second alarm clock on the dresser is set to go off exactly one minute later, but using that dreadful buzzer. So, when my alarm goes off in the morning, it doesn't startle me like the buzzer. Then, I know I have about 60 seconds to get up and turn the other one off before I hear a buzzing sound. At that point, I am out of bed, and no buzzer.

#4 Beat Insomnia With Visualisation

There's nothing worse than laying awake throughout the night, watching the clock tick away seconds knowing you'll be a zombie the next day. When insomnia's kicking your sleepy butt, use a self-directed meditative visualization technique to quiet the whir of a racing mind. This guide explains some expert insomnia remedies. If nothing else works, there's always therapy.

#3 Shortcut A Long Nap With The Clattering Spoon

Artist and napper Salvador Dali had an interesting nap technique, based on the idea that your body benefits from just getting to sleep as much as a couple of hours worth of shut-eye. He purportedly used a spoon to wake himself up just as he lost consciousness. Simply lie down or sit in comfy seat holding a spoon in your fingertips. For this to work, you'll need a hard floor or a big plate positioned beneath the spoon. You will thus be roused instantly from your sleep and may announce to the world: "Zucchini, toboggan, phlegm!"

#2 Take A Caffeine Power Nap

Need a turbo boost to beat sleepy doldrums pinch? Try a cup of coffee followed by a quick 15-minute nap to reboot your brain and get you going again.

#1 Teach Yourself To Lucid Dream

Lucid dreaming opens up all sorts of possibilities for controlling where and how your dreams go. Teach yourself to lucid dream via these natural drugs and electronic hacks.

What do you do to get to sleep, set up the best naps or otherwise trick out your sheep counts? Let us know in the comments.

This story has been updated from the original.


Comments

    As per a previous post, Get a HiberMate sleep mask. (just google it)

    It blocks light AND sound. Pretty nifty!

    Everyone knows what they should do to sleep better. But, when you just can't (because of screaming babies or the World of Warcraft or whatever), then that's when the powernap comes in. Just expanding on your comments about the powernap - there's a bit of NASA research which says it increases your cognitive alertness by around 37 percent for a few hours. Pretty cewl. I just wrote about it on http://visionadvancement.wordpress.com/2009/02/02/how-to-survive-on-less-sleep/

    Good suggestions but there is no connection here between a good bed that is right for you and your partner? and a good night sleep.
    As your body gets older you need to ask yourself how old and how suitable is your bed, do you toss and turn due to you being uncomfortable in bed? If so then you may need a new bed......

    Very helpful. Thanks

    If you are prone to waking in the middle of the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep try turning your clock to face the wall or cover it up before you go to bed. Seeing the clock in the middle of the night automatically sends your brain into maths mode ("how long until I have to be up?") and wakes you right up.

    The only Bad Thing about Powernaps are on a Long Haul Flight You Sleep Twenty Minutes and your awake for 14, Damn

    You forgot #10 xanax,vyou could sleep on a rock with that stuff. It is a shedule 8 drug though so caution is indicated.

    I find for me to go to sleep faster, I take a deep lung filling till I cant fill them any more breath. And "slowly" breath out through my nose until I have no air what so ever and then breath normally. My whole body deflates as I breath out, allowing all of my muscles, posture and body to really unwind. Letting go of any tension I had, but I was total unaware of at the time. My point is you cant sleep if your body is stressed/tight/tensioned.

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