How to Sleep Better Tonight
I’ve always been interested in how to get better sleep, what impact sleep deprivation has on the body, and effective, natural sleep aids that help you get a better night’s sleep. In this article I’ll review my top 5 tricks for getting better sleep (even when you only have 5 hours or less to sleep).
How to Sleep Well and Avoid Sleep Problems
1. Always sleep in 90 minute cycles
Your body is programmed to sleep in 90 minute sleep cycles. Therefore, you should memorize these sleep cycle “targets”: 3 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours, 9 hours, and 10.5 hours. Those are the exact increments of sleep you should try to get each night. Staying up late? Based on my personal tests, it’s actually better to get 4.5 hours of sleep vs. 5 hours of sleep. You’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and alert when you sleep in these increments.
Did you know? The National Sleep Foundation advises people to maintain a regular waking time and bedtime (even on the weekends) to help your brain and body’s need to balance sleep time and wake time. You don’t have to wake early to do this, and you can even be a late riser. What’s important is being consistent.
2. Take fish oil and a multivitamin before going to be bed
Based on restorative benefits of fish oil and multivitamins, I have decided to take both supplements with a small snack (see below) before bed. My rationale is that it helps to repair my body while sleeping (and I do not have medical research to support this, nor do I believe this is for everyone). Since moving to taking fish oil and a multivitamin before bed, I’ve felt more energy and have been sick less often. Also, I believe the fish oil has helped significantly with muscle soreness after working out.
3. Eat a low-glycemic index snack before bed
A sleep aid tip from Tim Ferriss, the idea here is to give your body the right type of fuel to use while you are sleeping. When your body doesn’t have this fuel, it saps energy from other sources (like your muscles) which makes you feel tired when you wake up. I prefer a small serving of Kashi Golean CRUNCH! cereal with kefir and some roasted almonds, or as Tim recommends, a couple of stalks of celery with almond butter, or an apple and cup of yogurt.
4. Buy a Sleep Number Bed
Although I have a significant issue with Select Comfort’s warranty policies, the Sleep Number bed company does create a good product. The main feature of this bed is that each side can be adjusted to your preferred firmness, your “sleep number.” I’ve never slept as good as I do now that I have this bed, making it worth the money spent on it. Basically, I tested different sleep numbers (from 30 – 100, 100 is the firmest) over several months until I found the one that gave me the best night’s sleep (my sleep number is 80, for those who are curious).
5. Take Caffiene Naps
Detailed on the Wired How-to Wiki, the caffeine nap is a little-known sleep aid you can use to really boost your energy. Here’s how it works: first, drink a cup of your favorite coffee, espresso or tea fairly quickly. Next, lay down and take a 20 minute nap (no more, and no less, than 20 minutes). When you wake up, you’ll feel fantastic and be charged for whatever is next in your life!
Bonus Sleep Aid Tip: Buy this Sleep Mask
I’m convinced that one of my biggest sleep aids is the restriction of light in my sleeping area, courtesy of my Bucky Shades Sleep Mask. This sleep mask keeps light out, but also has a cushioned pad that massages and conforms slightly to your face, completely blocking out light and calming you at the same time. It’s adjustable and comfortable to wear, and it definitely helps me sleep better. It’s a great sleep aid when you are taking a caffiene nap (see #5 above).