Can you go to bed and fall asleep within 5 to 10 minutes? Do you have problems waking up refreshed and restored?
Sleep is the time when our body and mind recover from a day’s work. As per the sleep science experts, there are many benefits of good and proper sleep including a more rested feeling, a stronger immune system, and a healthier brain.
Losing your sleep for even a few weeks can make you not only exhausted but also obese. Did you know that 63% of people are unhappy with the amount of sleep they get? Find out the effects & causes of sleeplessness.
Experts have researched the best ways to get a good night’s sleep. This article will explore how to sleep faster and better by following their tips. We read five books on sleep science to come up with these six sleep hacks for a restful night’s sleep to help you wake up fresh and energetic.
If you want to save the article for reading later, there’s a download link to its free PDF (no email required) in the Final Words section below.
6 Best Sleep Hacks Based On Scientific Research
There are many outside factors that can affect your sleep. For instance, bright lights or loud noises might disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. There are also things you can do to maximize your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, like going to bed at the same time every night.
To sleep deeper and fuller every night, let’s dive into the six most effective tips from sleep scientists. Sleep experts club these as Sleep Hygiene, meaning habits that help you to fall and stay asleep, and improve your sleep health.
Sleep hygiene is an important element of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the most effective long-term treatment for those suffering from chronic insomnia. CBT for insomnia might help you fix the thoughts and behaviors that keep you awake at night.
Here are 6 scientific sleep hacks for deeply refreshing sleep:
Sleep Hack #1. Set A Sleep Schedule
Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time every day, even if it is a weekend or a long holiday. Set a bedtime that allows you to sleep for at least 7-8 hours. Also, get out of bed at the same time every day. So, there are three things: go to bed, stay in bed, and get out of bed, all at specific, fixed times.
A consistent sleep routine strengthens your natural sleep-wake cycle, called the circadian rhythm. A fairly constant bedtime routine increases your sleep quality, allowing you to sleep better and wake up refreshed and invigorated.
We sleep in cycles, each cycle lasts about 90 minutes. At the end of 90 minutes, we wake up briefly, toss or turn a little, and go back to sleep again. Each sleep cycle has 5 stages.
You keep your body and mind busy for most of the time you spend in bed. The majority of it consists of light sleep and REM sleep. Light sleep occurs in the early stage of your sleep cycle.
REM sleep, or the 5th stage of sleep, is when you are most likely to dream. In the REM stage, there is a loss of muscle tone and reflexes, which prevents you from “acting out” your dreams or nightmares while sleeping.
It’s the deep sleep (the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep) that matters the most for your waking up fresh. Deep sleep accounts for roughly 13 to 23% of all sleep in healthy persons.
As a rule of the thumb, the better your deep-sleep, the better your sleep quality. You can record your sleep phases with a wrist-worn sleep tracker.
Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day improves your immunity, concentration, and emotional stability.
Set A Sleep-Time Alarm. Rather than a wake-up alarm, set a gentle tune on your phone to remind yourself you are close to your bedtime. Dim the lights and get ready to go to bed as soon as your sleep-time alarm plays.
Sleeping earlier is easier than you think. For example, write your sleeping/waking times on a piece of paper and stick it on your desk and your bathroom mirror: I sleep at 11 pm. I get up at 7 am.
Sleep Hack #2. Take Daily Naps
Take a nap during the day. Find out what’s your best nap length.
Call it a snooze, siesta, or shuteye, forty-winks, or beauty sleep, but giving a brief rest to the brain increases its creativity, intuition, imagination, and ability to solve problems.
Learning your lessons soon after a nap equals learning after a full night of sleep. A NASA study of 747 pilots showed those taking 26-minute naps every day made 34 percent fewer errors at work and doubled their alertness levels.
A nap reduces stress and fatigue. A study by Allegheny College of Pennsylvania on 85 healthy college students showed those who took daily naps of 45 to 60 minutes decreased their blood pressure and heart rates, and handled anxiety better.
This study found a nap that includes the REM phase increases your receptivity to facial expressions of happiness. That is, when you wake up after a dreamy nap, you’re quick to recognize happy faces!
5 key benefits of a daytime nap
- Recharging your batteries: An afternoon nap for an hour or so does wonders for your body and mind, keeping you running at peak performance levels while minimizing your risk of burnout.
- Making up for a sluggish night’s sleep: This is more of a ’emergency’ nap — if you’ve had a sleepless night for whatever reason, you can counteract the bad effects on your body and mind by getting a few more Zs.
- Staying alert in the evening: If you want to be active in the evening after a full day of work, napping is ideal. It will keep you alert and energized, helping you to maximize your waking hours.
- Refocusing your attention: Workplace obligations can be hard, especially during a pandemic. A short snooze will help you stay on top of your job and operate at your best capacity.
- Helping the body’s natural rhythm: Your Circadian Rhythm regulates your sleep routine. Your hormone levels drop late at night and early in the afternoon, which is why you frequently experience the dreaded “post-lunch dip.” Don’t resist it; instead, take an afternoon nap and your body will respond positively.
Sleeping on the job is not a good idea. However, there is growing evidence that an afternoon nap might help reduce post-lunch drowsiness. Google and Zappos have installed “nap pods” at their workplaces, and their employees have reported higher productivity as a result of using those.
“Nap bars” are opening up in many places across the world, where a tourist can walk in, pay, and sleep for their chosen time.
However, keep in mind that daytime napping cannot compensate for a chronic lack of proper overnight sleep. A nap is simply a supplement to your regular sleep schedule.
Sleep Hack #3. Avoid Stimulants
Stop drinking tea, coffee, chocolate, sodas, nicotine, or cigarettes at least 4 hours before bedtime. The stimulant effect of caffeine takes up to six hours to wear off.
A more favored recent tip is to avoid coffee and other stimulants after 12 noon; now, don’t jump at it! Sleep scientist Patrick M. Fuller, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, does himself as he advises: avoid all stimulants after midday.
At all costs, quit the smoking habit altogether. Quit smoking not just for the sake of sleep but also for your health and your genes.
Skip the late evening alcohol, too. Alcohol initially makes you drowsy, since it is a nervous system depressant. But as soon as your blood-alcohol level drops, it activates your sympathetic system. This drop makes you wake up from the deep sleep and dream phases of your sleep. So, you are groggy the next morning.
Turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Blue screens on digital devices are stimulants.
Once you’ve banished all stimulants, and you still find it difficult to fall asleep, try a relaxation program such as sleep meditation. Mindfulness meditation can help improve your insomnia.
Sleep Hack #4. Exercise Daily
Exercise helps you go to sleep quicker. A habit of regular exercise can help you sleep better by increasing both its quality and quantity.
- Exercise can help you get high-quality sleep by reducing stress hormones like cortisol in the body.
- Light exercises, like walking, stretching, and yoga, after your dinner, could help you fall asleep faster.
- Studies show aerobic exercise reduces sleep issues and insomnia in patients. Aerobic activity helps the body release endorphins, which are natural painkillers of our body.
Also, not exercising leads to poor sleep. So get into a daily habit of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. If you find it difficult to get into a daily exercise habit, read this guide.
Try this for a start: Get up in the morning and go for a 12-minute walk in the park. A study found those who exercised in the morning before eating anything gained almost no weight. They also burned more fat throughout the day than others in the study.
Remember to schedule your heavy workouts before late evening. Don’t do any strenuous exercise within 4 hours of bedtime. Morning and afternoon workouts are ideal for improving the quality and quantity of sleep you get at night.
New research suggests you can exercise close to your bedtime without affecting your nighttime sleep. The key idea is to exercise at moderate intensity at least 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime. A 2018 study recommends that you can exercise in the evenings if you take care to avoid any vigorous activity for at least one hour before bedtime.
Sleep Hack #5. Create Pre-Sleep Rituals
Creating a new habit is hard. But there’s a solution — create rituals. These are specific end-of-the-day habits that prime you for a night of deep, restful sleep.
Eat a light dinner, around 3 hours before bedtime, to give your digestive system enough time to work. Also, try not to go to bed on a hungry stomach, as it may not let you easily fall asleep.
Do some light, fun activities after dinner. Once you’ve finished dinner, put off any serious work or issues until the next day. Read a soothing book (a paper book, not an e-book).
Do not touch your laptop, phone, or any other blue light-emitting screen at least 2 hours before bedtime. Blue lights from digital screens depress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep.
Take a warm shower 1 hour before you hit the bed. Try dimming the lights in your bedroom an hour before bedtime. Low light stimulates your melatonin secretion.
Try to switch off all digital devices 30 minutes before bedtime.
Sleep Hack #6. Build Bedroom Habits
Keep your bedroom clutter-free. Do not let your pets into your bedroom; they disturb your sleep.
Banish laptops and smartphones to a separate room. For best results, never install a TV in your bedroom.
Do not eat or drink in bed. A US poll found that mattresses, pillows, and even the fresh scent of sheets all contribute to the quality of our sleep.
Make sure the bedsheets and pillow covers are clean. Change your sheets weekly. Experts suggest you should replace your mattresses every eight years, by when you would have used around 20,761 hours lying on top of it. So, once again, make sure the bed you lie down on is clean.
Close to sleeping time, cut down the bright lights. Shut out all the harsh noise; use earplugs or white noise if you need to.
Adjust the room temperature to a comfortable level. Keeping your sleeping room at a temperature around 65°F or 18.3°C is ideal.
Ideally, you should not take more than 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you are lying awake in your bed for 20 minutes or more, therapists suggest you get out of bed and do something non-stimulating (as reading a boring textbook) until you start to feel drowsy. When you do so, return to bed immediately.
Remember, these are not instant-magic pills. But you only need 3 to 6 weeks of practice to see the surprising results.
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How Much Sleep Do You Get
How much sleep do you ideally need? Sleep researchers tell us we need roughly one hour of sleep for every two hours we are awake. The National Sleep Foundation recommends these sleep guidelines for adults:
- 7 to 9 hours for young adults and adults
- 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults
But how much sleep do you actually get?
Record your sleep and wake-up patterns over two weeks to find out how much sleep you’re getting these days. If you find a glaring mismatch between the hours you sleep and the hours you must sleep, it’s time to take action. Find a Sleep Diary here by the National Institutes of Health.
[Find out what a sleep expert advises on making your baby sleep fast.]
The truth is, since the invention of the light bulb about 140 years ago, the world has never slumbered when it comes to working. Electric lights are the reason we started to cheat on our body clocks. From there, we started to skip our sleep.
There’s no doubt you need to make time to sleep better and fuller. A good night’s sleep can make you feel wonderful and highly productive. It keeps you in a happier mood and increases your positivity.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a night owl or an early bird, you can’t have a healthy life without enough sleep.
So, use these sleep hacks to start giving yourself what you have been depriving yourself of, 8 hours of restful sleep every night. One last tip: Use your bed only for sleep and you know what!
Mind the words of Aldous Huxley, author of the 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World:
That we are not much sicker and much madder than we are is due exclusively to that most blessed and blessing of all natural graces, sleep.
• Download your free PDF: 6 Science-Backed Sleep Hacks
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
• Our story: Happiness Project
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