Ready to sleep like a baby and start feeling well-rested? We’ve got you covered.
For the most important things anyone can do for improved shuteye, we contacted Bernie Miller, supervisor at the Sleep Disorders Center at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. But because knowing what to do is totally different from actually doing it, we also hit up Tessa Miller at the how-to site Lifehacker to suggest some cheats for changing our ingrained bad behaviors.
Tip #1: Make your bedroom a tomb.
It should be dark, quiet, and cool. Especially avoid computer screens—their blue-spectrum light limits the production of melatonin.
Hack #1: Download f.lux.
The program makes digital screens less blue at night. Also, block outside light by sewing or stapling thick blackout fabric to the back of curtains.
Tip #2: Watch the clock.
Keep a regular bedtime and wake time and don’t press snooze all morning. A regular schedule (even on weekends) reinforces your natural circadian rhythms.
Hack #2: Use the BetterMe iPhone app.
It posts to Facebook every time you hit snooze on your phone’s alarm clock. The public shame should get you out of bed earlier.
Tip #3: Exercise early.
Work out at least four to six hours before bed so that your elevated body temperature doesn’t keep you awake.
Hack #3: Build a walking desk.
Elevate your work surface and add a treadmill. With the machine’s speed set to 1 mph, you can steadily work out during office hours.
Tip #4: Curb naps.
If you must nap, limit it to 30 minutes between noon and 4 p.m. so it won’t interfere with your regular sleep cycle.
Hack #4: Nap strategically.
Use psychologist Sara Mednick’s online nap wheel to find the best time. (It’s when REM and deep sleep are well proportioned, maximizing the benefits of both.)
Tip #5: Watch the caffeine.
No coffee, tea, or other caffeinated pick-me-ups after noon. Caffeine has a half-life of around five hours and may stay in your system for up to 14.
Hack #5: Bask in blue light.
Replace coffee breaks with exposure to a blue-hued lamp or screen. Researchers have found it boosts focus and accuracy better than caffeine.
Tip #6: Turn off the TV.
Don’t fall asleep in front of a glowing television—its artificial light can throw off your body’s clock.
Hack #6: Turn on an e-reader.
Wind down with a non-light-emitting e-reader such as the Kindle (or a real book). If you watch TV, set the sleep timer so that it turns off well before bedtime.
A similar version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.