13 Ways to Supercharge Productivity with Better Sleep

January 29, 2016

Growing up in the digital age is not easy. For one, you can’t sleep. Fluffy pillows and cuddly teddy bears can only do so much when that smartphone you sleep next to keeps on ringing, vibrating, sending you notifications, and basically tempting you to stay awake. This generation is perpetually plugged in.

A 2015 Bank of America Trends in Consumer Mobility Report shows how millennials are obsessed to constant connectivity. The researchers found that 71% of respondents sleep next to their smartphones, with 23% of those surveyed admitting to have fallen asleep with a mobile phone in hand. The attachment continues up to the moment they wake up. Thirty-five percent said their phones are the most important thing to them as opposed to 17% that said coffee is the first thing they look for.

The effects of gadgets on sleep are something that scientists and researchers have warned us about. Mail Online on tablet usage before bedtime says that gadgets before bedtime ruin our natural circadian rhythms or our body clocks. Short-wavelength enriched or blue light coming from electronic devices reduces sleepiness and morning alertness. The research showed that using gadgets before bedtime impacts our overall health.

This is why optimizing sleep cycles have become something that eternally plugged-in millennials and adults are deliberately trying to do: from eye masks and soothing music to a glass of wine and probably counting sheep. But what really works? If you are a working professional, you know very well that a good night’s sleep is an effective life hack for productivity. So, what are the things that help you get better sleep? Here are 13 sleep hacks for you.

Turn off before tuck in

Turn off before tuck in
Photo courtesy of davemc via Flickr, Creative Commons

This may be a little difficult for you, but try not checking your phones and gadgets before hitting the sack. A study by the Osaka University in Japan found that people who surf the net or watch TV before bedtime reported not getting enough sleep. Reducing attachment to gadgets, at a time when people can’t live without them, remains one of the toughest and yet the most effective sleep hacks to boost productivity for the next day.

Quick exercise during the day

Quick exercise
Photo courtesy of MabelAmber via Pixabay

Exercise is important due to a number of health factors, even in optimizing sleep cycles. A research published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that people tend to sleep significantly better if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week or around 20 minutes a day. People who exercise regularly feel less sleepy during the day and report a 65% improvement in sleep. However, never exercise a few hours before bedtime as high levels of adrenaline will keep you awake.

Avoid heavy meals before bedtime

When you eat a big meal two or three hours before bedtime, your body will be busy processing calories instead of resting. So what should you eat? According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, among the helpful tips for sleeping restfully is eating a high-carb, low-protein snack less than 250 calories. Other calming food and drinks such as broccoli, bananas, warm milk or chamomile tea will also help. Remember that as much as a full stomach won’t make you sleep, so does an empty and grumbling one.

Make up a story in your head

Go beyond counting sheep and start visualizing something in your head. There are no rules as to what you should imagine, but always go for calming scenarios. You can have relaxing music to go with it. You may also do mindful meditation on different aspects of your life, but the trick there is letting it all go. The idea is to calm you down.

Establish a sleeping pattern

sleeping pattern
Photo courtesy of Eugene0126jp via Wikimedia Commons

Try to develop a regular sleeping pattern until the process comes naturally. For example, go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. Do this every day and your circadian rhythms naturally follow. Do this even on weekends. Make your sleep routine exclusively yours alone. Identify the factors that are disruptive to you and avoid them.

Implement the 90-minute rule

Brain cycles go through different stages, each lasting 90 minutes. So if you wake up at the end of a 90-minute sleep cycle, you will feel more refreshed because you are closest to your normal waking state. If you want to wake up at 7 a.m., count back in 90-minute intervals, and try sleeping at either 11:30 or 10 p.m.

Don’t force sleep, ever

Don’t count the minutes as they drift away. Don’t look at the clock either. This will only pressure you. Stop tossing and turning because that will only frustrate you. Your muscles should be free of tension. Believe it or not, one of the ways to sleep when it’s just simply impossible is to get out of bed for a while and not let your room and your bed become associated with the frustration of not being able to fall asleep.

Turn your room pitch black

Light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, your body’s natural sleep drug, so make your room pitch dark. Use blackout shades to block light from outside, ditch digital alarm clocks, forget night lights, eliminate electronics and put on an eye mask. When you are in total darkness, even if you can’t sleep, sleep-inducing hormones will naturally increase.

No more caffeine fix please

No more caffeine
Photo courtesy of Unsplash via Pixabay

Caffeine confers a feeling of alertness, so stay away from coffee when it is late in the day. Also, avoid alcohol at least four hours before bedtime. While it can make you feel sleepy, it is likely to disrupt your sleep later. Alcohol is often blamed for frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares, headaches and a less restful sleep. Nicotine is also a stimulant and it does not relax you, contrary to popular belief. So stay away from cigarettes, too.

Don’t delay sleep

When feeling tired and sleepy, go to bed and drift away. Do not watch TV, check your emails, or start cleaning. These activities will stimulate you until you no longer feel sleepy. By the time you want to sleep, your body is already too alert that you will find it harder to doze off.

Create a nice sleeping environment

sleeping environment
Photo courtesy of Uratex Foam Philippines

Turn your room into a sleep cave. Make sure your room is clean and free from disruptive elements. Make sure your bed mattress is just the way you like it: not too soft that you drown in it and not too hard that you feel like you’re sleeping on the floor. Uratex Foam Philippines is manufacturing the perfect foam for you: a Senso memory foam mattress that is designed to sense your body’s weight and temperature as it conforms to your body’s specific shape and contours. It’s as if it’s cradling you like a child. There are also bed accessories to help you sleep better like toss pillows, mattress support, and anti-bed bug treatment.

Track your sleep

Since you are in the digital age, you will particularly like this sleeping hack. This involves downloading a sleep app such as Sleep Cycle that tracks your sleep patterns. All you have to do is put your phone on the top of the mattress (which you probably do anyway) and set the alarm. This will track your sleep quality using the microphone on your phone and will gather data to guide you in developing a sleeping pattern that works for you.

Have a bath or shower

A bath or shower is seen to improve sleep quality. After a bath, your body resembles your body temperature just before you fall asleep, sending a signal that you are ready to go to bed. Also, a shower makes you feel refreshed and clean, and puts you in a perfect state to relax.

Sleeping is a wonderful thing. Do not deprive yourself of its great benefits just because you can’t seem to put down your phone. Because the truth is, you can. Emails and social media posts can wait. A restful sleep is your main productivity trick the next morning. Sleep well and wake up feeling brand new.

Sleeping is a wonderful thing. Do not deprive yourself of its great benefits just because you can’t seem to put down your phone. Because the truth is, you can. Emails and social media posts can wait. A restful sleep is your main productivity trick the next morning. Sleep well and wake up feeling brand new.