How to Start Hacking Your Sleep and Master Your Energy Levels

A good night’s rest is the great re-boot for your body and brain. It restores, resets, and regenerates. Yet, as we’ve noted before, most people are not getting enough sleep and what slumber we do get is of lower quality than it could be.

How much shut-eye you actually need fluctuates from person to person, but on average most adults function best on 6-8 hours of rest a night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good night’s slumber is necessary for processing information, increasing attention, and maximum creativity. They found that a good night’s rest strengthens the connections between brain cells (by helping the brain transmit information from one area to another).

A good night’s rest is like money in the bank. Literally. According to researchers at the University of California–San Diego, “sleeping one extra hour each night increased average earnings by 16 percent. For their average study participant, this meant an extra $6,000 per year.”

To help your body and mind re-set through rest, learn how to hack your sleep and master your energy levels.

The Right Tools for the Task at Hand
Make sure that your mattress is comfortable for you. Whether you prefer a firm or soft mattress, a futon, or sofa, if it supports your body and is comfortable for you, with no lumps, bumps, or caving in the middle, then you’re on the way to blissful rest. A good quality mattress should last ten years. If yours is older than that, consider replacing it.

An often over-looked part of the rest experience is your pillow. Experiment to find the best one for you. Consider firmness, filling, and materials (such as allergy-resistant). Many people find that they get their best rest when they use the right neck support. Most people are unaware that pillows should be retired between 6 months and 3 years.

John MacEwan, managing director of Ergoflex, advises that people are “risking sustained periods of sleeping without an adequate level of support for the neck and head.”

Winding Down
Help your body wind down before bedtime and let your mind know that slumber is coming. Turn off anything with a cord leading to a monitor half an hour before bedtime. On the other hand, soft, soothing music, especially instrumental works, can help you drift off, so can reading for twenty minutes before bedtime.

Try a nice soak in a moderately warm tub or a shower; the body rests best at temperatures between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s possible and practical, leave a window opened a bit to allow fresh air into the room.

If It Works, Use It
An easy and inexpensive method for creating a low-sensory environment, as any experienced traveler will tell you, is by using an eye mask and earplugs. And consider investing in an inexpensive white noise machine. A humidifier may make your room more conducive to slumber, as well as a fan. Conversely, if money and time allow, soundproofing and blackout drapes are excellent!

Good Rest Habits
Exercise is a great way to work out tension before lights out. You may also want to enjoy a light snack of lean protein, whole grains, or veggies or fruits. The caveat is that while these are fine ways to keep your body and brain in maximum running order, they will rev you up just when you want to wind down. Therefore, snacks and exercise are best enjoyed two hours before hitting the sack.

Keep to a Schedule
To prepare for your most restful and refreshing snooze session that will leave you with maximum energy levels the next day, stick to a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up. This includes the weekends. While it may seem difficult to do this, your body will become accustomed to the schedule and your reward will be a day filled with more focus and drive.

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, then naps are not your friend; use Meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Skills to Get Quality Shut-Eye.

Whether using meditation techniques, enjoying a recording of guided imagery, or relaxing with light reading or music, the time immediately preceding lights out should be the time for releasing the concerns of the day for a most restorative rest and enhanced energy levels the following day.

Written by guest blogger Alex Moore