The topic of sleep has been a bit of a curiosity for me since high school. There’s a lot of information out there, but these are just some notes. Everyone has their own sleep hygiene, and it ultimately comes down to your own habits and environment. Customize as you will.
This Supermemo article is one of the most thorough looks at sleep I’ve ever read. One of the key learnings I gleaned was that the best time to nap for better learning is during siesta times, and most other nap times may interfere with your regular sleep. The best way to sleep is uninterrupted with alarms and ended only by natural sunlight. Here are some other key takeaways:
- Sleep is essential to learning, creativity, and physical health. Your brain somehow solidifies connections it’s been making all day and dropping useless info. It’s like defragmenting a computer but for your memory.
- You can die from not sleeping.
- We sleep in 90-100 minute cycles. Waking up in between these cycles during light sleep makes for a more refreshing sleep/nap. Waking up during deep sleep gives you sleep inertia.
- We feel more refreshed with the more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep we get, which is when we dream.
- Free-run your sleep, so sleep when you’re tired, and wake up when your body wants to. Sticking to this rule corrects many problems caused by poor sleep. (I haven’t figured out what to do if you have to wake up at a certain time for work. Maybe take a vacation to iron out your sleeping and then arrange for a better time to come into work?)
- Follow the light of the day and the dark of night. Don’t let electric lights, TVs, computers, and smartphones ruin your circadian rhythm. (Use f.lux where you can.)
- Polyphasic sleep is trendy, but it’s bad for your growth. Plus, it only really works if everyone did it or your schedule allows it. On the whole, biphasic is the way to go.
Really worth a read one of these days since it’s a monstrous article. Basically, everything there is to know about sleep is covered in this article.
Use sleepyti.me to figure out when you should sleep or wake up. I like to set an alarm slightly after the recommended times so I can wake up naturally. Saves from all the calculations in your head about 100 minute cycles and 60 minute hours.
Sleep Cycle alarm clock is pretty cool, but it gets thrown off when your pillow or arm isolates the phone from moving, giving you false wake-up times. It started annoying me because I’d be so fixated on it and the results that it interfered with my sleep. Plus, my phone kept falling off my bed. I now have a partner in bed, so the results can only worsen to my estimation, even if I have one of those bowling ball beds; maybe especially so.
Get a good bed. I never gave this one much thought until I bought my own bed, but we spend a third of our life sleeping. Make it count and read this website called Mattress Scam which I couldn’t believe actually existed.
Put artificial tear drops in when you wake up. Since my laser eye surgery in March, I’ve had to use drops during my recovery period. Nothing more than a few times a day, but the real game-changer was the artifical tears. It’s like an instant wake-up call, supposing that I don’t already have sleep inertia. Changed my life. First thing when you wake up. Do it.
Once in a while, I like to use my sleeping mask. Yes, it looks like a bra for your eyes, but it seriously changed my life. I wore it in Fort McMurray because the sun would set past 11 PM and rise at something ungodly like 3 or 4 AM in the summer. Most nights, it somehow ends up under my pillow or lower back, so it doesn’t interfere with my waking with natural sunlight. YMMV here.
A new one for us is going to church on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings. Weekends feel infinitely longer now, and part of that is cutting out the rush of getting changed, trying to have breakfast, and cutting across town in time for service to start. By Saturday night, we’ve changed, eaten, and finished a few errands already that may or may not place us in the vicinity of the church by service time, and it’s much easier to engage during the service. I can now sleep in on Sunday mornings, which is something I’ve missed out on my whole life. Free-running sleep, anyone? I gotta say that I dig it.
I try not to eat anything after 7-8 PM since the rush of energy keeps me up. No late night instant noodles.
Coffee is another matter altogether, especially since it’s allegedly addictive. I drink a doppio latte every day, and always in the morning. I once posted “Coffee between 7 AM and noon, energy until noon. Coffee after noon, energy until 1 AM.” That was when I was in school, but that hasn’t been my experience in the last few months. However, it speaks to caffeine’s variable effects on the body. Now that I brew my own coffee and it’s pretty consistent day-to-day, I think my body is working around it. Supermemo says caffeine early in the day is cool, so take that.
Insomnia? Get out of bed. Do some mentally exhausting task. My body needs to cool down before I get really sleepy, so I get out from under the duvet or sleep without a shirt. If you aren’t sleeping within fifteen minutes, it’s time to make a change.
Also, don’t watch Breaking Bad before bed.