8 Tools For 8 Hours of Energy-Boosting Sleep

“Sometimes the most productive thing one can do is to sleep.”

Tired of being tired? You want your energy back? This kind of stuff probably sounds familiar, whether you’re moving in slow-motion or frazzled from juggling work, family, and friends. Feeling tired robs you of productivity and pleasure.

having a sound sleepSo arm yourself for the holidays and beyond with these eight tools that will help you have an amazing sack time, the kind that will boost your energy levels and slow the aging process. And in no time flat, you’ll be catching your second wind.

Tool #1: THE MATTRESS

We often seem to be remarkably unaware that our mattress may be undermining our attempts to get a good night’s sleep. And although we agree that a good mattress is important for sound sleep, good health and to prevent back problems, we still keep our mattress until it’s well past its prime and disrupts sleep.

Survey findings also indicate that people recognize on a theoretical level the crucial role their mattress plays in their sleep and health. But on a practical level, when it comes to their own sleep and health, they usually overlook the condition of the mattress they sleep on every night.

So, maybe what’s really keeping you up nights is as plain as the tired old mattress on which you’re trying to sleep. Spend some money on a new one.

Tool #2: THE SHEETS

Some quality sheets can be amazing sleep aids. They will make you feel like a monarch and soothe you into sleep, and keep you comfortable all night long. Sure, you’ll have to pay a little more up front for them, but considering the percentage of your life that you spend sleeping (or should spend sleeping), it’s a small price to pay!

Over the course of an evening, you can release close to a half gallon of sweat and oils, and natural fiber sheets breathe, absorb, and wick the moisture off of you. Synthetic fabrics don’t breathe and encase you in your own perspiration. So, make your bed with some quality sheets.

Tool #3: THE PILLOW

It is a very comforting feeling to have just the right pillow to rest an achy, tired body on. For a sound, safe sleep, you need a pillow that will keep your neck aligned with your spine. And the more neutral your neck’s position, the wider the nerve passageways running through it will open. The results: a reduced risk of neck pain, and more restful sleep. So choose the right pillow.

Tool #4: THE BLANKET

Do you remember the best sleep of your life? I guess not, since it probably was when you were only hours old. And the reason infants are born to sleep is because they’re swaddled with blankets, which gives them the secure sensation of being in utero.

So, go shopping for a new cocoon. Using a comforter will give you that feeling again. Crawl under a variety of fabrics and discover which comforter is king.

Tool #5: THE SHOWER

Another trick to remember is: Hit the shower! Taking a hot bath or shower before you go to bed has long been thought to provide deeper, more restful sleep. When body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating your sleep.

Also new studies with animals show that cooling the brain results in a deep REM sleep. So cold showers are certainly worth a try.

Tool #6: THE FAN

Blocking out noise will help you not only fall asleep faster, but also reach a more restful stage of sleep and stay that way. The most popular way of doing so is to use ear plugs, but this may not be as effective as we’d like, because any sounds made by our own body (even breathing), are amplified. Paradoxically, the best way to block out noise is to produce your own white noise.

By having a constant sound that isn’t too loud, other, more disturbing sounds are blocked out. And since noise is probably the most common disruptor of sleep, you’re bound to have a positive effect from this. A fan is the most frequent choice.

Tool #7: THE SUPPLEMENT

Despite its reputation, melatonin isn’t nature’s knockout drug, it’s mostly effective only in treating sleep loss related to your circadian clock. So if you’re lagging from a transatlantic flight, a small dose of melatonin (3 milligrams) will help you.

But, if you want a better and longer night’s sleep, you might have to swallow something else. A study in the European Journal of Medical research found that valerian is comparable to Oxazepam, a medication used to treat insomnia. The root contains valerenic acid and vlepotriates, two chemicals that have powerful sedative properties.

Tool #8: THE SLEEPING PILL

Over-the-counter products will change your sleep architecture. In other words, OTC sleep medications shorten the time you’re in the deep stages of sleep, leaving you exhausted in the morning. And the effects can last long after the alarm goes off, making your head feel fuzzy.

So speak to your doctor about a pharmaceutical fix only after you’ve tried everything else and your sleep is still subpar.

Remember that by improving your sleep you will have a dramatic impact on your body composition, performance and health. So Sleep Well!

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15 Comments

  • erb erb says:

    Over the course of an evening, you can release close to a half gallon of sweat and oils,

    Are you insane? Where do you get your ridiculous information? a half gallon? you might want to check your facts once in a while. LOL

  • Great entry. I’d caution you on the topic of showering just before hopping into bed, as it can make you more alert and actually wake you up. Showering an hour or so before bed, however, would work in the way you suggested. Well, that’s my theory anyways.

    I’m glad you wrote about using a fan for white noise. I had some serious sleeping problems over the past three years or so, and ever since I started pointing a fan right at my head while I sleep to block out noise, I haven’t had any sleeping problems for six months. It’s fantastic.

    Thanks for writing this.

  • Kian Ann says:

    I have one more to add – the daily exercise!

    It seems that on a day which I exercise and drain out my energy, I sleep better!

  • Ririan says:

    erb erb, Michael Breus, Ph.D., a senior vice president at Phoenix Sleep LLC said that. But it is your choice to believe it or not. Thank you for your comment.

  • viji says:

    Good Article Ririan, I agree with Kian, just one point is missing from this valuable info. Exercise. Even 30 minutes brisk walk will result in good night sleep. Have a good day. Viji

  • Rasheed says:

    GREAT post! So often do we get tied up with trying to be as productive as possible that we compromise sleep and suffer eth consequences.

    Hey does using a fan cause muscle stifness in the morning?

  • rashenbo says:

    I found you off “the next big thing”s blog – she or he linked you! I love sleep! I have the best sheets… they are just yummy…. my pillow is getting yucky so it’s time to replace it. I suffer from insomnia and this is an excellent list :) My fan spins every night… even in the dead of winter. I must have that white noise.

    Anyway, it’s nice to meet you!

    Cheers

  • Ala says:

    White noise :) I never knew other people shared my love for this kind of sleeping aids. I have my AC condition turned out most of the night.

  • Ashish Mohta says:

    Sleeping pill is not a good idea but a soft bed…i just got up and read this.lol might go to sleep again

  • jasmine says:

    Hey I luv ur site, and all ur articles. It’s been long since u added any new post, i check ur site everyday for useful information, but iam not finding any new updates, plz giv us some more interesting articles. Wud luv to read more…Take care

  • Kam says:

    May I suggest a few things from a stress therapist’s toolkit? Establish a nightly routine that tells your body it’s time to sleep. Set a nightly bed time and stick to it. Begin dimming the lights or use candles to set a sleep environment.

    Aromatherapy is an undervalued sleeping aid. Apply lavender oil to your pillows or place lavender in a pillow sachet bag to induce relaxation. There are some lavender dryer sheets that work well when placed inside the pillow case. Use lavender based showering gels for your nightly shower.

    I totally agree that buying the best sheets possible is invaluable to a good night’s sleep as well as buying a great luxury blanket or coverlet.

  • RM says:

    Great points, especially agreed with you on the right mattress and sheets. I might suggest 86ing the caffeine after noon as well. Temperature makes a huge difference for me. I sleep best when it’s a little too cold in the room–until you get under the covers.

    You’re safe with the ‘ask your doctor’ caveat, but I’m so empowered by wikipedia I have to differ with you there. I can quickly become a better expert on Lunesta than my doctor by virtue of great internet resources. My doctor is there for complicated problems–tests that require machinery and chemicals–and to write me scripts. I defer to their expertise when I need it, but I will not give them carte blanche over my body. Granted, I have a few spare moments each day to research these sorts of things–a luxury most people don’t have due to a crazy work life. My point is, sorry for the rant, I take Lunesta because it works like a miracle: take 50mg and smile because you’ll fall softly to sleep; the only side effect I’ve discovered is when you stop using it, it takes two or three days of restlessness to return you back to square one.

  • Jenett says:

    If you’re a light sleeper (like I am), two tips:

    1) A good quality eye mask can help a lot with light. (It doesn’t need to stay on all night, just long enough for you to get to sleep.) The really flimsy cheap ones don’t stay in place well, but there are a number of masks in the $20-30 range that are comfortable, padded, and block light really well.

    (I got mine from http://www.dreamessentials.com/ – no association other than being a satisfied customer, but regardless of if you buy from them, they include a really useful listing of how well a given model blocks light, whether it works well for side sleepers, how thick a profile it is, etc.)

    2) I’m also noise sensitive, but didn’t want to risk sleeping through my alarm. I discovered the knack while married to my ex-husband (who snored) of putting in *one* foam earplug. (I sleep on my side: it went on the side facing up when I fall asleep.) I’d bury the other ear in the pillow, but still be able to hear my alarm (a CD with soft music) when it went off.

    If I rolled over in the middle of the night, and got woken up by noise, it was much less of a sleep disturbance to just roll over (so the earplug was in the exposed ear again) than to bury my head under the pillow, elbow him to roll over, etc.

    Post-divorce, it works really well when the cat gets it into her head to start doing noisy things at 3am. And it works well to block normal household noise from my housemates (who pretty much all go to bed after I do) as I’m going to sleep.

    Finally, I’m a huge fan of a good-sized body pillow – my lower back and shoulders are both a lot happier with me (and I reduce a lot more stress and strain over night) since I got one.

  • Mark says:

    Half a gallon is 4 pints, if you really sweated half a gallon at night you would wake up weighing about 4lb less than when you went to bed. I don’t think so!

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