Want to be more productive? Sleep more. It’s really the best thing you can do for your body and your brain, not to mention the likelihood of running out the door in your underwear.
If you can’t sleep more, sleep better. I’ll grant you, that’s not nearly as easy as it sounds, but the Web is here to help. Here are some of the best articles and tips I’ve found from around the Web that help you to understand why you need to sleep, and how to sleep better.
First, let me share three things that have worked for me:
1. Never, ever, nap for more than 30 minutes.
A 2.5 hour nap isn’t a nap. It’s a sleep. You can take a sleep, but that’s going to mess you up for a while. Make your naps somewhere between 20-30 minutes long, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, not groggy from slipping into too deep a sleep.
2. Wake up at the same time every morning.
Thankfully, as a student, I don’t have to get up very early in the morning. I do, though, wake up at the same time every day. Make it non-negotiable. It will train your body to know when you’re getting up, so it knows when to get tired. Some nights, you’ll be pooped at 10, other nights it might be at 2. Don’t change the alarm, and your body will adapt to it.
3. Know that resting is as good as a nap.
When I would get into bed for my 20-30 minute nap, I’d spend the whole time going “oh no, only 21 more minutes. Fall asleep! Fall asleep!” That didn’t work, and I’d sit there for a half-hour and then wake up with no gain but frustration at my lack of sleep. The reality, 20 minutes of lying down with your eyes closed is extremely good for you. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you’ll feel rested after relaxing for a few minutes. Remember this, and it’ll help you fall asleep faster.
Now, for the advice of others (many of these were collected via Lifehacker, as well as other sources):
Why You Need Sleep
NY Times- “We’ll Fill This Space, but First a Nap (here)
New Scientist- “‘Sleeping on it’ best for complex decisions’” (here)
Scientific American- “Sleep on It: How Snoozing Makes You Smarter (here)
How to Get Better Sleep
Wired- “Cheat on the Need to Sleep” (here)
Lifehacker- “Top 10 Ways to Sleep Smarter and Better” (here)
wikiHow- “How to Stay Awake at Work” (here)
Boston.com- “How to Nap” (here) (This one’s my personal favorite- it’s GOLD)
You need sleep. Period. But you don’t necessarily need the eight hours you might think you do. If you can sleep well, and train your body to work with you, you can sleep better without sleeping more. The Web has all kinds of resources to affect your offline life, and your shut-eye life as well.