In Part 1, I shared two nifty tricks I've been using to improve my sleep quality and wakefulness during the day. Here are the last two:
3. If I'm sleepy, I go to bed.
This may sound like a "Well, duh...." piece of advice but you'd be surprised how many times you continue to stay up even if you're tired. Especially with the time vacuums of TV and the internet, always having emails, text messages, and voicemails to answer, etc. it's very easy to begin staring at a screen and "forget" that you're tired.
If you're tired, go to freakin' bed!!
My wife is very good at this, and marrying her has definitely helped me in this department. Whereas before, it wasn't uncommon to find me staying up extra hour or two past the point of my body saying "Dude, you need to go to bed." But now, here's how a typical evening may go in my home:
Me: (In the living room, doing stuff on my computer)
Kelsey: (coming out of the kitchen) "Hi sweetie, I'm going to bed. Are you going to be out here for a while or coming to bed soon?"
Me: Okay honey, sounds great. Yeah, I think so. I just have a few more things I was going to.......
Kelsey, why are you holding that chef's knife like that?
Kelsey: ........no reason......
Me: *slams laptop cover closed*
Okay, maybe it doesn't ALWAYS happen like that, but admittedly I used to be terrible at turning off the stupid and just going to bed if my body was trying to tell me it had enough for the day. And it's crazy how much more refreshed I feel after making a point to do this.
Now, at the same time, this isn't to say that if someone important to me needs to get together or talk late on a weekend evening I'm going to ignore them. Or, if some friends want to get together and the only possible time is 9-11pm on a Saturday, I'm not necessarily going to turn that down. But I hope you get the gist of what I'm saying.
4. Finding my 'money maker' sleep hours.
This will vary, depending on the person, as we all experience slightly different durations of the four stages of sleep (the fourth one being the REM cycle). Most people do well with 7-9 hours of sleep.
Most experts say that eight hours of sleep is ideal, but speaking for me personally, I feel like a big bag of poop if I sleep eight hours (on the dot). I've tried this many times, and, without fail, getting eight hours of sleep sets me up to be a walking pile of Fail in the mornings. Through experimentation, I've found that either 7.5 hours, or (even better) 9 hours, makes me feel amazing.
Nine hours can be tough to get, especially with a busy schedule (who isn't "busy" nowadays anyway?), but as long as I manage my time, get my tasks done in advance, and don't lollygag throughout the day, I can get it done. It's funny as it seems to be wearing a badge of honor if you're too busy to sleep; it's like you're seen as being lazy and unproductive if you're sleeping more than six hours.
Sleep is the most restorative activity you can partake in, and if you're only doing your body, and those you care about, a favor when you make a point to receive enough sleep. Get over yourself, as you're really not that busy; you simply have poor time management skills (I'm preaching to myself here as well).
5. Bonus: Sleep Aids
This is last on the list because you really should get everything else in check first.
The two I use, recommended to me by Tony Gentilcore while I was visiting him in Boston, are ZMA and Z12. ZMA you can get through a bunch of different companies, while you need to go through Biotest to get Z12.
Z12 is my favorite, as it REALLY enhances the quality of your sleep and makes you feel like a new man (or woman) upon waking. It's essentially a magic potion wrapped up in a pill, containing a naturally occurring amino acid called 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, (is implicated in sleep and general "well-being" sensations). I'll use Z12 on one of two occasions:
When I'm only going to get less sleep than normal, and need to make sure I'm refreshed in the morning.
(My preferred) On a weekend evening when I know I'm really going to get a chance to get some quality sleep time in the next morning. Works like a charm.
That's all.....these are the the things that have worked for me personally. Feel free to chime in below if you've found other tactics aid you in getting that "perfect night's sleep."