Hacks may sound like something more common with computers and global business, yet today’s life scientists are using ‘hacks’ to improve their lifestyles, performance and physical health. If you followed the Team Sky cyclists, you’ll know that they have worked hard to ‘tweak’ every factor of their sleep - from specialist pillows, temperature of rooms and the type of food they will eat. They’ve even looked at the underwear the athletes slept in to ensure body temperature was regulated.
Now, we’re not suggesting you head to those extremes but we can all apply tiny tweaks and see some vast improvements. To be successful though, you need to apply this formula:
INTENSITY X FREQUENCY = RESULTS.
Intensity means the commitment you apply to making a change. It can’t be a flippant decision, you need to be decisive. Frequency means you have to repeat these tweaks multiple times to achieve your result. Combine these tweaks and you will hopefully see a better you.
Tweaks or Life Hacks don’t have to be all centred around sleep. They are designed to help you and your body be ready for sleep, but they’ll have multiple benefits across your life (and others too because you’ll be a happier, nicer person hopefully!)
1. The 90 minute cycle
The brain cycles through different stages each 90 minutes. So you’re likely to feel the most refreshed at the end of a 90-minute sleep cycle. The best way to achieve this is to count back from the time you want to get up to the time you should be asleep by. So if you want to get up at 6am, you’ll need to be asleep by 9:00 PM or 10:30 PM or 12:00 AM or 1:30 AM!
Try this free website to help you work out your own timings - http://sleepyti.me
2. The Extreme Tweak - Get rid of your bedding!
This is probably one of the more extreme ways to tweak your sleep but, Seth Simmons, a contributor to Life Hack (www.lifehack.org) reckons that by throwing away his bedding he doesn’t linger in bed anymore. He’s thrown it away as he realised that a warm bed with a comfortable duvet was not encouraging to get up and often snoozed his way past several alarms. He also suggests getting a good mattress, especially if you’re 35+. He also states you have to give this a good go for seven days to see the real change.
3. Naps are good
Contrary to some advice, naps are good for you. As your circadian rhythm changes from alertness first thing, you’ll experience a slump usually around lunchtime, so it’s not just a carb thing. Just make sure you have a routine to avoid sleeping right through. The Ostrich Pillow may just work for some, though we can’t see it working too well in public just yet.
4. Be organised
Remember as a child you’d be made to get your clothes and bags ready for school the next day? In fact, those of you with children may still do this but how many of us actually apply this to our own lives? Daily preparation can help declutter your mind and allow you to focus on relaxation. Create a simple and short routine. If it helps, write this down all over the house until it becomes second nature. That routine could be as simple as:
Powering down: no electronics at least two hours before bed
Make your lunches or pack your bags for the following day
Lay out your clothes for the next day - no last minute ironing!
Spend 20-30 minutes getting ready for bed. Don’t just drag yourself up from the sofa and into your bed. Make sure you relax by washing your face, getting changed into dedicated sleepwear and finding something that will relax you. Maybe a massage from your partner or some mindfulness podcasts
5. Invest in a good wake up lamp
Getting up in the dark before sunrise can have a detrimental affect on our sleep. By using a natural light alarm clock (available from all good retailers) you can simulate the start of the day. This helps ease the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin and start the production of cortisol which gives you that get up and go. There are some pretty sophisticated versions on the market but they should both simulate sunset and then sunrise. You can combine them with SAD lamps or light boxes to help the effects of shorter daylight hours. You’ll see how Nordic countries use lots of lights and candles during the winter months to help with light deficiency.
Are you comfortable?
Remember, all these life hacks work differently for each of us. Providing the right comfort in bed is key. Recognising the way you sleep and how that may be different to your partner is important. At Tweak, we offer bespoke solutions to sleep with individual comfort and support that's unique to you. If you like a soft, cloud like experience, but your partner prefers to sleep on a firm, orthopaedic mattress, you don't need to compromise with the DUO mattress.