Prompted by the sleepless phenom, experts urge us to counter the effects of contemporary life — the insidious influence of 24/7 technology, longer working hours, and epic domestic responsibilities—by doing a variety of things from turning our bedrooms into dark, cool caverns to cutting off screen time an hour before bed.
We are continually urged to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep a night, too. These suggestions come with dire health warnings that link chronic sleep deprivation to early death. Pretty hard to count sheep after hearing that, isn’t it?
But don’t linger on the problem — focus on addressing it as best you can. You may not be able to creak out nine hours of sleep a night, but you may be able to trick your system into feeling more refreshed with the amount of sleep you do manage to get each night—or that’s the idea expressed by sleep expert Professor Richard Wiseman in an article for The Daily Mail. Wiseman offers those of us that can’t get more than six or seven hours a night a few tips for offsetting the health and wellness complications that come with a lack of rest.
Wiseman, who recently wrote a book called Night School, urges people to remember the “90-minute rule”. Wiseman derives this rule from research into how we sleep. Sleep experts have determined that there are five distinct phases during one sleep cycle and each phase comprises 90 minutes. We are briefly awake during the transition from one phased to another, he says.
Given these phases, it’s wise to time your waking up each day to the end of one of these sleep cycles rather than get jostled awake halfway through one. Count backwards to determine that time.
Here’s an example from Wiseman:
“Let’s imagine that you want to wake at 8 a.m. and wish to go to sleep around midnight,” he explains. “Counting back in 90-minute segments from 8 a.m. would look like this: 8 a.m. > 6:30 a.m.> 5:00 a.m. >
3:30 a.m. > 2:00 a.m. > 12:30 a.m. >11 p.m.”
To wake up feeling refreshed rather than agitated or exhausted, aim to get to sleep by no later than 12:30 a.m. or as early as 11 p.m.