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Some tricks for better sleep - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Some tricks for better sleep [Nov. 14th, 2013|08:06 am]
Arvind Narayanan
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As recently as six months ago, which was the better part of a year after moving to Manhattan, I clung on to the silly idea that I wanted to try and have a regular sleep schedule. I knew I was hopelessly bad at it, like everybody else, but "some day" I would find the will power and the discipline, I told myself, and then I would be well rested and happy for ever after. At some point the switch flipped in my head, and I accepted the obvious — a regular sleep schedule is simply incompatible with the demands of modern urban and professional life.

As a result I started to look for other ways to improve my sleep hygiene. Turns out there's a lot one can do. Here's my current set of tricks.

  • Avoid blue light at night: f.lux, orange goggles an hour before sleep.

  • Now that it's winter, bright white light in the day time.

  • Melatonin (because gwern says so).

  • No work or TV in the bed area.

  • Always sleep with earplugs and an eye mask. In fact, I always keep earplugs and an eye mask on me, so that if I feel the need to nap on a flight or a train ride, I can at least make it more effective.

  • No caffeine in the evenings. Week-long breaks from caffeine when work permits it, to re-build caffeine tolerance.

  • No TV shows right before bed, because those generate adrenaline. Comedy has been the only exception for me.

The cumulative result of these has been that I can get by with somewhat less sleep, and perhaps more importantly, I can go to bed as early or late as I want, as my schedule permits, and still fall asleep right away. Perhaps for the first time ever, I feel good about how I manage my sleep.

Previous writing on somewhat related topics: Productivity and performance hacks, The calculus of caffeine consumption.
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