Tossing and turning? Scientists have found a few surprising solutions.
1. Work Near a Window
Need some help convincing your boss that you need a corner office? Bring up this study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Researchers found that when employees were exposed to natural light during the workday, they slept 46 minutes longer—and more soundly—than employees in windowless offices.
Why should your boss care? A bad night of sleep means short-term effects like memory loss, attention issues, and slower reflexes—something that would surely affect your performance at work. The employees who saw sunlight from their desks were even four times more active during the workday.
The benefits of a windowed office extended past the workday, too, with workers getting more rest and sleeping better and longer on the weekends.
2. Keep Your Feet Outside the Covers
To sleep better and fall asleep, keep one or both feet outside the covers, National Sleep Foundation spokesperson Natalie Dautovitch recently told Science of Us.
The reason it helps, she says, is the same reason you’ll hear suggestions to take a warm bath or have a cup of tea before bed. It’s not the warmth that relaxes you into a restful slumber; it’s that your body temperature actually rapidly cools when, for example, you leave the warm tub. There’s a connection between cool body temperature and sleep—researchers have found that our bodies are at our coolest in deep stages of sleep, and our bodies naturally cool when we’re about to go to sleep.
But why stick your foot out? Isn’t it enough that your head is uncovered? Dautovitch explains that feet (and hands) contain blood vessels designed to help dissipate your body heat. Turning up the AC could also help—research shows that people sleep best in rooms that are 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Get “Placebo Sleep“
Still not sleeping well? Just trick yourself into thinking you are and you can still get the benefits of a full night of restorative snoozing, new research says.
Psychologists at Colorado College asked participants how well they slept the previous night before randomly assigning them to “above average” or “below average” sleep qualities. They then hooked them up to a machine they claimed (falsely) could measure the previous night’s sleep. After the researchers told participants whether their sleep quality was below or above average, they had them complete a cognitive functioning test.
It turned out that regardless of how well participants reported they had slept the night before, it was their perception of sleep quality (their “above average” or “below average” group) that influenced their performance on the test. Participants who believed they had slept poorly scored 44% on the test, while those who believed they slept well scored 70%.
The downside for the rest of us? Once we know about the placebo effect, it’s not as effective. So let’s try this—I’ll tell you that you slept fantastically, and you tell me the same thing tomorrow morning. Deal?