Last post, we talked about managing caffeine, defending our last hour, dark sleep caves, and sleeping in the cool; here are the final three keys to sleeping soundly to tap into your full potential.

Key #5: Sleep 8-10 hours each night

It takes 90 minutes to move through a complete sleep cycle. Ideally you need 6 complete sleep cycles (6 x 90 minutes = 9 hours) for optimal sleep.

Also, if you’re sick, you have done a really hard workout, or if you had a very mentally demanding day, tack on extra sleep to help you to recover and regenerate better! Do your best to get those 8-10 hours per night.

Key #6: Snoozers are losers

We naturally cycle through sleep stages during the night. We have five sleep stages (REM and sleep stages 1-4) within each 90-minute cycle. Near the end of our sleep in the morning, we spend lots of time in REM. We are designed to naturally wake up after a night’s sleep during a REM stage. If you wake up while you’re dreaming, you’re waking up at a good time.

So when you do wake up out of a dream, it’s a great time to get out of bed – if you are within 45 minutes of your alarm time. Don’t fall back asleep and hope that getting that extra 15-30 minutes will help. It won’t. Because you’ll drop down into stage 1 or even stage 2 sleep. And when the alarm goes off, you’ll be awakened from a state that you’re not physiologically supposed to wake up from. The outcome is that you’ll feel bleary and slow for hours.

The same goes for those of you addicted to your snooze button! Don’t set the alarm for 6 a.m. and then “snooze” for ten minutes…then ten minutes more…. You are not getting the right kind of sleep in those little ten-minute increments to make you feel more rested.

Key #7: Be consistent

In terms of the timing of your sleep, there is also an increasing body of evidence that suggests that sleeping on a regular schedule is even more important than the total amount of time you are asleep. Studies show that when an athlete’s bedtime is shifted around but the total number of hours they sleep remains the same, there is a measurable decrease in athletic performance. So sticking to a consistent routine is critical.

Check out sleepyti.me. It’s a cool little app that works based on the fact that we sleep in 90 minute increments. So if you know what time you want to wake up, sleepyti.me will calculate when you should go to bed so that you wake up feeling good and refreshed. Check it out at http://sleepyti.me/.