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 & Be Consistent

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.

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. You may have noticed that you don't get sleepy until later. As a child, you may have fallen asleep around 8 or 9 pm. Now, it's more like 10 or 11 pm or even later. You are falling asleep later because of your shift in your circadian rhythm (your sleep/wake cycle) called "sleep phase delay." 

So what to do? Do not extend it. Its tempting to push a 10 pm sleep time to 11 pm and then past midnight. When you move the start or end times around, or when you sleep less than 9 hours, you mess with the natural sleep cycle. Work backwards from the time you need to get up. If you rise and shine at 7 am, be sure to have finished your bedtime routine by 10 pm. And then do the same thing every day.

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/.

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: Nap happy

It is fabled that Leonardo da Vinci used to take multiple 20-minute naps throughout the day to charge his creativity. Brainiac Albert Einstein was also a napper. It’s taken hundreds of years, but recent research seems to back up this approach. Naps have been shown to improve energy, productivity, cognitive functioning and health.

But there is a catch, and it has to do with those 90-minute sleep cycles we’ve been talking about. In 90 minutes, we generally pass through REM, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, stage 4, then back through stage 3, 2, 1 and REM again.

So if you want to have a rejuvenating nap, go for a short 15 minute power nap so that you wake up before falling into the deeper levels of sleep. Or alternately, allow yourself the full 90 minutes to complete all the sleep cycles.

Some companies are optimizing happy napping. Nike, Apple, Google and Deloitte Consulting encourage employees to add a power nap to their daily routines!

Pick from the “nap menu” below when you seek happy napping:

1. The micro-nap (2-5 minutes) - Helps to decrease sleepiness and improves cognitive performance.

2. The mini-nap (10 minutes) - Improves mental and physical performance, decreases fatigue.

3. The power nap (20 minutes) - Improves alertness and energy and has the added bonus of also improving memory.

4. The I-feel-like-hell nap (30 minutes) - Makes you feel groggy and foggy - go back to sleep!

5. The full-cycle nap (90 minutes) - This one includes all the sleep cycles and is like a mini-full night’s sleep. Great for memory and creativity if you have the time. The added bonus here is that there is some growth hormone released, which repairs muscle and bones. So if you had a hard workout in the morning, then this is the nap for you.

Today's POWER-UP: Leverage Naps for a World Class Life

CHECK OUT THIS INFOGRAPHIC ABOUT FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO NAP AND FUN FACTS ABOUT THE NAPPING CULTURE.