By Judith Zimmer
Updated: March 07, 2008

energy_sleepHit that snooze button—getting your Z's can be crucial to how you feel the rest of the day.

We know that: Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every night will keep you rested and alert. And dont think about cheating your-self through the week, because you cant make up for it on the weekends, says Arthur Spielman, PhD, a psychology professor at The City College of the City University of New York and co-author with Paul Glovinsky, PhD, of The Insomnia Answer.

But did you know: Hitting the shower can help you snooze. Taking a hot bath or shower before you hit the hay has long been thought to provide deeper, more restful sleep (and is certainly worth a try). But new studies with animals show that just the opposite—cooling the brain—results in a deep REM sleep. Cold shower, anyone?

Instant-energy blast: Try a power nap. Researchers have found that, like nighttime sleep, naps can enhance information-processing and learning. While experts debate about which type of siesta is more beneficial (a 20-minute catnap or an hour-long doze) they do know that resting for about 30 minutes to an hour before midafternoon (so you can fall asleep at night) provides a boost on days when youre sleep-deprived. If you happen to be out and about when a sleepy spell hits, look for the new snoozing suites that are popping up in cities and offices around the country (see for info on one provider). But dont make napping a habit: If you do it too often, it can interfere with your regular sleep patterns, Spielman says.

What it might mean when you're more than tired
Sometimes fatigue is more than just fatigue. Read this chart to see if any of these symptoms sound familiar, and see your doctor right away to determine any health issues you may have.