It never fails…soon after I sit down on the couch to watch TV with my family, I invariably fall asleep. While these “presleep naps” provide some of my deepest sleeps, it’s not how I want to spend my family time! I turned to Jason Hanson, former CIA officer and founder of the spy school Spy Escape & Evasion, for tips extrapolated from spy craft to help me—and all of us—stay alert in our everyday lives. 

Play Kim’s Game. This memory exercise is used by spies to sharpen their powers of observation and stay awake. How to do it: Stare at a wall in your house, and memorize all the items you can see, from a clock to books, photographs and knickknacks. Then close your eyes, and name 10 things you remember. 

Do a variation of Kim’s Game while a movie is rolling to keep focused. ­Example: Quickly describe to yourself every new character who appears, down to his/her clothing, hair and eye color, facial scars and walking gait. 

Prep for the couch. Some spies prepare for surveillance gigs by doing stimulating activities beforehand, while others need to relax first. Decide which strategy works best to keep you alert. Stimulating: Before you start the movie, go for a 10-minute walk outside or do an exercise such as push-ups that gets your blood pumping. Soothing: Listen to music that relaxes you and puts you in a positive state of mind. Or take a short nap (no more than a half-hour). Of course, you can always drink a cup of tea or coffee for a caffeine lift—but only if it won’t interfere with your sleep later.

To your best life…

Source: Jason Hanson, Spy Escape & Evasion. jason@spyescape.com