I love to sleep. I've slept easily 10 hours on average my life so far. Even though I love sleep I realize one thing:
Needless sleep has easily been the most unproductive thing I’ve done in my life.
Oversleeping is horrible. For one I find sleeping more than 9 hours a day usually begets more sleep, making you actually feel drowsier the majority of the day even though you technically slept more than enough. Furthermore sleeping extra just takes up time. sleeping 10 hours a day as opposed to 6 or 7 means I’m not awake for a whopping 90-110 hours a month. This adds up really quickly. Those extra 3 hours could be used to learn a language, programming, watch a good movie or documentary, exercise etc. Imagine everyday you had 1 more hour to spend learning vocabulary or studying? Imagine everyday you had 1 more hour to come up with a strategy for your business?
But having more time is not necessarily good unless that extra time is high-quality full alertness time. Thus the goal here isn't to just sleep less, its to sleep better, much better, in less time. In order to do this there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1. Circadian rhythm: This is your internal clock, it is what dictates your daily rhythm of when you should feel tired and when you should feel awake. Diet, Sunlight exposure, and exercise can effect your internal clock. Anything that affects temperature can also affect your rhythm. The strongest of the three is sunlight exposure. If you've ever had a long day at the beach you know what I’m talking about. Prolonged exposure to sunlight, especially full-body, can quickly drain your energy and make you feel tired.
2. Sleep cycles: deep sleep is longest the first sleep cycle. This means power naps are extremely effective. The popular polyphasic sleeps uses the principles of the powernap to get people to sleep less than 4 hours a day, unfortunately it also involves living with a very strict schedule. Personally I don’t agree with a lot of the schedules, but the biphasic and everyman schedule are particularly effective if you can fit them into your schedule. The good part about taking 1-3 power naps is a day is that only do u sleep less total, but every time you wake up you feel energized and alert as if you just slept 8 hours.
These two characteristics are the ones we want to focus on when sleep hacking. After doing some research I've come to the following conclusions:
1. The best set up is to have one “core” sleep between 3-4.5 hours in which you sleep undisturbed, in complete silence and darkness. The best time to position this core sleep is so that your “core” wakefulness is right after you wake up. some people can just sleep 5-6 hours in one go and be fine for the next 18 hours. experiment.
2. Doing some mild exercise right after you wake up is a great way to really get the body started. I usually drink some espresso ( I love coffee, will probably have a guide out soon for it) and then do some push-ups, burpees, pull-ups and chin-ups. If I’m in the mood for something intense I’ll do sprints for cardio, if not I’ll some biking.
3. Food is extremely important to determining when you are tired. I've noticed If I eat a lot of hearty, big plates, I feel deprived of energy, especially if they are very high in protein and fat. This is why after eating a big cheeseburger one just wants to go to sleep. Focus on eating low-glycemic food, and not overeating. I will have multiple posts detailing my strategy around eating and the like.
So I’ve decided to sleep only 6 hours a day and force myself to follow through with it regardless of how tired I get. To do this I’ve read up on various ways to hack my sleep and have come up with a simple guide which I will update with my experiences as I go on with my experiments
Edit: I wrote this guide a while back and forgot to to post it, but now I’m back in the mix and after trying out various sleep strategies, I just can’t get myself to stick to one other than just sleeping, waking up, and letting the body adapt. I tried the nap, and honestly it was just complicated and frustrating. Sometime I would wake up from a nap more tired than when I went to sleep, sometimes I would be energized, but only for two hours or so. Waking in the morning was always a drag, especially since some days I have earlier classes than others. The nap made it so I was always going to sleep around the same time, instead of adapting. Overall I find just letting your body sleep, waking up when u need to, an not taking naps till you really want your core sleep to happen is the best strategy, as long as you make sure your core sleep is of utmost quality.