How to sleep less? Sometimes being too comfortable in life can be quite demotivating. This is definitely true of too much sleep. I'm sure you've woken up groggy before after sleeping too late, and sometimes the tempo for the whole day seems to be set up by how we wake up. I have definitely noticed it with eating, that sometimes eating less can keep your mind more clear and give you more energy. Overeating, especially of addictive 'comfort' foods like starches, can make you feel very lethargic, tired and ... bored. Overindulging can put you in a lazy mode.
Just like eating less is only possible if we eat high micronutrient foods and cut out addictive foods, succeeding in sleeping less is also dependent on the quality of sleep. Well, at least partly. The timing of your sleep can count a lot too, as well as how you live your life during the day. Below is quite an exciting list of sleep hacks to experiment with in your road of sleeping less, living more, and feeling positively 'charged' during the waking hours.
Ideas for Sleeping Less
- Polyphasic sleep. Proponents claim that you can sleep as little as 2-4 hours per day following this routine. Buckminster Fuller claimed to achieve two hours of sleep per day. For example, to sleep 4.5 hours per day, you would need to sleep 3.5hours of core sleep at a correct time for your body (circadian rhythms), plus three 20-minute naps each day, at regular intervals. This is just not practical for me now while working full time but one day I would love to try it! (I wonder how travelling to other countries would work.... Perhaps you would have to drive or take a train everywhere and ensure you would be able to sleep every four hours or so uninterrupted.)
24-hour clock for polyphasic sleep experiment. I wonder if taking a nap at midday would allow you to sleep less at night if you had regular sleep and nap times? Polyphasic sleep is supposed to work best if the waking times are equally long.
- Wake up at the correct part of your sleep cycle, i.e. not when you are at deep sleep when you would end up feeling groggy. I have a phone app ("Sleep Cycle") which allows you to monitor sleep cycles and automatically wakes you up at the correct time. You place it on the corner of your bed by your pillow and it monitors your movements with the phone's motion sensors. It determines your depth of sleep according to how much you move during different times of the night. I will start using this app again.
- Hydration. Staying hydrated will improve the quality of your sleep and thus the hours of sleep you need. I will drink more water.
- Very regular sleeping times. I think sleeping too much may to a large part be because of habit. Once the sleep times are regular, the body can use this time more efficiently. Also, you can then start reducing your sleep by 15 minutes per month, and slowly get used to sleeping less.
- The first 4-5 hours of sleep are usually deeper sleep phases than the rest. It is especially important, then, not to be woken up at these times.
- Blue light keeps us awake. So when watching late night TV or working on the computer, wear yellow glasses to filter out the blue light. This should allow you to get sleepy. Ideally of course avoid these activities and any bright lights close to bedtime.
- Daylight-simulating lights. The blue light in the natural daylight wakes you up. So go outside in the morning on sunny days and use a daylight simulating light or SAD light on cloudy days and during the winter months to wake you up. I'm thinking of having one by my desk at home so that it keeps me awake when working.
- Don't eat sugar or carbs near bedtime, but have a small, healthy protein snack before bed.
- Humidifier has been mentioned as helping with sleep (as well as with complexion).
- Sleep at sunset, wake up at or before sunrise. According to the Polyphasic Society, you generally get more REM sleep around dawn and more Delta band activity around dusk (slow wave sleep). So sleeping just after dusk or at least being in deep sleep between 9pm and 12 midnight would be most beneficial. I may do an experiment in sleeping very early. This sounds like an interesting option and if it really is able to enhance the quality of the sleep I get and reduce the hours I need, then I wouldn't mind changing to be a very early morning person.
- Quit Stimulants that sap your energy.
- Don't eat hard-to-digest food in the evening.
- GABA, amino acids (especially theanine), trace minerals, magnesium and potassium before bedtime can reportedly help to sleep less. Keep in mind that amino acids may not be safe in supplement form but are best derived from food.
- Five or more minutes of breathing exercises and meditation before bedtime has been said to help to sleep less.
- B12 in the form of methylcobalamin has helped me wake up earlier naturally.
- Don't snooze. Using the snooze-button on your alarm makes you tired. Try to have sleeping times where you don't need an alarm clock. For example, go to sleep so early that you will definitely wake up at the right time each morning. Use the bed only for deep sleep and sex. No lazying in bed. Get up straight away when you wake up, or do a couple of stretches first and then get up.
- Some people report using certain electrical frequencies (CES Machine) on their brain while sleeping, and listen to Pzizz, Lightning Bug or other phone apps which give you soothing sounds and/or natural sounds to supposedly improve your quality of sleep. Needless to say, this sounds dangerous, but if you are interested, you can find more information from the Institute of HeartMath.
- What you need is more energy, not more sleep time. So anything that gives you more energy, like staying hydrated, eating easier to digest food (like green juices), correcting deficiencies, and being in optimal health is the best way to sleep less. Daylight; clean air; deep breathing; enough good quality water; calm, stress-free and inspired mind; and high-micronutrient, high-raw diet are key.
- 30 minutes of physical activity per day are key to optimal functioning of your body.
- Make sure you love your bed and sleep environment. Keeping in mind that sometimes too comfortable can make you sleep too much. Especially make sure that the room and your covers are not too hot. You could experiment on sleeping on a harder mattress or even on a camping mattress, because sometimes this can help you sleep better. Try out what works best for you. Keeping the windows open and the room cool, and experimenting with medical-grade negative ionizers to clean and 'nourish' the air can improve the quality of sleep as well.
- Help your blood circulate with cold showers or swimming in cold natural water (be quick, and then get warm again), brushing your skin, stretching, moving, doing energy exercises, etc. Don't let your muscles get stiff, work through them every day if necessary to keep blood flowing properly in your whole body.
- Antioxidants in the form of food, negative ions and alkalinity can give you lots more energy. Read more here.
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier each morning for one week, and the next week 10 minutes earlier again. This method of gradually shifting your sleeping times suits some people better than making sudden changes.
- Powernap during the day. Generally it is advised not to nap during the day because you won't be able to go to bed in the evening. But if you can take a nap regularly at the same time each day, for example at lunch time (even in your work-place toilets!), you might be able to manage to shift to some version of polyphasic sleep. I bet that it's not easy to make this method work but it might be worth a try because generally we perform best just after waking up. So a nap in the middle of the day could, in theory, make us perform better in the afternoon and require less sleep at night. Say, if you slept between 1-2pm every day and then went to bed between 9pm and 11pm, or whenever tired, and saw what time you wake up naturally. Perhaps you could get away with an hour less at night? Steve Pavlina did a trial where he slept 12.30-5am every night and 6-7.30pm nap every evening, 6 hours in total. He said he felt fine as long as he was eating light, green juices and fruit. But if he ate something heavier, like a bowl of rice, he would start feeling tired. He said after the initial transition period he felt quite energetic on this type of biphasic sleep rhythm.
These, together with the dietary and lifestyle tips for sleeping less, linked to below, should allow you to begin a new life where your waking time is more productive and exciting, and your sleeping time is reduced. That accounts to more life!
Keep in mind that if you are detoxifying, or if your health is somehow compromised, it is not a good idea to try to sleep less. In those cases you should give your body extra sleep. But once you are in good general health, sleeping less might just give you that new edge on life.
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