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Experiment with Sleep

Why sleep?

Well, duh, you need it. It’s amazing. You never want to get out of bed in the morning because of it. When you’re sick, the fastest route to recovery is lots of sleep. You get to dream! So it’s good, do it.

But, I’m often asked how and when I sleep (or if I even do, #robot), since I seem to always be awake when people ping me. I believe everything should be questioned, experimented with, and I’ll try anything 3 times (knowing the first 2 times you’ll probably be shaking off preconceived notions). Sleep is no exception. There are many “sleep hacks” like sleep longer, sleep shorter, sleep in bursts, sleep with music, sleep with the air conditioner on, sleep without socks on…and more. There’s enough way to experiment with getting better sleep, but you need a goal. For me, the key for me is to get more rested in less time. So I’ve compiled this list of different things that help me maximize the amount of time I stay awake while still maximizing not feeling like a piece of crap everyday! Note: Whatever you do, remember that you’ll need to stick to it for some time, because the first few days or weeks might feel weird.

Biphasic sleep

This one may seem obvious but you can sleep less at night if you take a nap later in the day. Many Latin countries have this form of sleep in the form of a siesta. Sleep models show that humans are generally monophasic sleepers (sleep in 1 big chunk everyday), or biphasic (sleep twice a day). There are many people experimenting with polyphasic sleep (sleeping more than twice a day), but many studies are showing that only in severe sleep deprivation does polyphasic sleep work, and at that point, you’re better off with a simpler biphasic sleep schedule. This biphasic sleep schedule can be anything from a 6 hour long sleep, and a 1 hour nap, or on the very much shorter side, 3 hour long sleep and 1 hour nap.

Moral of the story: Try messing with your sleep schedule, you may find splitting your sleep will make you feel generally more rested and you may be able to get away with a bit less sleep on average. I’m all about biphasic sleep. Sleep a bit at night, then sleep a bit in the afternoon if you’re feeling tired.

Alarm clocks are evil

Countless studies have been coming out of the word work that are starting to add up to the conclusion that rude/blaring alarm clocks are bad for you health and actually ruin your sleep. One researcher likens it to getting impatient while your computer is shutting down and just pulling the plug on the power…ouch. There are a number of products now that are trying to be healthier alarm clock variants, like this one from Phillips which is more light based. There are also studies suggesting that your body has a built in alarm clock that you set through repetition and through training it by telling it when you want to wake up.

Moral of the story: Don’t pull the plug on your mornings (it’s not like we like alarm clocks anyways!), try to wake up through your natural body clock or using some wake up methods easier on you. I’ve been doing more and more natural body clock wake ups and it works like a charm if you aren’t sleep deprived going in.

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Sleep in full darkness

Darkness levels are linked to the release of melatonin, late-night hunger levels, possible body temperature controls and more. Various studies are pointing to the conclusion: the darker, the better. This also becomes something to be wary of if you begin biphasic sleep, as you might be napping in broad daylight so your melatonin release for your second sleep might be completely off. So do you need fancy blinds, night-lights, and more? Possibly…but you can also just get a good quality sleep mask. This makes it easy to drop into total darkness whenever you need. It’s easy to travel with, and quite comfortable. The model linked even allows you to blink with the mask on.

Moral of the story: Sleep in the dark. Use sleep mask or other tools to make it dark, even if its mid-afternoon. You’ll sleep more rested and will be less prone to sleep complications.

Sum up

These few things may sound pretty simple but experimenting with them has really helped me optimize my sleep schedule to a point where I’m awake a lot but I’m generally well-rested and don’t feel like crap. I think each person might need to tweak the formula to fit your own personal schedule and body, but I hope that reading about a few of these things will lead you to be willing to experiment. The key here is to get better sleep, so even if you don’t go on a biphasic sleep schedule or sleep in 100% darkness, by trying a combination of these tricks, you may find that the existing sleep that you’re doing may become way more restful.