How To Sleep Less

For the last two weeks I’ve been decreasing the amount I sleep from an appalling ten (or more) hours to a fine seven. Although this doesn’t have a magnificent ‘wow!’ effect, it is less than the average eight, and it’s still falling. I didn’t read any how to sleep less manuals, hints or tips, but just followed what I would call common sense. If you want to learn how to sleep less then this article is for you. On the other hand if you’re quite content lounging around like a lioness in bed until well past noon, despite life being incredibly short then do so. Either way, sleep is incredibly important for health, learning and overall well-being. It’s not the quantity of sleep that matters, it’s the quality.

Question – if sleep were a choice, would you or wouldn’t you?
Decide now how much sleep you want

Unless you want to be walking around like a zombie for the first week, cut down your sleep in small steps. I went from ten hours to seven hours in two weeks, which is a decrease of 12.8 minutes a day. Although I wasn’t that precise. The more you want to cut down, the longer it will take. Adaptation always takes time, and if you want it to be an easy transition then give yourself a month or more. The longer the transition phase the smaller the gradient. So let’s say you wanted to cut down by two hours over three months. That’s simply a decrease of just over a minute per day.

If you’re a little bit impatient and want to sleep less right now (like me) then be prepared for some pain. Not physical pain, but just severe fatigue. It started off as an accident – I was jet lagged so after five hours of sleep I woke up at sunrise feeling fresh and ready to conquer the world. It was so amazing that I decided there and then that I always want to wake up early (looking back, it was the god awful hour of 5AM) and be able to walk on the streets with no one else around. I knew that the only way to survive on so few hours of sleep was if they were high quality.

Get some quality sleep

This is the most important factor in how to sleep less. I want to stress it so much that if I could have your CD drive open and transform into a sign ‘QUALITY NOT QUANTITY’ then I would. In my opinion there are two types of sleep: deep and light. Deep sleep is when you’re practically unconscious. Someone could tape you to the ceiling and you wouldn’t notice. It’s when you wake up and have no clue how much time has passed. It’s the sleep that heals wounds, figures out complex problems, reduces metabolism, makes you grow and generally recharges all cells in the body with that mystical energy that only sleep gives. It’s deep sleep you want as much of and as quickly as possible. Light sleep is when your mind is drifting, you see dreams yet are aware of your own presence. It’s when if you really wanted to you could wake up, if a noise is heard, or one of those really random itches are felt then you’d climb back into consciousness.

It’s all about going deep

To sleep less, the key is in reducing light sleep, and strengthening deep sleep. This is where common sense comes in. Playing video games just before bed does not help. Those of you who are computer game fanatics will know exactly what I mean when you go to bed, and you actually dream yourself in the game (‘boom headshot!’). Similarly don’t pump out those last remaining press-ups, sit ups or pistol leg squats just before you crash. These only release adrenaline and happy hormones that do anything but let you go to sleep. Some say don’t eat, but I personally found eating a huge meal before sleep helped…Oxygen goes from the brain to the stomach – but that’s my experience.

Question – Does sex make you feel more or less tired?
Bed time stories

There are countless “don’ts” but fewer “dos”. Sleep isn’t like a light switch. It’s a slow transition (unless you’re particularly knackered) that requires a routine habit. I generally found that by preparing for sleep one or two hours before actually going to bed helped hugely reduce the amount of light sleep. For some reason, parents learn and implement this for their kids but not for themselves. For instance, normally they’d say, “right! It’s time to get ready for bed: Bath, teeth and then a story.” The same routine, everyday that gets the kid to sleep…And it works for us older folk too. By having a shower, opening a book and reading in shallow (not bright) light until you are tired enough to sleep works wonders. This was my routine and it worked. I’m looking to improve it however by adding more things to the routine. Essentially all you’re trying to do is tell the body that it’s time to sleep. The more senses you stimulate signaling this the quicker it’ll get. So perhaps a scented candle, soft clothes, easy-to-read book, and calming music is the ultimate combo.

Alarm clock

Out of everything though, an alarm clock is the must have gadget. It is the deadliest weapon in all how to wake up early arsenal kits and it’ll (almost) never fail you. There are alarms on everything these days: mobile phones, microwaves, dishwashers, watches, computers and hell I wouldn’t be surprised if my hoover had one. Set it to the time you want to wake up, then another for five minutes later. Try and keep this time constant but if a social life means that every other night ends at the time you want to wake up then change it. I’ll come back to this in a bit. For the first week I used my mobile phone because it allows me to have two alarms. Yet as I discovered, this can actually work in your disfavor. If at the first alarm you don’t get up and out of bed immediately, you drift into what I call the ‘oh-no-you-don’t’ sleep phase where your body just feels like cardboard and will not get out. If you’re lucky enough to still be living at home with your parents, get your Mum to wake you up. She’ll be more than pleased to oblige.

You must, and I mean this, try your utmost hardest to literally jump out of bed at the first hearing of the alarm clock. Here’s the beauty of my how to sleep less article – Adrenaline will remove any fatigue normally associated with getting out of bed. Please try it because you will not be disappointed. After you have jumped out of bed (if you spend more than ten seconds in bed after waking you’ve failed) get in the shower. Just like going to sleep, waking up is a (far quicker) transition and requires a routine. Showering wakes up the senses, feels good, and refreshes the body ready for a hard day of work…

Not before a hearty breakfast though! After seven hours of deep sleep or less, I often found myself starving in the morning. Metabolism cranks down whilst you sleep, so unless you’re wanting to put on the pounds don’t miss this meal of the day. Food (and thus energy) is crucial to being able to stay awake for longer than normal periods of time. At first I forgot this minor detail, trying to survive an extra three hours a day with the same levels of energy. By the early evening I was feeling groggy and wondering whether this whole ambition was ridiculous. The normal statistics reveal 1940 calories per day for women and 2550 for men. This is based on a sixteen hour day ( eight hours sleep) – 121.25 and 159.7 calories per hour awake. So if you’re staying awake for longer realize now that you need at least another 200 calories per hour awake ( I increased it because these scientists are always a bit stingy).

High energy foods are of great benefit too. Bananas and cereal…Not Haribo Tangfastics (sour sweets). Don’t be shy of caffeine either, I’m a great fan of starting off the day with a hot mug of real American coffee and getting that afternoon boost from one too. Now, regarding some other stimulants/depressants…

For when you groove

Learning how to sleep less is difficult if your social or work life interrupts regular sleeping patterns. I got in a bit of a fiddle when I realized three or more times a week I would still be partying way past midnight. All I can say is don’t starve yourself of sleep. If your body needs it, then give it. You will be tired throughout the day afterward if you do not have a good nights’ sleep. So once you’ve caught up, then get back into sleeping less. Alternatively, as the Spanish discovered many centuries ago, an afternoon ciesta (or nap) works wonders. Thirty minutes of shut-eye may result in a few hours extra of partying…or working. I was often surprised to see Spanish families out until midnight or the early hours of the morning, including young children despite having to wake up early the next day. Their secret is a two or three hour ciesta around four in the afternoon.

Related Forum Post – Are Naps Misunderstood?
Create the environment

I live on a main road with a healthy stream of traffic. Large lorries drive past in the middle of the night that shake my bedroom. I’m used to it now, but when friends come over they complain of the worst night sleep ever and being woken by multiple ‘earthquakes’. However when I stay somewhere else that is quieter, I can’t sleep at all. This is why creating a suitable environment will help you achieve the perfect night sleep. If you have road lamps outside your window, or if the sun rises burning your retina get an eye mask. Ear plugs I’ve heard can be of great use too, but so far nothing is on the market for creating artificial noise/vibration (not of that kind you cheeky monkey).

Side effects

Don’t be fooled about how easy this is. The first few days for me were coffee fueled and resulted in huge black eyes. Even if I were a Zombie and raw human meat was hung before me I wouldn’t have been able to pluck up the energy to lift my arms in that Egytian style Mummy manner. OK so it wasn’t that bad, but as suggested I did cut it down slowly. One and a half hours each week. Bags under your eyes are reduced by drinking shed-loads of water, vitamins and minerals.

As written earlier I’m now experimenting with furthering my routine before bed, and cutting it down to six hours. I’m also going to be investigating how to wake up with natural sunrise i.e. leave the curtains drawn open. So in order to stay tuned, join our Facebook group below. Looking forward to some of your replies to the questions throughout, especially whether sex makes you feel more or less tired.