So, it is time to hack sleep, or more accurately – BECOME BETTER THAN SUPERMAN
Now I don’t mean hack as in the slasher/horror movie sort of way as this blog is far too upper class for that sort of cheesy, predictable depravity. Instead, to hack the art of sleep and the process of sleeping in order to find the optimum amount of sleep to get a night, what you can get away with having, what is way too much and how to best use the hours you do get. Basically, how to get one up on superman and wipe the smugness off his face.
You spend almost a third of your life on average asleep, a lack of sleep during old age nicely counterbalancing a ridiculously high amount while pretending to be a student. Surely then, it is worthwhile to optimize it? This is a rhetorical question, the answer is yes.
I spent 4 hours researching the studies on sleep to create my own optimized sleep plan, ironically due to not being able to fall asleep from jet lag… and also because I wanted to better superman. Now this may not seem like a lot but allow me to raise two very valid points:
1. Screw You – 4 Hours of research is better then 3 hours of research and
2. I have a sneaky time saving way of researching so my hours count more
My Super Sneaky Approach to Research
Basically I steal/borrow talented peoples incredible legwork on any given subject without remorse.
Now I know what you are thinking and I don’t care because generally I am 1. Less committed to scientific study then they are, 2. Generally less inclined to dedicate my life to one subject and 3. Have been banned from experimenting on humans for at least the next 30 years.
You may remember the above Pictomin from the previous post, it is one I use a lot in life. There are a ridiculous amount of research studies out there on sleep and therefore I don’t bother reading every study ever conducted, actually I don’t bother reading any.
Personally, I simply search for the studies from other hard working individuals that collaborate and summarize all the other research. I then compare and contrast these summaries over a coke to pull out where most people agree and disagree. I then put these ideas through my own filtering process of what makes sense and how many letters the researcher in question has after his name and then finally draw my conclusions taking credit for everyone else’s hard work. It’s the 80/20 of research, unfortunately without the charitable giving of credit. (I apologize for this as I know it is a really bad habit…don’t judge me, we all have them.)
The Terrible Truth From My Research About Sleep
The first thing to say, I guess, is that there is a lot of research out there and almost all of it doesn’t agree.
I like to imagine heated discussions that took place between researchers and collegues that quickly got out of hand and turned to violence and hot coffee injuries.
This disagreements between studies actually makes deciding what is accurate quite a challenge. The other things to say is that I have not bothered to summarize and link all the surveys, facts and figures I came across and I have written this post in layman terms from my collective understanding. Therefore hopefully making it easier for you to action but also requiring you to trust my summaries or use them as a base to do your own research. Your choice punk, go on, make my day.
To start I went to the guru of life hacking Tim Ferris to see what he has to say on the subject. With almost a third of ones life taken up with sleep I was pretty sure he had worked out an optimum plan. Unfortunately this was not the case and Tim was decidedly less helpful then I had thought he would be. You can see what he has to say on the subject here. Poor show Tim, poor show.
As it happens the very best ebook I found was “40 Sleep Hacks: The Geek’s Guide to Optimizing Sleep” This well organized and written book seemed to have done a good job of summarizing the major research on sleep and, having put the time in already into researching the studies independently, would suggest it is the only thing you need to read to give yourself a very good and balanced overview of research backed hacks. It is basically doing what I was planning to but better.
Why Sleep Well?
Benefits of sleep (You Become Super Human)
Good sleep throughout your life will increase your lifespan, help the body to repair, focus the mind, increase productivity, reduce stress, increase happiness, aide weight loss and promote development of body and mind.
Problems associated with a lack of sleep: (Like carrying a backpack of Kyriptnyte)
By cutting down on sleep we learn less, we develop less, we are less bright, we make worse decisions, we accomplish less, we are less productive, we are more prone to errors, and we undermine our true intellectual potential!
How To Sleep Well
As I mentioned there are an incredible amount of studies into sleep and the effect of sleep, much of which is counter intuitive and also contradicts other research.
I would definitely not sleep with an onion, a lemon or a roasted horse chestnut under my bed.
No matter how much research backs up the above statement I will not be following it – I wish to have and keep a girlfriend at some point in the future.
Therefore you have to put the research through your own filtering system and draw your own conclusions, this can be scary for some people but don’t worry that is what teddies are designed for. Having done this myself I came up with the key principles of optimizing sleep, feel free to steal them and pass it off as you own work. Fairs Fair after all.
3 Things That Most People Seem To Agree On About Sleep That Also Make Sense
1. Around 6-7 Hours of sleep is optimum for adults. More or less significantly increases tiredness, drowsiness and mortality rates.
2. Ideal time to go to sleep is when you naturally feel drowsy ideally at least 15 hours after previously waking.
3. A good diet, good eating habits and regularity as well as a comfortable bed and complete darkness will make the most of your sleep hours.
An Optimized Sleep Plan That Might Actually Work
This plan will definitely work for life hackers already free from the rat race or those with a lot more flexibility with their time but I am aware it will not work for all. For the others, read the ebook and create your own. This plan is based on all my research and heavily on the three key points mentioned above.
As it happens this is sleep pattern I have been generally using for some time now to great effect with just a few tweaks here and there.
- Shower, brush teeth and change into comfortable clothing before midnight
- Work in the early hours of the morning until natural drowsiness sets in.
- Eat a very small 150-200 calorie snack just before getting into bed.
- Record sleep duration and journal.
- Don’t set an alarm but aim to wake naturally around 6 hours after getting into bed.
- Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up.
- Use weekends to catch up on sleep ensuring weekly average is between 42-47 hours.
The Morning After
Later on when I have the habit ingrained I will also start including elements of Lucid Dreaming Theory and Sleep Based Problem Solving.
I would like to end by saying I will let you know how it is getting on but in all honesty and I am feeling particularly honest at the moment for some reason, I will probably forget so I will simply end with.
Good night, sleep tight and I hope the bedbugs of your lucid dreams don’t tear your face off – apparently it can happen.
Kidding, kidding….ok, i’ve lost a lot of readers now.