For the past 6 months, I have been sleeping 3 hours less. My sleep has become deeper and of better quality, and during the day, I feel full of energy and refreshed. I will tell you what I had to go through to learn how to get enough sleep in less time.
Just like most people, I often don’t have enough free time or I waste it.
I had to wake up early and go to bed late. The first half of the day I spent “getting back on track” and I tried to do all my errands and chores in the second half of the day. As a result, my body wouldn’t get enough sleep, I had headaches all the time, and in the evenings I was too exhausted to do anything else.
This is why I decided to fix my sleeping schedule. I also wanted to find out the least amount of sleep I needed to still feel awake and refreshed the next day.
In order to fix your sleeping schedule, you need to understand how sleep works. It’s simple.
Our sleep consists of four stages: light sleep, half sleep, deep sleep, and fast sleep.
Without going into too much detail, every stage includes a very important process. But the stage that is most responsible for how we feel in the morning is the 3rd stage. During this stage, the maintenance of the body is done. Toxins are eliminated, resources are restored, and the organs’ functions are checked.
The longer the 3rd stage is, and the deeper the sleep is; the better we feel in the morning.
Two things matter for good sleep:
- Low temperature. The higher the temperature, the higher your activity. So during the day, the body’s temperature should be high to make sure it’s working well. At night, it should be low so that the brain is in a deeper sleep stage for a longer time.
- Melatonin, the sleep hormone. It is produced when our eyes are in darkness. And when we are in a bright place, melatonin is destroyed. It is known that this hormone is best produced from 11 PM to 4:00 AM, so it’s very important to be asleep at this time.
I made a schedule for myself based on these rules.
1. Waking up at the same time every day
If I need to wake up at 6 AM on working days, it means that I should get up at the same time on weekends. So, I set an alarm clock for every day. I can’t turn it off until I get up.
Why? The body needs to get used to getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time. As a result, the brain realizes that there is a certain number of hours that it has to restore the body’s resources.
2. Waking up during the fast sleep phase
It is easier and better to wake up a person while they are at the fast sleep stage — that’s why it’s very important to catch this moment. There are several ways to do it:
- Use a smart alarm app. There are many apps like this. I’ve tried Pillow and SmartAlarm. These apps are quite accurate, but they are not always convenient because you have to keep the phone on the bed to let it track your movements and sleep data.
- Waking up at the same time every day. If it’s easier for you to get up at 6:20 AM than at 6:00 AM, it means that at 6:20 AM, you’re at the fast sleep stage. You can simply try setting your alarm for a different time every day. However, if you wake up at the same time every day, the brain will get used to it and understand that it needs to be in the fast sleep stage by 6:00 AM.
- Use a smart alarm bracelet. Fitness bracelets are cheap, accurate, and wake you up with a light vibration.
3. Humidity, temperature, and light can all disrupt your sleep.
Very often, the humidity in my apartment is not higher than 25% (this is not enough). If there isn’t enough humidity, many of the body’s restorative processes slow down and the sleep becomes worse. The optimal level of humidity is 45% or even 70%.
- I bought a very simple humidifier that shows the room’s humidity level and keeps it at the necessary level.
The less light there is, the faster the production of melatonin is. This means that you will fall asleep faster and get to the deep sleep stage faster. Even a street light outside can disrupt your sleep cycle, so it’s very important that you shut the curtains.
- I bought blackout curtains made of very thick fabric. They don’t let the light through and make the room as dark as a cave. Sometimes I even put a mask on my face.
4. Exercising in the morning and doing physical activity during the day
Exercising increases the body’s temperature, and its efficiency.
In the morning, any physical exercise seems impossible to do. For some time, I had to really make myself do it, but soon, my body got used to it. It’s important to do the exercises that will make you sweat like abs, pull-ups, and push-ups. Do it all quickly for 10-15 minutes.
You should also do some physical exercises during the day. I’ve noticed that exercising less than 3 hours before I go to bed disrupts the sleep, so it’s better to do some physical activity during the day to increase the body’s temperature and increase the heart rate.
5. Saying “no” to some foods
This was the most painful part because I really like eating. And it was especially hard for me to cut down on coffee so I made up a special challenge for myself.
I put a sheet of paper on the wall and marked every day I managed to live without coffee.
To sleep well, you also shouldn’t drink alcohol, smoke, drink energy drinks, or eat a lot of heavy, fatty foods. Even a simple scone eaten before bedtime can disrupt the deep sleep stage. And if you have a lot of energy drinks, you may as well break your schedule completely.
6. Just a few more tricks…
- Drink a lot of water. It seems trivial so I forgot about this a lot. But the body uses water during sleep, so it’s important that you drink enough.
- Take a shower before bed. Keep the water temperature at around 75 °F. The body cools down during sleep — and with a shower, you help the body to do that. If the water is too cold, then there will be a lot of adrenaline in your blood. This is not what you want.
- A lot of light. In order to wake up quickly, you need a lot of bright light, preferably sunlight. So right after I get up, I open the curtains and go to the balcony. Melatonin is destroyed very quickly by light, so you wake up very fast when you see it.
- A pillow. Before, I didn’t pay much attention to it, but a good orthopedic pillow increases the quality of sleep dramatically. This is very good for the neck, back, and blood flow. Ask an expert to help you choose a good pillow.
When I disrupted sleep or followed every step, I noticed changes in sleep stages. I marked the way I felt and how productive I was the next day.
I compared the number of my sleep stages before and after the experiment. The number of deep stages of sleep has become 2 times more. Their frequency has also increased.
As a result, I achieved my goal and decreased the time of sleep from 8-9 hours to 5-6. I get tired less, I feel good, and I think better throughout the entire day.
Keep in mind:
I’m not a doctor. If you decide to make a change in your sleep habits, it’s best to consult a doctor.
An expert will tell you if it’s safe for you to do and may be able to tell you the best way for you to solve your problem.
Tell us in the comment section below if you have tried this method and what your results were!