Sleep hacking justified!

As I’ve written before, I have been getting up at 5:00AM for over 6 months now. It has been working very well for me. I get more done during the day, I’m more alert all day, and have no trouble sleeping either at night or during the occasional nap.

I have been a little concerned about what it might be doing to me to reduce my sleeping hours to 6 or 7 per day. But the article Sleep Deprivation: The Great American Myth in LiveScience says it’s ok, and may even be a good thing, “From a six-year study of more than a million adults: People who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate than those who get 8 hours of sleep.”

And for my friend who is on a polyphasic sleeping schedule (which Steve Pavlina has also converted to), the news is just as good, “The Cancer Prevention Study II even showed that people with serious insomnia or who only get 3.5 hours of sleep per night, live longer than people who get more than 7.5 hours.” (Perhaps I’ll try it someday when my life settles down a bit.)

The article also has tips on how to get the best rest. Interestingly, these are many of the same recommendations that Steve Pavlina had in his How to become an early riser article.

  • Do not take sleeping pills. This includes over-the-counter pills and melatonin. [Nor do I use caffeine to wake myself up]
  • Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. [This is the second most important, and also increases your productivity because you get more “good” hours in your day.]
  • Get up at the same time every morning, even after a bad night’s sleep. The next night, you’ll be sleepy at bedtime. [This is the most important tip. 5:00AM for me!]
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep, get out of bed and return only when you are sleepy. [This never happens to me, since I’m sleepy when I go to sleep. The worst that will happen is that I might wake up early, in which case I’ll get out of bed and be thankful for the extra time.]
  • Avoid worrying, watching TV, reading scary books, and doing other things in bed besides sleeping and sex. If you worry, read thrillers or watch TV, do that in a chair that’s not in the bedroom.
  • Do not drink or eat anything caffeinated within six hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol. It’s relaxing at first but can lead to insomnia when it clears your system. [It’s interesting that I stopped drinking alcohol around the time I started my new sleep regimen. So the artificial sleepiness from alcohol hasn’t affected me.]
  • Spend time outdoors. People exposed to daylight or bright light therapy sleep better.

(And it’s so interesting to see memes propagate around the internet, BoingBoing picked up Steve’s original sleep article today)

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