Author Topic: What life hacks can I do to need less sleep (and/or increase the quality of it)?  (Read 1814 times)

ender

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From another thread about gaining time back, @mm1970 said this:

By all means, be ruthless at eliminating some things.

Unlike Laura, I did not eliminate exercise.  I needed it for my sanity.  I outsourced cleaning, streamlined cooking, and eliminated doing the kids' bedtime routine.
I had two friends who told me they "could not" exercise.  I explained to them our method:
1.  We took turns / alternated days.
2.  We went at 6 am.
3.  We only got 7-8 hours sleep a night.

So for one friend, she had "no time" because she slept 10 hours a night.  I told her "I get 8".  She started exercising.
For the other, it never occurred to her to work out at 6 am, and weekend mornings were "family time" and I said "for us it's individual workout time".

You can't have everything.

I'm curious what folks here have done to either need less sleep or increase the quality.

I find that unless I sleep at least 8 hours a night, I am noticeably worse off. I know some people need less. I once worked with someone who was incredibly high functioning on only 4 hours of sleep (he openly said he was a lot better at life/his job because he had extra time compared to most, and he was).

Some of this is probably genetic but some likely is behavioral as well.

Are there life hacks here I'm missing?

fell-like-rain

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I mean, thereís lots of stuff you can do to improve sleep quality, but most of it is well-trodden ground- quiet, dark bedroom; avoid screens before bed; consistent schedule; cooler room temperature; etc.

I do most of these things, and generally sleep very well, but I still need 8 to 8.5 hours to feel fully alert all day. Not a lot you can do to subvert your own biology.

Cranky

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Some people just need more sleep! My dh needs a lot more sleep than I do, and itís just his biology. He loves to nap. He can drink coffee and fall right asleep. Me - everything has to be just right to sleep, and I donít need so much.

I prefer to make exercise part of my regular routine, not so much going to the gym.

mistymoney

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When I exercise regularly and fairly hard - running, plus weights 5/6 days a week, I've found that my need for sleep decreases by about 1-2 hours. This was when I was younger, haven't been that fit in a while unfortunately!

Eating the largest meal at breakfast or lunch, and then lightly and early for dinner helps increase sleep quality/minimize time needed as your body is not doing the heavy part of food digestion the first couple of hours.

other aspects for good sleep can be found under a google of "sleep hygiene"

SunnyDays

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Not a good idea to consistently get less sleep than your body needs.  You will pay for it both short term and long term.  Sleep quality, on the other hand, can be improved, which may actually help you need less sleep.  Good sleep hygiene, a proper diet and lots of exercise help with this.  Even when I do all this, however, I still need 9 hours to feel rested.  Everyone is different.

BECABECA

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I used to think I needed 10+ hours of sleep a night. Then I realized I thought this because it was taking me so long to fall asleep and then I had to wake up mid way through my last sleep cycle so I never woke feeling rested. I tried all sorts of good sleep hygiene things to try to improve the situation but nothing really helped.

However, a few years ago I found that taking a low dose of melatonin (0.3mg) at sundown got my body producing melatonin earlier so that I would fall asleep right when I got into bed and then wake naturally 8 hours later, feeling refreshed and not like I needed more sleep. It has been life changing. The low dose is key, but most melatonin sold is in 10x the dosage. That just puts you to sleep when you take it, but it doesnít keep you asleep, and it doesnít prompt your body to start producing it (actually it does the opposite).

I only needed to take the low dose melatonin for a few months. After that, my sleep rhythm had been properly established and I slept great still. Now I only need it when Iím recovering from jet lag and trying to get back into my time zone.

SoftwareGoddess

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Try to be aware of food items or medication that may affect your sleep. A few years ago, I accidentally discovered that sucralose (Splenda) gives me insomnia when I tried to cut down on sugar. My sleep got worse for 5 consecutive days until I realized that that was the only change I had made recently. Once I eliminated the sucralose, my sleep went back to normal.

For me, if a medication lists insomnia as a side-effect for even a tiny number of people, I will be one of them. About 20 years ago, I had to cut caffeine completely while I was on a medication, just to get decent sleep.

MrThatsDifferent

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OP, as someone who canít seem to sleep more than 5 hours, do not try to lessen your sleep below 8 hours. Thatís healthy and will lead to a longer life. You donít need to cram more shit in. Let your body, rest, heal and recover. Try to refocus your energy from doing it all. Youíll run yourself into the ground. Iím so jealous and would easily trade the time I lay in bed awake doing nothing for 3 more uninterrupted hours of sleep. Grass is greener, thatís all. Count your blessings and sleep peacefully.

American GenX

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I only get about 5 to 6 hours of sleep before I have to get up for work, sometimes less.  Going to bed early just means I wake up earlier or for longer during the night.  I've researched all kinds of suggestions, including melatonin, not eating or exercising late, bedroom in complete darkness, no electronic devices nearby, avoiding naps, using weighted blanket, lowering temp to mid 60's, white noise machines,and many things short of sleeping pillls.  I fall asleep pretty well but usually wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep for 1 or 2 hours, and sometimes am never able to get back to sleep.  Then on occasion I will sleep very well, like last night, which might be because I was extra tired from the previous days of lost sleep.  I think the stress of work and home projects is a factor, and now I've got coronavirus concerns and plunging equity values to toss in.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2020, 03:50:49 PM by American GenX »

jafr1284

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I read the book called the power of sleep. It was fantastic. Please read it:) It will help you get the highest quality sleep with no wasted time.

mm1970

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Hey, that was me!

To be honest, when I was having these conversations, I was between the ages of 35-43, and had 1-2 young kids.

I am now almost 50. My kids are elementary/junior high aged. I need far more sleep now (and hormones make it "not as good").  So, while I can function on 7-8, to be honest, an average of 8 hr 20 min or 8.5 hrs over the space of a week is what I need at this age.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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I'm a nightowl. I've spent YEARS trying to hack my sleep patterns to make myself more of a morning person. I'e tried all the tricks and all the medication, melatonin etc. Now I'm just fuck it, that's how I was made, and someone had to protect you morning people from frickin lions at night! I don't believe it's possible to change your body's settings. I'll never enjoy getting up in the morning but I can play past 10pm so that's a bonus!

ender

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I read the book called the power of sleep. It was fantastic. Please read it:) It will help you get the highest quality sleep with no wasted time.

Which book? That's not descriptive enough ;-)

jafr1284

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I read the book called the power of sleep. It was fantastic. Please read it:) It will help you get the highest quality sleep with no wasted time.

Which book? That's not descriptive enough ;-)
https://www.amazon.com/Power-Sleep-Revolutionary-Prepares-Performance/dp/0060977604/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=power+of+sleep&qid=1584391726&sr=8-12
Here is the amazon link, but try getting it from your local library ;)

CogentCap

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From another thread about gaining time back, @mm1970 said this:

By all means, be ruthless at eliminating some things.

Unlike Laura, I did not eliminate exercise.  I needed it for my sanity.  I outsourced cleaning, streamlined cooking, and eliminated doing the kids' bedtime routine.
I had two friends who told me they "could not" exercise.  I explained to them our method:
1.  We took turns / alternated days.
2.  We went at 6 am.
3.  We only got 7-8 hours sleep a night.

So for one friend, she had "no time" because she slept 10 hours a night.  I told her "I get 8".  She started exercising.
For the other, it never occurred to her to work out at 6 am, and weekend mornings were "family time" and I said "for us it's individual workout time".

You can't have everything.

I'm curious what folks here have done to either need less sleep or increase the quality.

I find that unless I sleep at least 8 hours a night, I am noticeably worse off. I know some people need less. I once worked with someone who was incredibly high functioning on only 4 hours of sleep (he openly said he was a lot better at life/his job because he had extra time compared to most, and he was).

Some of this is probably genetic but some likely is behavioral as well.

Are there life hacks here I'm missing?

Please, PLEASE read "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker.  I read it after it was on Bill Gates' recommended reading list last year (I think John Green may have also recommended it), and I can't recommend it enough if you value life-saving information.  In summary: Sleep is SERIOUS BUSINESS. You NEED that sleep, or you will die. Your coworker is not high-functioning on 4 hours of sleep. If anything on this MMM website has ever resonated with you about eating well, exercising, etc as an investment in health that will pay dividends, SLEEP is apparently more powerful than any of those things.  The statistics in that book are shocking. It costs like $10. Do yourself a favor: obtain a copy ASAP, read it, and don't die early.

Malcat

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Well, this is one of the areas of expertise that I'm retiring from, and my 3 top things I look at, in order of importance:

1: Do you snore? If yes, have you been tested for sleep apnea?
-Undiagnosed sleep apnea will ravage your sleep quality
2: Do you drink alcohol?
-Alcohol royally messes with sleep cycles
3: Do you exercise regularly?

Serendip

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[

Please, PLEASE read "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker.  I read it after it was on Bill Gates' recommended reading list last year (I think John Green may have also recommended it), and I can't recommend it enough if you value life-saving information.  In summary: Sleep is SERIOUS BUSINESS. You NEED that sleep, or you will die. Your coworker is not high-functioning on 4 hours of sleep. If anything on this MMM website has ever resonated with you about eating well, exercising, etc as an investment in health that will pay dividends, SLEEP is apparently more powerful than any of those things.  The statistics in that book are shocking. It costs like $10. Do yourself a favor: obtain a copy ASAP, read it, and don't die early.

Agree with this --fantastic book which I've recommended to many friends. Obviously the author places an enormously high value on sleep (he's a sleep researcher and neuroscientist) but the book is very accessible while still being highly informative.

 It has made me more protective of my sleep :)

ender

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Well, this is one of the areas of expertise that I'm retiring from, and my 3 top things I look at, in order of importance:

1: Do you snore? If yes, have you been tested for sleep apnea?
-Undiagnosed sleep apnea will ravage your sleep quality
2: Do you drink alcohol?
-Alcohol royally messes with sleep cycles
3: Do you exercise regularly?

1) sometimes, yes (no sleep apnea)
2) not meaningfully unless 1 drink a week at most counts, lol
3) uhhhhhh (no)

[

Please, PLEASE read "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker.  I read it after it was on Bill Gates' recommended reading list last year (I think John Green may have also recommended it), and I can't recommend it enough if you value life-saving information.  In summary: Sleep is SERIOUS BUSINESS. You NEED that sleep, or you will die. Your coworker is not high-functioning on 4 hours of sleep. If anything on this MMM website has ever resonated with you about eating well, exercising, etc as an investment in health that will pay dividends, SLEEP is apparently more powerful than any of those things.  The statistics in that book are shocking. It costs like $10. Do yourself a favor: obtain a copy ASAP, read it, and don't die early.

Agree with this --fantastic book which I've recommended to many friends. Obviously the author places an enormously high value on sleep (he's a sleep researcher and neuroscientist) but the book is very accessible while still being highly informative.

 It has made me more protective of my sleep :)

I think I'll order this. Not going to be going out and about much in the next few weeks anyways ;-)

GreenEggs

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You might find that you can get by on less sleep at night if you have a short nap late in the day.


Say, maybe 6+/- hours at night and a 20-30 minute nap to recharge. 


I usually stay up until around 1:00 am and often get up around 7:00 am.  I often (50% of the time) catch a little nap sometime in the late afternoon or after dinner.  (I call it "resting my eyes", but DW claims that I often snore a little.) 








Malcat

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Well, this is one of the areas of expertise that I'm retiring from, and my 3 top things I look at, in order of importance:

1: Do you snore? If yes, have you been tested for sleep apnea?
-Undiagnosed sleep apnea will ravage your sleep quality
2: Do you drink alcohol?
-Alcohol royally messes with sleep cycles
3: Do you exercise regularly?

1) sometimes, yes (no sleep apnea)
2) not meaningfully unless 1 drink a week at most counts, lol
3) uhhhhhh (no)

Then considering how stressed you have been recently, I would try exercise first. Your body simply can't function optimally without it.

American GenX

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You might find that you can get by on less sleep at night if you have a short nap late in the day.


I've read that naps late in the day can cause insomnia.  My experience supports that.  I made the mistake of dozing off for short naps after work (after 5 PM) on occasion many years back, and I paid for it when I couldn't get to sleep at bedtime.  If you need a nap, take it earlier in the day.

GreenEggs

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You might find that you can get by on less sleep at night if you have a short nap late in the day.


I've read that naps late in the day can cause insomnia.  My experience supports that.  I made the mistake of dozing off for short naps after work (after 5 PM) on occasion many years back, and I paid for it when I couldn't get to sleep at bedtime.  If you need a nap, take it earlier in the day.


I had insomnia for a few years, but learned to occupy my mind with non-stressful things that don't keep me awake.  (I think it may be similar to meditation.)


Also, the naps need to be kept short.  They need to feel like you didn't actually fall to sleep.  If you let yourself get beyond hearing background noise you'll likely sleep too long.   

GreenSheep

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Yes, "Why We Sleep" is an excellent book. And I agree, trying to cut back on needed sleep is a recipe for disaster. I've just given in to the fact that I do best on 8 hours and sometimes need 11. I function much more poorly on 6-7 hours, so cutting sleep is just inefficient in the long run.

Here are some tidbits based on my own experience and things I've read...

---Not only exercise, but getting outside and letting sunlight hit your eyes helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
---Alcohol (even one drink, in my case) can make you wake up in the middle of the night.
---People metabolize caffeine at different rates. If I drink coffee or even matcha after 8am, I have trouble falling asleep.
---Keeping a notepad by your bed on which to write down thoughts that pop into your head can help you offload them so you don't keep thinking/worrying/trying to remember.
---Eating a healthy diet, and not eating too close to bedtime, can make a big difference. But also, being super hungry at bedtime can keep me awake or wake me up at 2am.
---Despite the "women like to sleep under 4000 blankets" stereotype, I can't sleep if I'm too hot.

Of course a lot of this will vary from person to person, but maybe there are general ideas in here that will give you an idea of things to watch out for in yourself.