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Become a morning person. How to end insomnia for $520.99 (humbledmba.com)
256 points by jaf12duke on June 6, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 121 comments

Be a morning person. How to end insomnia for free.

1. Sleep with the curtains open. Wake up with sunrise.

2. Immediately exercise outside. It could be anything, walking, running, swimming, biking, calestetics, just as long as its outside.

3. At sundown, turn off all electronics. Using pencil, paper, and a 40 watt bulb, refactor your code, do design work and the next day's plans. If you feel like you haven't gotten enough work done on your computer before sundown, then spend less time screwing around. (Then again, if you refactored and planned properly the night before, this problem begins to disappear.)

4. Go to sleep 8 hours (or whatever you require) before sunrise.

BONUS: Get a dog, cat, or child. Although these aren't free, they'll make sure you're up at sunrise.

Been doing this for years. I may not have DSPS, but this does the same thing as OP's approach for $520.99 less.

This doesn't work. I mean it works for people who are like you, but this doesn't work for the intended audience of the article.

I can do all these things and yes, I achieve 8 hours of good sleep when I do. The problem is that it requires extraordinary effort to keep up, you can't shake off the unnatural feeling that you're living on someone else's schedule and (ultimately) you are not as creative, explosive, productive and even happy as you are when you fall asleep at 3am and wake up at 11. I've done a few months of your normal routine and it sucked. Sure I felt rested and in sync with others, but everything great I've built in life had happened between 10pm and 4 in the morning.

I am firmly convinced that I am not biologically "wired" to going to sleep at 11pm like a robot, simply because someone turned of the lights. I get this intense long-lasting spike of energy when the sun goes down. Every time I switch to a regular people schedule I start missing that feeling and my productivity suffers a big deal.

Here is what I do: I enjoy my lifestyle. It feels great to be awake when the time slows down and the city finally comes to a stop, I've tried waking up really early (someone said it feels the same) but not - not even close. This precious time offers me relief, relief from the pressures of modern life, our rat race of schedules, mortgage payments, poor sales and shrinking savings. It's so much easier to concentrate on a problem at hand.

Yeah, I agree with the "it works for you, but not me" because I am sure I have this too. I only realized it when I thought it was normal to take over an hour to fall asleep...when its clearly not.

Unfortunately, waking up at 11 is not an option, have a normal nine-fiver'er, and what I usually do is catch up on the weekend. I used to feel like a bum, waking up past noon during the weekends, but I have come to realize that is the only way I function. If I don't get my beauty sleep in the weekend, I get extremely tired the week after and I still can't fall asleep! So I am tired during the day and restless at night...its paintful, like an itch that won't go away and doesn't get relived by scratching.

I'm the same way.... the only problem is that there are clear health-risks associated with the reduced melatonin levels you get from sleeping during the day (unless you can REALLY effectively darken your room).

Worse, as a company founder it can be very difficult living on that schedule. A frightening amount of life occurs before 9AM for most people.

I don't really have an answer... I struggle with my sleeping habits every day. I do know that I'd really like to be on a sun centric schedule, however.

If you want a dark room, nail a thick blanket in front of your window, then put some nails above those to latch the bottoms of the blankets to when you want sun. It gets REALLY dark, about as dark as 10pm in the winter.

I've got a special "blackout" curtain (and live on an inside-facing apartment).


Same here.

Wow, I just found that this is a disease. I always thought that it was my life style choice at school and now at the startup. I guess not.

Trying out f.lux now

The problem with sunrise is that it changes with the seasons and DST; here in Seattle it's 5 AM in the summer and 8 AM in the winter. Unfortunately my other obligations don't change with it.

...not to mention the fact that "sunrise" sometimes doesn't happen at all in Seattle, especially during the winter. You can wake up in the morning, go to work, come home in the evening and go to bed without really experiencing any exposure to sunlight during the day.

I had the worst problem with getting up in the morning while living in Seattle. Since I moved to San Francisco, the problem has largely abated. I'm still most productive during the evening, but at least here I can control my schedule.

I live in the "Sun City." The sun shines an average of 302 days a year, but I still have trouble keeping a normal schedule. It seems the only way for me to get up early regularly is to have something that requires me to be up early (school/work).

It wasn't a serious problem for me. Yeah, it's a little tougher, but if you got into the habit of waking up at 6:00 AM in the summer, so long as you continue to do the "shut off all electronics and use a low-watt bulb (or a candle)" in the evening, eat breakfast at the same time every morning, and get enough exercise during the day then the strategy works in a similar way.

The big difference is that the original author refuses to shut off his TV, computer, and phone at night.

Maybe you live on the equator, but your technique would be impossible during the winter in most of Europe and much of North America. For example, in December in London, sunrise is around 8:30 and sets before 4pm.

With your plan I would wake up at 9 in the mornings during the winter and since nights are way less than 8 hours during summer I wouldn't get any sleep at all...

Living in Sweden

With this plan, summers above the arctic circle would be really tough. All sleep and no work in the winter sounds good though.

This works for me, and I don't even need to exercise first thing. The most difficult thing is other people in your life who don't understand and don't cooperate.

This doesn't work if you're on the west coast, working on east coast time. Financial markets open roughly around 9 EST, which means I have to be awake by 5 PST and at work by 6. The sun won't rise for another hour. People have different schedules, so it does help to have an artificial mechanism to make it work.

This doesn't work if you're required to wake before sunrise, especially true for those living in AK in the winter ;-)

I can assure that you both pets and children work on the waking early bit. The trick is actually getting to be on time the night before and falling asleep quickly. But, if you've walked the dog and entertained the child, you'll be tired and fall asleep quickly.

I used to have a lot of problems going to sleep but since children it's a thing of the past. I still struggle with getting to bed on time (he says, posting at HN when should be going to bed)

Sunrise is 4.30am here at the moment - I really don't fancy getting up at that time (or going to sleep at 20:30).

2:30am here. Equally bad during winter. I've thought about making a contraption that opens the blinds when it's time to wake up, since neither waking up in darkness nor going to sleep in daylight is desirable.

I attempted some of the things that you talk about here: tracking sleep + bright overhanging light + sunrise alarm clock. None of it helped, and I didn't want to continue spending even more money on "things" - I attempted a more drastic solution. I changed apartments and made sure to get a room where the windows face east.

I started waking up with the sun every day. It's still a bit of a problem on cloudy days, but it feels a more natural way to function than all the gadgets.

When I apartment search, I spend a lot of effort trying to understand how light will hit the windows at night, in the morning, what sort of sound will be around, etc.

In the perfect setting, there is darkness outside at night and lots of natural light in the morning. I had that experience at summer camp, where there were no street lights and everyone had to be quiet by a certain time. The mountain air was refreshing and I would be up with the sunrise naturally.

Living in San Francisco, I now know that this utopia is reserved for vacations. In the city, the biggest problem with opening up the blinds is the street light at night. Or the fog gets in the way or I have to get up before the sun rises or the sun doesn't hit my window perfectly during winter months, etc. I set up all these gadgets for all the times I can't get light in the morning naturally, which seems to be 90+% of my life.

I would be much happier to live like I did as an 18 year old at summer camp. I would also be happier if I did yoga everyday, ate organically, exercised everyday, read more than I watched TV, etc. In the meantime...

timer + servo motor connected to blinds pull?

I keep imagining a nighttime bedroom temperature control based on a PID and a servo attached to my window-- would probably be too loud (esp with the required torque) to work while I'm sleeping, but a guy can dream, right? Maybe with some louvers...

...would probably be too loud (esp with the required torque)...

Maybe not. What if the window opened over a period of 2-3 minutes? You would also have a more stable system.

perhaps with a very high gear ratio?

it turns out there is a whole market segment for motorized blinds-- but all quite pricey and mostly focused on industrial applications.

How much would people pay for a low-cost kit to work with existing blinds? Will add these to my consumer products idea list the next time I meet with my product-development/manufacturing friends...

The apartment that I mentioned is in Berkeley. In San Francisco I slept with open blinds, but with earplugs and an eyecover. Something interesting about eyecovers - they are very good to help you to go to sleep, but they usually move off your face at night, so in the morning they don't prevent the sunlight from you waking you up.

I'm curious why a simple alarm clock that wakes you up at the desired hour wasn't sufficient?

For the same reason that the OP had to write a long and well researched post, along with relatively significant financial expense. My body likes sleep, and for me, "willpower to get out of bed" isn't something that magically occurs at 8am. There are studies that associate willpower and self-control with blood sugar levels, exercise, and other factors, and I'm under the impression that people that naturally wake up in a dark room simply from the sound of an alarm clock have widely differing body chemistry from mine.

Interesting. I sometimes have trouble waking up in a dark room as well, but I've found that increasing the volume of the alarm clock and the distance I have to travel to get to it normally solves that problem.

I am abnormally lazy in that respect. I've been known to get up, walk across the room, turn off the alarm clock, walk back to bed, sit down, think "hmm, 5 more minutes would be great" and then go back to sleep, responsibilities be damned.

My first job out of college was a start-up in the financial industry; strolling in at 11am was highly looked down upon, and so ended my budding career as a finance whore.

I find that, for the first few seconds or minutes after waking up, I'm not even capable of rationalising that I'd rather get up and deal with the consequences of being tired. This is far longer than the time it actually takes me to fall back asleep.

I cured myself of that by getting a radio alarm and turning it up as loud as it would go; I basically shocked myself totally awake first thing. Nowadays just an ordinary alarm is enough because I have made it a habit to get up. (If you are not going to get up when the alarm goes off, don't set it - you will just be training yourself in the bad habit of ignoring it.)

Added: One of my responsibilities was to make sure my brothers got up in time for school. I can tell you from experience, that if you have someone to help, ice water is a great motivator to get out of bed.

distance to the alarm clock has no impact on my ability (or rather, lack thereof) to get up in the morning. I will walk through two rooms, turn off the clock (apparently I'm cogent enough in the morning to figure out that snooze means another infernal buzzing sound in 15 minutes, so I turn the alarm off instead), slouch on the couch, and pass out again. It can be so bad that I will dream about getting up again and going to work, only to wake up half an hour after my necessary leave-home-for-work time

hehe, same here. I actually managed to answer a phone call from a colleague trying to wake me up, tell him that i'm on a bus heading there and go back to sleep. Fast forward a couple of hours, I woke up not remembering that at all.

He was mad, as he pulled a double shift because of that, but hey...beauty sleep :D

Personally? I turn it off (and don't remember doing so) or snooze it repeatedly for several hours (also not remembering I've done so). It's especially prominent when I don't get enough sleep (3-4 hours). I'll end up having to redo two classes (both 8am) because I've slept through tests, and it's not because I forgot about the test, nor that I didn't have a reliable alarm clock (sometimes 3 separate ones).

This is a problem I used to have too. Moving the alarm clock some place you can't reach it without standing up seems to solve it for the most part.

that sometimes / kinda works for me, but it seems my semi-conscious mind is a crafty devil, and manages to stay mostly-unconscious through even somewhat complicated tasks.

There's also some past health problems I've had which sometimes leaves me really light-headed when I stand up in the morning, so my options upon hitting the alarm are to lose vision and nearly pass out, or hurry to lay back down.

Also, keep in mind that due to the strange sleep schedule, 8am classes commonly mean I get less than 5 hours of sleep. Try getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night (or less, if I've had a project) for a week, and see how well you wake up to your alarm clock. Now sleep in on the weekend to try to make up for the deficit, and continue this for a few years. Alarm clocks just don't cut it.

The trouble isn't so much waking up as it is falling asleep. If I try to go to bed at the same time every night, after a few of days I'll find myself staring at the ceiling for hours before I'm able to nod off. That leaves me with like four hours of sleep before the alarm goes off. That's simply not enough for me to be able to function at a reasonable level. So I end up turning off the alarm and collapsing back into bed for another hour or two. This pattern repeats and I end up in free-running sleep mode.

For me, at least, waking up by using the sun as an alarm clock feels good. I wake much more alert than if I wake up in a dim room with a blaring alarm clock.

Waking up with the sun is a slow process, whereas an audible alarm is abrupt.

It's not waking up that's hard; the problem is getting to sleep. The symptoms in the article definitely apply to me (and I'm working on resolving them).

Yesterday I woke up much earlier than I'd like (via alarm clock) in the hope of being tired enough to get to sleep before midnight last night. I struggled to concentrate and keep my eyes focused all day, but I was still awake until 3am.

I hate spending 12 hours in bed and get up feeling like I've had 6 hours of actual sleep. It's hard to understand if you don't have this problem yourself.

I recently changed my sleep cycle by a few hours. I bought a Zeo and started turning off the computer an hour before going to sleep. During that time I'd read, do some stretches, brush my teeth, meditate, take 3mg of melatonin, then go to sleep. When I wake up, I go out for a 20+ min run or go to the gym, then eat breakfast. I used to wake up anywhere from 10-12. Today I woke up at 6 and my alarm only needed to go off once. It's a Sunday, I had no reason to wake up so early but I'm doing it every morning now. My goal is to wake up at 5 every morning without the use of an alarm clock and without the melatonin. As far as I know I'm not suffering any negatives from the melatonin, though.

Here's my review of the Zeo: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1358589

My sleep habits were just as bad as this guy described, but about a year ago I started taking melatonin on week nights. I didn't alter anything else, and the melatonin has solved my sleep issues. I do have vivid dreams virtually every night, which I generally remember (last night I dreamt I drove to my childhood piano teacher's house and had her give me her old records so I could resume learning the piano where I left off a decade ago). None of the dreams have been nightmares; some have been what I would call "disturbing," although I expect them now and actually find them rather interesting.

Seconded! Melatonin has been a life-saver for me. Been suffering from DSPS long before I knew what it was. I had tried just about everything mentioned and had finally accepted that I couldn't work a normal-work-hours job. So I resorted to working remotely and outsourcing a lot of my work.

I discovered melatonin after finally coming across the DSPS wikipedia article and realizing that it was describing me exactly. I initially started off with 3mg of melatonin about an hour before bedtime and that was waaay too much for me. I ended up sleeping most of the next day. After some trial and error I found that 1mg works perfect for me.

Now that I've been on a more 'normal' schedule for several months, I take it for granted. But when I first discovered that I wouldn't have to be a severe night owl for the rest of my life - it was a joyous revelation.

The hardest thing about DSPS for me was the loneliness at night. I could not go to sleep naturally until 4am at the earliest usually - and that left many hours when most things were closed and most friends were asleep. I feel much healthier now especially due to my improved social life with my new schedule.

While there were some benefits to DSPS - like beautiful 3am runs around San Francisco when everything's asleep and some great 'flow' time for programming, ultimately solving this problem has been a huge improvement in my life.

Where do you get 1mg doses? My local Wal-Mart just has 3mg, and I've often thought it's probably a bit much.

Walgreens carries it.

The negatives from melatonin would be short term memory loss and wild, crazy dreams. I think the point of changing the light cycles is to use the melatonin that your brain naturally produces. Generally melatonin is prescribed for seniors when they stop naturally producing it.

Here taking melatonin is listed as one of the tips how to improve your short term memory: http://www.progressivehealth.com/short-term-memory.asp

And here are some google answer from 2007 listing researches on possible adverse effects of melatonin: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=284734

I haven't noticed either of these side effects. I don't take melatonin every night, but I do use it to adjust my sleep schedule (for which I find it highly effective)

What's your source for this assertion?

I also used it to adjust my sleep cycle, but I did not use it regularly. I was under the impression that resetting the circadian rhythm resulted in negative side effects such as memory loss. I know it's an effective treatment for alzheimer's, however those are in cases when an individuals melatonin production has stopped. As a younger person myself, I did not want to use it regularly and have a completely artificial circadian rhythm. When I did so it resulted in a few blanks here and there in my short term memory.

However with some googling it seems the only research that has been done specifically with melatonin where memory loss was shown was in animal studies (gerbils and zebrafish) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071115164438.ht...


Hm, now that you mention it my dreams may have been more vivid recently, but I wouldn't consider that a negative.

Compared to other sleep-aids I've tried, melatonin is much, much better. I took Ambien for a while (both 5mg and 10mg), and while the onset is much, much faster than melatonin (15 minutes vs. 1 hour), I grew a tolerance to it rather quickly. Eventually, it just wouldn't put me to sleep. Instead, I experienced wild hallucinations, amnesia, and hangovers. Wild and crazy dreams are nothing, really, compared to actually hallucinating.

My younger brother had a similar experience with Ambien. He would take it, not fall asleep, and then get really weird (the only word to describe it). One time he started listening to dance music after taking an Ambien to try to fall asleep, and whatever he experienced, his roommates said he was jumping and screaming at the top of his lungs. And then there were the online posts with capitalization and spelling that looked like they'd been boiled in radioactive green goo...

I've had a number of really weird experiences with Ambien. I know, from some things I've said to other people while on it, that there are a number of things that I experienced of which I have no recollection. The things I do remember are fairly crazy in their own right. I'm not sure if this is the place to discuss this, but I'll mention a few things that I've experienced. At the very least, this should serve as a warning to anyone considering taking Ambien.

I was once convinced I was on the set of the Goonies, because my comforter happened to look like a cave. I've only seen bits and pieces of that movie, so I have no idea why I hallucinated about it. I told someone "this lady needs to sell some chickens" because I saw a woman in the middle of my room selling chickens. I saw pixies dancing in the middle of my room. I saw a little girl, about the height of the toilet, that was sucked behind it as I approached. I also called or texted a number of people and told them a bunch of things that made absolutely no sense. Things like "I don't trust you. You might read my books." Or telling them I was flying and how much I loved them. I have a subtle recollection of the latter, absolutely none of the former. I never had a "bad trip", in that I never experienced anything that made me fearful or feel bad. It was all very euphoric, but, from my understanding, this isn't true for everyone.

If you're into the whole recreational drug thing, I can't say that Ambien is a bad choice as a hallucinogen. The hangovers were mild, and only came about from large doses (~30mg). I never took it for that purpose, but I realize there are people (not necessarily here) that might be interested. As far as using it as a sleep aid, I wouldn't suggest anyone go near the stuff. It's great the first few times you take it, but the tolerance sets on rather quickly. I ended up just hallucinating until the time I would normally fall asleep. I never became dependent, but it seems that addiction isn't necessarily uncommon for those that take it for long periods of time. If you are having trouble sleeping, try melatonin supplements and light therapy. Melatonin doesn't work for everyone, but, honestly, I'd rather have a few nights where I'm unable to sleep than the hangovers and hallucinations I got from Ambien.

TL;DR: Ambien makes for a really shitty sleep-aid.

I agree, a quick visit to any Ambien forum shows you the horrors it's users face. http://www.topix.com/forum/drug/ambien/T8MMMFNQIK6VHJOV6

Short term memory loss?! Where are you getting that from?

Interestingly enough, I tried melatonin a few months ago when I was having problems with insomnia. After 2 or 3 nights with it, my sleep cycle corrected itself and I haven't taken it since. I don't know that I'd want to keep taking it every night, but as a temporary measure to your sleep cycle back on track it's great.

I find having a significant other helps a lot as well; I'm more likely to go to bed on time because I don't want to disturb them by turning in late.

Melatonin (3 mg/night) has been nothing but good to me. Haven't noticed any negative side effects, and when I don't take it I seem to be back to my pre-melatonin days, not worse.

I really appreciate the recommendation for Flux. My sleep schedule has been bouncing all over the place since quitting my job, and the last three days have been unbearably bad. (Awake until 6/7/8 AM.) I'd really like to sync myself such that I can be awake and productive by mid-morning.

Welcome to delayed-phase sleep (maybe). Here are some of the exciting things you can experience:

- working midnight to morning in dead silence

- sleeping through an overly hot day

- watching sunset, then watching sunrise

- being temporarily timezone-synchronized to friends halfway across the globe

- viewing people's absurdly high energy levels in the morning, while you are already sleepy

- being questioned by police for being outside at 3 AM, on your own property

Excellent. This is yet another reason that I love the news.yc community. I have had many similar experiences over the years, but haven't ran into anyone else that also understands and appreciates it in the same way. I think the usually MO is I'm some sort of party animal or lazy. But given high enough productivity employers don't care.

Specifically "viewing people's absurdly high energy levels in the morning, while you are already sleepy" has been frustrating. And as they are winding down and burned out come 4pm or later when I'm speeding up reaching my highest productivity.

Add to the list:

- Remember what happened at that party last night - Volunteer to drive the "late" shift on trips - Watch the server and provide customer support from midnight - 6pm - Finish that feature when everyone else can barely function and things still need to get done - Know every late night restaurant, coffee shop, bar and convenience store. And when they stop serving food, close and open.

> It adjusts the color of your screen to reduce the blue light composition.

Is there any advantage over using the (RGB) color settings of your monitor?

You just need to install it once, versus adjusting the settings twice a day.

I've been using F.lux on my macbook and my desktop for a while and can confirm it is awesome. I can feel the difference in the evening as my eyes are more relaxed from the usual strain of bright LCD monitors (I have dual monitors, which doesn't help)...

Additionally, I used to live in a basement with bad lighting and so I would go to bed at 3am and get up around 10am when the sun would finally shine in my room. About two weeks ago I moved into an apartment with plenty of natural light and I've been getting up at 7am and going to bed at midnight, as well as feeling significantly better and more alert overall

When I was in high school I did something similar for waking up, albeit on a much lower budget.

My dad had a bunch of old X10 automation stuff laying around which I used to rig all of the lights in my room (a light switch unit for the overhead lights and a wall-wart style unit for my reading light) for remote control. Same with the stereo.

Then I programmed the control unit to fade in the lights in the morning and eventually power on the stereo which was looping an ocean sounds file I'd found somewhere. I came to really enjoy waking up in that way. I would have preferred natural light, but with Alaskan summers I needed room darkening blinds, and I didn't have a trivial way to automate those.

The whole project took about an hour and didn't cost me anything. The X10 stuff is pretty cheap now, but there is also a lot of much higher quality automation equipment available very cheap these days.

For what it is worth, I wake up at 5ish every morning, then go with the significant other to the gym where we swim or work out. (The membership we got only allows us to use the gym facilities between 5 AM and 9 AM)

I used to wake up insanely late on weekends (12ish), but this set everything straight; we can finally enjoy our weekends and go places.

Not saying this will work for everyone, but treating it as a romantic "together" activity made it something we stuck to.

> I used to wake up insanely late on weekends (12ish)

I had to laugh at noon being considered "insanely late". :)

For Linux users there is also redshift application -- that is a f.lux analog.


There's also f.lux for Linux.


Having tried both xflux for linux and redshift, I have to say xflux works much better. It has a more pleasant hue and fades much less noticeable. I'm actually writing a Gnome-applet for it (with permission of the xflux author) that should be done soon :)

Looking forward to it. You'll post in on your blog I hope? Nice Wordpress theme by the way.

This is just one datapoint of course, but I tried this last night and actually woke up at sunrise... then ruined it by going back to sleep for another hour. Looking forward to trying this out for the rest of the week.

Is anyone else using this or f.lux. I thought I'd try out f.lux. It just kicked in ~30min ago and it's hurting my eyes. Unless there's something else causing my eyes to burn. Anyone else?

I didn't know that, but I'm using the windows executable (for f.lux) with wine and it's working so far...

It was scary reading that Wikipedia page. It was like it was written for me. I have been like this since middle school and always wondered if there was a proper name for it other than insomnia.

People interested in this should check out the B-Society: http://www.b-society.org/ This is how they describe themselves:

"- Do you love quiet mornings and active evenings?

- Do you feel life is too short for traffic jams?

- Are you at your most productive after 10 am?

Then you might be a B-Person"

I am so excited to try out f.lux, I have been working towards a wake up time of 5am PST (that way I am awake as business gets started on the East Coast) but have hit a roadblock at getting up before 7am.

I currently get a ton of natural light in the morning, plus I have a light box I turn on for 30 minutes while I drink my coffee and do my first work of the day. By 9amm, I'm usually out he door for my walk to work in the sunshine - which is when I think my body really wakes up. I bet if I went for a walk to get a cup of coffee at 7am instead I'd get the benefit and reset my circadian rhythm earlier.

But falling asleep is the main problem for me actually, I try to go to bed by 11:30pm but I find I am still not able to dose off until around 1am (which used to be my normal bed time), so what ends up happening is that over the course of the week I become mildly sleep deprived. I notice this less of an issue on the weekends, and after reading this post I think this is probably because I don't end my day with my laptop/iPad in bed.

Anyone know if there is something like f.lux for the iPad? Guessing not, since it would need to run in the background...

Thanks for the useful post

You could buy the light filter in glasses form. http://lowbluelights.com/ sells them, though they look pretty expensive to me.

Then again, so does the iPad.

F.lux was written by a friend and classmate from CMU. It rocks.

I think light has correctly been identified as the biggest reasons for insomnia(if you look at plants and animals, light plays a big part in their daily cycles). I have seen following changes really helpful:

1. The biggest change that needs to be made, is to have genuine respect for nature's cycles. That is the mindset needs to change from "We can sleep/wake whenever we want" to "Aligning oneself with natures rhythms". All animals and plants do it, except human beings.

2. When looking for apartment, look for apartment which lets more of sunlight in. So bedroom should have window/s which lets lot of light in on to the bed (of course it can be controlled with a blind). 2. Even during day time, instead of artificial lights, see if sunlight from windows can be used. 3. Minimize use of monitor(meaning staring at monitor) past 9PM and ideally best to sleep by 10PM. Consistently. Once the pattern is established, your body automatically falls sleep easily around these times.And, with this patten, early morning hours (6AM to 9AM) provide freshest of mind. It is about quality of wakeful hours and not quantity.

I've found this to not only provide the best quality of sleep but great clarity of mind and improvement in health.

I started an internship 3 weeks back and this created a requirement for me to change from being a night owl.

I didn't spend the $520.99 but I did install F.Lux on my computers and this works REALLY well.

I have been sleeping around 11pm every night and wake up around 7am. I also work out around 6 and eat dinner after which probably aids in the wearing down of my body.

This is mostly due to F.Lux cause I am on the computer till about 5 minutes before I fall asleep.

Also you can just take 5mg of melatonin at 21:30 and half an hour later turn off the lights and go to bed. You'll wake up early in the morning refreshed. After 3 days of such therapy you turn from owl into lark. First day may be a bit awkward but effect stabilizes fast. You may stop taking pills after some time but if you do be super careful not to stay up late because if you do you will turn into an owl again equally fast.

Falling asleep after taking melatonin in interesting feeling. Your breath slows down and it gets shallower. It seems that there are some symptoms of genuinely falling asleep but not all of them. Probably because serotonin mentioned in the article is still high (or something). Funny thing that you don't feel drugged. You feel just physical symptoms of falling asleep not the mental ones. You can easily overcome pill you took and perform any task at almost unhampered performance. Even pull all-nighter despite the pill. But if you go to sleep half an hour after the pill you will fall asleep.

520$ buys you 7 year supply of every day melatonin

I tried melatonin for a cpouple of weeks and it didn't work for me. I experienced frequent bouts of sleep paralysis and felt MORE tired in the mornings than usual.

> Also you can just take 5mg of melatonin at 21:30 and half an hour later turn off the lights and go to bed.

I read an article in -- I think -- NYTimes, maybe a year ago, about melatonin. It revolved around a study which found that the typical 5mg dose of melatonin causes the body to build a resistance very quickly. They found that 300 micrograms had the same effect on sleepiness, but didn't cause the body to adapt.

I've been taking 300mcg doses (Nature Valley, I think) most nights for the last few months and my sleep has been more sound and my dreams much more entertaining and memorable.

Edit: updated 3mcg to 300mcg because I was an idiot.

First I was taking 5mg. I did not notice any signs of resistance building up, but I felt it was a bit strong for me. Now I'm taking 3mg which is barely enough. With such a small dose moving my day to fit social norms takes up to one week.

Melatonin's a good complement to modafinil in that respect. You can take either one, change your mind, and usually be able to get up or go to sleep despite the action of the drug.

Nothing is as important, though, as keeping all sources of light out of your bedroom during the hours you're trying to sleep.

I can confirm that daylight bulbs really help, especially during the winter.

do you know whether they affect seasonal depression?

There are models from Phillips that specifically mention it, yes.

Yeah. That probably works if you live in a place that has more than two hours of "darkness" (it's 1:41, and it's twilight) during the summer, and that has decent quantities of daylight during the winter.

The light adjustment thing works, though, it's just that up north (this being Trondheim, Norway - not that far north, but far enough) you have to enforce by using dark curtains, or even aluminium foil taped on the window. Just wish I had any. The joys of living in student housing - less choice in curtains. So I've gotten used to sleeping even in daylight, since it usually turns up in my room at 3:30 in the morning :P


Note how there is no twilight ending or starting time.

Here is how: Get a job where 11 am is an okay time to go to bed. Don't do anything but sleep and have sex in your bed. Make your room very very dark when you sleep. See sunlight within 10 minutes of waking up (or very bright florescent lights). Stop drinking caffeine within 16 hours of when you'd like to wake up.

Awesome. Not because I haven't read similar stuff before, but because it's a plan that considers that I can not make radical lifestyle changes that endanger my business (e.g., not read or look at a monitor at night).

I thought once I had paid my dues, done the all-nighters, and succeeded that I wouldn't fall back into the grips of insomnia. Now, almost a decade and a new venture later, I'm back at it. I've seen 4:30 AM for many consecutive months. It doesn't feel as easy as it used to, and I'm beginning to think that it's really not healthy.

I notice that I'm often tired and ready to sleep around 9:00 PM. If I find myself in a dark place (movie date or something), I'll pass out. Quite embarrassing. But once I'm "over the hump" I'm good for another 8 hours or so.

I've had severe insomnia my entire life - I miss at least one night's sleep a week, often pull overnighters, etc. My mind just won't shut off, or it will but despite being exhausted I am not sleepy.

I started exercising daily and meditating at least half an hour a day and now I sleep like a baby. Sometimes it takes a couple hours of reading, but its not a severe problem for me anymore. Exercise or meditation alone didn't do it. Together they give me physical tiredness and mental quiet, which means sleep.

Its amazing what physical/mental upkeep will do for you. That being said... I just install F.lux and may try some of this other stuff too!

I've used F.Lux for a bit as part of my sleep cycle; but had to stop. It gave me intense headaches and really really strained my eyes. In the end my optician advised me to stop using it.

YMMV of course but do take care :)

I am a DSPS person and this reminds me of this old Seinfeld joke in which Seinfeld talks about how the night guy screws over the morning guy by staying up and the night guy says that morning guy's responsibility is not mine... It's somewhat true with me. But there is somewhat of a hack that I use when I do have to wake up early:

Do what you enjoy doing before bedtime in the morning - but after your most interesting meeting of the day first over coffee or breakfast. This has helped me get through the day and reset (at least for the next weekday or two).

Left off my post is the now frequently mentioned problem of bright light from the ipad at night. The light is bad for going to sleep and solutions like F.lux don't work on the ipad. Turning down the brightness helps a little, but as I mention in the post, the real problem is that the blue light is not filtered out. Currently, I just stop myself from using the iPad at night, which is so unfortunate--especially since I like it as an e-reader.

Will someone please provide a solution to this problem...I, for one, would be willing to pay for it.

I read the article and I was wondering if you've tried the blue-light blocking sunglasses ( https://www.lowbluelights.com/detail.asp?id=48 ) or something similar?

Also you could check out BluBlocker sunglasses which can be gotten cheap on eBay. But, I'm not sure if they will work for what you want.

I had this same problem and it really didn't get fixed until I got a regular job. I have no self-discipline :-)

The light thing does work though. There are studies backing it and I've tried it and it definitely works.

One funny thing about one of those studies. They somehow found "evidence" that light on the inside of elbow (I think its called the cubital tunnel area) had the same effect on circadian rhythms, but I think this was later disproven.

I can definitely sympathize with the lack of self-discipline as well. It's difficult to discipline yourself when the animus to do so is faltering.

Besides that, I've found myself growing ever more sensitive to lighting, natural or otherwise. The 'fluorescent sunshine' from the overhead fixtures typical to most office environments is a definite demotivator. Likewise, I usually remove those ubiquitous, vinyl miniblinds from any new apartment and replace them with Chinese-style roll-up blinds with opaque fabric to allow in natural light.

yeah, the window coverings are definitely an issue. I wish there were blinds available that would go translucent in the morning. I like it pitch black at night but need the sun in the morning. My first robotic house will handle this. :-)

Hehe... that doesn't sound so expensive actually (some kind of automatically-opening blinds or curtains on a schedule) and might help.

Edit: russell_h actually did something of the sort - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1409313

This is true, but quite simplified. I always recommend a great book by the pioneer of sleep science William C. Dement "The Promise Of Sleep" http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Sleep-Medicine-Connection-Happ... It explains this and many other aspects of sleep that you need to know to manage it effectively.

F.lux seems neat, and it has a really wonderful bug on the new Macbook Pro models: Every time the graphics switch between discrete and integrated, flux lowers the display's color temperature. Essentially, the already-lowered temperature gets reinterpreted as the initial daylight temperature. And then an appropriate adjustment is made to lower it even further for the evening...

(beta) fix for new MBP posted https://secure.herf.org/flux/Flux9d.zip

Not that I want to ruin your fun or anything. :)

With today's sunset, I can report that my fun has been successfully ruined.

I've got no trouble getting up at 6-8 am. If left to my own devices, I get up quite a bit later, though. But never mind my actual sleep phase (or whether I sleep 6,8 or 10 hours), it still takes me 30-60 minutes to fall asleep. So becoming a morning person isn't a good fix for everyone.

(and the "3 Guinness" method has its flaws in the long run.)

Yeah. After 3 pints of Guinness I have to go to the bathroom. I have the bladder of a chipmunk.

Wow, this sounds like me. I generally hit the hay around 3am-5a and sleep for 5 or 6 hours.

However, when I do go to bed, I fall immediately asleep for 5 or 6 hours and I'm pretty awake and alert in the mornings generally.

Great article, and gives me some ideas for if I ever have to adjust to 'normal' hours.

This is really intriguing. I've the tendency to slip into a 10am-2am schedule really easily if allowed. The only reason I'm on a good schedule now is my gf's work is an 8am job. Having something like this would certainly make it easier. Just might have to do this.

Can anyone offer some more evidence that this is effective? I would love for it to work (if left to my own natural rhythm, I get sleepy at 4am and wake late afternoon), but a single person is to small a sample to convince me of the general application.

On a mac, you can press command + shift + 8 to invert the colours of your display. This can be done on Windows 7 by pressing ctrl + + and modifying the magnifier settings, or on linux UIs by setting a key binding in the keyboard settings.

This might work as a way for adjusting wake-up time: http://www.aleph.se/andart/archives/2007/11/the_early_bird_g...

This was a great article if for no other reason than that it just helped me diagnose my insomnia. Knew my symptoms but didn't know the name for my particular type. And F.lux seems like a great first step. Thanks

Inspired by this guide, I purchased $8 sunglasses today and wore them when it turned evening. So far they seem effective in lulling me to sleep :P

Is it bad that I'm reading this guide at 3 AM, on a bright computer screen, wide awake, when I have work tomorrow at 9 AM?

Feels extremely relevant after pulling an allnighter and sleeping 12 hours after that. And now I should head to work...

Same solution for $20 or less: http://www.blublocker.com/

thank you for the post. i feel this pain for years.

I found this to be absolutely fascinating, and I'm extremely excited about the linked f.lux application!

I read about this melatonin-suppressing blue light theory recently. It seems very plausible to me, since I have the tendency to stay up arbitrarily late doing absolutely nothing productive on the computer. I thought it would be brilliant to modify the display settings to ramp down the blue light after a certain time.

This struck me as such a novel approach to the issue that it never even occurred to me that such an application might already exist! I also didn't know that so many other people had the same general set of problems with sleeping.

This describes a mild form of insomnia. The sort where you have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, and having quality sleep when you do, is the most difficult to treat. I don't enjoy it.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome?? That's called being in college...

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