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Good sleep, good learning, good life (2012) (supermemo.com)
506 points by maoeurk on Oct 17, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 254 comments

> "We don't get enough sleep, and we are not going to "change our ways" because there are already too few hours in most people's days to do things they enjoy. Call it a sad fact of life because that's what it is"

This honestly is spot on the way I think about it - I can sleep early, but who benefits from my day to day learning as an adult? My employer maybe? Me in some minor long term ways?

Or I can stay up and do things I enjoy, wake myself up with an alarm every day and consume enough caffeine to bridge the gap. This way, I get more enjoyment out of my life in a very direct and measurable way.

If 5-6 hours of sleep a night is enough to get paid, I'm not going to make a sacrifice that will cost me personally.

Someone else already recommended "Why We Sleep" by the premier sleep researcher in the field, and I highly suggest you get it. Here is a passage from it that should make you rethink the entire rationale you are using to shortchange yourself of sleep:

"Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Fitting Charlotte Brontë’s prophetic wisdom that “a ruffled mind makes a restless pillow,” sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality."

Another endorsement for "Why we sleep" here.

The book isn't so much about "why we sleep" but rather "why you should sleep more" – 350 pages of Walker telling you about study after study after study after study comparing well-slept to underslept people, and all of the afflictions the latter suffer from, often without even noticing it (and the consequences for industry and society).

While I found his contrived writing style annoying at times, the content is the kind of eye-opening that makes you want to buy a dozen copies just to give to your family and friends.

> often without even noticing it (and the consequences for industry and society).

I think sleep deprivation can become addictive. Some people don't seem to get, or gets used to, the despair and come to enjoy the single minded numbness to the point where it is actually uncomfortable for them to sleep well and come out of 'survival mode'.

Sleep deprivation is a major activator of mania in bipolar disorder.

You can even kind-of emergency manage depression with timed sleep deprivation if there are huge reasons (e.g. pregnancy) you should be off your meds.

As someone who has suffered with depression and massive panic anxiety disorder, I can absolute say that, yes, being sleep deprived actually helped a lot. A tired mind has no energy to wander.

(In no way am I recommending this though)

It's not the same. Bipolar folks get a mood lift from sleep deprivation. We actually feel less tired. The only way I know I should be more tired is that my legs feel it, even as my brain is racing.

But then, the elevated mood begets more sleep deprivation and soon you're euphoric, reckless and finally manic as hell.

In a way, bipolar mania is like being addicted to yourself.

Ever so slight word of caution, my reading this book coincided with a period where I wasn’t sleeping very well for various reasons, and I think the book actually made it worse as I was more worried about the detrimental effects of my poor night’s sleep due to what I’d read, so I stopped reading it! I’ve heard the same anecdotally from a couple of other people too.

That said, I think it is a very important book, and now I’ve hopefully resolved my sleep issue (with thanks to some of the comments on https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16671944 - primarily the advice about having a regular “sleep schedule”) I look forward to finishing it!

And if early death doesn't scare you enough, he also mentioned that you're measurably less attractive when you haven't had enough sleep. I recall the study was based on having people rate the attractiveness of participants, in some pictures they had slept well, in some they hadn't, and the attractiveness score of those who had recently slept poorly was lower.

I was going through this patch where I had not slept well for a couple weeks and happened to be at the doctor's office for a checkup. My blood pressure came back 135/80, when normally am at 110/70. The doctor asked me if I was stressed, frankly I was not, nor was I sick, and regular with eating clean and working out. I realized that it was sleep deprivation.

I think the sad thing is that people take this to mean, "block off more time to sleep" when much, much more common is the issue that we're in civilized society. Most of us have some level of reduced oxygen supply during sleep and exposure to allergens (especially in kids who go to public school). I suspect that most people who pass the fuck out at 12am, sleep like a brick, and wake up groggy at 6am will naturally want more sleep the next night. The real issue comes when people are hardly sleeping at all no matter how much or how little effort they devote to their new self improvement plan.

Reading this book over my summer break really drilled the importance of sleep home for me. I was chronically sleep deprived, working on personal projects late into the night after work. After reading this book I realized I was doing myself more harm than good. I was on a five-week holiday at the time, which was the perfect opportunity to start following a more strict sleep schedule. I've slipped a little bit since going back to work, but still manage to get between 7-8 hours per night now and feel better for it.

"Eat, Move, Sleep" is another worthwhile book reinforcing a similar message.

Remember that the author is financially incentivised to make claims about large effect sizes of sleep deprivation, and to infer causality where it may or may not exist.

While it is good to be skeptical, the book really goes in depth and makes a compelling case. I also believe sleep is one of those areas that it is better to err on the side of getting the recommended amount. “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made.” - Dr. Allan Rechtschaffen.

They are all observational studies, usually with small cohorts. Same problem with nutrtitional science and psychology. History tells us again and again these results are biased, unduly influenced by the investigators and often overturned (eg Thinking Fast and Slow).

I knew big sleep was behind this

There is being skeptical and then there is baseless, conspiratorial cynicism -- the kind that usually makes you hurt yourself.

And there's shaming people for having a different opinion than the majority.

Opinions do not gain credence just because you hold them and they do not gain credence or viability just because they're contrarian. No one is shaming it by the fact that it's a minority opinion, it's just a baseless silly opinion to have.

Don't be disingenuous.

> it's just a baseless silly opinion to have.

Sounds like shaming to me.

No it doesn't, and it's still wouldn't be shaming for the reason you outlined. Your entire statement is pointless if you have to crawl all the way back to a single verb to make it relevant.

You sound mad.

Well hopefully that hasn't affected you too much.

Your comment is ridiculously over the top. Not sure why you are getting so emotional about a nicely packaged bunch of observational studies.

Who's being emotional here again?

I know I'm a little late to the discussion, but I think your comment might be more well-received if you were to provide evidence to support your claim about the author's financial incentivization. After reading your comment, I looked briefly at the linked article and found the author's wikipedia page. It seems as though his primary product doesn't involve sleep. Are you saying he's financially incentivized via ad revenue from his blog posts on sleep?

In any case, I guess what I'm saying is you seem to have researched the topic and your spending an extra minute or two giving a few more details will probably save a bunch of other folks ten times that, in aggregate.

I suggest you read "why we sleep" by Matthew Walker. According to him (phd in neuroscience from stanford) you are just short changing yourself -- you're opening yourself up to all sorts of heath conditions later on. Not telling you how to live your life, just saying this book fundamentally changed the way I think about sleep and it is worth your time (IMHO)

This book is truly terrifying. I've been a "work through it" kind of person all my life, and have sacrificed sleep from a very young age for both personal and professional priorities. I've been labeled by close friends and loved ones as "forgetful" or "absent-minded." Now I'm faced with the reality that maybe I'm actually causing myself real damage, and these aren't facets of my personality, but symptoms of something worse. Thankfully, I'm only 32 and have time to correct course.

One thing I've really changed my thinking on in the past few years is my attitude towards work situations demanding late nights. I wouldn't smoke a cigarette for work, so why was I making excuses for late nights?

I've got an Ouraring, and track my sleep constantly -- but still have trouble getting a consistent 8.5 hours. But I'm getting better.

What habits did you change?


^ See above for relaxation techniques. It's just a ripoff from yoga.

• Read book before bed, not computer/phone.

• Walk

• Keep room COMPLETELY dark and quiet

• Don't eat heavy a few hours before bed

• Walk, bike, or workout

Probably shouldn't eat heavily at all; unfortunately for many of us "a few hours before bed" simply isn't possible, but of course some good habits are better than none.

I understand why any alcohol before sleep is bad, so I am drinking less nightcaps. I have a better idea of how to handle inter-continental travel, trying to use less screens before sleep, etc. It is a work in progress for me also.

Getting an Apple Watch really hit home how bad alcohol is for sleep. Anything more than a drink four hours before sleep absolutely destroys my deep sleep. I go from ~3.5 hours of deep sleep to 1 or less. My resting heart rate is also 10 or 15 bpm higher while I sleep than when I don’t drink

Is the watch really accurate to measure deep sleep?

Are there any other watches/devices which measure deep sleep?

Not sure how accurate it is but the fact that it's so reproducibly different does make me trust it a little bit. Also jives with how tired I am the days after I drink. The resting heart rate seems to be quite accurate, I've compared it to manually checking my pulse. During exercise it tends to be slightly less accurate because of the sweat and movement.

There is a Xiaomi product that supposedly can do this: https://www.mi.com/en/miband/

IMO it's not the 8 hours that's required, it's deep sleep, that's what really rests you. I got 7.5hrs the other night, with 1hr of Deep Sleep and I actually felt like I was on the verge of death, whereas other nights on 6hrs with 3hrs deep, and I feel great. I think sleep is a quality over quantity type deal. Obviously this all personal observation, I just pay attention and write shit down, I don't have a PhD lol.

The most recent work I read didn't show a need for 8.5 hours, but it was solely measuring cognitive performance.

Is there really research that shows people need more than 8 on average, or is that a conclusion you've come to about your individual situation?

It varies by person.

I think it also varies for a person. My rule of thumb is, I don't want to make a habit of having my alarm clock be what wakes me up. For me, that means that sometimes I'm up and moving less than 7 hours after my head hits the pillow, and sometimes I'm still sawing logs 9 hours later.

Stress seems to be a factor. Which, ironically enough, means that the more I sleep, the less I need to sleep.

In the middle of this book right now, it's eye opening. I've never really prioritized sleep until now, and the difference in how I feel is very noticeable. I may have less waking time, but I'd say the difference in the integral of hours-enjoyment is a big net win.

That book on sleep is a real eye opener ehh? :)

The author actually makes a joke in the prologue that he’d be delighted if any reader snoozed off while reading the book.


Yeah, if anything, that book just ingrained in my brain the importantce of not screwing up sleep. So much so that I know have slight fear if I don`t sleep well or need to shorten the sleep for 1-2 days for some reason.

That fear actually really messes with me sometimes. The anxiety of knowing I won’t get enough sleep actually keeps me awake sometimes, then I get more anxious and less likely to sleep, etc...

Reading it at the moment. It's an eye-opener.

Heh. You'd be surprised, so long as you're willing to apply your skills outside of employment and with the knowledge that you might not get paid for it. There are SO MANY fields of applied programming that are currently completely starved for resources.

Think of it in terms of open source projects, where the projects that you might be interested have only a few people working on them - but in the context of issues that affect folk completely outside of tech who don't have disposable income like those you'd see on HN or similar.

I seriously recommend that you check out a local "open data civics" group, or something similar in your area. You'll find that they're generally filled with junior programmers - but what they need are senior level programmers who can take charge of problems that junior programmers otherwise can't take charge of. Be that person.

FWIW, personally everything that I learn is entirely aimed towards helping the general public (at a distance), at the expense of my own salary. The work has been very rewarding. That said, it would be great if others would take the plunge that I have.

This is very interesting train of thought and I've been trying for the past two years to find these type of opportunities within my wider network of acquaintances. Still, not much luck. Would you have some ideas / insights / further concrete examples on what could one do? I am very motivated to help and give back to those around because there is not much else I can do except for this.

Feel free to email me at the address in my desc. Thanks-a-lot!

I was moved to action by this comment as well. I found a local chapter of Code for America that seems pretty active. Maybe your city as something similar?

You can't be serious. Why would I want to come home and continue applying the same skillset I apply at work all day?

Is there something about software development that makes people feel the need to practice it every waking minute of their lives?

I mean, sometimes I do it when there's an itch I really need scratched, but most of the time I'd rather do something else. Basically anything else. Is it so wrong to want to socialize a bit or put on one of the pile of TV shows and anime I'd like to check out?

Doing that sort of volunteer work is great, but I just can't, I need to turn it off at some point.

Woah there, calm down. I never said that you shouldn't or can't socialize or put on a pile of TV shows, etc. That'd be ridiculous and unhealthy. Hell, before writing this post, I was playing XCOM 2 :). I'm merely suggesting that techies like us have a much better financial situation than a vast majority of the public, so we have financial flexibility to spare.

Some things you could do:

  -Go to a local weekly meetup. Four hours a week.
  -Move your career towards non-profits. It's now your profession.
  -Teach programming to small classes. Eight hours a week.
  -Find a local advocacy group and make small contributions. Couple hours a week.
If you can't do that sort of volunteer work, then that's on you. No need to be so sour and uncharitable to those of us who try.

I hope nobody follows this advice.

Sleep is very important for your physical and mental health, and it affects people around you, too.

Even those two extra hours you can add are really important. You probably could say "yeah, I'll just drink coffee in the morning," well, NOTHING is a replacement for sleep and coffee has some repercussions in your sleep too (depending on quantity and when you drink it).

So if you are sleep deprived and adding coffee to the mix, you're doing it wrong. Inform yourself, read books about it, ask doctors, don't make decisions based on what people say on the internet (myself included) and you will notice a big difference almost right away.

I stopped drinking coffee (because I have terrible reflux) and started sleeping more. I wake up in a better mood; I noticed that I'm more productive at work because I'm less stressed, plus my family noticed the change too.

Not to mention that a good night's sleep is one of the best feelings I know. I try my best to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, and waking up in the morning is almost a joy.

Getting more sleep enhances every aspect of my day to day life. I snack less, drink less coke, eat better, spend much less time lazing around rewatching crap on netflix because I'm too exhausted to do anything else. I've been to the gym more simply because I can be bothered.

> I've been to the gym more simply because I can be bothered.

Conversely I can take 6.5 hours of sleep and do exercise, or sleep for 8 hours and not have time to exercise.

Self-help books are noticeably silent on which is better.

I think generally the idea is that if you can't get exercise and 8 hours of sleep you need to reprioritize. If you only have these 2 options, there are bigger problems you need to tackle to open up time.

IMO, sleep trumps everything. One month ago I sacrificed exercise in order to sleep more. Lack of good sleep had destroyed me. I felt drained 24/7, whenever I sat down I had trouble getting up.

I feel better now.

I would think the sleep for sure. I don't think many studies recommend 1+ hours of exercise a day. If you walk as much as possible, squeeze in 15 minutes of (body) weight training a day and maybe two 30 minutes of jogging a week you should be pretty good.

One advice we can't act upon is "work less". We can't win.

>One advice we can't act upon is "work less". We can't win.

I think most of the people on hn (or at least most well-paid tech workers... do those still make the majority here?) can work less fairly easily, if that working less comes with the massive performance boost that goes with sleeping properly. I'm sure it's way different for retail and other hourly-type workers.

If I sleep more and if I sleep better? I am just way more effective. When I'm being effective and getting things done, people are pretty slack about me showing up late and/or leaving early, even at the FANG companies.

I mean, I don't know anyone who put "I worked X hours a day" in their promo packet; nobody cares. no, the idea behind the promo packet is that you show what you accomplished, and how those accomplishments effected the company.

My experience is that the boss gets on me about working more only when I'm not producing enough; usually the solution isn't to work more, but instead to figure out why I'm not performing up to expectations and fix that.

Set a timer on your computer that goes off while programming. When it goes off get up and do 10 pushup no matter where you are. Right in the middle of work. Then go back to coding. Next time 10 squats. Then 10 lunges. Or 10 chair dips. At first you'll get funny looks but soon people may join you.

If you're so time crunched I'd say choose 30 minutes less sleep 3x per week and do a bodyweight workout where you are, as you are (so it doesnt cost you travel time).

Because one is not better than the other. They perform complementary functions. Hence, I would suggest either finding time for both (I don't) or alternating.

That is, one day you sleep more and don't exercise and the next day you sleep less and exercise.

There are other ways to get an extra 2-3 hrs a day that are not bad for your health. Some ideas.

* Acquire a shorter commute by moving somewhere closer to work, shifting your working hours to avoid rush hour, or working from home.

* Bike to work, to combine commuting and exercise time.

* Hire help with daily chores like lawn work, house cleaning, laundry, and cooking.

* Eat lunch at your desk

A better way is stop doing stupid things. Many of us need to sleep in because we play around on our phones/games for hours before bed. I get up between 5-6 am every morning and go workout. Then I have super productive time for a few hours without interruptions. Come 9-10 pm I go to bed and am sleep in minutes from a full day.

I realized that when I used to stay up later I wasn’t very productive, and just wasted a lot of time.

Do you not find you need some "stupid time" else all you do is sleep and work?

Actually no. I end up with more free time to do the things I want to do.

Many of us (maybe not you specifically) just do things without really thinking about them. Watching TV, playing video games, etc... we do out of boredom or habit. Not because we really want to do them. I think PG has written about cutting out the bullshit that doesn't matter [1]. Those are the things I talk about being stupid. Does looking at FB for an hour before bed matter? How about some phone game? Or binging a whole Netflix series in one night?

I get so much more done through the early parts of the day, I end up with more time to spend with my wife doing things we want to do.

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/vb.html

Everyone is different, but I found it is down to allocating the time you are most productive effectively.

If you want to get work done and you work best in the morning with no distractions, get up early and go to sleep early.

If you work best at night, stay up late and maximise your time in those productive hours.

If you are comfortable with your day job and want to maximise life enjoyment it's pretty much the same thing, except you're picking the time best suited for what makes you happy. No surprise that active people like to get up and excercise early, lots of daylight and that fresh morning air is invigorating. It's also no surprise that people who like to game or veg out tend to do it at night when they are slowing down from the day.

It is a concious choice though, and I feel many just accidentally fall into a pattern and forget they usually have the agency to choose.

> Everyone is different, but I found it is down to allocating the time you are most productive effectively.

I agree, and I used to be one of those who stayed up later. I found though with myself and some others I personally know that making the move to an early wake up was still better.

It's silly, but when you get a mental discipline win as the first thing you do in the morning (getting up) it builds on itself. The next step is, "I'm up, so of course I'm going to the gym". From there, "I got up early to hit the gym, of course I'm skipping that donut". And so on. Like I said, it's silly in some way, but it also builds this discipline. For me personally, it completely got rid of my procrastination habit.

Avoiding rush hour and hiring help when practical has been absolutely key for me. I was in a bad loop of insufficient sleep --> poor functioning ---> need to work more to compensate ----> insufficient sleep for years before I started taking this stuff more seriously. Sometimes still fale to get enough, but these two relatively minor changes have been really beneficial.

#4 will kill your mental health over time - would not recommend. Take 15 minutes to close your laptop and sit somewhere else. The other suggestions are really good.

I'd say that really depends on what your work environment is like. I've worked places where I'd much rather eat at my desk, quietly reading a book or newspaper, than go into a loud, crowded breakroom/cafeteria where I was either ignored or expected to talk to people I couldn't be myself around.

We don’t disagree, my point is to treat lunch as a complete break (even if it’s just to read at your desk) rather than powering through every day to try and leave a few minutes earlier.

Agreed. I make it a point to never discuss work related stuff during lunch time.

* Read and comment on Hacker News less

That reads a lot like the classic sleep deprived cycle. Hard to get up, tired for most of the day, exhausted after work, feels awake towards the evening, can't sleep, rinse and repeat.

If that is the case I think the key is realizing that you are cheating yourself. When you aren't sleep deprived you should be able to do most of your required work mid-morning and take it easy in the afternoon. Then when you get home you won't be exhausted and can do whatever you want and still go to bed at ease.

As I get older I find myself worrying more about having enough time than I worry about having enough money, being productive enough, or even having pristine health. Time feels more and more important to optimize, having spent most of my youth wasting time and optimizing for those other things.

Once we get UBI or a <40 hour work week becomes the norm, this kind of stuff will be applicable to many more people. Right now a lot of the population can't afford to be healthy.

The negative health impact is going to diminish your enjoyment of life.

I'm highly doubtful that it'll diminish my enjoyment of life by more than the 2.5 hours a day worth of enjoyment I wouldn't otherwise have. That's like adding a full month of time to every year.

I could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow and I'd be damn glad I took that extra time for myself each and every day.

"I could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow"

Ironically, when I am sleep deprived I am more accident prone and more likely to get hit by a bus.

But what's almost certain, if I sleep less than 7 hours for more than 1 week, I will catch a cold. My immune system doesn't work as well without sufficient sleep.

Same, it’s like clockwork for me if I get three or more bad nights of sleep in a row

Why do nerds have this thing where they think they got it all figured out. Like everything is a mathematical system where you can prove that A+B=C.

Well you have to make your decisions based on something right? I'm not sure what you're advocating here, unless it's that we shouldn't think about life decisions too hard. The fact that math is involved doesn't automatically mean the reasoning is shallow.

It's referring to the engineer's disease:


You see it in popular commentary sometimes- the ideas of engineers, often specifically software engineers, claiming unique knowledge by deriving from first principles, in fields they are but laymen in.

I rather trust an engineer in random subjects than anyone else that is not a professional in the field.

Why? Why not doctors? Physicists? Geologists? Scientists of other disciplines? Mathematicians? Statisticians? Why give engineers- and I presume, software engineers, specifically- that extra credit?

Clearly because software engineers are the only people gifted with the true ability to reason. All other lowly professions just memorize facts in books. /s

People really seem to hate software engineers here.

People dislike arrogance, and are embarrassed by peers giving their field a bad name through arrogance.

>Well you have to make your decisions based on something right? I'm not sure what you're advocating here

Um, don't make-up stupid reasons to do things and justify it with math while ignoring the advice coming from experts in human biology.

The GP's same line of reasoning could be used to justify doing cocaine every night. Think of all the extra time you are getting!

It's the same kind of thing we get with politics, where people decide what they believe, and then work backwards to acquire evidence for it.

It's not just politics. We're so hard wired with everything.

I'm pretty confident the tendency to think you have it all figured out is not scoped to nerd-dom.

It's cargo cult intellectualism. It's extremely prevalent in tech communities.

Being underslept makes me grumpy, irritable, unable to focus and pessimistic. All the time.

Having enough sleep lifts up my mood, I am naturally joyful, with easy and reliable access to my memory, and relaxed. All day long.

For me, I know that having fewer pleasurable activities in well-rested mode beats the grinding experience of more stuff in grumpy mode.

Being 90-100% present and able to enjoy fewer things is better than being 30-60% present, and in partial agony, with more things.

So I prioritize sleep which forces me to do less unnecessary stuff.

You are 100% right. The days I sleep less is when am cranky, unable to focus. Its worse in the morning gets better as the day progresses. I work from home, so on those days I'll take a nap and it's a huge upliftment in the mood. And I've had those work weeks, where you don't get enough sleep and I've almost had accidents, screwed up shit at work.

I agree with you. Some people want to live well into their 80s and 90s. I look at most people in their 80s and 90s and cringe. Loads of pills. Walkers. Cognitive struggles. etc.

I'm fine living until 65 if it was a full, happy, productive life. I don't need to live forever, nor do I want to.

But low sleep is going to impact your perception during waking life. You’re not going to get the maximum cognitive productivity or the maximum emotional enjoyment out of life.

It’s like working smarter vs. working harder.

I don't quite get it - why do you think I need the maximum possible cognitive productivity out of my life? If I'm delivering enough to get the job done, that's enough for me, I don't need to invest every minute of my day in maximizing my cognitive productivity over my enjoyment of life. If I'm giving up spending time with my family and friends, working on personal projects or even just catching up on a TV show I enjoy, I'd say that's a better use of my time than sleeping.

I see no reason to think it has significant impact on emotional enjoyment though as you're suggesting - these studies impact learning primarily which wouldn't seem to be deeply involved there. In fact, studies exist showing positive impacts for depression patients.

> I see no reason to think it has significant impact on emotional enjoyment though as you're suggesting - these studies impact learning primarily which wouldn't seem to be deeply involved there.

Please, sleep is essential for emotional stability. I know you rely a lot on self-study, many of us on HN do, but schedule half an hour to talk with your doctor or with a psychologist, psychiatrist or sleep-specialist, and let them convince you rather than letting me do it.

Sleep is absurdly important in all aspects of life, memory integration, resting, repairing the body, emotional regulation.

Not to mention, you are way, way less prone to diseases like cancer, alzheimers, fatigue, depression...

And there are other aspects of sleeping that are interesting and enjoyable too, time slept is not time lost, you dream while sleeping, you know? If you really want to optimize time lived, then you should go for 8 hours of sleep and learn about lucid dreaming, for instance.

> In fact, studies exist showing positive impacts for depression patients.

Not sleeping does indeed have a positive impact patients with depression (and anxiety). I can tell you this because I am one of those people. Out of personal experience, yes absolutely, poor sleep for one day makes you feel better. Why? Because you're so incredibly fucking tired that you literally can't even bother to be anxious.

It is horrifying.

Please for gods sake have some respect for yourself and for your body.

It has a significant impact on my emotional enjoyment. I feel happier, less grumpy, less anxious, when I sleep my full 8

I feel less grumpy and less anxious, each time I sleep my full 8, but I'd be hesitant to equate that sensation with "happier". If I do that for an extended period of time, I feel bored, existential, "socially unproductive", and begin to get a creeping sense of being a rat in a ratrace.

If I sacrifice some of those 8 hours, I feel grumpy, moody, occasionally a bit depressed, but overall get to do more small day-to-day things of value that give me a genuine sense of fulfillment on top of that.

>If I do that for an extended period of time, I feel bored, existential, "socially unproductive", and begin to get a creeping sense of being a rat in a ratrace.

Have you considered that your life is boring and that you're actually participating in a rat race and sleep is allowing you to identify that?

> Have you considered that your life is boring and that you're actually participating in a rat race and sleep is allowing you to identify that?

I don't need sleep to identify that ;)

So you aren't really "happier", you've just chosen a self-prescribed medication to make you seem happier?

That's life for most people. Have you been born yesterday?

How old are you? You sound young (under 35). Once you reach 35 and probably earlier, you will change your mind.

When you're young your body can take almost everything. I know that when I was 20-22 I would sleep maximum 6 hours per day because I felt the way you describe.

Now if I don't take at least 7.5 hours per night (with as few interruptions as possible), my life goes to hell, I feel drained, tired and lost, with depression looming.

I had this view for a while, until I thought about it from the perspective of my loved ones. They may very well prefer that I live past 65.

You sound like you're in your twenties. I think you're setting up a false dichotomy, but it's your life. YOLO!

Well, I can't get any enjoyment when I'm sleepy. Try to watch a movie, I fall asleep; try to read a book, I fall asleep. So if you lack sleep you can't get enjoyment anyway.

You sleep because going through life sleep deprived is torture. Nothing else to it friend.

Right? When reading such comments I sometimes replace “sleep” with “eating” or “drinking”. It’s insane. If my basic physiological needs aren’t met I’m miserable and unable to enjoy the pleasures of life.

Aren't you curious about the world, about history, about psychology? You won't be able to learn deep rich history if you don't remember what you read in the first nine books once you get to the real payoff in the tenth book.

Honestly, I'm not. I like to build things, software, hobby electronics, a bit of cooking and baking, but all of that stuff is best learned through experience, not rote memoization.

Other than that though I find it far more enjoyable to do something other than blindly consume knowledge for no purpose, I'd much rather engage in social activities or play games - even making numbers go up is more satisfying to me than memorizing factoids of limited practical use to me.

Personally as a software engineer I feel quality sleep makes a big difference on the quality of learning I get through experience. I'm more sensitive to the details that matter and develop deeper insights when encountering a new problem.

What do you stay up to do that you enjoy?

I think that for most people who don't get enough sleep it's not because they are busy squeezing every bit of joy out of life. It's because they're using their phone in bed, watching TV, etc.

Why can't you do those things you enjoy in the morning?

Who has time to do anything in the morning? It's grab a cup of coffee and rush into traffic to support the dominator culture/society.

What do you do to enjoy those extra 2.5 hours?

If you get a 403 error (as I do), here's the latest web archive capture: https://web.archive.org/web/20181017190008/https://www.super...

Thank you. I really should donate to the Web Archive because it's just such a useful resource.

An easy way to contribute a small amount is through Amazon Smile (0.5% of your Amazon purchases):


I didn't even know that existed. Cool. Thanks for the heads up.

I'm lucky enough that I haven't cut on my sleep much during my adolescence or my college studies. Today I feel awful every time I sleep less than 7 hours, and moderately dysfunctional if I don't sleep 8 a few days in a row.

By "awful" I mean that I just think slower. It's like playing a game with lag, not fun. I wonder if/how many people who claim they can sleep 6 hours a day and feel fine have just gotten so used to the lag that they don't notice it anymore.

Only thing I'm afraid of is children...

I have a different journey with the exact same results.

In my adolescence/college studies, I thought fast, and slept little. I could stay up all night with friends then go to class the next morning. I spent the first 5/6 years of my career being a top performer on 4 hours every weekday, and catching up on 8-10 hours of sleep over each weekend night.

Then, 3 things happened almost at the same time:

1) I got a much tougher job that challenged me like I never had before (FAANG)

2) I turned 30

3) I lost the ability to sleep in on the weekends. I wake up at 8am now every day regardless of what time I go to bed.

Until #3, I got by with coffee and still using weekends for recovery - way more coffee. #3 ruined it.

I still got by - and was even successful.


#4) I got promoted.

Now the challenges are out of this world, and I can't sustain my lifestyle any more. I'm struggling to adjust to going to bed early because my brain and all my instincts are still in the mode of "Nighttime is for creativity and fun! We can sleep when we're dead!"

But it's starting to affect my work, which in turn is stressing me out, because I really love my job and I want to excel at it. The effects are just as you describe - lag. I'm slow. I'm not as smart as I used to be.

So...gradually...i'm learning to force myself to sleep. I welcome tips. :S

If we were to get solid sleep every day, it would essentially mean commuting from work, eating dinner, taking a shower and going to bed. Every f----ing day. Basically working for the weekend and feeling like there is nothing else in your life. I don't know how to do it.

Liking a job doesn't really cut it. It's a great start, but no matter how much you like something, it will get to you if you have to do it every day 10 hours a day. That and sleep.

The average American commutes ~30 minutes each way [1]. Given a 9-hour workday (8-5 or 9-6), and 8 hours of sleep, that leaves 6 hours to eat breakfast, dinner, and get ready for work/bed plus occasional errands/exercise. This is also really only applicable Monday through Thursday, because Friday night and Sunday give you more flexibility. I'm just pointing out that for many people, there is quite a bit of time.

It is better to start with a healthy amount of sleep and figure out ways to optimize your other time, rather than thinking about what you want to do and using your sleep time as an adjustable lever. The truth is that if you feel like there is nothing else in your life besides work while you're getting a healthy amount of sleep, you need to make other life changes (if you have the option). Limiting your sleep will just ruin your mental and physical health.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/22/the-a...

Still, that is terrible and depressing. Factor in maybe 2 hours for all of your meals (If you make them yourself) and you are looking at 17% of your day that's truly yours——less if you have errands.

I have struggled with falling asleep a lot. This has been helpful recently: 1. 2-3 hours before bed, put away all electronics (including phone and TV/netflix) 2. Read a _real_ book for 1-2 hours 3. If I can't fall asleep, I put on Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Podcast with a sleep timer of 10 minutes. I usually get absorbed into his story telling and it helps take my mind of things. 4. No alchohol during the week 5. No caffeine after ~1pm; and only 1 coffee when I arrive at work

Admittedly, my week is a little boring this way and I still haven't worked up to doing it consistently, but it's been much more effective than anything else.

Reading (and thus avoiding the TV and my phone) before going to sleep has done wonders to me. I can recommend this so much. I'm sleeping so much better thanks to this step alone.

Number 3 is exactly what I also do to fall asleep, putting on Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast with a 10 minute sleep timer, works like a charm!

I can definitely relate to everything you've said, minus FAANG. One thing that helped me a lot is finding a job that allows my schedule to be flexible. Minus oncall, I can come in at 8am or noon, and no one bats an eye as long as work gets done. It removed a lot of anxiety and rushing in the morning.

Maybe not having to be in early might remove some morning anxiety and make it easier for you to sleep in?

One thing I do to help myself sleep is to think about it in a long term versus short term framework. I don’t know about you, but for me, sleeping less is usually better in the short term. I can get more done, or have more fun, today. But when I look at the longer term, I think that getting more sleep ends up being the better investment. Not just in terms of health, but in others areas too - I make better decisions, create better relationships, and think deeper about problems.

Since most things that end up being successful for me over the long term are due to optimizing for long term outcomes, framing the problem that way helps me stay focused on getting proper sleep.

The book "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams" gives some insight about what we know about sleep.

My body really dislikes 8 or more hours of sleep. I've found the magic number for me is 7 hours of sleep. With this I wake up feeling good. 8 hours of sleep makes me tired all day. 6 hours is also better than 8 hours for me.

I think it's because sleep cycles run at 90 minute intervals.

what people mean when they "can" sleep only 6 hours a night is that it doesnm't get painful to be awake and talking. They are still going to be slow and have just gotten used to it.

Regarding children. It helps to sleep in a different room a few days of the week. Especially if they are still sleeping in the regular bed room.

I just completely broke my sleep. I was in Hong Kong, then Mountain Standard Time and then back to Eastern. My doctor prescribed Zopiclone, so I used it the first couple of nights when I returned. For the first time in my adult life, I have been sleeping 8.5 hours a night. I was usually awake after 6 hours. Occasionally I could get 7.5 but generally with an interruption. It is going to take some time to get used to and I hope it lasts, but it feels great to make progress reading books on dry subjects on a weeknight or just being alert in the afternoon.

We have so much to learn about the body and sleep.

I found zopiclone to be addictive. You have the most amazing sleep for the first few days when you take it. Then afterwards when you stop taking it, you get the absolute worst sleep: barely hitting REM, constantly waking up, difficulty falling asleep.

I think: diphenhydramine or melatonin might be a safer bet for some people. Never take it more than a few days in a row.

> Never take it more than a few days in a row.


Literally any sleep substance taken regularly can be addictive, either physically or psychologically. Even melatonin, which is what your body produces will get less and less effective.

As an aside, melatonin is often sold at dosages insanely higher than recommended. Studied have shown that less than a mg, even low as 0.1mg is the optimal dose for many people, but you can easily find 1, 3, 10mg dosages, which is insane. I was in hong kong, the lowest dosage I could find on shelves was 3mg - way too much.

What is wrong with doctors these days :( There are a thousand natural tricks to helping get back on a regular sleep schedule without prescribing an addictive drug that actually breaks your sleep in the long run. (See: Ambien)

> What is wrong with doctors these days :(

Disclaimer: I'm a doctor.

It may be different where you are from, but patients are usually the ones who want a script for something and not to be told to put away their devices, stay away from coffee and alcohol, etc.

Also, there's a difference between addiction and becoming dependent on taking a substance, which seems to be a common misunderstanding in this thread.

Agreeing here. My SO is a medical practitioner, and some of the stories I hear are just crazy. Folks who can't sleep and come in wanting meds, but after digging into their history you find they are drinking four liters of soda, two extra-large (and extra-sugary) lattes, and a pack of cigarettes every day. And on their phone until 11pm.

The more I hear about healthcare from the inside, the more I realize it's a game of "work on the worst problem, ignore the rest". There's limited time in patient visits, and patients have limited motivation, so you really have to prioritize what to fix. If you tell the patient to fix all the things, the will fix none of them.

Worse, patient education is hard work. Patients don't listen, ignore advice, stop lifestyle changes as soon as it gets hard. So you focus on one or two of the worst offenders; you convince them cigs are going to put them in an early grave and they should cut back to half a pack a day. Maybe drop the soda to two liters a day. The rest of their problems you have to ignore until later. That's often when meds come into play because they can help bridge the gap while you work on their lifestyle issues.

Oh, and all of that happens in 15 minute visits every other month.

There are certainly bad doctors out there over-prescribing all sorts of things, but from what I've seen, it's more a matter of prioritizing what to spend your precious 15 minutes on and going from there. Doctors and other medical professionals are in an impossible situation most of the time.

Edit: for clarity, this is an American healthcare perspective.

Amazingly, despite the fact that good diet and exercise are by far the best things you can do to treat type 2 diabetes, it's actually in the guidelines in Australia to commence metformin from the beginning. The reason being that studies have shown that the number of patients who actually do make long-term changes to their diet and exercise routines is excruciatingly small. So small, that it's best just to assume they won't actually do it, so just commence metformin (while still giving the advice, of course). At least this way the 95% (I dunno what the actual number is) of patients who won't change will be getting some BSL reduction in the meantime.

Also because metformin (last I heard) is considered exceedingly safe and almost universally beneficial--so much so that some recommend prescribing it to everyone over a certain age.

I don't thing the crisis we're in right now should be blamed on patients; they might want a script, but that doesn't mean its in their interest.

> I don't thing the crisis we're in right now should be blamed on patients; they might want a script, but that doesn't mean its in their interest.

I'm guessing you're American since you're assuming everywhere has the same crisis you do. From what I've read here (on Hacker News), you have plenty of systemic problems. I doubt blaming doctors is going to be the most useful course of action. But then, I don't really know. Perhaps all doctors in your country deliberately do things that are against patients' best-interests, and would continue to do so if patients actually wanted the best thing for them. Do your doctors really not suggest good diet and exercise as treatments for type 2 diabetes? I'd be very surprised if they don't.

Edit for clarification.

Not OP, but one thing I've always found absurd about our medical practice is doctors recommending things like whole wheat pasta for type 2 diabetes. Really? Plate of carbs? Many health systems here still have this kind of stuff in their official guidelines.

I've never seen that in a guideline or heard a doctor recommend that, but I agree it's strange. But it makes sense to me if it's a case of "replace your endosperm-only pasta with whole-wheat pasta". It's not practical to tell someone with T2DM they can never eat pasta ever again.

It's far more important to look at the diet overall than to agonise over the occasional pasta meal.

Some people also have luck with Magnesium L-Threonate

Yep, Magnesium works for me big time. I take a powdered form which seems a lot more effective than pills. Still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes but can get back to sleep easily without my brain switching into overdrive.

Melatonin definitely knocked me out, but I woke up groggy feeling like I hadn't slept at all

Do you take L-threonate or other versions? Have you tried stopping it - did things get worse than before you started?

Have you been taking it? What has been your experience?

If you can, get a membership at a local gym. After a few weeks visiting a gym I slept like a baby.

It has opposite effect on me - after a strenuous strength training session I usually can't sleep well, often being in a half-zombie state until 3am then having some shallow sleep until morning.

Maybe the problem is that you exercise too late. I exercise at 6am.

At around noon. And till failure.

Look up "overtraining". You are putting too much stress on your body and possibly your central nervous system.

Why do you train to failure? Very few training programs that I have seen encourage lifters to regularly train to failure. I think westside barbell's program may, but that is for people competing in powerlifting.

Also, it's my understanding that when most people talk about exercising for better sleep they are specifically talking about low intensity steady state cardio exercise.

I am one of those "lucky" ones that have to train extremely hard to see minimal gains. That means Tabata sprints till (almost) vomiting, 3xHIIT in a row, lifting long sets till failure etc. Nothing else works. Look it up, I am not alone. I am very tall, so it is compounded with much stronger lever effects, higher risks of injury if anything in the movement is misaligned, higher risk of splitting/cutting tendons etc. Also requiring Prussian discipline to see any gains and overriding feelings to push forward.

Every person I have met who said they work hard for minimal gains was either not working as hard as they thought or not eating enough. I was one of those people until I started tracking food and workouts.

I tried a lot of different things, went through paleo, high-protein, liquid vegan, standard, high-carb, carb-waves etc. You can't apply your limited experience to everyone else; it's like when I talk to a regularly-sized coach and they just don't get the issues very tall persons have to cope with and most of their advice is either misguided or outright dangerous (but would work wonderfully for their type of person).

You may have tried it/added it in, but a single point of anecdata if I may - try adding in rowing. It's basically squatting a lot if you think about the form used.

You describe almost exactly what I face in training and I've seen substantial improvements in conditioning by adding rowing to my workouts. I actually do 45 minutes at around 19 strokes per minute at a 500m split of (average) 1:45. More recently I've moved to doing 1000 strokes per workout. That's at about 275-325 watts per stroke. I use an adjustable water rower with heart rate around 150-170 average. I get around 15-16km per workout.

The action is essentially resistive aerobic training, not unlike squatting as I mentioned. I can't say it'll work for you but I can say it's helped me find a form of aerobic exercise that maintains strength and conditioning.

Your height will give you a mechanical advantage but a water rower will give a non-linear resistive load so you can adjust it to give you the desired heart rate/wattage to sustain difficult training throughout the workout period.

Rowers are considered to be the absolute top of the pyramid amongst athletes in terms of balancing power/vo2 max/aerobic capacity etc etc.

Thanks for the idea! I've tried rowing very rarely as a rowing machine wasn't a standard piece in gyms I usually went to; I'll try to find one that has it and then try it for ~3 months following your advice!

Based on the diets you listed, you missed my point completely. If you are not getting any gains, you are not eating enough and/or not lifting heavy enough. Track your food. I thought I ate a lot and when I tracked it was clear I was not. I had to set alarms through the day to tell me to snack on the jars on PB I kept at my desk. I was almost never hungry, ate 2 dinners, etc... And it worked. I'm 6'1" (not very tall) and went from a skinny fat 165 to a lean 205.

Lifting heavy is the other part. Everyones biomechanics are different, so you need to adjust to fit your own, but being tall is not something unique. There are plenty of tall athletes who put on lots of lean muscle.

Non of those things are helpful for gaining strength or building muscle. Do a basic barbell program and eat 6000 calories every single day and I guarantee you that you will see results.

I am 6’4 and thought it was impossible for me to gain muscle weight. Turns out I just wasn’t eating enough. Starting Strength + gallon of milk a day, and I have been making really good progress. Eating and sleeping are parts of the difficulty when training.

The most important thing to do is to track your calories. If you haven't done that yet try it for a month and see what happens. Worthwhile experiment.

Your problem is all the anaerobic-lactic work. Anaerobic-lactic training leads to quick gain over the short-term, but after 3-4 weeks you plateau and from then on you burn out if you keep doing that (This is why most competition preparation programs for endurance athletes only have anaerobic work in the last few weeks before the event). [0]

If you don't have a competition coming up (or if you are just training for health), then a mix between aerobic and anaerobic-alactic (strength, explosiveness) is much better.

Check my website [1] for the training methods that I usually recommend. For a non-athlete or someone in off-season I would stick to cardiac output, threshold training 1x per week and strength training.

You will see much better results and you will sleep better if you change your training approach. Hope that helps :)

[0] See Arthur Lydiard's work

[1] https://fit4bjj.com/

Sidenote: I would recommend actually reading the tabata study. You can see that they also plateau'd after a few weeks (but the study duration was not long enough to see the long-term effects).

Thanks for the pointers! I'll definitely look into what you wrote!

After working out for many years I have come to accept that squeezing out single digit percentage gains is not worth the physical and mental effort required, and that maintenance is sufficiently satisfying. My goals have shifted from bulking up to staying fit. It's one less thing to worry about.

None of this precludes incorporating a significant cardio component, which tends to help with sleep.

Maybe try taking it easy?

How late are you working out? I try to avoid exercise after 2 hours before bed time otherwise I have too my energy to fall asleep on time.

If you hit the gym too close to bedtime, that's not super surprising. It also may take time for your body to adapt to the workouts. I hope this isn't stopping you from strength training at all — from what I've read, it's almost a non-negotiable dimension of health and wellbeing.

I am in a pretty advanced stage of training, so I don't think it's an adaptation problem. I guess some people are like me, some aren't (shrug).

To be fair, that's how many babies actually sleep.

I assume any cardio exercise will do. No gym membership required.

Just to add, you can do strength training just fine without a gym membership, and exercise every muscle group. There is an endless sea of web content to teach weightless workouts.

Simple examples..

Back: pullups. Too easy? Use one arm.

Chest: pushups. Too easy? Vary your arms position, or just use one arm.

Legs: squats. Too easy? Use one leg.

Abs: sit ups. Too easy? Hold something heavy against your chest. Too easy? Hold something heavier.

It's not rocket science :) Motivation is the only ingredient you need for all the exercise you can tolerate.

Motivation and discipline. I have found adding it to a list helps the discipline part for me since I'm OCD and have to finish all the lists! :)

Thanks for the recommendation, but is it possible to do something for the back without a bar to do the pullups? I dont have a bar and I cant install one on the apartment I rent. Thanks!

There are pull-up bars that use only friction and leverage, that don't require any drilling to install. Here's an example: https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Gym-Total-Upper-Workout/dp/B001E...

They're a little low and only support <250lbs, but otherwise they are perfectly fine for the average home workout.

If your doors are sturdy, make a knot in a towel, hang it over the door and close it. Use that to do pullups. I used to do this a lot during traveling.

You can also do inverted rows under a table by holding on to an edge (not comfortable, but works).

You could invest into a dumbbell and/or resistance bands and do row variations. Or a TRX for inverted rows.

Or go to a park or anywhere else where you can hang onto to do your pullups.

Abs: sit ups. Too easy? Hold something heavy against your chest. Too easy? Hold something heavier.

Fault! This is adding weight. Better luck next time. :)

Hanging leg raises are what you're looking for. Start with bent leg, then straight leg, then toes to bar etc.

Pilates (wothout reformer) offers harder ab exercises without external weights

For me, weight lifting improves my sleep far more than cardio.

I have the same experience, provided it's early in the day. However, swimming a couple of km does it for me too, maybe even better!

Do you go to the gym at night before bed, or in the morning?

Both actually work in improving the quality of your sleep and whether you should exercise in the morning or in the evening depends on your chronotype. However if you decide to exercise in the evening you should aim to be done with it at least 2 hours before your normal bedtime.

When I work out in the morning I sleep like a rock and can fall asleep as early in the evening as I would like.

When I work out at night I usually feel energized afterwards and tend to stay up later.

I did it in the morning, at 6am. The reason why "did" is because I now go to a swimming pool instead.

so it was kind of implied, but i want to ask explicitly - those 2.5 extra hours of sleep had a noticeable impact in your days? If you had to qualify the experience beyond 'just being more alert,' how would you do so?


Unfortunately sleeping pills are rarely sustainable, good luck.

When I was prescribed them before, I used them purely to reset the time I go to bed to a reasonable hour. And never more than 2/3 days in a row.

I only used them for the first 2 nights when I returned and haven't since. Doctor did warn they are addictive.

I just read "Why We Sleep" which covers a lot of the same territory. Vital information, should be in the Human Brain Owner's Manual.

I fast and maintain a ketogenic diet. Its 5:45am as Im typing this. Ive been up since 4. Went to bed at 11. Currently on hour 35 of a fast that I plan to end mid morning. Unless I still feel "great"...

I have high mental clarity currently. I had high mental clarity when I went to sleep. I did have issues sleeping, but this is nothing new on a ketogenic and fasting state.

From the vast research I've done, sleeping may be more important on a high-insulin-fluctuating diet. However, when the body and brain are fat adapted (less insulin), there is a constant fuel source. The brain operates very efficiently on ketones. Also, important to note that when fasting and doing keto, you must supplement electrolytes.

There is a lot more to all of this and the notion behind the importance of sleep. Anecdotally, diet proves to be more important for me. Do your own research.

related: https://www.alzheimers.net/diabetes-of-the-brain/

I intermittent fast everyday, apart from when I run long distances (more than 10 miles). I also do a 24 hour (sometimes more) on a Monday which is when I don't run at all.

Doing this has helped my sleep so much and my productivity has gone through the roof.

I don't do ketogenic though, I believe a good source of carbs in our diet is fine. I tend to get mine from sweet potatoes. I stay well away from refined sugars though.

I agree that good sources of carbs are fine as well. The human body is amazing such that there is no end-all be-all diet for it and its able to adapt efficiently to healthy diets.

I actually do a high-glycemic (talking baked sugary madness) load/refeed around intense workouts every once and awhile; also keeps me sane.

> From the vast research I've done, sleeping may be more important on a high-insulin-fluctuating diet.

Could you link to some of your peer-reviewed articles in moderate-to-high impact journals? I'd be really interested in hearing about that vast body of research.

Please don't post snarky comments to HN, and especially not predictable snark tropes. We're hoping for thoughtful conversation here.



Please don't break the site guidelines just because someone else did. That just makes this place worse.


I found a 2017 update version of this article.


The arrogance in this thread is incredible. Legions of people pointing to pop science books and talking about how horrible their life would be if they weren't getting their 8 hours. Phrases like "have some respect for yourself" and "you're not getting the most out of life".

Do what works for you, but do remember that your life is just another anecdote. Stop telling others how to live their lives.

I stay up way too late all the time. My sleep is irregular. I rarely get as much sleep as I would if I went to bed at 10pm every night. And yet I'm extremely healthy, I pop out of bed every morning, and I'm always in a good mood. I don't get colds, I don't have memory problems... I don't have any of the horrible effects you all are sure I must have because your book says I must.

Well, you will have them sooner or later. Aging changes you dramatically.

But I agree with you, if you get less sleep than generally recommended and you feel fine, then there is little point in sleeping more.

I disagree. How would you know that you're fine? There are studies that support the claim that people quickly adapt to their sleep deprived self and regard that as the new norm. That's precisely one of the dangers: that you are not aware of your sleep deprivation.

Obviously, many detrimental effects of sleep deprivation only kick in after many years. And then there are the outliers. Just because you can cross the street blindfolded with headphones on without checking traffic doesn't mean it can generally be considered safe.

And there's not nearly enough evidence to establish the causal links that you are so certain of. I get that it "makes sense" to you. It fits in with your worldview. But that's not how science works.

"Studies have shown" is the classic hint that "this person has no clue that they're talking about".

Show me specific reproduced experimental studies with proper controls, talk about effect size, and then there would be no argument. Such proof has failed to arise for countless health trends in the past, no matter how intuitive they may have been.

Does anybody else split their sleep into two periods? I've done this out of necessity at several points in my life, first more than 20 years ago when I worked at a job that required me to get up at 3 in the morning and then more recently when I find I do my best work at night (last night, for instance, working at 1 am) but have to get up at 6:30 to help my kids get ready for school. I work from home and can set my own schedule, so I can go back to sleep for a few hours in the mid morning but I am not sure if this is optimal in terms of getting enough sleep or the "right" kind of sleep.

I've done it for short stretches (couple weeks), and found I needed more sleep overall to get close to the same waking clarity as when I sleep for a single period.

So I'd need 2 x 4.5h blocks to get close to how I'd feel with 1 x 8h stretch. Even then, only close. Couldn't quite get it to feel the same and definitely not better.

TBH I think most of the 'off' feeling about it is in how it broke my normal perception of days and time passing. I spent a lot more time having to consider where I was, temporally, and how it lined up to anyone I needed to interact with.

If you're able to work on your own schedule it definitely works. I'm most productive in the morning and at night so I like to work from 7am to about 2-3pm. Then I'll take a nap from 3:30-6:30, and work from 7p to 1 or 2 am and go to sleep again.

I'm able to be very productive on this schedule but obviously not everyone is able to follow a schedule like this.

There's a decent amount of evidence that prior to the 17th century people in many parts of Europe would break their sleep up into 2 chunks of about equal length.

Sometimes I take a 20 minute nap at lunch time.

Other times I'll go to sleep right after dinner, awaken around 11 PM, do stuff until 2, and then sleep until 7.

I always feel well rested on days like either of those.

Interested to hear more - What time do you sleep? How long for, in each period? How long have you being doing this? Whats the effect been?

Currently, 6 hours at night (from about midnight to 6:30 am) and then another 90 minutes to two hours from around 8:30 to 10:30. I started last month.

I feel that I need to do it, as it's very difficult for me to go to sleep before midnight and if I don't get the mid-morning sleep I will be ineffective in the morning. At first I felt bad about doing it (going back to sleep when everyone else is working) but I usually work until about 9 pm at night as well as on the weekends for about 3 or 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday so I feel I am working a normal amount, just at really odd times. And I feel much more productive, particularly in the afternoon which I used to reserve for low-brain activity work.

It replaces a much shorter catnap I used to take in the mid-afternoon, which I have been doing for some years. I no longer need to do that.

Honestly, quantity of sleep pales in comparison to the ability to focus, for me (I get enough sleep. I go to the gym. I still can't focus).

Have you ever tried L-Theanine? It's a wonder drug for me.

I would like to chime in that I also very much enjoy L-Theanine. In addition to (I think) helping me focus, it has an even more pronounced effect on anxiety. When I take L-Theanine and have some obtrusive thought -- cooked up especially to make me anxious by some adversarial force deep in my sub conscious -- I can pretty easily let it go. Most noticeably, the strong 'pit in the stomach' feeling that both signals and reinforces anxiety is absent.

I would encourage nearly anyone to try it. It's an amino acid found in the highest concentrations in green tea. If you've ever had a couple cups of green tea and noticed you feel relaxed and focused, you might want to try an L-Theanine supplement.

How do dosages from a couple cups of green tea compare with a supplement's dosage? Are the effects comparable?

At the risk of starting a conversation that's more about general insomnia and tangential to the article, has anyone dealt with early morning insomnia? This article doesn't seem to mention it, but I'm wondering if resetting one's circadian rhythms will help.

I get this a lot. I tend to sleep for between four and six hours, so if I fall asleep at 22:00 I’m awake at 04:00 it earlier.

This isn’t so bad because I’m at work at 06:00 anyway. But it’s no fun if I sleep earlier.

I recently went to doc and said as much. Got prescription for 25 temazepam to take as needed in the AM to get me back to sleep.

I don’t use them much, but knowing they’re there helps a lot.

My other tactics are: jog after work and a few sets on the heavy dumbbells. No food or drink for two hours prior to retiring.

Plus, I keep a bottle of liquid melatonin (sub lingual) and a phased release melatonin tablet (swallowed) by my bed. I’ll otfen have a dose of the liquid melatonin plus a tablet as I lay down and read a book in bed. The liquid acts rapidly, tablet less so.

I find this combination of food restriction, plus excercise, plus melatonin, plus reading novels, gives me waaaaaay better sleep than reading HN all night ;)

Yes, I'm still dealing with it and have been dealing with it for over a year. GP says it's related to depression, but I think it's a chicken and the egg situation. I have tried so many things to correct it, I'm starting a CBT-I course with a specialist next week, I really hope that sleep restriction kicks my rhythm back to normal.

Yes. If you are using ANY stimulants, stop (obviously talk to your doctor if they're prescription). They can mess with your sleep beyond just keeping you awake at bed time.

Go see a sleep doctor. 'Premature arousal' is the term for what I think you're describing. You wake up too early, and can't go back to sleep. There can be a few different things that cause this, so there's no one-size-fits-all treatment.

"We don't get enough sleep, and we are not going to "change our ways" because there are already too few hours in most people's days to do things they enjoy"

Speak for yourself.

In sleep about 9h a day.

What are some good options for tracking your sleep quality(deep sleep etc)?

Sleep clinic would be the most precise but personally I think it induces its own bias as we sleep best in our own beds. Hopefully we sleep in our own beds most of the time.

So what consumer choices are there?

Apple Watch is what I read in this thread but any other fitness trackers/phones with reasonable accuracy ?

I am very doubtful of just a phone app accuracy without some on body sensors.

If you don't feel sleepy during the next day, you had a good sleep. Nothing further needed. Why do people today want to insert a gadget/app into everything they do? Too much disposable income? Try investing it for your retirement or something.

It's not quite as simple as that if the many posts on importance of good sleep here on HN indicate anything.

Sometimes you might wake from 7.5 hours of sleep groggy and with a headache and sometimes you might feel fresh after 6 hours.

If good sleep is one of the most important things in prolonging and improving your quality of life then it would make sense to take advantage of modern technology to track it.

What's the point of investing extra $100 for retirement if you do not live to enjoy it?

Besides, I live in a country where retirement is far from certain.

I would at least like to know the optimal time for waking up.

Optimal time for waking up is whenever you wake up without an alarm clock.

How many people have the luxury of waking up without an alarm clock ?

Also waking up without an alarm clock can sometimes lead to oversleeping which is not optimal either.

Ever wake up groggy and with a headache on a Sunday morning after 10 hours of sleep?

Although as a team member I'm biased, Oura ring is great and tracks your sleep stages and body signals during the night (HR, HRV, Temperature): https://ouraring.com

Pretty comprehensive recent review https://www.wareable.com/health-and-wellbeing/oura-ring-2018...

I use a Huawei wrist band I got for 30 EUR. It tracks your REM/deep and light sleep. I would say accuracy is good but not exceptional.

All fitness bands brands (Huawei, xiaomi, Fitbit) today track your sleep. You can give it a try and decide by yourself.

I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle app for iPhone. I got the recommendation here on hacker news.

Still not certain whether it works or not. Sometimes it tells me I’ve slept with a 90% quality but I still wake up feeling a little bit tired..

I haven't purchased one yet, but the Oura Ring is supposed to be exceptionally good for this.

I've been having trouble getting the page to load. I noticed I'm not alone. Anyone care to speculate on why and how I can avoid this on my sites in the future? I'm guessing someone in devops or sysadmin or with experience would have a good guess

The Supermemo is an excellent resource for learning and memory. Full of top notch content.

The article link gives a 403 error. Any other link?

Edit: http://super-memory.com/articles/sleep.htm this seems to be the same article.

Here you go : https://archive.fo/9kz4u

Thank you!

If you visit HN after midnight- This should be the top story

Still 403 as of 18:31PDT. server fell over. :(hope it comes back:)

The link is down, does anyone know of a mirror/backup ?

Mods: This link is broken and giving a 403 error.

Oh weird, link is broken

403 forbidden. :(

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