Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Sleep hacks (cnet.com)
195 points by RiderOfGiraffes on Nov 30, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

I see the title has now been re-written. It used to be more descriptive, and point out that this was a non-scribd link. Now it's been trimmed simply to say it's about sleep hack, and not mentioning the non-scribd aspect.

I find that leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth. I wish it hadn't been done, but I guess I can understand why.

Hurrah! Thank you fellow scribd-loather. I flagged the other article out of disgust but was annoyed as the topic interests me.

I wouldn't mind just going to the Scribd page and clicking the green 'download' button if they would just let me have the file without extracting my personal details (facebook connect).

That's why I use Bugmenot: http://www.bugmenot.com/view/scribd.com

This submission - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1953615 - is of a document about getting better sleep, and taking control of your sleeping patterns. It's also hosted by scribd.

In the discussion a link was provided to a non-scribd version, so here it is. It's a 1.8MB ZIP of a PDF.

Not trying to give a personal plug (well, maybe a little bit), but I wrote a bed time calculator that might count as a pretty cool 'sleep hack'.

The idea is that it counts backwards in sleep cycles from the time your alarm has to go off so that you wake up during a light phase of sleep. Waking up in light sleep (vs deep sleep) will let you wake up feeling more awake, alert and refreshed.

If you're interested, the URL is http://sleepyti.me

I'd love to hear any comments or suggestions about the page, so if you have any feel free to let me know!

The flaw there is that it's often hard to control when you fall asleep.

There's a watch on the market that monitors your movements in order to spot when you're lightly sleeping. You can set an alarm, and a window of time before that alarm. If, during that window of time, the watch detects you moving, it'll go off then. Otherwise, it'll go off at the specified time even if you're deep asleep.

I believe that there's also an iPhone application that will use the accelerometer to figure out when you're moving the most during the time frame in which you're supposed to wake up. The increased movement implies lighter sleep, and that will trigger the alarm to wake up.

The idea with http://sleepyti.me is basically to emulate this without the need for external hardware. I'm in the same boat as you--that is, I have trouble actually falling asleep sometimes.

I originally had 'time to fall asleep' option that would allow the user to specify how long it usually took to fall asleep. Unfortunately, no one really ever used it. It's a lot easier to say "the average human takes fourteen minutes to fall asleep," than to try to calculate that in beforehand.

My advice is to give yourself a half hour or so to fall asleep. If it's been longer than that and you're still awake, get up, walk around, go back to bed in 15 minutes (and recalculate from sleepyti.me!). Research says that laying in bed longer than a half hour while awake will actually make insomnia worse. If you're sitting in bed for over a half an hour every night, you might consider talking to a doctor about sleep aids. It helps me sleep better just to know that I could take an Ambien if I need to.

It assumes everyone has a sleep cycle of 90 minutes, but I believe sleep cycles get shorter through the night.

I've heard interesting comments from both sides of this issue. Some people say that sleep cycles get longer as the night goes on, while others say that they get gradually shorter.

Although I was originally going to try to compensate for this variation, I instead decided to go with the average sleep cycle times instead. There is always going to be some variance in the length of cycles (usually between about 75 minutes and about 110 minutes), but the average is pretty well documented to be about an hour and a half.

Although it's definitely true that some people will have drastically differently timed sleep cycles, this is usually due to some other neurological condition. My theory is that short of that, the law of averages will help me out :)

Well, suppose I need to get up at 07:30. It advises me to go to sleep at 22:30, which is 9 hours, or 6 cycles. If I'm out by just 10 minutes, that's an hour.

So perhaps I should go to sleep at 21:30. Or at 23:30.

There's a big difference.

I do love the idea - the challenge it trying to work out whether I'm average.


Surely I'm not the only person who thinks a PDF inside a ZIP is worse than Scribd.

I'm sorry, clearly I should've done even more work for you so you wouldn't have to do anything. Now I have, or at least, I spent two minutes looking thorugh the existing thread to find the link already there. So here, just for you, a direct link to a PDF that you can view online and without any extra work:


Actually, on re-reading this I realise I've replied to snark with snark, which I think is a bad thing and I try never to do. Apologies.

It's too late to delete or edit it, so I'll have to let it stand, but I'm sorry for replying in anything other than an explicitly positive and constructive tone.

But funny enough, your comment was voted up.

But now I have to go online to download the bits. And how am I going to read it in bed? If you'd be less self-serving and think about the rest of us for a change you and print the article out that would be appreciated. It's only 50 page but it would probably be better to get it bound as well.

I expect this by end of day, please.

I have to ask though... why submit this again to HN when all of these other download methods were linked on the other thread already?


These two threads basically show what I have always said... PDFs are wrong for the web (and any 'tool' that displays them).

In short, because the other submission has a link to the scribd site, and the direct links were buried. But submitting this separately I gave people a chance to decide whether they want to access the direct version(s), or the scribd one.

Ideally a site that eventually replaces HN, or an update to HN, will have a single location where similar submissions can congregate, and then we get a single discussion thread. In this case we could then have put the direct links as alternative sources, and retained a single discussion location.

But we don't have that, so I provided an alternative source that was close to the surface, instead of buried in a thread.

It lets people vote with their feet...

Which they seem to be doing :)

I feel sorry for http://www.sleepwarrior.com/ that their site is in "maintenance mode".

Am I the only one who thinks you shouldn't "hack" your sleep. The human body isn't a computer or a program and shouldn't be treated as such.

I disagree - the more we understand the underlying mechanisms of our body, the better we can get it to perform. It's a bit like saying changing your diet because you know what's bad for you is messing with nature.

That's why I'll be taking advice from my doctor and not an ebook.

Suppose the author aggregated information from many doctors and wrote it down an ebook?

And what makes your doctor the authority on sleep? They inevitably get their information from scientific studies not conducted by themselves, and the author of an ebook can do the exact same thing.

There's no reason to disparage the ebook just because it doesn't look like the conventional form of authority.

>Suppose the author aggregated information from many doctors and wrote it down an ebook?

Then it should cite the sources.

It does, actually. Most - not all - of the "hacks" are cited and linked to doctors, studies, the American Nutritional Association, etc.

A few don't lead anywhere, guess that's a symptom of linking out of a two year old ebook?

It's not telling you to take all sorts of weird drugs in order to sleep, it's basically outlining things we already know.

Go to sleep early, eat right, don't eat weird shit at night, and you'll feel better. Witchcraft, I say.

Thank you. I have a feeling that my brain works best during nights, but I have to start tuning to overcome that feeling.

It's worth noting that some humans are shifted into the evening. Morning-persons and night-owls seem to have held different advantages to our species once we domesticated dogs. Morning folks catch the first rays of light for the day's labor, night folks tend the watch fires and keep intruders away while the bulk of the humans sleep.

That's an interesting idea. Is there any additional reading related to this?

Of course. The following Wikipedia article has several references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronotype It is also worthwhile to do a Google Scholar search with the query "evolution eveningness".

Thank you :)

modafinil = sleep hax.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact