> The research is overwhelming that the vast majority of us require seven to eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested, and only a small percentage require less than seven.
I'm sometimes envious of people I meet that can function well with little sleep, but I resign myself to the fact that I wasn't dealt that particular card. You can't compete with those folks by simply trying to ape their habits.
This may be one part of it. Some time ago, I'd definitely tell you I'm fine with little sleep. You can do it if you sleep very little every night. It's quite easy to adapt to, for example during university exam times
But then after some years you realise you're not actually fine. You just don't remember how different is it to sleep longer. I'm still fighting with myself now to sleep for a reasonable time to reverse the old habit. I did tell people I'm fine with little sleep before. I will happily tell them now that I was lying - just didn't know it at the time.
There are two other components to this that you're glossing over. Sleep helps with long-term memory. So if your plan is to study-ahead and be prepared for the exam, fine. But then the second component comes in to play. People that are cramming for the exam are doing so because they didn't study ahead. For that second group of people, sleep is actually the last thing they need. What good is remembering something long-term, if you never actually "learned" it in the first place. And let's be honest, people that are cramming for exams, are not the type to have learned the content before, either. (Though I generalize a bit there)
Now I practice much less and focus on my health. My abilities seem to increase on their own on a slow-but-noticeable basis.
Not too long ago the combination of child, work and school forced me to completely re-evaluate how I was spending my time and what is actually important to me.
One big change I ended up making was getting to bed at the same time every night and clocking a consistent 8 hours.
Within a week or so the difference was remarkable in both my mood and acuity through the mid-afternoon - ideally I'd take a 45 minute nap around 13:30, but that's not an option with my current job.
In order of effect, the best things I've ever done for day to day clarity:
1.) Going to bed and rising at consistent times with 8 hours inbetween.
2.) Drinking plenty of water. At least 8 ounces per waking hour for me.
3.) Regular exercise. I feel best lifting weights 3 or 4 days a week, but I expect the specifics are less important than simple movement and exertion.
Exercise is like that, too. If you stay relatively stationary for a few weeks, then get out and do some serious exercise, you are more awake than you remember possible.
Similarly, smoking (especially green) and drinking are like that, too. When you stop, it takes awhile to get over, then it's amazing.
Probably being outside in nature in general has additional benefits, re: general sensory stimulation, removal of droning mechanical/electric noise, variety of light conditions, rhythmic subtleties of tone in the shadow of a moving tree, etc.
You notice northern hemisphere people that come to the tropics revert near-instantly to depression when boarding flights back home in their winter. I saw it in a set of Russians in Vietnam earlier this year... it was incredibly well choreographed!
PS. I went on a brief hunt via thesaurus.com and Wikipedia for an effect along the lines of 'acclimatisation' but failed to come up with a trans-disciplinary term. Please post if you know of one.
That's 3.8L per day [(24 hours - 8 hours sleeping) * 8 fl oz = 3.8L]. Recommended intake is 2-3L. Just be careful of water poisoning...
My case is a bit unusual as I'm far above average in height and weight. On average, the recommendation for my size is around 5.0L/day. In relation to that, the top of my head figure of 3.8L seems like a good lower bound.
It's always interesting trying to do conversions in a world made for folks are 5'8" and <200lbs. I'd be shredded to the bone if had a 'healthy' BMI and I'd be dropping pounds a week on a 2000 calorie diet.
Of course, drinking anywhere near 25L is not 'safe' either, and can still cause electrolyte abnormalities, neurocognitive dysfunction, seizures... Stick to the recommended intake, adjusted for water losses during significant exertion or high temperatures.
Yeah it works, but God does it suck. This has occurred out of a need to get work done, so I wonder how many others found themselves conditioned in the same way.
I was very recently talking to my son about how much more of a life my ex had than coworkers of his who required more sleep and who, thus, basically went home, ate dinner and went to bed most nights while he came home and watched TV, played games, pursued hobbies, etc. And I kept finding myself saying stuff like "so he did all this extra stuff and it's not like he had accidents on the job because of it...um, actually he did have that car wreck...but it's not like he maimed himself...um, actually, he has chronic back problems and is retired from the army on partial disability and has a handicapped sticker for his car..."
Some people who are sleeping less than you do not actually need less sleep and are not actually functioning better. They just have sleep disorders. They muddle through as best they can and they may be paying a price they don't realize because probably no one is going to ever say my ex was in that car wreck due to lack of sleep and, thus, has chronic back problems due to lack of sleep (because that accident, among other things, is part of why he has debilitating back problems).
I can't prove his sleep issues caused any of those things. But I do know how much more clumsy I am when I did not sleep well or did not sleep enough. I do know how much more productive I am when I sleep both well and enough. So I can infer that there is very likely a relationship between some of the bad things that happened to him and his chronic sleep issues. Our oldest son has similar sleep issues and I know our lives are so much better now that, most nights, he typically sleeps pretty well because we worked hard on resolving the underlying causes.
Also, I generally sleep less these days while being better rested because I have worked hard on improving my health. So I think there are things people can do to work on this issue but, for the most part, when I try to talk about stuff like that, I get shouted down, pissed on, and treated pretty horribly. So I say stuff like that a lot less than I used to. I don't think you need "good genes" per se to be well rested on less sleep. I think you just need good health -- and I think most people are less healthy than they really think (not exactly a popular opinion to express though).
> Researchers Shawn Youngstedt and Daniel Kripke reviewed two surveys of more than 1 million adults conducted by the American Cancer Society...
I love the idea - which book were you reading ?!
7 years, a couple of businesses, and 2 (soon to be 3) kids later, I manage to still be able to work and play very hard without feeling chronically tired or burnt out, and I'm convinced it's because I sleep when I need to sleep (and don't when I don't). If it's the middle of the work day and my body is saying "sleep!", then I'll go take a 2-hour nap, which completely revitalizes me. If I've been up for 20 hours and am still going strong, am thinking clearly, and am not feeling tired, I stay up. Sometimes I sleep for 5 hours, sometimes I sleep for 11.
(It's worth noting that this only works with kids because I have my wife's support - she holds down the fort while I sleep, and visa versa. We play active defense for each others' sleep.)
This has had a couple of effects. First of all, it means that whenever I'm working, I'm actually working. I don't have those days where I just stare at my screen blankly, unable to get any significant momentum like I did before. Secondly, it made me able adapt to varying sleep needs (which is amazingly helpful with kids). I'm not really on a particular circadian rhythm. On a typical day, I might be up from 10 AM-2 AM PST, but then I'll travel back east and the next day I'll be up from 3 AM-7PM PST without any real difficulty.
I realize that not everyone has the luxury of being able to take naps or sleep for as long as they need it, but if you have some flexibility, start listening to your body, rather than toughing it out from 9-5 "because that's what you're supposed to do."
Also, as a side note: Use f.lux - when I started using it, I noted a drastic shift in how I get tired. Before, I would just go and go until I hard-crashed; now, I start feeling tired slowly over time, which makes it much easier to go to sleep at the right time.
I have gone through some times in life where it's been really hard to sleep properly. My kid is three years old now, and he still interrupts my sleep patterns. I'm a teacher, and I never sleep enough during the busy time at the start of each school year. When I'm not sleeping enough, I feel it in my running. My muscles are fine, my cardiovascular system is fine, but something isn't there. I can maintain my mileage, but when I try to push myself, I just come up empty.
The best approach I've ever found to help me get enough sleep, was to get rid of my alarm clock. Not using an alarm clock ensures that I get the most out of the sleep that I do get each night.
I wish I had the same rush without an alarm clock.
I've honestly met people who try to get up earlier, but don't realize the easiest way to get up early (in the longer term, of course) is to catch sleep early.
Waking up without alarm for all these sleeptimes feels roughly the same so I'm not sure if I'm a "lark" or "owl".
My focus is definitely the best in the evening, just hate the slow fogginess in the morning and would like to switch to "lark" mode, unsuccessfully.
Waking up with alarm makes me more sharp than without alarm but as the wakeup time is flexible it feels stupid to do so and I fallback to dizzy mornings and late-night work against ma inner will.
It took me years to realize simply going to be easier was, not only the obvious answer, but also the cheapest & most sustainable.
By the way, there is a special firmware going around for Zeo that if installed will store the data unencrypted and also enables sending "real-time" info to the serial port located at the back of the device (I managed to read this data successfully using a python script that was also provided).
If you're interested in that custom firmware and realtime data schematics&code and not finding from the web, ping me and I'll look up from the archives!
For me wearing zeo more than 5 days in a row became unfomfortable, how long did you use it constantly to get to this 6.30am wakeup time?
You mention 18 months but I guess it's not possible to wear the headband for that many months in a row comforably?
We're seeing a type of high stress sleep. We don't know what it means or why. But the aim is to continue to drill in - a kind of citizen science of how sleep and stress interact. What questions would folks what to see answered?
I discovered wearing our watch that naps are stress relieving for me. Others see the same effect during meditation, and I wonder if that too is a form of sleep, physiologically speaking.
EDIT: Since it got buried below, this study will turn out to be a huge inflection point in terms of how sleep is understood and taught. Sleep appears to wash away toxins that collect during the stressful day. Sleep seems to be a form of garbage collection.
I just completed the program in "Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan" (Williams, Penman) and found in those eight weeks I didn't feel a need to nap in the afternoon. I just didn't get sleep late in the day.
To summarize: Get a normal video capture (baby monitor etc.), capture video, analyze and play back video and see the differences..
I get the sense that it is not aimed at mass market, at least not yet. It would be great if there was a mailing list I could subscribe to that would alert me when it becomes affordable.
Please follow us on twitter @neumitra and you'll hear about upcoming products when available. We try hard not to spam people.
Thanks for the info - I'll go ahead and follow you on Twitter.
I think a lot professionals just don't get to sleep on time for the required 7-8 hours.
If you get up at 6 or 7 in the morning, that means you are deep asleep by 10 or 11 pm.
I just don't think a lot of sleep deprived people are doing that.
At least that's alway been my experience.
What's missing from this article, is a discussion about ideal sleep TIMES. Not everyone is meant to sleep from 10-6. Yes, you can fudge your sleep cycle and you can adjust, but only so much.
I'm naturally a night owl. With no alarm clock, and no obligations, I will "naturally" fall asleep at 3am, and wake up at 11.
In times of my life when I've been able to do this, the 8 hours that I would get then FAR TRUMPED the 8 hours I get now. It's night and day.
Many people are unnatural night owls, thanks to blue light sources in the evening - perhaps that applies to you too. Have you tried f.lux?
i use a program similar to flux and, while it's shifted going to sleep a couple of hours earlier, i still have as much difficulty getting to work by 9. maybe i'm still working through decades of deprivation.
Overall, on this schedule I feel much more rested.
edit: and I don't drink caffeine after 5.
Yes, yes, yes!
Personally, I feel better rested after 6 hours of sleep if I get to sleep by 10 than 8+ hours of sleep if I don't get to bed until after midnight.
Through two acquaintance connections, I know someone who was assigned night shift work, and then was fired for falling asleep on the job in the first month. The employer made zero accomodations for the fact that he has human employees, and that he put them into a constant state of war with their own bodies to get his money. Pilots have to enlist the aid of regulators and unions to get their airlines to recognize that pilot fatigue is not the pilot's fault.
I suspect that this attitude was probably influenced by Anglo racism against Hispanics, targeting the midday siesta custom. It is somewhat telling that to get an Anglo to sleep around midday, you have to rebrand it as a "power nap", and sell it as a late-day productivity booster.
People in our society can advance to positions of greater authority by sacrificing biologically important things like sleep, leisure, and companionship and temporarily compensating with drugs like caffeine, cocaine, and prescription stimulants. Then they reach their acme, get the executive position, and resume normal work and sleep patterns while pretending to themselves that they could still work 120 hours every week. Then they reason that since they were able to achieve greatness by temporarily sacrificing a lot of sleep, everyone should be able to do a little better by sacrificing a little permanently. They don't particularly care about the science, since they have firsthand knowledge of their own meteoric rise and subsequent success.
Everyone else is stuck trying to defend against continual encroachment on the 40-hour work week, and they are forced to sacrifice sleep by necessity rather than by choice.
I can attest to this. I went through a months-long phase where I got about four to five hours of sleep a night, mostly because I was going to bed around 4 or 5 AM. Only after I began going to bed at a more reasonable time and getting more sleep did I realize how much my mood had suffered and how much worse my ability to concentrate and solve problems had been.
Sure, getting enough sleep won't magically make you a genius overnight. But it will allow you to maximize the potential that you have.
Most others at work feel awkward about taking naps - even with me evangelising naps :o)
What I usually do is go to my car in the parking garage and nap there. It works wonders; I recognize that the 15 min that I lose to the nap would have been lost to my brain being a foggy mess, so the nap is a net gain.
My wife has done the napping in the car bit earlier in her career.
The apocryphal example is Salvador Dali: he held a spoon above a metal pan to wake him up as soon as he dropped the sppon.
doesn't work w/ standing desks in open layouts :( now i often go to car.
I understand you still need a mask with these but it might be worth considering depending on where you can situate yourself.
You can use it for travel and vacations, but the best reason to have one is as a backup. Trust me when I say that you don't want to wait a month for a replacement when your existing CPAP fails (and it WILL fail).
Also, it's worth noting that many travel CPAPs have 12-volt car lighter adapters so you can run it off of your car's battery. So maybe you could use it to nap in your car?
Prior to that I had found a site that specialized in used cpaps and they were going to buy it (apparently they had so much inventory they wanted to wait to make an offer on it).
You can probably source a good used one through respiratory therapists either privately or at a hospital. When someone passes away these are typically thrown out. (After a certain amount of time they don't get returned to medicare or something like that.)
(To be clear, I'm not suggesting you get "all lawyered up" and obnoxious. Just ask for a meeting with HR, to discuss ways to make it work for both of you. Pointing out that you use a medical device should help get across the point that this isn't a frivolous request to doze.)
I might be wrong, but it seems to me that they can get something like 1/16th or so more done in a day - 1/16th of what? A six month project? Delivering 11 days earlier than the other side on something that takes six months isn't likely to be a make or break point on a contract, even if their whole team could work like that - which they undoubtedly couldn't.
It seems like fuel efficiency for your car. If you go from 5mph to 10mpg it's a huge saving, but going to 40 from 35 is almost negligible.
Of course if you are truly god's gift to white-collar workaholism then sure those additional hours can add up, but if you sacrifice sleep and thus cognitive function you're shooting yourself in the foot to get there and probably don't even realize it because of the haze you're living in.
I can't nap, because I literally can't sleep anything less than 4 hours. Friends and relatives have tried yelling/shaking/banging pots and pans, but the only thing that will wake me is cold water to the face.
However, I've found taking a few moments to meditate can do wonders when I'm getting that run-down-man-I-could-use-a-nap feeling.
I seldom go to bed in time because I hate to lay there trying to get asleep. Wanting to make more use of my day also doesn't help; I don't get home before 7:30pm, and I don't want to just dine and go to bed...
Then comes the morning and I just can't wake up, even after 9, 10hs. I put my alarm clock far away from my bed because I used to just turn it off and keep sleeping. It doesn't help that much though: I "wake up", walk to it, turn it off and go back to under my sheets. "Wake up" as in I'm walking but I'm not totally conscious. It's like I'm drunk, I'll always find a nonsense reason to justify going back to bed, like "hell, I need to go back to my bed now, or it will get too light and float away"
Or so I was told anyway, I always assumed I had just slept through my alarm!
Reminded me of this relevant TED Talk:
There also seems to be a Ballmer's peak to sleep - too little and you're deprived, but too much and you're groggy and slow. 7 hours seems to do it for me - I am well rested, yet still on that invisible edge that makes my body push harder when I need it, unlike a seemingly good 9 hours of sleep, after which I just can't seem to engage that certain drive that makes me think quick and be creative.
I've implemented many of his ideas over time (his book is good, but I still found the seminar to be better).
- Avoid multi-tasking. Anything that is an interference will reduce productivity
- Create more physical energy by expending it
- Be mindful of your emotional and spiritual energy. It works like a pyramid.
I'm not as disciplined as some of my friends who I watched this material with, but I will say, it's had a great impact on my life.
This whole idea that you need to work into the night, or around the clock is absurd. Our bodies aren't made for it.
Coffee is such a short term fix with implications for the rest of the night.
The best thing is that I actually sleep same amount, but am better rested. Perhaps it's not the same for everyone, but I feel more people should try it. Caffeine is the nicotine of our era.
2) Follow a consistent schedule.
3) Follow a consistent routine to prepare for sleep.
3a) Turn off screens well before bed.
4) Learn and follow relaxation/self-hypnosis scripts.
I've learned a lot about sleep from observing my baby daughter. Good sleep is easiest on top of good sleep; a tired brain usually has more, not less, trouble falling asleep. If my daughter misses her nap, she is more hyper and harder to settle down at bedtime. If she gets a nice long nap, she also is calmer at bedtime and falls asleep more easily.
I've had terrible sleep habits most of my life, and it's only now that I'm a parent that I can appreciate how powerful a consistent schedule and routine can be.
1. I never nap for more than 20 minutes. If my body goes into a deeper level of sleep or relaxation, I get up feeling groggy and disoriented.
2. Properly nap. Force yourself not to think about work. Focus on other things such as the weight of your body sinking into the chair/couch, the distant sound of traffic, etc.
3. Towards the end of the nap, very slowly and deliberately count up to 20, with a maybe 2 or 3 long slow breaths between counts. Completely relax during this count, but on the count of 20 immediately, instantly get up and go about your business. Know that this is what you are going to do, but don't let your body tense up or in any way get ready for it. Works for me like a charm. Just psychologically knowing I'm going to do this somehow prepares me for it at a deep level.
> 2. Properly nap. Force yourself not to think about work. Focus on other things such as the weight of your body sinking into the chair/couch, the distant sound of traffic, etc.
I think these are the most important, and they should be considered together.
Set a timer for 15 minutes, and lie down. Even if you don't fall asleep for those 15 minutes (I probably end up in deep sleep for 5-10 minutes), get up when your alarm goes off. Even closing your eyes for 15 minutes can be beneficial.
How do you do this while you are asleep? Or do you mean do this after you wake up?
Part of it is about how it's easier to make such decisions when it's not right now, but somewhere in the future. The second part is that when the count is up, you actually do it without thinking.
I tried it a couple of times and it does seem to help with the "uggh no just one more minute" false reasoning. Haven't managed to turn it into a habit though.
Sometime around 40 that changed. I take a nap almost every day, (sometimes 2, esp if doing something mentally taxing...I can do this since I work from home), but it's been years since I have been able to take a nap exceeding 20 minutes. I simply wake up, no alarm or stimuli needed. Even if I was up all night the night before. Sometimes, (like on Sunday afternoon), it's annoying. I would like to be able to enjoy a long nap again occasionally.
I've wondered about this, and would love a solid physiological explanation.
So if it's "kicked in" when the 20 min alarm goes off that means the last 5 min of that 20 will have been restless because the caffeine was already working.
Caffeine is the great antagonist of sleep quality anyway. Just drop it for a month, see how that feels. Then see how much it fucks up your sleeping quality as you take even two cups of strong coffee (which is great fun because the caffeine will actually work full power, it's amazing, but your sleep after that night will suffer).
This "coffee power nap" thing is a very nice story, but it's based on nothing. People that have success with it are finding the benefits of having a nap despite their caffeine usage.
But, I am still yet to see a startup/mature business declare proudly that they encourage nap time and/or list that in their benefits web page. Maybe some already do? But I haven't seen any yet. Please share links.
I am curious to see whether the reality of the business world allows for this natural boost or are we still deep down driven by old fashioned work ethics.
I am happy with 5-6 hours a night + 20-30 mins of meditation in the morning.
But I always get to bed by midnight!
I used to work in the evenings until 1am or 2am and then sleep later. But I found getting up early (5:30am-6:30am) and working in the morning made a huge difference. Working late in the evening made me feel weak and stressed out. Working in the early morning after meditating makes me feel like I am serious seizing the day.
This is with 3 kids, busy job, hectic schedule etc.
I have tested this out on myself for the past 5 years.
From my own experience, it helped immensely during grad school, and it helps me now with my career. I almost never have to wake up for an alarm - I naturally wake up at a good time, without the added stressor of a hurried morning. All it takes is a little discipline and advanced planning to get yourself prepared.
A friend of mine once told me as I was feigning sleep one evening as usual to: "just breathe like you are already asleep"
And 5 minutes later I was out like a light.
You stay surprisingly functional for somebody who's only getting ~2 hours total sleep a day, but you definitely lose cognitive function. I didn't realize it at the time -- like a drunk or anybody functioning in a sleep debt it doesn't feel like you've lost cognitive function, but it's readily apparent to anybody who knows you well. The worst time is the half hour or so before your next scheduled nap.
Perhaps the biggest thing I gained from the experiment was the ability to take a power nap any time, any where.
If this can be reliably learned, it actually seems really valuable. Now I wonder if there's a way to learn it that doesn't cost significant IQ for three months.
Another well-documented example is Steve Pavlina.
And has anyone ever significantly changed the amount they need by lifestyle changes (like daily exercise)?
Sleep hygiene helps. Lights out, blackout blinds, loud fans and notification sounds off, no TV in the bedroom. The sleep you get is of a higher quality.
I haven't done it yet, but reddish lighting for late evening is something I'm doing around the middle of fall this year.
I used to never be able to fall asleep before 5am.
2 pages for me and im out like a light.
edit: it's a Monty Python joke people. Perhaps more relevant would be to have a chat with Keith Maniac from Guatemala, who claims he can put bricks to sleep? (ref: http://www.montypython.net/scripts/interest.php)