You want to learn how to sleep less? Well, everyone would love to have more time, yet most of them are sleep deprived. They don’t understand how to sleep. Sleeping requirements are not absolute, they are flexible. By being smart, you can get away with much less sleep. The key is to prioritize sleep quality over quantity. Here are seven ways you can train yourself to sleep less, improve your sleep quality and wake up full of energy.
Stick to a sleep schedule
When you sleep at random times, your body can’t keep up; it doesn’t know if it should be sleepy or awake. By committing to a sleep schedule, you solve that problem and allow your body to fine tune its biological clock. Unfortunately, a precise routine might be hard to keep since your schedule and sleeping needs fluctuate daily. A great compromise is to simply establish a fixed wake-up time. This method is very flexible – you can go to bed at any time – and yet provides huge benefits. Within a week or two, your body will learn to naturally wake up at that particular time, and you’ll stop getting the unpleasant feeling of waking up in the middle of deep sleep. Moreover, as your body adjusts, you’ll need to sleep less to get the same amount of energy during the day. Don’t get caught into thinking that sleeping in will be beneficial for you. Sleeping too much actually has as many health downsides, if not more, than getting too little sleep!
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other drugs before bedtime
It is common knowledge that taking stimulants like caffeine and nicotine makes it harder to fall asleep. Depressants, such as alcohol and marijuana are also detrimental; although they may induce sleepiness, they vastly decrease sleep quality. If you go to sleep intoxicated, your body has to use some of its energy to sober up. This is a waste of energy. By reducing your consumption of these drugs, you’ll sleep better and your energy levels will be more even during the day. If you use these substances, it’s best to wait a while and hydrate yourself before going to bed.
Use light smartly
Your body is naturally engineered to be awake when there’s light and to sleep when it’s dark. Televisions, computers, cellphones and other forms of artificial light mislead the brain into thinking it is daytime. You should use light to your advantage. Before going to bed, make sure your room is as dark as possible so that your body “knows” it’s time for bed. Similarly, use light to wake up. Instead of using a conventional aggressive buzzer alarm, I like to wake up to a “light-alarm” by setting a lamp to a timer switch. Waking up is much easier that, which helps to sleep less. Such a switch is very inexpensive. You could also go for the fancier high-tech sunrise simulator.
Limit stress before bedtime
Mental hyperactivity doesn’t rhyme with peaceful sleep. You definitely want to leave your daily stresses behind when you go to sleep. I find that reading a book for about 30 minutes does the job very well. Meditating and other relaxation techniques are also great; meditation may even reduce your sleeping needs! The key is to give the mind an opportunity to let go and relax.
Avoid big meals before bedtime
When you eat before bedtime, your body will get busy digesting instead of doing its optimal sleeping routine. This reduces the overall quality of your sleep which increases your sleeping requirements. Moreover, I always have a much easier time waking up when I’m hungry than when I’m not, which is another incentive not to eat before bedtime!
Sleep in multiples of 90 minutes
People constantly wonder why they wake up so tired after sleeping for 10 hours or more. They may think they need even more sleep. In fact, it is not how much you sleep that determines how good you feel upon waking, but where in your sleep cycle you wake up. In fact, if you wake up during deep sleep, you’ll feel groggy; if you wake up during light sleep, you’ll feel refreshed. Don’t think that feeling terrible upon waking up implies you haven’t slept enough. This is a myth. As a rule of thumb, you should sleep in multiples of 90 minutes, as this is the average sleep cycle length. This will maximize your odds of waking up during a light sleep phase, and you’ll feel refreshed. You’ll get up feeling immensely better after 6 hours (4 cycles of 90 minutes) of sleep than after 7 hours (4 and 2/3 cycles). Try it!
Take a power nap
Power naps are absolutely great. They have many proven health benefits: short naps give you an energy boost, provide the body and the mind with a break and cut your overall sleeping needs. A power nap should generally not last more than 20 minutes, since sleeping more than that will get you into deep sleep, and you’ll feel groggy upon waking up. I can easily reduce my sleeping time by 90 minutes (one cycle) if I have a quick 20 minutes power nap in the afternoon. See for yourself!
Sleep is such an important part of our lives, it’s a shame we’re so badly educated about it. Try those tips and see if they allow you to sleep better, to wake up smoothly and to feel less tired during the day.