My sleep quality seems to be pretty high almost all the time and I get between 8-9 hours of sleep per night. It makes it kind of hard to come up with experiments that can improve my sleep, but I’d love to hear suggestions of things I can try to reduce how many hours of sleep I get without sacrificing sleep quality (e.g., how I feel when I wake up in the morning). I’d like to get down to 7 or so hours per night, or less. There are too many things I want to accomplish!
So what has worked for you in being a more efficient sleeper?
Are you already using some mechanism of waking up at a good time in the sleep cycle (e.g. Zeo or an app like Gentle Alarm)? I found that even when I sleep significantly more than usual (e.g. 8.5 hours last night), I can wake up feeling unproductive and yawny, while other times I feel much better after sleeping only 6 hours.
I know that how you feel isn’t supposed to be a reliable of mental performance. There was a small-scale study done on Singularity University students and presented at the QS Show & Tell on July 19th 2011 (slides should hopefully be listed in the QS Research & Media forum), which showed that results from a Psychomotor Vigilance Task didn’t have much of a connection with how reported they felt. In my personal case, I score a reaction time of 270ms pretty much regardless of how much I’ve slept. This could suggest that I’m doing the PVT for too little (2-4 minutes instead of 10), or that indeed motivation can counter the effects of sleeplessness for up to 36 hours.
I find these number of hours of sleep to leave me feeling the most rested:
2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 7:30, 9:00
My preference is 7:30 and I rarely sleep 9:00. Here’s the fuzzy and inexact rationale that works for me:
Some years ago (college) I heard (read?) that the best time to wake up is right after REM sleep. (That seems to be what happens when you wake up naturally, too.) So I looked up sleep cycle diagrams in my psychology text book and on the web that showed number of hours of sleep and the points in time just after REM sleep. The diagrams I researched showed roughly the numbers above. I tried it: I set my alarm for 7:30 and I woke up rested. I tried 6:00: not as well rested, but not terrible. I tried 6:45: felt pretty bad for hours after I woke up. 8:30 was just as rough as 6:45!
So I ended up making an agreement with myself that I’ve done pretty well about keeping: I pick the number of hours of sleep that optimizes when I wake. If I stay up later than usual I pick the best of the evils. For example: I usually wake up at 6:00 AM, but say it’s 12:45 AM as I’m setting my alarm for bed… what do I do if I can’t sleep in the next day? I’ll choose to stay up until just before 2:00 AM and get up at 6:00 AM because I’ll actually feel more rested.
This brings me to another pattern I stick to: I always wake up at the same time every day. This tends to keep me in a good rhythm: if I stay up too late I’ll be tired the next day, which means that day is screwed – but I’ll be more likely to go to sleep at a good time that night. If I sleep past my normal wake time I do it in increments of 1:30 to stay in sync with my sleep cycle (6:00 AM, 7:30 AM, or 9:00 AM). Staying consistent with my wake time helped me quite a bit. (I used to hit the snooze button for 30 minutes and all that…)
Additionally: I nap for a maximum of 20 minutes so that I don’t get past stage 2 sleep and wake up feeling awful; when I nap it’s 20 minutes or nothing.
I will eventually get around to using a FitBit or Zeo to confirm my conjectures, but I find that those three things keep me feeling pretty rested even when I get little sleep. Does this make sense, at least roughly?
Today I woke up naturally after 8.5 hours of sleep, and throughout the day, my focus and memory have been perceivably lower than usual. Which means that in actuality, they probably have been significantly worse.
Does that mean you can fall asleep pretty much as soon as you want, provided it’s late enough? Some people, including myself, suffer from “sleep onset insomnia”, meaning that sleep is good, but it’s just hard to fall asleep at a set hour.
I’ve read the same thing too, and when I had to work and needed sleep and tried to sleep for only 1h30m, I was so dead tired I just went back to sleep some more (up to 6 hours, usually).
[quote]t makes it kind of hard to come up with experiments that can improve my sleep, but I’d love to hear suggestions of things I can try to reduce how many hours of sleep I get without sacrificing sleep quality[/quote]A lot of people who went vegan report that it helped them to sleep less.
Long before I started self tracking I found that doing deep breathing mediation before going to bad helped me cut sleep.
[quote]One thing to try would be to gradually reduce the amount of time you sleep. A bunch of people are discussing how to sleep less on productivity.stackexchange.
[/quote]I don’t think there any reason to believe that gradually reducing the amount of sleep won’t reduce your sleep quality. Especially when you use an alarm clock.
It will probably turn yourself into a person who sleeps 7 hours but who has lower sleep quality.
[quote] So I looked up sleep cycle diagrams in my psychology text book and on the web that showed number of hours of sleep and the points in time just after REM sleep. [/quote]This topic is quite interesting.
Your psychology text book is supposed to show an average sleep schedule. Normally the individual variations should be big enough to prevent you from calculating a fixed sleep length with them.
Your sleep length can however be influenced by your intentions. There are people who can walk up at 3AM with ±5 minutes error without using an alarm clock.
Your strong belief into the fact that you take 7:30 hours to go through the sleep phases let’s your body sync the duration of the sleep phases in a way that you will be in a proper sleep state to wake up after 7:30 hours.
[quote]Staying consistent with my wake time helped me quite a bit. (I used to hit the snooze button for 30 minutes and all that…)
[/quote]The snooze button deserves an award for the worst invention that found broad scale adoption.
I estimate it takes me about 20 minutes to fall asleep if I’m going to bed and waking up at the same times and generally feeling well-rested. If I’m exhausted I fall asleep right away. I understand about onset insomnia it’s just not something I’ve had to deal with. The closest I’ve come to that is drinking caffeine after 4:00 PM, laying down to sleep at 10:00 and staring into the darkness for about 30 minutes until I decide the caffeine hasn’t worn off – at which point I get up and do something until midnight.
I make loose compensations to keep me on my loose rhythm. What I described above is not strictly quantitative; I haven’t formalized it. I want to, though, and I probably will eventually…
Biggest key: I find it easiest to work all this sleep jazz when I wake up exactly the same time every day with absolutely no snoozing. When I’m in that rhythm of waking up at exactly the same time every day I usually wander off to bed when I feel sleepy and it happens to be “timed right” because I subtly know (my body “knows” – whatever) when to go to sleep (i.e. head hits the pillow at about 10:00 PM to get up at 6:00 AM exactly, which provides some time for me to get to sleep and then get my “7:30” of sleep.). I mean, my life changed years ago when I started waking up at exactly the same time every day! If you’re struggling with getting out of bed, feeling rested, snoozing (agughH!) and all of that (I used to) I highly recommend getting up at the exact same time every day with no snoozing. It sounds like the suck – and it is for a while – but, man – such a difference for me.
Right: if I take a nap longer than 20 minutes I’m utterly screwed. It just seems so much less miserable to me to either take a 20 minute nap or stay awake through the slump with a jump pack of caffeine.[hr]
Well, my idea then was to do some QuickCrude SuperPseudo-Science to see if I could “figure out this sleep stuff”, as I put it to myself then. I was tired of being tired even though I was sleeping 10 hours (!) and figured there had to be some kind of pattern I could scrape out. So it was…
quick research (“What? I’m probably average. We’re all different – but we’re not all THAT different and I definitely have sleep cycles. Seems like I feel the best around 8 hours of sleep to start with. Hmm…”)
fuzzy hypothesis (“Where’s the end of my REM sleep? [Remember that the Zeo is ~8 years away and that a sleep study is in a lab, not in your normal sleeping situation.] Hell if I know, but these diagrams put it at 7:30 so I should…”)
try it and record quantitative data (number of hours) and qualitative data (“7:30 and I feel pretty good. 8:30 and I feel like crap. 4:45 I feel like crap. 6:00 I feel ok.”)
review the trashy data and pick the best of the trashy options, maybe making a trashy graph.
do it all again, but with smaller variations, etc.
have I mentioned that I enjoy finding the greatest gains with the least effort in everything I do?
When I was working on it I would try very hard not to change anything else, like what I was eating or caffeine intake. What I found was that I got it roughly right – and roughly right is good enough for me; I can’t stand wandering out past the point of diminishing returns, you know?
I am 100% ok with tricking myself (or am I untricking myself? – either way --) if it helps me.
The snooze button deserves an award for the worst invention that found broad scale adoption.
I agree. Quantified Self-ers Against Snooze Buttons (QSASB).
When I first started waking up at the same time every day I set two very loud alarms at opposite sides of my room, one minute apart. When they went off I would stand up and then I would never sit or lay back down. That worked for me.
I’m kind of wishing that this thread was still active, but it’s kind of dead going on a year now. But that being said, if anyone else reads this thread, I think the most important metric to measure in regards to sleep is daytime-sleep-latency. Sleep quality can be measured when you wake up, but what about at 3 pm in the afternoon? If you just woke up, eat breakfast and then test how quickly you can fall asleep, my guess is you will lay there for 30 minutes staring at the ceiling. But try taking a nap at 3 pm and see just how long it takes you to fall asleep. If it is about 20 minutes to fall asleep, then likely you are getting proper rest at night, if it’s more or less than that, you should really try something to fix it. It means you have daytime-sleepiness.
I’d like to see more experiments here with polyphasic sleep too.
On the QS Forum, on-topic replies are encouraged, no matter how old the thread is.
[quote=“Bryan_Lundeen, post:12, topic:149”]
But that being said, if anyone else reads this thread, I think the most important metric to measure in regards to sleep is daytime-sleep-latency. Sleep quality can be measured when you wake up, but what about at 3 pm in the afternoon? If you just woke up, eat breakfast and then test how quickly you can fall asleep, my guess is you will lay there for 30 minutes staring at the ceiling.[/quote]
That generally make sense, though in my case, if I stay awake for more than an hour after waking, up, then I’m awake for the day and can’t possibly fall back asleep until late at night, even if I only had 3 hours of sleep the night before.
Wait, how is it that if it takes more than 20 minutes to fall asleep at 3pm, you have daytime-sleepiness?