Sleep is different for everybody. Some people need more than others. When we’re younger we need more than in our thirties. But how much do we really need? And how come we’re often feeling groggy when our alarms wake us?
To become a more effective sleeper, we can do three important steps:
Make sure our sleeping environment is optimal
A few tips for a good environment:
- Sleep in a dark room. Light prepares us for being awake.
- Keep the bedroom wel ventilated. Open a window, even in the winter. Humans tend to thrive better on oxygen. Sleeping with our doors and windows closed drastically increase the carbon dioxide levels in our rooms. I have measured it in my own room and the changes are huge.
- Get a good mattress. Go to multiple stores that specialize in mattresses and let them all inform you. Keep in mind that an expensive mattress doesn’t mean it’s a better one. The extra money you spend is used for commercials that try to trick us into believing these mattresses are what we really need.
Measure how much sleep we really need
Keep a log of your sleeping pattern. A spreadsheet will do fine. In it note the following:
- The day,
- What time you went to bed (or more importantly what time you fell asleep),
- What time you woke up,
- How many hours and minutes you’ve slept,
- How you woke up (with or without alarm),
- How you felt waking up,
- Notes on how you felt during the day. Did you feel like you needed more sleep? Did you have an after lunch dip? Were you doing something active or were you sitting down before or during that dip? Was your mind always clear or sometimes cloudy during the day? Were you focussed?
Do this for a few weeks and see if you notice a trend. Find out how much sleep you really need to feel fresh during the day. Don’t try to be tough and tell yourself you only need 5 or 6 hours to get by.
More sleep increases your productivity in spite of leaving you with less time during the day!
Wake up during light sleep
There are a few phases in our sleep. For our purposes we’ll divide into just three types: REM, light sleep, and deep sleep. Waking up during REM and deep sleep leaves us groggy and we’ll just want to hit snooze.
We need to wake up during light sleep, but how do we do that? Well, in the previous step we found out how much sleep we really need. With this knowledge you have two options.
Option 1. Don’t set an alarm. What?? Seriously: if you found that you need 8 hours of sleep, you can go to bed by 10 pm and trust that you’ll wake up around 6 am. I’ve not used an alarm in years except for times I needed to get up earlier than usual. You’ll automatically wake up during light sleep.
Option 2. Use an app like Sleep Cycle or an activity tracker that measures your sleeping patterns, such as the Jawbone Up. Sleep Cycle will wake you up with soft sounds. Jawbone will vibrate me awake, not disturbing my wife’s sleep.
Now that I started my Miracle Morning routine I’ve switched to option 2, but I fully expect to go without an alarm within a few weeks and still wake up around 5 am. It is by far my preferred way to start the day.
I’m really curious to hear about your sleeping patterns, and if you’ve tried the above. Let me know on twitter or mail me.