Have you ever wished for more hours in the day? Probably!
Sometimes we have so much to do that sleep feels like it's getting in the way. However, we all know how important sleep is, which is why we can't skip it all together. But, there are ways to make your sleep more efficient. In fact, research shows it's not the number of hours you get that matters the most -- it's the quality of the hours you're getting. This means that you don't need to be confined to those 8 hours. You just need enough sleep to give your body a chance to recover, recharge, and refresh.
There is a simple method you can follow to "hack" your sleep. Just like you can train your way to a better body, you can train your way to better sleep. According to Jim Horne, sleep neurologist at Loughborough University, almost everyone can cut the amount of sleep they need down to six hours a night by following a few easy steps.
Step 1: Set your alarm for the same time every morning, no matter what day it is
This means you should be waking up at 7 AM on a Saturday morning. We know it sounds horrible, but waking up at the same time every day will train your circadian rhythm and help you get used to the mornings.
Step 2: For the first week, delay the time you go to bed by 20 minutes.
Step 3: For the second week, delay it by 40 minutes.
Remember, even though you are going to sleep later, you're still waking up at the same time.
Step 4: For the third week, delay it by an hour.
Step 5: Continue cutting down in 20 minute increments until you are sleeping 6 hours a night.
There are plenty of other ways to optimize your sleep that don't involve such strict rules. The first step in understanding what your body needs is tracking your sleep. The Eight Smart Mattress measures all of the important factors regarding sleep, such as hours slept, amount of deep and light sleep, number of toss and turns, etc. There is even a sleep experiment you can do for 7 consecutive days to learn your exact sleep goal. Once the tracker understands your nighttime behavior, it can set a baseline sleep quality. You may find out that you don't need as much sleep as you thought to feel your best.
You should also treat your bed like a recharging station. The reason you need to sleep is because your body needs the downtime to recharge. After being worked so hard during the day, it needs to rest. If you're trying to be more productive during the day, you must get rid of the temptation to treat your bed like anything other than a resting surface. Spend your waking hours out of bed. Staying in bed all weekend watching movies is going to make it much harder to leave your comfy covers come Monday. As long as you only use your bed for sleep, you'll have an easier time getting out of it in the morning.
Another way to thrive on less sleep is exercising early in the day. For one, it helps you stay consistent and gives you a routine. Working out in the morning also yields deeper sleep at night. People who work out on a treadmill at 7 AM experience deeper sleep cycles and spend 75% more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day. Getting more deep sleep is what ensures your body gets the chance to rejuvenate.
If you want to make the most out of the sleep you get, the above tips are good places to start. It is a process, but it is possible to maximize your zzz's in a shorter time.