Sleep less and have more energy

by ernest on September 24, 2009

in featured,Living in the Presence,Meditation,Productivity,Sleep Less & More Energy,Your Brain

This article on sleeping less and having more energy is now superseeded by my new blog post entry located here. It details how to sleep 5 hours per night and have more energy and vibe in every day – a step by step guide! URL:

Time is precious and once you factor in sleep into a 24 hour day you realize that there isn’t that much time to do everything you want. What if you could recoup some of those sleeping hours and turn them into productive hours.

I started my search so that I could sleep less and hopefully have enough energy in the day to keep going without damaging my body or mind.

I came across a drug called Modafinil, meaning “good arousal” in Greek. It’s a stimulant that since its launch seven years ago has acquired a near-mythical reputation for wiring you awake without the jitters, euphoria and eventual crash that come after caffeine or amphetamines. However the more I looked into this I realized something like this could damage my body or mind. Crossed that one off.

Then I came across some research articles on sleep which questioned why humans need to sleep the standard 8 hours, provided depth into insomnia & common sleep issues, Melatonin (the power house of our cells) and light processing. I started experimenting on myself based on what I learnt and I think I nailed it. How to sleep less and have more energy.

First, a bit about sleeping

A good night’s sleep always starts with “deep sleep” for around 2-3 hours when more blood moves to your muscles to repair them and you “do not dream”. Your body is like jelly in this state. After deep sleep you move into REM which is a state close to being awake and is the state “you dream” as your brain “organises” all your memories. At the start of the night the deep and REM are longer states (see diagram below) and as it get’s closer to the day each state shortens.

Sleep Cycles

Sleep Cycles

So how does one sleep less and have more energy? Here is my daily ritual:

a. Get at least an hour of sunlight per day

Your eyes need to process 10,000 lux of energy – the energy the sun gives out. For perspective, the light inside the office is only 300 lux and a dark room with a candle is 3 lux. People who do not get enough lux are more prone to depression and anxiety – which explains why so many office workers are depressed and unhappy in the office. 10,000 lux entering your eyes tells your brain “stay awake & full of energy”. In a darker room the eyes tell your brain to start increasing “melatonin” chemical which slowly puts you to sleep.

For the purpose of manipulating melatonin levels or timing, light boxes providing intense artificial illumination are effective…
The production of the hormone melatonin, a sleep regulator, is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. To some degree, the reverse is true for serotonin, which has been linked to mood disorders.

For the purpose of manipulating melatonin levels or timing, light boxes providing intense artificial illumination are effective.

The production of the hormone melatonin, a sleep regulator, is inhibited by light and permitted by darkness. To some degree, the reverse is true for serotonin, which has been linked to mood disorders.

If you cannot get 1 hour of sun each day I recommend you purchase a NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp and use it at your desk. This and similar lamps push out 10,000 lux of light. I covered light therapy and how to lift your mood, stabilize your rhythms and invigorate your body in a post located here.


b. Exercise to spike your core temp

Exercise each day (at the gym or power walking) to spike your core body temperature by a few degrees. The best night’s sleep occurs when you body core temperature drops by 1-2 degrees. Which is why people associate exercise with sleeping well and why it’s easier to sleep in a cooler room (your body temperature drops during a good sleep) then a hot room.

c. Follow a consistent “sleep time” and “wake time”

Try not to sleep less then 4 hours or more then 10 or you can die. The pattern of sleep time and wake time is important so your brain knows when to sleep and when to wake. You are basically building a “pattern” and will fall asleep within minutes once this pattern is encoded; while people who don’t have a pattern lay in bed pondering and turning. You will want to reshuffle your wake up time until you find the time when you are in REM (rapid eye movement) state. You know you were in REM when you woke up because you can recall your dream. REM is the closest state to being awake and when you get up in this state you will feel immediately awake. When you wake up in deep sleep you will feel groggy for an hour or 2 so best to go back to sleep until you hit REM again. REM is the longest between midnight and 4am and shortens to a 10-15 minute interval around 7-10am.

d. Power nap / meditate during the day

If you have successfully reduced your sleep to 5/6 hours per night make sure you power nap or meditate in the afternoon for no more then 30 minutes. You want to avoid falling into deep sleep hence the 30 minute limit. This will be a REM state benefiting your mind. Set an alarm for 30 minutes if you need to. I meditate in the afternoons to reboot my brain from the day’s stresses, recycle my energy and build umph in the hours ahead.

I have shared with you how I set my mind and body to “sleep properly” at night and “stay awake full of energy” during the day. This is no magic formula just a set of tools which you too can use to tweak your body & mind for maximum efficiency. Like all new tools you need to establish a new set of habits. If you need help with this I recommend you read my post on developing new habits located here.

Enjoy this new set of tools and let me know how it has worked for you.

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