How to sleep 5 hours per night

by ernest on August 6, 2010

in Getting Stuff Done,More Energy,Sleep Less & More Energy,Your Brain,Your Health

Not enough time in a day… is a common mantra in our society. But what if we could change this and gain extra 3 hours in a day to do more, become more, have more energy, and achieve those goals sooner. Does all of this come for free? of course not. There is always a level of sacrifice. However the pain can be eased and turned into a benefit. Let me explain.

To have more time in a day (without reorganising where you spend your time) is to sleep less. It’s that simple.

So how do you sleep less (5 hours per night) and have more energy to do more?

I set to find out the answer to this back in September 2009 when I published my 1st self experiments on sleeping less and having more energy. My usual habit was 8/9 hours per night of sleeping and I wanted to recoup a maximum of 3 hours per day. Basically sleep 5 hours per night without reducing the quality of my sleep and still feeling full of energy both physically and emotionally. Since then alot has changed and I use various tools to help me achieve this perfect balance of feeling great and sleeping less.

And now, for my perfected formula.

Prepare – stuff you need

How it’s done – step by step

Follow this consistent pattern for the next 2 weeks and I guarantee you that you will sleep less and have more energy.

Before you sleep

  • Setup a consistent sleep and wake time. Going by the sleep cycle graphs your best sleep time is between 12am-3am. Therefore set your sleep time around 12am and wake time around 5am. I typically get ready to sleep around 11:40pm each night. So by the time you snooze away it will be 12am.
  • Learn to still your mind (rid the monkey mind) through meditatation so that you can fall asleep faster. Meditation is all about stilling and relaxing your mind – being in the present moment. When your mind is free & relaxed your body will learn to follow, to relax. And if you are laying down while doing this you will fall asleep faster.
  • Excercise throughout the day to raise your body temperature. What goes up must come down. Your body temperature always spikes with excercise and will drop at night and yield very good “deep sleep”. Remember, it’s the quality not quantity of your sleep that counts in feeling & being rested.
  • Find the times your mind switches into REM state. You do not want to wake up in deep sleep. Only REM. You can manipulate your wake up time or use a number of handy sleep aid applications (like sleep cycle which I use) which monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up in your REM state. Another way to tell is if you wake up in the morning directly from a dream. This is REM state, the dreaming phase when you mind is close to being awake.

After you wake up

  • First thing you do when you open your eyes is Jump out of bed with energy. This anchors waking up with energy. It is a form of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) called anchoring and works wonders.
  • Jump around for a minute or 2 spinning your arms and doing the Anthony Robbins lift. This gets the heart pumping, blood moving throughout your body quicker (you did sleep for couple of hours) and increases your breathing rate. This should definitely wake you up! Do this in intervals for the next hour if you feel tired again.
  • Sit in front of the 10,000-lux Therapy light for around 1 hour. See my previous post on best practise methods of using this lamp. I like to educate myself by reading a book during this period but you can also check your emails, catchup on the news, trade shares (if you are on the west coast) or write code (hack away). Do something that is productive since the morning energy is best used on productive tasks.
  • Make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee. Make sure there is caffeine in it. Caffeine is best taken early in the morning to stimulate your nervous system and helps with waking you up & bringing alertness. You can also drink Yerba Mate to give you a morning energy kick.
  • Now that you have extra 3 hours in a day – Keep yourself busy. Don’t sit around doing nothing since this is demotivating and unproductive. If you do nothing you will fall asleep again. You are waking up for a purpose so take advantage of this extra time. Read an educational book, write code, trade shares etc…
  • And don’t forget a good breakfast. A healthy and energising breakfast in the morning sets your mental and phsyical body up for the day. Which is why breakfast is called the most important part of the day. Read through my perfect breakfast program if you need a refresher on what to eat or are looking for something with a good kick.

Is this a lot? Of course not. Once it becomes a habit you won’t even have to think about what to do next. It will all flow together smoothly and be part of your daily routine.


  • Awake while the rest of the world sleeps – just knowing this is motivating since it gives you a head start to the day.
  • Peace – the world is quiet and you can concentrate and gather your thoughts easier. It’s a good time to do work that requires a lot of concentration. I like to read in the morning. My mind is open to learning new things and soaks up everything like a sponge. If you have always wanted to accelerate your learning then this is a good reason – give it a shot.
  • Better digestion – if you look at the chart below you will see that bowel movement occurs naturally around 8am each day. Because you are awake and your body knows, this part of your body’s cycle can advance. If you are sleeping your whole body is asleep and no bowel movements. Removing waste is an important biological process and if interrupted throws your metabolism out leading to bloated stomach and more waste in your body. I have an unproven theory here that allowing this natural cycle to work helps with weight loss because your bowel is emptied each day.

Some features of the human circadian biological clock - Wiki

  • Last but not least, MORE TIME to do more stuff. You need to make sure that the extra time you have is spent wisely doing something productive. Doing something productive is encouraging and motivating. Seeing goals get ticked off makes you feel good and ultimately paints a positive picture “do more to feel good” – the reward centers in your brain secrete more serotonin and you overall feel better and better each day to wake up early and get going. Once you start waking up early a powerful association of getting stuff done and feeling good gets cemented into your nervous system.

If you are already sleeping less and doing more I would love to hear about it. Use the comments below to share how you did it and benefits you received from it.

Here’s to sleeping less and doing more!


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  • health products

    This is so far the best post about sleeping habit. Getting enough sleep is one of my problem ‘coz it affects my performance in workplace for I can’t think straight and thinking of my bed :P It’s now time to practice this and take advantage of this technique. Thanks!

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  • guest

    When you say the best time to sleep is between 12pm and -3am, is that for the west coast or in general regardless of your time zone? Thanks and great article.


  • Ernest Semerda

    Hi Peter, that it regardless of your time zone. Hope this helps.

  • ya23

    How long are you operating on this schedule? After how many days has your body started to adjust?
    Finally, how important in the mix is the lamp?

  • Kamuro

    Too bad that new findings show that the average human needs 7-8 hours or he stops functioning properly. Only a small percentage of humanity is able to achieve similar outcomes with less sleep. So you give many people unhealthy advice.

  • jakeyboy

    I believe in a previous post he was saying that the lamp is good if you can’t access daylight for at least an hour a day to get the best lux intake. Not to mention vitamin D

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