- We need less than 6 hours to sleep during a day, but we need to have a quality sleep
- Quality sleep can be obtained by getting enough deep sleep
- Factors that improve deep sleep: less caffeine & more water, having the right light exposure, and controlling body temperature
Sleeping Less Than 8 hours?
Some people spend six hours per day for sleep, while some others might spend ten hours. Sleeping is something that takes a lot of our time. In common knowledge, the ideal time that should be spent for sleeping is 8 hours.
I’ve always wanted to reduce my time on sleeping, or at least get some quality sleep, so that when I wake up in the morning, I will feel energized. I guess in the current world, everybody wants that. There are a lot of articles or books about how to improve sleep, and this post is only one of them. One book even claims we can sleep for only 2 hours and still feel energetic. It sounds like a very interesting idea, but my very rigid schedule prevents me from attempting such method.
Before understanding how we can reduce our time in sleeping, we need to know how to gain quality sleep. To get a better sleep, we have to reach the deep sleep stage, which does not happen all the time during your sleep, but instead is a part of a sleep cycle. Failing to get to the deep sleep in sleep cycle will bring us tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, and inability to focus.
There are five stages in a sleep cycle. Deep sleep is in stage three and four. In these stages, we will have slow brain waves (delta waves) and our body will start to repair itself. Usually during this stage, we will have very little body movements. People will get enougg deep sleep after two cycles of sleep. After that, the sleep will become lighter and only alternating between REM and second stage for the remaining time. The complete deep sleep takes about 4-5 hours, so it doesn’t matter if we sleep longer. If we don’t get the amount of deep sleep required, we will still feel tired during the day.
Getting the Deep Sleep
Unfortunately, the cycles above do not apply for everybody. Some people need longer time to get deep sleep. But the good news is, we can control it through our behavior. Tere are few factors that can help you to reach deep sleep faster.
Less Caffeine, More Water
Everybody knows caffeine will help us stay awake, but actually we can wake up better without it and reach deep sleep better without it as well. The average half-life of caffeine—that is, how long it takes for half of an ingested dose to wear off—is about five to six hours in a human body. Drinking coffee at night may help you stay awake, but its side effect is actually giving you some trouble sleeping later. Coffee is not the only one to have this effect: soda and chocolates do too. What we need more is water. Our body needs to hydrate to execute processes during our sleep. Dehydration will stop our body to execute some processes, like oxygenation. Moreover, this will stop your body to adjust its temperature properly, and stop you to reach deep sleep. Let’s aim to drink 2 liters of water everyday.
Light has a part due to our melatonin production. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that we produce that responsible to make us tired and ready to bed. It will lower our body temperature. The lack of sunlight will increase production of melatonin. Ideally, we should have enough sunlight during the day and have less of it during the night, so that we can sleep on time. In practice, expose yourself with lights when waking up immediately and turn off the lights and stop staring at screens during the night. How about the other components like temperature and noise? Having less noise will help to sleep better.
The important concept on body temperature is the more drop you have during the night, the better your sleep is. That is why you will have better sleep after exercising. When we have an exercise, our body temperature will spike. In the night, it will drop significantly. Your environment also plays some role in body temperature. For example, keeping your room in low temperature during sleep will help reaching deep sleep.
Taking a Daily Improvement
We will not get less sleep benefit if we don’t apply it consistently. In fact, consistency is important since our body loves it. If we keep the momentum going, in general we are building a more sustained high temperature, and giving better sleep everyday. While above things are not easy to achieve in one-time. I tried to apply it gradually, by using a checklist of what I need to do everyday.
It will be simple things, like :
- Avoid drinking coffee, especially after 2 pm
- Drink 2 liters of water everyday
- Exercise 45 minutes everyday
- Expose myself to light immediately after wake up
- Turn off lights at 10pm everyday
- Stop seeing screens (laptop, mobile phone) at 10pm everyday
It will be interesting to see how it goes. Currently I sleep around 7 hours per day, and sometimes I still feel tired. I want to reduce it to be 5 hours, since that will increase my free time and give me enough energy.
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