Startups, learning, life and happiness by Paul Brown

Experimenting with less sleep

One of the biggest assets you can have is time. Time and money pretty much make the modern world go round and we are all racing to get more of each of them.

For the past few months I have been experimenting with my sleep patterns, I have been trying to be awake more and sleep less with the aim of sleeping no more than 5 hours around 12-5 every day.

My reason for doing this has been to increase my daily productivity/fun time/family time by around 12.5% each day.

I have found that I need between 3-5 hours sleep per night in order to have a productive and positive day. Here are some things I have learnt recently about sleep and productivity..

Have a sleep routine. One of the most important factors when trying to sleep less is to have a solid sleep routine. Creating a cycle (or habit) is the biggest trick, it makes early mornings not seem so early and late nights seem normal, you have to push yourself a little at first but eventually a longer day becomes a habit.

End with a walk, start with a run. I have found that a steady walk on a night is a great way to calm down and reflect. Similarly a run in the morning is the best way to kick-start the day, you begin the day in control and on a positive, it wakes you up and makes the rest of the day seem easy.

Food and drink and sleep. Almond milk, almond honey, peanut butter will help speed up cell repair on a night and will make you feel great when you wake up. Once you are up work nutritional foods into your diet such as goji berries and manuka honey, slow burning energy foods like fruit and nuts and of course plenty of water throughout the day.

Make sure your bedroom is sleep friendly. Keeping the noise down and having a comfortable bed is a must and there is also a lot written about sleeping in a cold environment. The temperature and environment in your bedroom can have a massive effect on the amount of REM sleep you get.

Increase light exposure during the day. Try to take walks during the day and to get out as much as you can. If you struggle to get out and about because of your job consider a product like the Philips goLITE - they are often used for jet-lag and winter depression however they are great as a corrective sleep tool too.

Don’t think you need more sleep. People hold themselves back from sleeping less without realising it, they set limitations on themselves. Forget what that voice in your head tells you and push yourself, you can be anything you want to be.

This is an ongoing experiment and it has been difficult at times but I am now around 1 year in to having less sleep and I feel great.

Having less sleep has helped me achieve more, have more time with my family and I am looking forward to doing more experimenting with sleep next year.