I’ve read hundreds of books over the past few years in a quest to find the secrets to success in life. I’ve read and tried hundreds of tips, tricks, and hacks. Some worked, some didn’t. The Pomodoro Technique. Pareto’s Principle. Morning Pages. None of them are effective without the one most important habit: sleep.
In our culture of maximizing efficiency, it’s easy to kick sleep aside as unimportant. But sleeping is like recharging the battery on your smartphone. You can do all kinds of tricks to extend the battery life of your phone. Once the power bar goes all the way down your phone shuts off. Nothing you do can get it back on until you recharge it.
You need energy to do anything in life. You won’t have energy if you don’t get adequate sleep. If you’re one of the millions of tired people out there, I challenge you to make sleep your priority. Try it for a week or two and see if it transforms your life.
The following is an excerpt from the rough draft of my upcoming book. I have not decided on the title yet. It is a personal development workbook with tips, tools, hacks, supplements, and resources for fixing the weakest areas of your life.
Managing Sleep Time
If you want to improve your sleep, the first thing you need to do is take it seriously. Sleep is one of the most important things you do each day. A good night’s sleep lays the foundation for everything you do after you wake up. It makes sense to make it a priority it in your life.
Schedule your sleep time beforehand. Start by deciding for yourself how many hours of sleep you need. It can vary between different people depending on many factors including genetics. Most people need somewhere between 79 hours of sleep each night.
Next, determine when you need to wake up. Count back the number of hours you need to sleep. For example, if you need eight hours of sleep and must wake up by 7 AM, you will count back eight hours to 11 PM. 11 PM is the time you need to be in bed.
Block off your sleep times on your calendar once you’ve determined your bedtime and waking time. Make it a rigid priority and don’t compromise it. Getting enough sleep is more important than almost anything that might come up in the evening. Ideally, you should sleep at the same time every day.
When deciding your sleep times, it helps to look at when sunrise and sunset occur. It varies depending on location and time of year. Get to bed within a few hours of sunset and try not to sleep past sunrise. The natural cycles of sunlight and darkness affect your hormone levels and can make sleeping difficult if you sleep at unnatural times.
Most people sleep in cycles of 90 minutes. Every 90 minutes, you wake, shift position in your bed, get up to use the bathroom, or otherwise awaken from deep slumber. It makes sense to plan your sleep in multiples of 90 minutes: 1:30, 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, 7:30, and 9:00.
Historian A. Roger Ekirch wrote in his book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past that in the past, humans slept in two four-hour blocks. They would wake after the first four hours of sleep and get up for an hour or more to pray, think, or talk with their spouses before going back to sleep for another four hours. Breaking your sleep up into two portions can also increase the quality of your sleep. One way to take advantage of this fact is to set your alarm to wake up for five to ten minutes four and a half hours after you fall asleep.
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