Could sleeping less help you become more productive? Many students believe that they are making better use of their time when they are out of bed. They want to know how to sleep less. The more time they spend awake, the more productive they feel.
The mathematics may seem simple. Subtract the number of sleep hours from 24. This is how much time we are awake each day. In other words, getting a shorter sleep would leave us with more time to do stuff.
On one extreme, not sleeping at all leaves us with all the time in the world. We can do what we want to do at any time. But we all know that not sleeping at all is physically impossible. We need to set aside time for us to restore our energy levels.
Sleeping more than what you need does not appear to give you any additional benefits. In fact, sleeping too much could make you feel even more tired and sluggish. Excessive sleep could also be a worrying sign of chronic fatigue, or other underlying health issues.
Since sleeping too little or sleeping too much does not seem like a good idea, there must be a “sweet spot” for the number of hours we should sleep every night. This “sweet spot” may differ from person to person.
How much sleep do we need?
There is a recommended range for different age groups. Younger students with ages from 6 to 13 should get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. Students who are 14 to 17 years old should aim for 8 to 10 hours of slumber. In general, the recommended sleep duration decreases as we grow older.
For most of us, our “sweet spot” lies somewhere within the recommended range. Some of us may find ourselves at the higher end of the range and need more sleep. Others in the same age group may get by with less sleep, if their “sweet spot” is towards the lower end. And for a few of us, the “sweet spot” may be outside of the recommended range. That’s perfectly fine.
There are some ways we can move our “sweet spot”. This takes time and commitment, so don’t rush things through. Before we dive into the techniques to reduce our sleep time, there is one thing that you should know. When we try moving our “sweet spot”, we just want to move it very slightly and slowly. Don’t try and change things overnight, or over a few days. We want to ensure that our body is comfortable with these small adjustments.
The Importance of Having Enough Sleep
Sleep gives our body the opportunity to prepare itself for a new day ahead. It gives our brain time to consolidate our thoughts after a long day. Students who get enough sleep would find themselves concentrating better in class. Those who do not get enough sleep would often feel tired and inefficient during the day.
It is also important for students to ensure that they are getting quality sleep. Getting proper sleep helps students to boost their academic performance. Do you find yourself waking up several times in the middle of the night? If so, you might need more hours of sleep to compensate for the lower quality of sleep. You should look into improving your sleep quality, so you can spend less time in bed.
How to Sleep Less by Improving your Sleep Quality
Sleeping less doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sacrifice the amount of rest you are getting. With better sleep, your body can recharge itself at a faster rate. Here are some ways to sleep less by improving the quality of your sleep.
Ease off your day with a relaxing routine
Your body needs to know when it is time to fall asleep. We suggest building your own relaxing bedtime routine. Make it a point to follow through your routine consistently. The activities in your bedtime routine should not be too strenuous or intensive. Physical exercise is more likely to make you feel more awake and should be avoided.
For example, you can start by taking a nice shower one hour before you go to bed. Put your assessment books away for the day, and pull out your favourite novel for a light read. Dim any bright lights that may be keeping you awake. Play some classical music in the background, or something that would make you fall asleep. By repeating these activities every night, your body would quickly get the hint.
Switch off anything that has a screen
Laptops, tablets, mobile phones, smart watches, and so on. The bright screens of these electronic devices emit artificial blue light that stimulates the brain. The blue light inhibits the production of the sleep-inducing hormone, making it harder for us to fall asleep.
You can improve the quality of your sleep by putting your devices away at least one hour before bedtime. In that way, you do not waste time tossing and turning around your bed, and trying to fall asleep. Also, avoid checking your phone if you wake up in the middle of the night. That could make it harder for you to return to sleep.
Avoid all forms of caffeine
Caffeine has a half-life of around four to five hours. This number can go up to six hours for some people. It takes your body this much time to get rid of half the caffeine content. And much longer before the caffeine level in the body becomes low enough such that it doesn’t affect your sleep.
There are some people who can drink coffee after dinner without getting insomnia. Likewise, there are people who simply cannot take any caffeine after lunch. Caffeine can come in several other forms, apart from coffee or tea. Energy drinks and soft drinks (such as cola) are also often high in caffeine. Caffeine is also found in chocolate bars.
Prepare your bedroom environment for sleep
Making changes to your sleep environment can help you improve the quality of your sleep. For example, consider setting your air conditioner temperature to around 25 degrees Celsius to get the best sleep possible. If air conditioning makes your room dry, place some water containers around the room to increase humidity. A fountain or a fish tank works as well.
If you are sensitive to light, you may wish to install blackout curtains. These curtains help to block out excessive light from your surroundings. The darkness enables your body to maintain its melatonin levels while you are asleep. If that’s not possible (e.g. you are sharing a room), eye shades can be a good alternative. Finally, earplugs for those who get awaken by sound easily.
Leave a bottle of water next to your bed
Those who sleep in an air conditioned room may feel thirsty in the middle of the night. Air conditioning makes the room dry by removing moisture from the air. As you breathe in the dry air all night, your throat would start to feel dry. As a result, you need to go to the kitchen to get yourself a glass of water.
Here is what you can do. Make things convenient for yourself by keeping a bottle or a glass of water next to your bed. Near enough so that it is within your reach while you’re lying in bed, but far enough so that you don’t accidentally knock things over. By doing so, you can take a quick sip and then go back to sleep. This helps you to effectively minimise the disruption to your sleep.
Turn off the snooze function of your alarm clock
We’ve all done it at least once. When the alarm sounds, we hit the snooze button. This gives us an extra 10 minutes of sleep. And another 10 minutes each time we hit snooze. Until we finally decide to get out of bed. The short bursts of sleep are usually of low quality. They do not actually help you to feel more rested. It would have been better for you to set your alarm clock to the later time (the final snooze) and get more proper sleep.
Resist the urge to extend your sleep in this manner. You’ve already picked a time to wake up, so stick to it. When the alarm goes off, get off your bed and move around the house. You can consider placing your alarm (or mobile phone) somewhere further from your bed. That way, you’ll need to take a short walk, making it harder to hit snooze. Even a few steps can help you to feel more awake.
In our busy lives, we often try to cut down on sleep in order, hoping to gain more time. It may be possible for us to do this in the short term, but it’s not sustainable in the long run. For example, we might only get a few hours of sleep on weeknights. More often than not, our body needs to make up for the lost sleep in some way. Usually, this means that we would be sleeping in during the weekend.
Reducing our sleep time by a little every night is usually something that is achievable. Beyond a certain point, we do not give ourselves enough time to reset and recharge our mind and body. Simply put, a lack of sleep is counterproductive.
You can reduce the number of hours you spend in bed, simply by improving the quality of your sleep. With more hours staying awake, you can do more things each day. Also, getting a shorter sleep means you have more slots available in your busy schedule. Wouldn’t it be great to get some spare time for yourself after you finish doing your homework?