Sleep Less and Be More Alert with Polyphasic Sleep

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I’ve been hacking my sleep since I was a child (before I even knew what hacking was) – always trying to get the most out of my time.  But many times when I cut back on sleep, I was tired, needed naps, and relied on coffee to function.  The best program I’ve found is my Bulletproof® Sleep method.

First, I take nutritional supplements before I go to sleep – amino acids, magnesium, and potassium. Then I do at least 5 minutes of HeartMath and breathing exercises before bed. Usually, I go to sleep between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m., and sleep until 7:00 or 7:30.  I listen to either Pzizz or a custom soundtrack while I sleep, and if I know I’m going to be getting less than 4 hours of sleep, I run a 0.5-1.5hz current across my brain, which is the same current as regenerative sleep.

Even with this little sleep, I’ve monitored my autonomic nervous system and haven’t found any indications that my body is under stress from lack of sleep.  My lab work is excellent, and my cortisol level is one of the lowest numbers it’s been.

There are some investments you need to make for Bulletproof Sleep®, like a HeartMath Sensor, and Sleep Cycle to monitor how much REM sleep you’re getting, but it quickly pays for itself giving you an extra 3-4 wakeful hours per day.

I have a confession to make.  I’m a sleep hacker.   I have been sleep hacking since I learned to read (at 18 months) and began using a flashlight to read at night.  Reading was always more fun than sleeping.

I’ve tried several different sleep experiments because I wanted to spend more time experiencing life and less time sleeping.

Delayed sleep + Quasi-multiphasic

Driven by the unnatural setup of a high school schedule, I’d sleep 3-4 hours at night (3-6am), then arrive at school so exhausted that I was famous for taking a nap in almost every class.  That meant an additional 1.5 hours of sleep, broken in to 15 minute naps spread across 6 periods.  (Since I was ranked second in my class, my teachers let me get away with it.)  On Fridays and Saturdays, I’d sleep for 10-12 hours putting my weekly average  between 6.5 and 7.3 hours of sleep per night.  This was not efficient, nor did it improve my health.  There’s also evidence that people under 20 need extra sleep.  I also stupidly used Coke (the bubbly kind) for alertness.

Delayed Sleep

At university, I decided to follow my circadian rhythm (assuming I actually had one left).  I naturally found that when class schedules allowed, I stayed up until 6am, then slept until 11am or noon. 4-6 hours per night was a slight improvement, and it was slightly more efficient because no one else was awake.  This method didn’t really save a lot of time, and probably didn’t help with alertness either.  Sleeping in on weekends also didn’t help my average very much.  I didn’t quantify alertness then but I realize that it was declining.  Coffee for alertness in the morning.

Radically Reduced Sleep Experiment 1

I decided to complete 2 semesters of Computer Information Systems classes in a single semester while starting a career as a magazine writer.  For 90 days, I slept 2-3 hours per night (from 5am to 7am) then drove to school barely awake before downing 40-60 oz of coffee to start a day of classes.  I’d feel awesome until I’d crash 3 hours later, then somehow make it through the day.  My GPA was 3.9 that semester, (my best ever) but by the end of the semester, I felt like I’d burned myself out and just didn’t have the focus I wanted to have.  In addition to sick amounts of coffee, I worked out several times a week with weights in order to have more energy. In retrospect, I gave myself adrenal fatigue and probably hurt my thyroid function with this experiment.  Fixing it took some time after I later realized what I was doing to my endocrine system.

Polyphasic Sleep Experiment

In the year 2000, I read about polyphasic sleep in 2000 in this post. I tried it briefly a year or two later, but the massive inconvenience and rigidity of the schedule in no way made up for the few hours of sleep it saved. Polyphasic sleep gave me 4-6 hours/night with a little extra on weekends.  I gave it about 6 weeks and found that it didn’t work with my schedule as an executive who also ran a university program in the evenings, followed by additional biohacking afterwards.  I also have serious concerns about melatonin production on this schedule.

Bulletproof® Sleep: Radically Reduced Enhanced Recovery Sleep

All these years of playing with sleep helped me learn more about sleep quality: falling asleep fast and spending as much time as possible in REM and delta (deep restorative) sleep.  I give my body as much nutrition as I can before sleep (including a handful of relaxing amino acids, magnesium, potassium, and trace minerals) so it has raw materials to regenerate.

On the average night, I go to sleep at between 2:30 and 4:30am and sleep until 7:00-7:30.  On most nights, I use Pzizz or a custom soundtrack.  If I will get less than 4 hours of sleep, I use my CES machine to run a current across my brain at between 0.5 and 1.5hz (the range of physical regenerative sleep).  I’ve had nights of 2.5 hours of sleep at 1.5hz which resulted in me waking fully alert and ready to go.  I can sustain 2 hours of sleep for 3 nights in a row, with flights between each night, before I start to lose performance.  Every night, I do at least 5 minutes of Heart Math heart rate variability coherence/breathing exercises before sleep, with or without the emWave unit. (I am a Heart Math certified Executive Coach if you’re interested…)

I’ve gone for 19 months on this schedule, sleeping less than 5 hours always (5 hours feels like sleeping in), and often much less.  I’ve traveled extensively during this time, had a 2nd baby, and had several career changes (from time at a VC on Sand Hill Road, to 2 start-ups, to working as a VP for a large Internet security company).  I *feel* great.  My immune function is good.  I started to worry that I was aging or killing myself with this program, so being an anti-aging guy and a biohacker, I got the data.

I wore a stick-on advanced 24 hour heart rate recording device to monitor autonomic nervous system function to see if I was experiencing stress.  It showed very good ANS function.  It hurt like hell when it came off, too:

That big electrode really did hurt when it came off

My red blood cell volume is ideal.  My blood & lipid chemistry is shockingly good.  My cortisol level is 107, the 2nd lowest I’ve had in 7 years of tracking it, despite a more stressful lifestyle.  I can’t find any data that says I’m harming myself.

In my mind, this is proof that polyphasic sleep is for masochists.  If I can thrive on 4 hours of continuous sleep for long periods of time, and only 2 hours when necessary, why would I go through the inconvenience, crazy schedules, and inflexibility of polyphasic sleep?  I wouldn’t trade one extra hour of the day for a rigid requirement forcing me to sleep at awkward times in the day.  The law of diminishing returns gets in the way of polyphasic sleep.

Plus, I get to curl up next to my beautiful wife at night, something that is good for my relationship.  Polyphasic snuggling just isn’t very hot, and having to take a nap right in the middle of a Saturday family event is no good either.  I also get to see my two young children during the day when I’m working from home, and I’m awake and alert all day long!

If you are looking to reduce your sleep, this is what you need to do:

1)      Convince yourself that 5 hours of sleep is all you need to be healthy (the data is here to prove it) and that 8 hours is too much (it is).

2)      Go on the Bulletproof® Diet. You will need the high functioning metabolism to keep you healthy and strong. Healthy people need less sleep.

3)      Take the relaxation nutrients I recommend in the sleep hacking posts.

4)      Get a HeartMath Sensor and learn to use it. It is proven to reduce cortisol and improve sleep.

5)      Get Sleep Cycle so you can see how much REM vs deep sleep you are actually getting.

6)      Get Pzizz so you can get into deeper sleep faster.

7)      Consider a CES machine if you’re going to go for less than 4 hours of sleep regularly. If a CES is too pricey, a light/sound machine may work as well.

If you do not have the equipment I reference here, please consider supporting this blog by purchasing it from the links above.  I use everything here and have for years; nothing in this post is here for commercial reasons. I also offer executive coaching if you want 1 on 1 advice.

Getting an extra 3-4 hours per night is life-changing.  You could write a book, finally answer your email, or learn a language.  It’s awesome!  The steps above aren’t very hard to do.  Figuring them out, on the other hand, has taken years.  I hope this info proves helpful to you too.

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By Dave Asprey

  • Could you please elaborate on how exactly you do ” Heart Math heart rate variability coherence/breathing exercises before sleep without EmWave”?

    Also, out of those mentioned what is the single most effective lifehack that reduces the sleep hours most significantly?

    Thank you!

    • Dave Asprey

      There is a set of breathing and heart awareness exercises that makes it easier to work with the emWave. Once you learn to do the exercises (hopefully with an emWave to tell you when you get it right) then you are capable of doing them without the emWave. There is a certain feeling you get when you take a breath – 5 secs in, 5 secs out, while focusing on your heart. It’s not something words can describe – you just “know” when you are in the coherent heart rate state if you’ve trained with the emWave for any length of time.

      In other words, for quick resets of your heart rate, you don’t need the little green light on the emWave because your brain can do that for you. But when you want to go further and train more, the emWave is still much better than trying without it.

  • Leon

    Hey Dave,
    How much REM and deep sleep are you aiming for each night? Zeo gives some average figures for different age groups, are these what you’d want to get or is there a different basis that you should use for your target?

    • Dave Asprey

      Zeo divides by 8.5 to get your score. Ben Rubin sent me the equations for the Zeo sleep scores.

      The ZQ is heavily reliant on Total Sleep Time (TST):
      ZQ = {[TST*1] + [REM*0.5 + Deep*1.5] – [TIW*0.5 + #wakenings/15]} * 8.5

      There is no consistent research I’ve found for “hacked sleep” that says whether 50% deep and 50% REM are ideal, but that’s where I aim, knowing I won’t hit it completely because of sleep and wake times. But since I aim to minimize those it’s a good goal. New blog post coming up on some stupidly simple technology that increased my (always way low) REM by 5x. Stay tuned!

  • Have you done any testing with orange glasses to increase melatonin production or sleeping in the pitch dark, on top of your existing sleep schedule? Orange glasses reduce my time to sleep significantly, and some of the research I’ve read indicates sleeping in the dark helps with melatonin production.

    I first came across polyphasic sleep from 🙂

  • Dave Asprey

    @Jolly, I use orange glasses pretty often, but I’ve mostly replaced bulbs in areas where I spend time at night. Melatonin spray seems to do about the same thing biologically. Room has been blacked out for years now!

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  • Superoim2000

    There’s no six pack here plus you tuck your belly in….Is it after you got your six pack (without exercising of course)??

  • Justin M

    This all seems very effective at maximizing sleep effectiveness and efficiency.
    The 5 hour vs. 8 hour deal is something I’d like to look into more. I “buy” what you are saying, but I think there are some: a) genetic differences among people; and b) environmental differences among people (for example, over about 10 years, you may have become accustomed to very little sleep). Also, have you convinced any relatively high level athletes to sleep only 5 hours? I think 5 seems very reasonable for people merely intending to maximize health, but for people attempting to take their fitness from intermediate to their genetic potential, I am skeptical that they can perform better on 5 hours (although I think 5 hours with all these upgrades may equate to 8 with no upgrades). As an example, Tony Gonzales mentioned a couple games ago that the reason he has been able to stay so good for so long is because he sleeps to much. Regardless, these methods seem great regardless of how much time you sleep.

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  • Howard

    I looked at the Amazon reviews on the Zeo. There are over 20 negative reviews — some of which are scathing (and very well written). The gist of the negative reviews is that it’s a pretty machine that simply doesn’t work. That’s enough to keep me from buying it.

    • Michael

      I’ve been using for a bit over two weeks.
      It seems to give a pretty accurate reading because when I post my ‘how I feel score’ then compare to how it says I slept, it’s over 90% accurate.

      • Dave Asprey

        It works. Standard deviation for a consumer device says that some people won’t have a good experience. I know the CTO and inventor personally, this is not a scam!

    • philessense

      I check my sleep with my FitBit. It shows when I am restless or moving (sometimes if I roll over a lot) and when I get up. It has two settings: normal and sensitive which I can toggle. Absolute accuracy in this $99 is not that of a multi-million dollar sleep lab with electrodes, but is a pretty good measure for my needs.

      Further, it counts my steps during the day and motivates me to walk/move more. Free website is good too. I’ve been using Fitbit for
      2 1/2 years and I wear it 23.5/7 (I take it off my lanyard to shower )

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  • I’m trying to maximize sleep, not minimize it. Any help for insomnia?

    • Dave Asprey

      See the other sleep hacking posts! Lots of tricks. Magnesium and/or honey handle it for many people.

  • Jared

    Hi Dave, I love your blog. I bought a Zeo a few weeks ago and was scoring in the low 70s on a good night. I bought a grounding sheet and last night got a 90 ZQ with 6:20 of sleep. I did go to bed really late, which might have altered the results, but I thought that it was pretty cool. I would highly recommend getting one to anyone who wants to try out a relatively cheap and easy solution.

    I am a believer on your advice and I was thinking of getting a CES machine like you suggested. Do you have any recommendations on NeuroTrek 3? You said yours was around $700. This is much cheaper and I am worried that it is a rip off.

    Thanks again for all your research. This sheet might have changed my life.

    • Dave Asprey

      It looks legit to me.

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  • Ty

    Is this safe for someone still growing? How long does it take to get used to this kind of sleep?

    • Dave Asprey

      No! Let your PFC solidify at age 23 and then start. ?

      • Ariel

        do you mean 23 for both genders just asking because men and women reach adulthood at different ages 🙂

      • Dylan

        I am 22. Should I sleep contiguous 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night, or do you think sleeping less and taking a nap during the day would be better?

      • Chris

        From my research, the PFC finishes developing at around age 25 for the average adult, and closer to 28 to 30 for people with ADHD.

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  • So, if Bulletproof sleep isn’t safe for younger kids (such as me, I’m a freshman in college), and also we’re poorer and can’t buy these gadgets, is there anything we can do but wait it out? Is there some diluted version of this hack that we can use? It would be super awesome and helpful if there was…

    • Dave Asprey

      You can get a zeo for $39 on Groupon! Start monitoring. Take your magnesium at night. Take an adrenal extract in the morning if you had a very late night. But most of all eat the bulletproof diet and your body will do the right things.

      • Have you done any comparisons between the data of Zeo and more low-level apps such as SleepCycle? I find that Sleep Cycle matches my own perception of sleep quality fairly good, and I would hate to buy a Zeo just to find that it gives me the same graph, just with an annoying headband on:)

  • Olav

    I’m trying to sleep six hours and want to reduce this if all goes well to 4.5 – 5 hours a night. But I feel terrible with six hours. I wake up tired and weak and it doesn’t help me getting up. I wanna feel energetic. What am I doing wrong? I’m very disciplined in following the diet, I take Kelp during the day, magnesium before sleeping, I use candlelight during the night, but I feel like shit. I even use Pzizz before sleeping. Am I missing something?

    • Dave Asprey

      Try 1 Tbsp raw honey before bed, with mag threonate. Adrenal extract may help in the morning too. It takes your body some time to adjust and learn to sleep more efficiently. See my podcast with the founders of Advanced Brain Monitoring…

      • Olav

        Thanks. I’ll just hang in there to achieve results. I’ll take the magnesium with honey before bed. Your blog is great.

  • Good article but learned to read at 18 months? Just can’t see that as being possible.

    • Dave Asprey

      LOL it’s quite do-able to teach a baby to read at 18 months, even a mentally disabled one. Glenn Doman wrote the book my parents used to teach me 40 years ago. “Teach your baby to read” I think…
      It’s not good for kids – their brains and eyes don’t develop as they should when you do this, IMHO.

      • Rdd TheStrong

        My parents told me that I was able to able to recite my nursery rhymes and say basic prayers at 18 months. Is that weird?
        ie: did my brain not properly develop because of this?

    • Janine

      Reposting my previous post:

      I thought someone would ask that of him. I could read at the age of two, and it was Dr. Seuss books, road signs and labels at the supermarket. I thank my now-departed grandfather for that. He used to sit me on his lap and read to me while I watched the page. I skipped kindergarten because I was reading at a fourth-grade level by that time.

      Certainly I am reasonably intelligent but far from a rocket scientist, so if I did it at age two, I see no reason why someone smarter than me couldn’t have done it at eighteen months. I have no reason to disbelieve the author of this article.

    • brawn

      Lol trolololol

  • Rob

    What were you reading at 18 months?

    • Dave Asprey

      Hundreds of words.

      Sent from an iphone. That means it’s spelled wrong…and I’m probably lost. You understand… -Dave

    • Janine

      I thought someone would ask that of him. I could read at the age of two, and it was Dr. Seuss books, road signs and labels at the supermarket. I thank my now-departed grandfather for that. He used to sit me on his lap and read to me while I watched the page. I skipped kindergarten because I was reading at a fourth-grade level by that time.

      Certainly I am reasonably intelligent but far from a rocket scientist, so if I did it at age two, I see no reason why someone smarter than me couldn’t have done it at eighteen months. I have no reason to disbelieve the author of this article.

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  • Trang

    So it seems like you’ve been sleeping around 3-4 hours a night since high school/grade school? But now you’ve figured out how to get only 4 and provide you with all the energy and health you need. But it seems like you’ve had lifetime of kinda getting “used” to it? How do you think someone who needs 7-8 hours a night would do on your plan? Ive heard of another method by powerful sleep? Or something like that, its a book that talks about getting enough sunlight and training your body somehow to get “better” sleep. Have you tested the sunlight thing at all?

  • Dana

    Lately i’ve been sleeping for two hours, to put in some time to study for my AP tests and such. But, at the same time, I want to try to be healthy too.

    This article is really useful and helpful. I’ll attempt one of your sleep experiments and see how it works for me 🙂

  • Jody

    Hi, I have the older HeartMath coherence software – FreezeFramer. Do I need to upgrade or am I getting about the same thing as the newer EMWave2 model?

  • J

    There is only one Man who Will make you completely fulfilled, and that Man is Jesus. I promise that if you seek him and let him into your heart you will experience rest and Everlasting Joy. I pray that you will take this message to heart and experience TRUE Happiness in Jesus. God Bless. ps. Pray to Jesus about all of your problems so that he will help you like he has helped me always.

    • J gay

      Shut. The. Fuck. Up

      • Eric Echevarria

        Preaching may be annoying, but there’s no need to be rude.

        • The rudest thing in this particular thread is the preaching. Nobody was talking about religion. I’m all for politeness, but people that do that really need to shut the fuck up.

        • Eric Echevarria

          Cussing someone out and questioning their sexual orientation is way more rude than a random comment about Jesus that no one wants to hear.

        • Drjonhandy

          The comment is not random: the blog is a sermon on the religion called biohacking. The fact that one reader responded with a comment about their religion is fully understandable. The error is in making the two mutually exclusive: the most productive human being is one who is optimized spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially. As a Christian, I believe that Christ is the only One who can optimise my spiritual being, with positive effects on the other four aspects of my existence. That doesn’t stop me from recognizing that there is good advice in this post about optimizing my physical and mental being so I can be the best person I was created to be.

        • Drjonhandy

          To the people who responded with rudeness and profanity, I would like them to weigh if their comments are productive or destructive. Then, they should consider if being a destructive person online is related or not to being a destructive person offline. Then, since this is a blog about being more productive, consider how inappropriate are their destructive comments. At least J was trying to help!

        • In God’s Shoes

          Why is being productive or destructive so important? It could be said that cutting down rain forests are both productive and destructive.

          Maybe you shouldn’t pass judgement on what someone’s intent was with their comments and just love thy neighbor.

          Just Sayin’

        • DemonAlchemist

          “Love thy neighbor”. Never has something been so often preached and ignored at the same time.

        • Ecksluss

          Sermon on the religion called biohacking… you’re a special kind of stupid.

        • Joe

          The lord is anything but rude! Have faith!

        • Have Faith! Believe in something that can’t exist in order to validate my own belief!

        • Daniel Bowen

          God can’t exist? That is a ridiculous statement.

        • Anything that exists can be eventually proven to exist. God has been dreamt of for millenia, and no one has ever been able to prove his existence. Therefore, he most probably not only does not exist, but also CAN NOT exist – if he could, there would be some kind of proof by now, don’t you agree?

          Two possible responses you could have, and ready-made rebuttals for those:

          1. “God doesn’t want us to know He exists for a fact (possibly because he wants us to have faith)” –> Well then he doesn’t exist, for me. When He wants to make himself factually known, I’ll change my position.

          2. “Humankind/our souls have not evolved/matured enough to prove the existance of such a higher power”. Well then he just as well doesn’t exist to me. When his existence can be proven, sign me up — before that, it’s just fairytale.

        • buzz

          Not everything that exists can be proven to exist. Did not the far expanses of the universe exist before we discovered them? Of course. What about the things that exist that we will never discover? They still exist, and may act on us with forces we comprehend not. After weeding through the distractions in your argument, your argument is basically this: No one has proved the existence of God, therefore God cannot exist. Using your logic, I could say,”No one has proved that there is not a God. Therefore, God exists.” Both arguments don’t make sense. Mankind’s production of information and work are the results of intelligence 100% of the time. Little wonder many observe nature and assume the existence of an intelligent designer as well.

        • You seem to be ignoring the word “eventually”. I know we can’t currently prove the existence of everything that exists, but I believe we will EVENTUALLY be able to. If or when that day comes, when we will be able to ascertain God’s existence, I will be a believer, if he is proven to exist. Otherwise, I see no reason to believe in something that has currently not even a shred of factual credibility. Faith doesn’t count.

        • Daniel Bowen

          I am working on my own “Theory of Everything” that includes a lot of evidence of God’s existence from many different sources. At this point I believe I can prove God’s existence concisely, but I have at least two decades of work ahead of me.

          In any case, if someone proved His existence a hundred years from now because of new technology or new evidence you would look like the idiot that you are. Unless you possess the entire sum of all knowledge that can be acquired then you should not make statements like “God can not exist.”

          P.S.: The world is not flat.

        • You’re going to prove the existence of God? Sign me up for a front row seat, buddy! That’s something I’d love to see someone really try to do during my lifetime.

          Good luck on your mission! (You’re gonna need it.)

        • Daniel Bowen

          I am not your buddy and luck does not exist.

        • So how’s that Theory of Everything coming up, buddy? Any luck in proving God’s existence yet? I’m still signed up for that front row seat! Can’t wait!

        • Daniel Bowen

          Pretty well. How is your trolling coming along?

        • Jared

          I feel so bad for the poor unfortunate souls who do not know Jesus is. Especially the ones who are too ignorant to find out. Those who openly deny him will find themselves in a sticky situation when the end comes. You will know the truth then.

        • Joe

          Preaching is like giving birth, u must love! Love children!

        • This made zero sense.

      • Joe

        U must love the lord. For he created you!

        • What if he didn’t? I think he didn’t, because of a simple thing called not being able to create anything since you don’t actually exist.

        • TimeAndSpace

          Is it possible that J may be seeing some level of desperation among the readers to fulfil their desires? quite possible. May be,because of that he wrote about Jesus for fulfillment. We didn’t understand time and space before Einstein, but it
          doesn’t mean that the phenomenon was not there before. To understand the One you can’t comprehend, you need to realize the Great Symmetry. Still it will be uncomprehending. The belief and judgment you’ve reflected here only validates your acquired knowledge from your environment. This blog is to develop and evolve you and bring you closer to yourself. One can choose to improve their wellbeing by prayers or by using HearthMath Sensor or Zeo or simply watching thoughts. All of them can be equally effective, isn’t it? Try to see co-existences or the homogeneous facet of the world that you live, because it is the profound existence. More you cultivate the heterogeneous views; more distant you will be from yourself.

      • TheProfessor

        I agree, his preaching is completely useless regarding this topic and doesn’t belong here.

      • Mr. Mittens

        My cat’s name is mittens

    • Katy

      I’m a fellow Christian but I must say that this is an unnecessary post and honestly rather off putting. There are much better ways to share the love of Jesus than random, odd posts on a blog which tend create a response opposite than what you may have intended.

      • SevenThunders

        Word of man: Oooh don’t preach that Jesus stuff, be a good christian atheist and don’t offend.

        Word of God: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season;
        They are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Jesus. There is never a bad time to preach. Even a poorly phrased gospel invitation is better than a christian’s silence in the face of eternal hell.

        Some may yet believe, especially since it is the Holy Spirit who draws us near, not our clever words.

    • philessense

      Just flag these trolls with their inappropriate and out-of-place comments, and ask the administrator to remove them. Getting our knickers in a twist only creates bad energy and anger. Ignoring posts like this (not commenting) is a way of reducing negative behavior (just like with any children)

      • Daniel Bowen

        His post was not negative in any way.

    • netsurfer912




    • DemonAlchemist

      Or you know we’ll just all kill each other over religion, since that’s been the main contribution religion has had on mankind.

  • Hi Dave,

    What kind of mattress do you recommend for toxin-free and ‘ergonomical’ sleep?



  • Miroslav Prok?pek

    The first study was done on people about 60YO who have by default different hormonal settings to sleep less. It doesnt mean the whole population should adopt this sleep lenght…

    It says just: Elderly people should sleep for 5 hours a day for optimal lifespan.

  • Pzizz is in a remaking process right now. App works good. I would also recommend the apps by Andrew Johnson, especially “Relax” and “Deep Sleep”. They take a slightly different approach and tech breathing techniques etc.

  • Is there any way te bulletproof diet CAN be altered for a vegetarian. I see that you can’t eat soy protein and most of my meat free “meat” is made up with soy protein. Not actual animals (as I do not eat them). I’d love to try this but if its saying avoid it… What can I do?

  • Katie Wrightson

    Hi Dave – I’m loving all of this and am so happy I heard you on the Joe Rogan show (actually, it’s the first episode I ever listened to and only because a friend of mine couldn’t stop talking about butter coffee and bad curly kale). I am wondering about alterations to your plans for those of us who enjoy frequent exercising. As you probably know, CrossFit is out there, and it’s addictive. I like to go at least 4x per week – I love it. Can I be optimally healthy with only 5 hours of sleep a night, or do I need 7-8 the nights before or after I work out? Thanks so much! I’m sure hoping you have a Bulletproof Lifestyle book in the works!

  • Joe

    Zeo has gone out of business!!!! What do I buy now? 🙁

    • Daedalus

      The article now reccomends sleep cycle- see the link above.

    • Donatello

      Shame that such a high quality, definitely not scam company went out of business

  • Sean

    Let me reason this out:
    Getting less sleep = Being more productive = achieving life goals = being successful.

    Here’s the problem: The human brain has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to accept 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep. That is the only way that we can function without falling asleep at the wheel. That means that you CAN produce more if you have more time, but you CAN’T produce the same quality of work . . . It simply isn’t possible because you’d be assuming that the DNA your using to read this right now will suddenly mutate given a steady 4-hr sleep cycle and a To Do List of well-timed supplements.

    It’s the same as saying “If I practice, I can learn to go without water for 4 days… maybe even 5!”. See how silly that sounds.

    I hate sleep. But the only way that I can get around the loss of time while sleeping is to be twice as productive when awake. I’m not German, but I structure my day like one. I go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Little sugar, eat healthy, plan accordingly and add skills that can reduce the time it takes you to do something. Learn things like the School of Phenomenal Memory so that you can recite a textbook from memory after 60 days. Then use that information to work on your company and streamline things faster.

    Set aside time for planning and time for action, AND STICK TO THE SCHEDULE. Have a checklist and rate your skills. Get excersize and get obsessed with your craft. Know everything about your craft and anything that could stop you from reaching it.

    Read 48 Laws of Power and review each law every day. Here’s the most important part. Focus on creating more time for yourself by making your craft profitable enough to support yourself, you’ll be working towards an extra 9 Hours available in the day!!. Then build on that to make yourself wealthy. After that you will have all the time in the world to pursue any dream you like.

    But no . . . getting 3-5 hours of sleep can’t be done for a Human Being so put your energy into something that CAN happen. You can achieve anything you want, but quality is just as important as quantity.

    • Jack

      Wise guy: I think 99% of what you typed is hot air.

      • alexandru benza

        99%? you’re being so modest.

    • alexandru benza

      ending this little tirade with “quality is just as important as quantity is subtly self-defeating.

      the human organism has evolved for however long you said to just SURVIVE. are you trying to convince people out there that when we first started as cavemen/hunter gatherers we got… 7.5-9 hours of sleep? really? in a world where there are plenty of predators and no set-in-stone ethics to protect you from your fellow man stealing your deerskin shoes… you telling me us humans got 7.5-9 hours a night?

      “see how silly that sounds?”

      plus it’s not dna. or perhaps you mean genes. whatever you mean I just watched something on discovery science (called are you good or evil) where they gave a fantastic example of a guy who had the same exact brain activity and specific gene present, in quite a large magnitude, as murderers and/or violent psychopaths. those with those markers usually went on to become murderers, including a few people in his family.

      due to his ENVIRONMENT though, that gene and that brain activity did not express in the way it does for someone with the same markers but a frightening or threatening environment.

      also just saw some study that put african honey bees (killer bees I think they called them) with a more tame cousin, and even though the killer bees still had the aggressiveness in their genes, it didn’t express because of the environment they grew up in.

      also there was a through the wormhole episode in which they showed some scientist’s work where people merely MEDITATED for 15 minutes a day and made changes on a GENETIC level regarding stress.

      people like you would be the ruin of man. “well, we’ve been doing the same crap for millions of years, why change it?”

      yea. why make a tractor when we have oxen? why a car when we have horses and buggies? toilet paper?! pfft, I have my left hand (vintage 2000’s Iraq).

      why notice an inefficient or at least not fully efficient pattern and seek to improve it?

      and ps, dna doesn’t help you read, or make me blatantly omit punctuation and capitalization. English class does.

    • Anton

      Sean, I like your post a lot. Can you email me if you see this preply at Thanks!

    • Chad

      You’d be surprised what is possible. It IS common held belief that the human body cannot survive longer than 3 days without water, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, I don’t even know how they came to such a conclusion. I once lived on no food OR water(including no showering) for 10 days straight. I’m living proof that our modern science doesn’t quite have all the answers. Let us carry on and look at every possibility with an open mind.

      • DemonAlchemist

        You aren’t living proof of anything except that people lie on the Internet.

  • dk

    I’ve never needed more than 5-6 hours of sleep a day since I was a kid. Is there a way I can reduce my sleep time even more?

  • David

    Could you do a post about the sleep cycle app and describe what we should be looking for in the charts? I use the app almost everyday but the sleep quality % confuses me and obviously getting 5-6 hours of sleep the % will not be as high since I think the app wants you to get more sleep. For example I slept 7 hours the other night and it was around 80% and 8 1/2 hours a few nights later and it was 100%. I would really like to get less sleep and would like to analyze these graphs when I get less sleep to see if I am on the right track. Here are some examples of mine. Thank You
    -David D

  • Jeremy Pogorzelski

    Have you tried Binaural Beats or Isochronic tones? Just wondering if they actually have any effect?

    • Isabeau Chaloult

      I have been using them quite regularly for a few years and have to say they work wonderfully well.

      I especially love the Catnapper by Monroe Institute to nap and the Jet Lag series from Hemi-Sync to go into deep sleep, meditate or get some beta waves to freshen my brain when I haven’t been able to sleep a lot.

      Everyone I have referred them to has had positive results 🙂

      (wow, just reread and realize I sound like an ad, but they’re that good 🙂

    • philessense

      This article is a great reminder to me. I will pull out my Monroe CDs and work on them again. I’ve been having trouble sleeping. They used to be a big help.

  • Alyson

    This sounds completely life-changing. Unfortunately, it also sounds almost too good to be true. Have you looked into any long-term memory issues as it relates to sleeping so little?

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  • charles

    a very reliable source has said that optimal sleep pattern is actually to sleep is actually cyclic, not one big block of sleep then no sleep at all. the optimal sleep pattern i recall was 5 hour at night, then a two short naps during the day, one at 1 and another at 7 i believe.

  • Liz

    Would you still be able to efficiently workout (moderate to high intensity) when doing this?

  • Tomms

    These events are awesome to enjoy. I have always been worrying about me getting less sleep due to work issues, but this gives me a detailed sketch as to how to minimize the impact.I am Wondering may be it was connected to Whatever, I am satisfied with your blog because it was connected to my entire education.

  • Isabeau Chaloult

    First, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us, GREATLY appreciated (and I am already benefiting, very thankful!)

    If I may, I see many people referring to the UBERMAN schedule of polyphasic sleeping, as polyphasic sleep itself, when it really only is one way of doing it (and the most difficult to sustain). All it requires to be called polyphasic is that you sleep more than twice a day.

    Other schedules are a lot more permissive, mine for instance involves sleeping 3h a night and napping twice whenever I need it during the day.

    The health improvements for me were tremendous (for instance, I have chronic headaches and migraines that vanish when I am on a polyphasic sleeping schedule but that’s only one aspect) and the one huge factor that I wouldn’t trade for anything is the fact that I never have any energy downs throughout the day, I just need to nap and all is back.

    That being said, I do love my nootropics and will use them to have more energy. Having enough is just…not enough, eh.

    In any case, I just felt I have to mention this because I find it sad for some people who could be benefit from polyphasic sleep who will be put off thinking systematically that it involves napping every 4h.

    That is all, thanks for reading and thank you again for all that wonderful information that I am impatient to put in practice !

  • Sarah K

    Let’s face it: the main reason you’re able to go so long without sleep is because you’re taking narcolepsy medication. Attributing your sleep-reduction to high-tech equipment and clever experimentation (rather than stressing provigil as a key factor in this article) seems slightly disingenuous.

    • ???ds? ???p

      Lol I stopped the provigil a year ago to see what would happen. Using EVERY technology possible to achieve a goal is…well…human.

  • Yos

    Can u explain more about using light/sound machine to reduce sleep? how to do that? because when i search the web/blog/forum about this machine in order to reduce sleep, but not much info gained.

  • Yos

    Hi Dave,
    How do you use CES device for optimum sleep? what is the procedure?

  • JB

    FYI – The links in Step #4 and Step #6 are broken. Where can we find more info on EmWave and Pzizz?

  • Thanks, I like my sleep! I will let you guys worry about not sleeping 😉

  • pickadick

    If you morons think that these gadgets will help you to sleep less your are fucking morons, you deserve it. go and buy this silly shit wraped in a convincing paper. 😀 this is called marketing you dumbasses. find me a teenager in school sleeping for 3-4 hours. teens sleep until the midday if their parents do not wake them up. my first thought was are you an asian once I started reading this. :DDD your school should have been a rocket science facility if you really needed that much sleep. 😀

    oh sean is also an idiot. if you practice you can achieve longer times without air. same shit should be with sleep but…. how significant do you think the achievement would be? if you keep your breath for long you dont become fish, you die. same if you do not sleep enough. keep in mind that lond term sleeplessness might affect your memory, heart condition, metabolism etc. ask bankers how well they live with their moto time is money. some of them die due to heart attack. who knows if these deaths are not a result substances used to keep them awake. be rational that’s all. :DDDD gadgets might help you to sleep less but they might also let you to die sooner so who knows.

  • John Smith

    The one problem I have with a lot of this is the argument in favor of less sleep being more natural for us, then relying on so many unnatural things in order to facilitate this. While I personally agree that we should need less sleep than the recommended 8-9 hours, I disagree that people should do so by more unnatural methods. Perhaps as training wheels while a person adapts, but these things shouldn’t be long term. It may actually be better to learn to do this without these things to begin with. I do agree though, a truly healthy diet and lifestyle are essential to a reduced amount of sleeping.

  • Rich Cook

    It sounds to me like you’ve always been someone who gets 5 hours of sleep per night anyhow. Genetics plays a role here. We need population studies. If I get less than 8 or 9 hours of sleep per night it’s a disaster. I’m going to work on implementing your diet and see if that helps. But I have no idea how I’m going to get 50% of my calories from healthy fats. Do I drink a glass of olive oil each day or something?

  • Saw and heard you at SXSWi today and really liked what you had to say. That said, I’m trying to support you by clicking on the em-wave2 link but got a pocket emptying 404 at your other site. Just thought you’d want to know

  • Mike

    This clearly wasn’t written by Dave. I am losing faith in him day by day.

  • Jb

    Ok I just found this site and I have a question. I have no regular sleep pattern due go the nature of my job. I work 24 on 48 off and occasionally 36 on 36 off. There are some shifts I get no sleep what so ever other than a few cat naps. Takes me days to readjust afterwards. I tend to crash during my off days and wake up feeling drained with a headache. Any suggestions other than a new job?

    • Howard Lee Harkness

      Your job is seriously shortening your life — as well as reducing the quality of your life. I’m assuming you are a firefighter (not many other jobs have that sort of insane hours), in which case, you run a fairly high chance of dying on any given shift anyway.

      That said, the most common cause of headaches immediately after sleep is sleep apnea. If you consistently have a headache after several hours of sleep, get that checked out. Sleep apnea is probably just as life-threatening as fire-fighting.

      A hazardous job combined with sleep apnea is MUCH more life-threatening.

      For additional clues about sleep apnea, get one of those electronic wrist blood-pressure cuffs (about $35 at most drug stores). Take your BP about 30 minutes before going to bed, and as soon as possible after awakening. If the awakening BP is higher, you have sleep apnea. That is nearly 100% diagnostic without any other indicator — and you have some other indicators.

      Do not take this lightly.

  • Ilsa

    You are missing such an important group and you need to address it. There are TONS of people with LOW cortisol Low cortisol is poor sleep, believe me. Address it. All this stuff about lowering cortisol is so obsessive. Low cortisol + pain, poor concentration, weak muscles, messed ACTH, messed up pineal gland. The feedback loop gets screwed up. Maybe you started out heavy but many people were thin to begin with and and all this stress to body drains cortisol reserve and it does not get replenished. is’s scary use your information to address this too and be a hero.

  • Annoyed

    You are a douche.

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  • Aron

    I just use modafinil from when i dont get my 8 hours of sleep , it really help to take action and get things done !

  • Anonymous

    I’m 15 and I’ve been sleeping for three hours max for two years. During the summer of 2013 I would stay up all night and sleep during the day being a typical teenager with nothing to do. Once I went back to school I forced myself to fall asleep an 930 pm. I did end up falling asleep every night but I would wake up at 230am at first I thought it was a health risk or issue so I told my parents how little sleep I was getting. I went to have a sleep study done and everything was fine I was told that when I fell asleep I went directly into rem sleep and actually sometimes got better sleep than 8 hour sleepers. Don’t waste your money on supplements and expensive monitors just eat right and get used to it

  • oodles

    waaay to much effort to NOT sleep…sleep is gOOd!!….being a high flying executive, making oodles of cash, and being UP so much…is Only for the seLected few…the proud….the anti-sleepErs…

  • Isabelle

    I’m nearly 17 years old. Should I do this? I read previous comments and you said to a freshman in college that it’s okay as long as you follow the bulletproof diet, but you told Ty that if you are still growing you should wait it out till your 23, at the time when your PFC solidifies. I also am not sure as to what is meant by my PFC solidifying although I did look it up and found that it stood for proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I am pretty excited to try this out, but a little scared to since many other online sources say that a 17 year old like me needs nearly 7 to 10 hours of sleep in order to grow properly. Thanks. I just found this website and think it’s amazing.

    • Howard

      PFC == Pre-Frontal Cortex


    I aim for eight hours of sleep and get about seven.

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  • Miky

    This is hilarious ” I go to sleep between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m., and sleep until 7:00 or 7:30. I listen to either Pzizz or a custom soundtrack while I sleep, and if I know I’m going to be getting less than 4 hours of sleep, I run a 0.5-1.5hz current across my brain, which is the same current as regenerative sleep.”

    Isn’t this hilarious ?

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  • disqus_cwf871uy7e

    You look like shit, to be honest…

  • I’d like to support your blog – I couldn’t see a ‘buy’ link on your posts above. How will the CES peops know this is a link from your site?

  • heniretta miller

    You look like you could use some real sleep!

  • steve

    Dave please specify what type of breathing methods you use to hack your sleep and for how long and when do you do them

  • Erich Keller

    Thanks Dave,

    How have looked your testosterone levels?


  • George Grey

    It should be a well known fact now that is the only legit hacker out here, with a certification to show for it.
    I will kindly implore all to contact her, for all espionage she will surely be able to help.
    hacking grades can be successful , i know that cause I had her hack mine for me and hiring a professional is a lot safer and makes more sense than hacking your grades yourself. shout out to all hackers that actually get the job done, may you all live longer

  • Hurryupenbye

    Hey dumb guy here, I don’t understand much of what Dave was explaining (lack of education) but I do know that for the last 4 years Ive been *surviving* with 4-5 hours of sleep. I take my supplements and eat mostly natural about 85% Non GMO/Organic. I started this years ago by default. My job would Mando me and I would pick up and do doubles. I got addicted to it and got used to the 4-5 hours of sleep and times less. I was good at work until it slowed down. (Bagger/Bag Handler for major airline) My problem now is I don’t want to do anything on my days off or when Im home. Reading and understanding some of this explains a lot. Sean stated no facts by the way.

  • Theresa Anderson

    I started using Sleep Cycle and if nothing else its really interesting. It looks as though I fall into a deep sleep in just a 1/2 hour and I’m there for 5 hours straight. I wonder though….Is the restlessness after 5 hours of sleep from my body telling me I need to urinate soon (which I do every morning it seems and generally I go back to bed)?

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