Step 5: Sleep Hacking to Improve Your Sleep
By: Dave Asprey
If you could do just one thing to increase your brain power, build muscle, lose fat, look better, and live longer – would you do it?
The answer is probably yes, so here is some good news: all you have to do is a little sleep hacking and sleep well.
Quality sleep is one of the most important variables to improving your brain function, longevity, and performance in all aspects of life. The problem is it’s hard to find a lot of time for sleep. We’ve all got busy lives and, after all, you can sleep when you’re dead – right?
Well, yes, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Bulletproof way isn’t to sleep more, it’s to sleep better. As you’ve read elsewhere on this site, you can get restorative sleep in a few hours a night – if you know what you’re doing. I’ve made almost every possible mistake when it comes to hacking sleep. As a result, I’ve documented the most effective methods for sleeping more in less time.
Before we dig in on sleep hacking, let’s take a look at how important sleep really is.
The Mental Benefits of Sleep
- One night of good sleep can improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 20%.
- Eight hours of quality sleep increases your ability to gain new insight into complex problems by 50%.
The Physical Benefits of Sleep
- Good sleep promotes skin health and a youthful appearance.
- Sleep increases testosterone levels.
- Sleep controls optimal insulin secretion.
- Sleep encourages healthy cell division (helps prevent cancer)
- Sleep increases athletic performance.
For more reasons to sleep, check out this chart from my friend Ben Rubin.
In short, lack of quality sleep will make you sick, weak, stupid, fat, and eventually, dead. The problem is most people believe they just don’t have time to sleep as much as they should . . . and they don’t know how to efficiently sleep in the first place.
25 percent of Americans sleep less than six hours a night; This is not hacked sleep, so this is bad for you! While studies indicate that sleep loss isn’t necessarily correlated with dying sooner, most clinical studies show lack of sleep is a major health detriment.
Even if you want to sleep more than 5 hours a night, you will benefit from improving your sleep quality. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, Olympic athlete, writer, teacher, computer programmer, or the guy who takes care of the elephants at your local zoo – better sleep benefits everyone.
Most people have horrible sleep fitness. They waste their precious time in light sleep when they could be in REM and deep sleep, growing stronger and getting smarter in less time. That’s where Bulletproof Sleep comes in.
I used to waste time taking forever to get to sleep and I’ve always wanted to be able to sleep less because there is always something more interesting to do.
I’ve experimented with polyphasic sleep, delayed sleep, quasi-multiphasic sleep, and various napping strategies. I completed two semesters of Computer Information Systems classes in a single semester while starting a career as a magazine writer. I slept 2-3 hours a night for 90 days, drove to school half delirious, then doped up on 40-60 ounces of coffee before starting the day. My grades were excellent (3.9 GPA), my thyroid function and circadian rhythm – not so much. I still had a lot to learn. I whacked my adrenals pretty good that way.
Polyphasic Sleep is for Masochists
I’ve tried it – it doesn’t really work. You can split your sleep to a point, but eventually you need to allow for proper melatonin formation. It also destroys your social life. That’s why polyphasic sleep usually fails after the first two weeks. It’s also a pain in the ass to stick to a 20-minute napping schedule.
Since I’ve written about this subject a lot, I’m going to condense this as much as possible. If you want the complete guide to sleep hacking, you can read my posts on the topic (listed at the end) or wait for my book.
My experiences with sleep hacking have taught me what goes into getting powerful sleep. There are three principles of sleep hacking:
- Get to sleep as fast as possible.
- Spend as much time in REM or Deep sleep as possible.
- Have raw ingredients available for cellular recovery.
These tasks can be achieved at the same time with the following methods.
- Eat a Bulletproof Diet
- Hack your nervous system to manage stress
- Upgrade your brain
- Install F.lux on your computer (it’s free)
- Don’t exercise for at least 2 hours before bed
- Avoid bright lights and LCD screens at least 1 hour before bed
- Go to bed before 11:00 PM
- Track coffee, green tea, and chocolate consumption to see if they effect your sleep
- Cheat with biochemistry (use supplements)
- Sleep on an earthing mat
- Run a current across your brain with a cerebral-electric stimulator, AKA, “electrosleep” machine
More Articles On Sleep Hacking
If you’re looking for an in-depth explanation of the methods I just listed, read these:
- Sleep Hacking Part 1: How to do less with more
- Sleep Hacking Part 2: Reboot Your Sleep, Fall Asleep Fast, and Add 20 more Years
- Sleep Hacking Part 3: Falling Asleep Fast with Biochemistry
- Sleep Hacking: Ending Insomnia with an “Electrosleep” Machine
- Sleep Hacking Awesome: High Performance Day After 2.5 Hours of Sleep
- Sleep Hacking: 1 Million People Prove Sleeping 5 hours is Healthier Than Sleeping 8 Hours
The next articles in this series will teach you how to upgrade your brain, become happier and address one of the most important and underrated health problems in the modern world. It’s something overlooked by both conventional wisdom, and the paleo/alternative health community. It’s also one of the reasons the Bulletproof Diet is superior to anything else I’ve tried. We are going to learn how to identify and remove toxins.
What are your sleep tips? What have you found most useful about this series so far?