Sleep Hacking Awesome: High Performance Day after 2.5 Hours of Sleep

By: Dave Asprey

This is another entry in the sleep hacking series where I review ways to sleep less while increasing performance and longevity.

I did an experiment a couple nights ago that literally blew my mind…well, almost literally anyway. On any night, I can get as little as 3 hours of sleep and function just fine the next day (and the day after!) if I carefully manage my supplements the following morning, but 3 hours is pushing it, and it will usually cost me the next morning – I feel groggy and just not Bulletproof.

Due to some air travel and a deadline, I only had time for 2.5 hours of sleep (I went to bed at 4:30 am, and my lovely children usually wake me up at 7:00 am).

Since I already have a huge collection of brain hacking and biohacking toys, I broke out a programmable cerebro-electrical stimulator, also known as a Russian sleep machine, or “electrosleep” device. CES devices have been around since 1949, when Russians first deployed them on space missions. Before bed, I set it to run a current across my brain (a carefully shaped, controlled microcurrent) that put my brain into a deep, 1.5 Hz delta state for a half hour as I slept. I forced myself to get more deep sleep than I’d otherwise have had.

The results? Even though I had only 2.5 hours of total sleep (and just 5 the night before), I woke up full of energy and feeling as if I’d slept an un-hacked 7+ hours. After waking up, I did another 15 minutes of a 40 Hz Gamma state and experienced one of the most productive days I’ve had in weeks.

I didn’t take any Provigil, a “wakefulness promoter” used by more than a few executives – especially for jet lag, or very long meetings. I’ve used it regularly to increase performance and focus when needed, but never once exceeded the prescribed dosage. It’s much less harsh than Adderall and other amphetamine-class drugs because it’s not a stimulant.

Anyhow, I was *sure* I’d need some Provigil to wake up. Instead, the single cup of Bulletproof coffee I have in the morning (fortified with brain-friendly, healthy fats like grass-fed unsalted butter and  Brain Octane Oil) was all I needed to feel awesome. Let’s take a moment to define awesome.  I didn’t feel awesome, like “I can’t wait to file my expense reports today.” Instead, I felt awesome, as in “I can’t wait to climb a mountain while writing a NY Times best-selling nutrition book and delivering a keynote speech on cloud computing … while juggling.”

Introducing Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES)

In this post, I talk about how you can end insomnia without drugs by using Cranial Electrical Stimulation. CES is a pretty big deal, such a big deal that the FDA got behind it and approved it, that’s right it’s FDA approved!

In this double-blind study, a CES device and its effects were studied and tested on subjects with insomnia. The experiment lasted 2 years and the results were amazing. Sleep habits were actually improved consistently in test subjects with insomnia, subjects reported being able to fall asleep with little difficulty and to awake feeling moderately to very well rested. Though the test was on a small scale and much more testing needs to be done to get a conclusion, the trend cannot be ignored. If you think you might be struggling with insomnia this sleep hack is worth looking into.

If you are an insomniac, CES is shown to be a safe and effective treatment for insomnia (click here for a long list of CES references). I am not an insomniac; I can go to sleep within 3 minutes of lying down – thanks to years of meditation and breathing exercises (and biohacking/biofeedback). CES also treats anxiety and drug addiction (particularly heroin) although fortunately, those are not things that apply to me!

There’s also an app for that

This is pretty hard-core biohacking because I’m running a (safe) current across my head.

One of my favorite techniques and a favorite app of mine is the Sleep Cycle app, it can actually track you while you are sleeping, which is useful because its hard to pay attention to how well your sleeping, because you’re asleep! It also tracks your stages of sleep and tells you the exact hour you fell into deep sleep and how long you were able to stay there.

This app was a game changer because it allows you to quantify sleep like no other app could. It also helps you understand how your workouts and food intake might impact how well you sleep. It also archives all of the information and shows you a very detailed graph on how your sleep fluctuates depending on what you did that day.

Other techniques, like optimizing wake time via the Sleep Cycle app, using the Inner Balance app, are “softer” forms of sleep hacking.

For completeness, I’m using a NeuroTrek Digital Pro CES machine, which costs about $800 if you can find one. It’s the most programmable CES machine out there, but it’s discontinued, and the new model isn’t available.

Check out Bulletproof Radio

Dan Pardi is a sleep expert and understands sleep on a mitochondrial level. He believes that most people are actually using melatonin the wrong way because most people don’t really understand what it’s meant to do. He also talks about the definition of insomnia – not as a sleep disorder – but as a condition that arises with outside interference like stress. Check out the episode here: Daniel Pardi: Date Rape Drugs, Napping, & Jet Lag.

Sleep is one of the more important cornerstones of the Bulletproof lifestyle. It impacts your happiness, your ability to focus, and to lose weight. Lack of sleep has been shown to cause Alzheimer’s, all sorts of different types of cancers, and depression.

Happy sleep hacking everyone!