Healthy way to decrease sleep hours

by 952 · June 06, 2011 at 02:52 PM

I know that one of integral parts of Paleo is sleeping as much as needed.

But the problem is that I need too much. Yes, the need depends a lot on genetics, etc. But still. I recently had a month and a half of free time when I could limit myself very little in terms of sleep. I tracked the hours and average was = 10.5hours of sleep.

When I work I usually get around 8-9 on weekdays and around 11-12 on weekends which is a lot by widely accepted standards but still a little bit not enough for me.

I wonder how people can be "ok" on 5-6 hours and "perfect" on 7-8 hours...

Background I'm perfectly healthy 26 years old doing weightlifting twice a week & yoga once a week. Around 75kg at about 179cm, never was overweight. I know that training increases the need for recovery/sleep but still this is strange.

I don't have any particular sleep problems. I usually fall asleep within 3-10mins and sleep very well. Sometimes I'd get up once to use a bathroom but usually I don't. Also, I use a sleep mask & ear plugs + sleep in darkness.

There are 2 ways to look at this. It's either bad for health (if I'm to subscribe to some research that shows that more than 9/10 hours of sleep might be harmful) or it's ok but just a waste of time (if I'm to subscribe to a theory that it's all genetics dependent, although my parents don't tend to sleep a lot). Either way I'd be happy to somehow decrease the number of sleep hours I need.

I usually drink 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day which don't seem to mess with my cycles. Even if I don't, nothing changes.

Any help from people who had the same issue and found some contributing factors / lifehacks to fix it would be highly appreciated.

PS Unfortunately, frequent or even once-a-day napping is not an option.

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9 Replies

1584 · June 05, 2011 at 05:56 PM

I do OK on 6 to 7 hours and am perfect on 7-8 hours. But I trained into it with my children. Now if I sleep over 8 hours I feel horrid all day. I am not a nap person as well. They make me feel bad as in headaches and foggy. So in my case I did train into it and it was not easy. Breastfeeding many times during the night and also waking early with my children I used to get maybe 3 to 4 hours a sleep for many years. so now to get 7 to 8 hours a sleep is like sleeping in. :)

810 · June 05, 2011 at 06:32 PM

I recommend getting rid of the sleep mask and ear plugs. Those will prevent your body from being alerted to the normal signs of the morning. For example, your body won't realize that the sun's rising.

Try that for a couple of weeks to see its effect.

567 · June 05, 2011 at 04:32 PM

How do you feel?

If you feel good, you're eating right, and your sleep patterns aren't stopping you from doing something important, don't worry about it. The amount of time that you're sleeping certainly doesn't sound outrageous to me. 8-9 is perfect for most people, and 11-12 at the weekends is fine too.

I can tell you one thing for sure.....lack of sleep is MUCH worse than too much sleep for your health. Read "Lights Out. Sleep, Sugar, and Survival" by T.S. Wiley.

3747 · June 06, 2011 at 02:52 PM

If you HAVE to get less sleep (which I don't advocate), I'd suggest taking plenty of anti-oxidant supplements, especially vit. C to counteract cortisol, some B vitamins for alertness, and a good fish oil to prevent inflammation.

But honestly, why mess with a good thing??

18236 · June 06, 2011 at 02:48 PM

You could always track your sleep with the zeo machine from myzeo.com.

I haven't tried it, but have considered buying it. It may help you understand why your sleeping patterns are what they are. Everyone is different, but we all have the same requirement in a sense, meaning that we all need to get the adequate sleep required to repair, maintain, and function correctly. If you can determine the time length of your sleep cycles, and see that you cycle in 2.75 hours, you may be able to train your body to do very well of exactly 3 cycles, or 7.25 hours, versus 4 cycles at 10.5 hours. This is why sometimes you can wake up at 4 am and feel very rested, but it's not really 'time to get up yet' so you go back to sleep, and then at 530am you feel completely wiped out and your eyes feel like a thousand pounds. It's because you entered another sleep cycle and at the hour and a half point, you might be in deep R.E.M. again. Usually, waking up after a fully completed sleep cycle produces the best results and at least 2-3 full cycles is recommended.

Getting the right amount of sleep specific to you is very important in the long run.

18373 · June 06, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Some people just require more or less sleep than average. Based on your description, I would guess that 9/10 hours is healthy for you.

3978 · June 05, 2011 at 05:55 PM

I sleep a lot and I've learned that it's probably because of my fibromyalgia. People with fibro get interrupted REM sleep (which is why I so rarely remember dreams). Do you dream much? Is it possible you're not getting good REM sleep? If not, a supplement like 5-HTP or melatonin might help you get more REM so you can get less overall hours of sleep. I'd also do some Googling to find out what others have done to work on this, as it's something I'm looking at now as well, but I have to be careful about taking 5-HTP since, combined with the fibro meds I take, I could risk seratonin syndrome.

5100 · June 05, 2011 at 05:31 PM

Was your sleeping habit always like this? Did you sleep this much in high school and college? I'm not saying there is anything wrong but most people don't have the time to sleep this many hours.

How long have you been sleeping 8-9/11-12? Do you have a structured life? How many hours do you work and how much free time do you have?

77342 · June 05, 2011 at 05:13 PM

I've had some success with mimicking a sunrise to wake up. It seems far less likely to interrupt a sleep cycle than a loud buzzer. I use this model attached to a lamp with a full spectrum bulb. http://www.amazon.com/Homedics-SS-5500-SoundSpa-Radiance-Projection/dp/B001707TOC

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