I often find myself wishing that there were more hours in a day. I will be sitting on the subway and come up with a fantastic new idea for a new project to tackle, but trying to logistically fit this venture into my schedule proves next to impossible. I’ve got Omnifocus filled with lofty projects and ideas to tackle, but can never seem to find the time to even start step one.
The other day, while I was walking to work and contemplating an idea for a new website, it suddenly dawned on me. There is one element that I have control over in my struggle to find more hours in the day: the amount of time in which I sleep. I already have numerous other variables under control. I already keep myself pretty organized, have good time management skills, and am greatly improving my amount of motivation. The only remaining controllable element is sleep.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Most of the highly successful people I know sleep way less per night than the average American. If I was able to simply emulate that, and use that extra time towards something productive, I would be on a path to achieve the same things. I’ve decided that I need to slowly train myself to need less sleep.
Part of my desire to control my sleeping habits arose fairly recently when I realized how easy it was to literally quantify my sleeping habits. It’s all thanks to the iPhone application EasyWakeup. As soon as I got my iPhone about a year ago, I decided to invest in a good alarm clock program since I use my phone as my primary wake up device. As I was browsing through available applications, EasyWakeup caught my eye. It offered two features that really interested me. The first was the ability to set a wake up time range rather than a specific wake up time, and the second was the ability to chart and graph my sleeping habits and movements from throughout the night. Needless to say, I immediately purchased the program.
I will admit, at first it I found the application fairly creepy. I would wake up in the morning and immediately check the graph of movements from the previous night’s sleep. I wanted to see how much I tossed and turned at night. But looking at the graph created what I can most closely describe as an out-of-body experience. I would see the times at which I rolled over or moved the night before, consciously know that it was me, but would feel some sort of odd disconnect from the movements themselves. It was me, but it wasn’t, because I was asleep.
With regular use I was able to overcome the novelty of the application and really began to analyze my sleep data. It’s obvious that there are connections between the amount of time I sleep and my energy the next day, but now I was armed with tangible numbers. I was surprised to learn that my peak sleep time was six and a half to seven hours. Any more sleep than that was too much, and less sleep proved too little. It was great to have this knowledge, because I was able to set my alarm accordingly. If I ended up going to bed early, I would know to set my alarm a little earlier so as to not over sleep. Or if I accidentally stayed up later than I had wanted, I’d easily know when to set my alarm in the morning in order to be a fully functioning human being the next day.
My goal now is to gradually bring the amount of sleep I need from six and a half hours to approximately five to five and a half hours a night. That extra hour or hour and a half, if used correctly, could really help in getting things done. I can use that extra time to start a new project, or tack that time onto a project in which I’m already working, resulting in the ability to really focus on a task without worrying about being late for anything else.
Also, since I’m planning on starting school in the Spring (potentially taking full time classes in the mornings before working fifty hours a week at my job), needing less sleep would be the greatly beneficial. The less sleep I need, the better.
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