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May 28, 2013

Sleep Hacking: How I went from 11 hour sleep to 6 hours of sleep

In this post I will explain how I went from 11 hours of sleep to 6 hours of sleep per night. These strategies are SIMPLE to implement, so please don’t underrate its effectiveness.

My stats before using these techniques

  • I slept 10-12 hours a day
  • I felt miserable when I woke up, beating myself up for sleeping long
  • I would feel weak and not at my best some days
  • It would take me 45 minutes to 3 hours to fall asleep at night
  • I had dark circles under my eyes

If you look at stats of the correlation between age and sleep time, you will realize that toddlers sleep 14 hours and people in their 60s-70s sleep 6-4 hours. Being in my 20’s 10-11 hours of sleep is not normal, but my natural wake up zone was around 10-12 hours. Ridiculous I know.

Rise Early: Correlation between Success and Early Risers

I read this article a few months ago and realized that if so many top 1% executives are rising up early and sleeping less hours, I will do that too.

http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-early-risers-2012-1?op=1

Done deal, decision made.

So I announced to my family of my unavailability after 8pm and that I would wake up at 4am.

Next day, I went to sleep at 8pm putting an alarm for 5am and I woke up at 7:30am.

Ridiculous.

11:30 hours. bad

Since then I tried putting multiple alarms, forcing myself to going to sleep early, forcing myself to wake up early and I even tried wake-up calls. I made strict schedules and some days I was successful. The days I have been successful consistently were when I scheduled meetings with my team offshore. I knew they were waiting for our meeting, so out of necessity I would force myself to wake up.

Before going to bed, I would make solid commitments on how dare my body forces me against my goals, but that also didn’t work. I tried it multiple times and decided I need to reconsider my strategy.

And then It started to work

Myth: You need at least 8 hours of sleep
Busted: You need at least 6 hours quality sleep to recover

Psychological leverage that kept me going [Important]

I always think that Bill Gates also has 24 hours in a day, but he accomplishes more. The days on which I did wake up early (4 am in my case), the thing that gave me most satisfaction was the belief that I had done 3 meetings, workout and shower (I take long showers) and It was still 7:30am. I had accomplished in 3.5 hours that 50% of the world do in 12 hour. Success. I felt Bill Gates productive.

Psychology that kept me sleeping [Important]

At days when I could not wake up my brain would tell me stories such as “its still dark”. For some reason that was enough of a story to keep me in bed. Now when I think about it, I felt satisfied from the social norm that if the world was asleep, it was not that bad that I was also sleeping. But this is just a trap.

How to overcome this: The first time you hear the Alarm, do not judge.

Let go of the thought:

  • What time it is?
  • What’s on my agenda today
  • Do I have a meeting scheduled?
  • Well, I have nothing scheduled, let me just sleep
  • 10 more minutes and I am going to be up

No! do not fool yourself, 10 minutes more will not give you anything.

Your job is not to do any processing when the alarm rings, just sit up, stand up, and get to the morning ritual you have decided on.

Create a Morning Ritual

I learned about the concept of Morning Ritual from Eben Pagan, in his wake up productive course. (Highly recommended, but probably off the market at this point)

Ritual is something you do consistently. We all have rituals, we operate 90%+ on autopilot. Whenever you want to create a new habit, its uncomfortable at first. For me when I am trying to do something new, I have to be very cautious the first week, the second week I feel proud and it gets easy and then week 3-12 is just maintaining the ritual consciously and then its basically automatic.

My morning ritual is to wake up, drink a glass of water, change real quick and start running or working out. Your ritual can be different, but you gotta workout, because of some body rules:

Body rule #1: Warm body means more awakeness, Cooler body means sleepy-ness

Geekyness behind it: When we go to sleep our body temperature drops, and as we start waking up, our body temperature rises. Our bodies go through a temperature rhythm.

I used to workout consistently around 5pm-7pm. That would make my body warm so It would take me longer to fall asleep.

Fix: I started working out first thing in the morning. That would wake me up, warm up my body faster and plus as a side benefit – I would lose more fat in the morning since my body had less carbs to burn.

Important: Working out in the morning is more difficult for the same reason that you have less carbs (fast energy source) available in the morning.

Body rule #2: Brain processes your sleep, so make it healthy and prepared

Napping 20 minutes

I started napping religiously after lunch for 20 minutes.

Einstein Religiously, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison and many others napped daily after lunch. Napping can make you smarter. Not because of anything, but its a quick reset button for your brain. The optimal amount of time I found is 20 minutes, you can drop it down to 15 minutes and go up to 25 minutes, but do not exceed it. I will write another article on the reason why.

By the way, Napping has been around from the beginning of times. Our workaholic culture has forgot this recovery technique in the more recent years.

Eat 2 hours before Sleeping

Since brain is heavily used for both digestion and sleeping, you can fall asleep faster and get more quality sleep if the brain is only focused on sleeping. (Aha), that’s why I started eating dinner 2 hours before sleeping. By that time the heavy lifting of the digestion is done and my brain can help me sleep.

Use coffee, don’t let it use you

Caffeine limits your ability to sleep. That is common knowledge, but what is not is that caffeine remains in the body for 8-14 hours. I used to drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day. I would drink it anytime I felt like it. But now I limited it to one cup in the morning a day. I have a rule to not have any caffeine after 2pm. When I have a temptation to drink coffee after that time, I drink warm water with honey, it gives me the taste satisfaction.

Body rule #3: Body has a temperature cycle – so calibrate it

Consistent Sleeping times for the rest of your life.

Since Body Rule #1 is that cooler bodies are more ready to fall asleep, we want to make sure that we keep our workout and rest sessions consistent. Lets say you worked out at 6pm, your body will get warmer and it will not make you fall asleep later. You will also mess up your temperature cycle.

Conclusion of Successes and Hypothesis

  1. Falling asleep immediately when going to bed. Before I could not go to bed for        45 minutes to 3 hours
    Techniques that helped:

    1. Workout in the morning, and not in the evening
    2. Eating at least 2 hours before bed
    3. No coffee after 2pm; Only one coffee in the morning per day
    4. Consistent sleep and wake-up schedule
  2. More energy in the day, I sometimes sleep 5 hours and have the same amount of energy.
  3. When I first took my 6 hour sleep, my next day I was active but I so wanted to sleep, the second day was better, and after a week, it settled in for me.
  4. The Sleep Hacking course by Scott Britton got me started, and I learned a lot from the following as well
    1. Poor Sleep Prevents Brain From Storing Memories
    2. The Serenity of a 5pm Bedtime
    3. https://medium.com/the-healthy-life/b65f8e19ed18

Additional Recommendations / Non-Recommendations

  1. Some people love ZEO, a sleep tracking app, but I saw it had bad reviews on Amazon so I skipped
  2. I did get a better alarm clock app for my Android. I actually use 3 Alarm apps they are all free. They have a wake up captcha math questions and disabling snooze options.
    1. Smart Alarm Free
    2. Sleep As Android (I did buy a sleep tracking add-on, but didn’t like it and I don’t use it)
    3. Alarm app that comes with the Phone

Oh yeah did I tell you that Snooze should be made illegal, man its the enemy of everything above.

59 Comments on “Sleep Hacking: How I went from 11 hour sleep to 6 hours of sleep

Scott Britton
June 10, 2013 at 5:59 am

So awesome to hear about the results! Great stuff man

amanda
July 19, 2013 at 2:09 am

thank you .. sooo much… this is just what i need

kannan
August 5, 2013 at 4:59 am

< 7 hours sleep causes inflammation and metabolic syndrome.

Sarat Y
September 18, 2013 at 12:26 am

Brilliant! God! Why didn’t I see this post before. You are my peer. Thanks bro

Marian
September 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm

You are so right about the snooze button!

Ryan
October 1, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Found this through google. When you say a 20 minute nap do you count from when you fall asleep? Or do you just lay down for 20 mins. When i try to nap it usually takes 30 mins at least, sometimes even an hour, just to fall asleep. Makes it hard to keep it to 20 mins of sleep when i dont know when sleep will start.

Aziz Ali
October 4, 2013 at 10:01 am

When I say 20 minutes nap, for me 20 minutes from the time I lay down to the time I wake up. That may be too short for some people. I have noticed 30-40 minutes nap would be more appropriate for others.

Now about your point of taking longer to fall asleep, that is common at night times. But mid day napping may come faster because most people feel tired mid-day. Napping mid-day is a very very very old practice in human history. Actually my mom and grandmother religiously used to nap for an hour 7 years ago. And they occasionally do that today.

mike
October 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

i am ready to try this
i have never been this tired in my life, i am 28. 6 hour sleep here i come!!! thanks for this post and the references.

Jaz
October 30, 2013 at 1:55 pm

This was really great, I’m so motivated to try it out!

alwaystired
November 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm

This is great. So where does body rhythm fit into this? I am down for trying the 6 hour thing because my sleep patterns are clearly not working. But what if you are the most alert and awake at night? I have never been a morning person, not even when I was a child. Does it matter when I get the 6 hours of sleep? Also, I am a freelancer and work at home. so a big part of the problem is that there is no separation between home/work/rest but maybe that’s a whole other issue.

Mindy
January 21, 2014 at 11:30 am

Excellent! I’m having a hard time waking up in the morning, that’s why I’m searching google to see if any idea can help. Your article is such motivating. Thank you.

Naz
March 16, 2014 at 5:21 am

Great advice. I’ve been doing most of this already, but the snooze button is still one of my biggest enemies. I will disable it from now on!

Ayesha
January 12, 2015 at 3:08 am

Everything you mentioned I already suffer from. Especially the one where you only wake up early when you have a commitment. It’s so frustrating to know that I can wake up whatever time during the morning if i have school or plans with my friends, but can’t on days when I’m free. I want to change my sleeping pattern so bad. Glad I found a post on this. I’ll follow your steps and hopefully sleep less.

RitobR Ata
January 28, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Let me try it.
If it works, I shall thank you.

Milind Chandwe
April 7, 2015 at 2:54 am

Very excellent information.
THANK YOU
Very Much.

amr hossary
April 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

great info man i find it very usefull

Leonidas
April 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Thanks for posting, we all really appreciate it.

Kabuba
April 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm

if you virtually needed 10-12 hours a day, that means you’re sick. Could be from anything. Listen to your body and fix that first!

Phani
April 21, 2015 at 5:06 am

Very Useful info for me….. Thanks.

Danna
April 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

I am going to try this. I am a long sleeper and have been for years. 12 plus hours a day and more on the weekends.

[…] For further reading, you can read through these helpful links that I found: View story at Medium.com http://azizali.com/sleep-hacking-how-i-went-from-11-hour-sleep-to-6-hours-of-sleep/ […]

VR Comrie
May 6, 2015 at 1:45 am

Great ideas Aziz! I want to do the same thing… having one good day, ie. waking up at 4am, then the next day not being able to fall asleep at all. Will try some of your hints.

Shiela Mae T. Baldevieso
June 19, 2015 at 12:13 am

Thanks for the information. That was really helpful I think I have the same situation with you! I really have struggle to change my sleeping habit. I’m aware but I feel I lack discipline. So when I read this article, I feel motivated and inspired. I want to start and hopefully can have good results. thank you and God bless!

sanjay
August 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Man ,before this article I used to thought if I didn’t get 8hours sleep then it could harm my brain and body but now I’m very thankful to you that you represented the busting of this myth.

Sajjad
September 13, 2015 at 6:48 am

Thanks Aziz for your nice article.
I would like to ask you that how did you manage this new habit during weekends? Most o the times it is the case that I have something do to in weekend nights (hanging out with friends, having some guests, watching movies) and it gets s difficult in the day after to maintain the habit. Is it so serious to keep this habit even during the weekends? Any suggestion for that?

Tasha
September 16, 2015 at 9:59 am

Maaaaaan u blessed,, was gettin all stressed about how I should get rid of my bad sleeping habbits…this articles has changed my mindset, can’t wait to pract it!!!

Zach
December 3, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Regarding the nap, so you set your alarm for 20 minutes out?

I’ve had a couple naps like that at work and I feel like garbage when I wake up from them. Takes me like 35 minutes just to wake up, and I don’t recall having anymore energy.

adarsh
December 17, 2015 at 12:20 am

thank you so much.this article is so relevant and useful.i sleep for like 10-11 hours.and still i feel sleepy in the afternoon.i m definitely going to try morning workout.😄

Lexie
February 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Omg I really want to sleep less Idk how! I need help!! I just can’t wake up in the morning

Yolz (nickname)
February 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Thanks Aziz, I actually giggled when you said that you beat yourself up for sleeping that long ..cos that’s what I do! I get pissed off with myself cos I a, trying to fix my sleeping pattern. And also about its dark out there, I cam keep sleeping. What’s worse is that my room is completely dark cos I have shutters, so I don’t know if it’s daylight yet. But I read make it dark to sleep ..grrr…going in circles.
Could you make your list of conclusion a bit more detailed eg. You didn’t add 20 min nap.. I wanted a print out version to stick on my fridge.

Yolz (nickname)
February 20, 2016 at 9:15 pm

Oh…and what if you’re working how do you fit in 20mins sleep? I guess lunchtime,but that’s time to eat… How do you do it?

Darnell
February 29, 2016 at 9:44 am

I train for a total of up to 3-4 hours per day 4-6 days per week. I tweak the hours/days depending on how hard I pushed. When I get rest I can usualy only get 7 hours due to my boy being tired and can’t get a good quality sleep without needing to rehydrate/eat. Then if i rest a few more days I can sleep for 10 hours at a a time. Is this bad? no my body needs it. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap… if i keep resting it will go to 12 hours etc with naps. The key is to get back to training when fully recovered. So MOVE. more than an hour per day. Then sleep is used bet

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 9:51 am

Lunch time is fine. Many jobs are flexible. I used to go to my car and sleep at one point.
In another job I used to come home and sleep for 20 minutes. My home was 10 mins away. Yes my lunch break would be longer that way.

Now adays I do not do it. See what fits in your lifestyle and use it

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

Every body is different. No matter what the “experts” say. I feel that the days I work out, or do physically demanding activity, I neeeeed to sleep more and its extreeeemly difficult to wake up early. So honor your body, don’t try to make it into its not.

So if you have worked out a lot, and your body needs to recover, let it sleep more.

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 9:57 am

There could be many reasons for not able to wake up in the morning
1. You need more sleep
2. You are bumbed out, You want to avoid waking up and sleep is a way to escape your life challenges.
3. Both

The solution to #1 is easy, just sleep early so you can get enough rest.
The solution to #2 is more detailed, however, a quick tip is that you need a change of perspective. Your emotional challenge is just in the head, another person in the same situation as yours may not be in stress like you. So just say its not a big deal, and you can take care of it. The reality is, that you really can

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

Its okay, your body may been more time to wake up. Its nothing wrong with you. These are natural responses. If naps are not working for your body, don’t do it.

Honor your body. Its doing the best for you.

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

Awesome, I am glad

Aziz Ali
February 29, 2016 at 10:03 am

It’s tough and almost impractical. If you change your lifestyle on the weekend, you cannot judge yourself to wake up early and be upset with yourself if you don’t.

Personally I want my routines to be the same. But the ways I sleep late, I expect to wake up late too. And I am okay with that.

Tip: Don’t put impractical expectations on yourself.

militha
March 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Thanks, Aziz. I will try and incorporate all the suggestions and see how it works for me.

Nahla Fahmy
April 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Helpful!

Evan
April 12, 2016 at 10:37 am

I go sleep at 8 pm because I’m very tired. Six hours or even eight means I’m waking up at 2 – 4 AM.
Not feasible to wake up so early.
Ate you suggesting that I force self to stay up until 11PM?

Just curious.

Rosy
April 17, 2016 at 6:04 am

Thank you heartily ! I always want to feel the mornings with cool soft breezes, with mild sun shines, with twittering of the birds…but can not ! I will definitely follow your suggestions.

LisaJayne
April 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm

I am so interested in trying this as I have had times in my life (in my 20’s) where I exercised in the morning and never needed coffee. I had moments though of when I thought I had narcolepsy though. That’s where I could have used that little nap! I would pull off the road and nap 15 minutes and then I was fine.
Now(in my 40s) I am coffee all day and monsters and fall alseep only with wine and its ridiculous. I’m tired, exhausted, agrivated. I need a new plan.

Rasmus
June 14, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Did the dark circles around your eyes go away?

Kiki
July 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm

The problem is, I sleep more than 14 hours a day, I can’t wake myself up.

Mars
July 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Glad to found this post. I just graduate from high school and I have 3-4 free months until I go to university. And during this free month I always sleep at 12 and wake up at 10, then after one month I sleep at 1 and wake up at 11 sometimes 12. On June I sleep at 2am and wake up at 1pm! I start thinking this is not right. And now I sleep at 3am and always wake up on 1pm. I can’t fall asleep easily. And from now on I’ll try this “sleep hacking”. Thanks!

Laurie
August 1, 2016 at 2:46 am

It’s very nice if I could get just 6 hours for sleeping. I am used to slept around 7-8 hours/ days. It’s hard to change, but it’s be worth to try. I will have a lot time to do many things great.

Raj
August 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm

Excellent Info… I have all what I need now….let me make a new plan for my life….Sleep pattern changes entire life ..I believe that now. Thanks ALL

dustin
August 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

I like this sleep routine/regimen. However, I’m not sold on exercising in the morning is any better than exercising in the evening. What I’ve found through experience is a good (rigorous) workout during the morning leads to me feeling tired a couple of hours after the workout because of endorphin crash.

So, I get what you’re saying about exercise (it is very important) in the morning. However, it doesn’t have to be an intense workout (just enough to get the blood flowing). A more rigorous workout in the evening followed by food helps to mellow me out for bed time. That’s what works for me.

JCole
August 24, 2016 at 7:08 pm

nice piece. 6hrs, here i come

pra
October 5, 2016 at 6:52 am

Its true…6 hrs sleep keeps you more active followed by 20 mins nap in the afternoon…i think this is the best… I have tried this in my childhood days…but recently i developed the habit of sleeping long hours …whenever i sleep long hours i am still very weak and yawning all the time…

Emanuel
October 16, 2016 at 11:40 am

I will test it. I am way to obsessed with 7,5 hours+ of sleep. and I need at least 0,5-1h to doze off

J Murphy
December 6, 2016 at 6:23 am

Your job is to get up in the morning, go out to work & make the elite richer. 99% of the world’s population work to make the 1%, 99% of the world’s wealth. Slaves will always be tired.

Aziz Ali
December 10, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Great observation J.

And the good news is, in today’s world a slave can choose to become a King.

Being a slave is a choice

Shirley Dunmall
January 22, 2017 at 6:32 am

That is the best yet that I have read re my sleep patterns (12 hours). So easy to put into practise and total common sense points. Thank you

Tej
February 20, 2017 at 2:13 am

Hello,
When I do exercise I feel tired after sometime and I feel sleepy. I have tired most of the techniques you mentioned here but does not seem to help me much to wake my brain up. I’m tired of this sleeping habit (I too sleep for 11-12hrs) hoping for a solution. Thank you

Claudia
April 5, 2017 at 4:50 am

I also sleep so much so it’s Amazing to hear auch Exchange ma de buona someone with my dame possiede. Thank you so much! Just one questi on: has the consumption of sugar also affected the quality of your sleep?

Aziz Ali
April 5, 2017 at 9:44 am

Thanks for the note Claudia,
About sugar, I have not noticed any effect on sleep by consuming more or less sugar.

My sugar consumption is static and I consume sugary stuff in small quantities.

Aziz Ali
April 5, 2017 at 9:46 am

On thing I have recently tried that has worked for me is Wake up practicing
https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/

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