baby sleeping

How to Sleep Less and Stay Healthy

How much sleep do we really need? Of course it’s very personal, but “seven to eight hours should be enough” is what we keep hearing from most sources. But is it possible to shorten this time, without hurting your health?

Indeed, sufficient sleep time is important for your body to function well during the day. Sleep helps your body to recover from illness, minimizes the effect of stress, increases ability to concentrate, and improves memory and coordination. You don’t want to put these abilities at risk, do you?

The good news is that it is possible to shorten sleep time by up to 1 hour without the risk of sleep deprivation if you understand and follow these two simple rules.

How to Sleep Less

Rule 1. It’s not just the quantity of sleep that counts, but also the quality.

Everyone has woken up after 10 hours sleep and felt fatigue, as well as getting up after 6 hours of sleep feeling completely refreshed and rested. There are many factors that may influence how long you need to sleep to feel rested, but the rule is simple. The higher is the quality of your sleep, the smaller amount of sleep time you need. This is the first recipe in shortening your sleep time. It seems to be logical, but how you can improve the quality of your sleep? There are a number of ways to do it but the most practical are:

  • Do not eat before going to bed (at least 2 hours before sleep time).
  • Sleep in dark, quiet room.
  • Try using a sleep optimization program. These work wonders for some people.
  • Sleep with fresh air (open windows or get air refresher).
  • Exercise during the day. If you don’t exercise, go for a 15 minutes walk before the sleep time.
  • Do not watch TV in the bed before going to sleep. Read a book, take a bath, do something relaxing.
  • Don’t drink coffee or other stimulants within 6 hours of bed time.
  • Don’t take long naps (more than 30 mins) during the day.

Follow these simple tips and within one or two weeks you will notice how your sleep starts improving.

Rule 2. Any habit can be changed, slowly

There is an old African proverb. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same is true for changing your sleep habits. When do you go to sleep, how long you sleep, where you sleep –- it’s all part of the sleeping pattern that your body is accustomed to. Like any habit, it can be changed by taking small but regular steps.

Start waking up 5 minutes earlier every 2-3 days. In one week, you’ll be waking up 15 minutes earlier. In one month, you’ll be waking up 1 hour earlier! To make it even easier, you can take slower steps and extend your experiment for 2 or 3 months by shifting your sleep time by 5 minutes a week. To succeed in this experiment, you should try and go to bed at about the same time every day. It requires discipline, but result is well worth it.

As you start sleeping less and less, it’s crucial to remember and follow the first rule about quality sleep. This is your only way to compensate for less sleep.

Just imagine what you can do with all the free time you can get from waking up earlier. If you can manage to get one extra hour per day you’ll end up with 365 hours per year –- that’s equal to 9 work-weeks of productive time! By utilizing this time you could learn a new language, read dozens of books (or even write some!) and start exercising regularly. Morning time is also the most productive time. No wonder the early rising habit is so common among successful people. Become one of them!

***

This guest post is contributed by Y. Graf, the author of the How to Wake Up Early blog. His blog is loaded with tips, tricks and strategies to help everyone in building the early wake up habit and becoming an early riser.

  • Gabe

    Sure, you can condense your # of sleep hours IF you can successfully improve the quality of your sleep, but to be alert, happy and productive during the day, the vast majority of people in this nation need to sleep more, not less. I fully recommend “The Promise of Sleep” by the big name in sleep research, Dr. Dement — definitely the most accurate and scientifically based work I’ve seen on how to get a good night’s sleep.

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  • http://www.realitywired.com James Pegram

    It’s definitely more about the quality of the sleep than the quantity. I’d much prefer to get 5 hours of deep uninterrupted sleep vs. 8-10 hours of restless sleep anytime.

  • http://www.mattmccormick.ca Matt

    Recently I started eating one piece of fruit before going to bed (about 15-30 minutes before) and found I would wake up feeling refreshed after only 6 hours of sleep instead of my normal 8.

    I discontinued it because I don’t really need the extra time right now. Usually I go to sleep about 10:30 and if I wake up at 4:30 I just waste that time until it’s time for work.

    Give it a try for a few days and see if it works for you too.

    • http://askdoctor.us Ask Doctor

      I think that afternoon naps are essential for me, cause it makes the rest of the day feel fresh. It doesn’t effect my sleep in the night in any way.

  • Ecartman

    Wow several things that don’t work for me in here.
    1. open window, no thanks my sinus wouldn’t put up with it, and as for air refresher? Not sure what that is.
    2. No exercise before bed, this one really screws me up. Yes exercise , a lot if you can, but do it upon waking or by mid day. If I work out any before bedtime, sleep won’t come for me.
    3. No coffee after noon for me, but I drink 3-4 cups upon awakening.
    4. I never noticed a difference with reading a well chosen book, or watching a well chosen TV show before bed. In both the theme shouldn’t be exciting, but as the author says relaxing.
    5. do something exciting upon awakening, I have a group I correspond with online we discuss the day, politics, religion. Get the blood flowing. Yeah being a little groggy happens, but after a few minutes its gone.
    I never look for waking up refreshed I wait an hour to see how I’m doing or wait till the end of the day and see how I feel, and adjust sleep accordingly.
    My normal sleep hours are 10 pm to 2:30 am for years now. I keep very close watch on my health as I am diabetic. My doctor and I are both satisfied with my health. Good Luck, I wish you pleasant dreams.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLfSBE5qiEE&feature=related shiv

      could u pls tell wat ur daily shedule is???

  • http://www.howtowakeupearly.com Y.Graf

    Ecartmen,
    Yes, you shouldn’t ACTIVELY exercise two hours before the sleep, but taking a walk and some fresh air with it is absolutely fine.
    Half the caffeine that you consumed still exists in your body after six hours, so yes, no coffee after noon is a good idea.
    As for TV, if you stay with some relaxing show that might be OK, just avoid news and thrillers (arent’ those the same these days?)
    Good luck and sweat dreams! :)

  • http://www.savvysuzy.com Suzy

    This is very helpful information. I can & do get by quite well on only six hours of sleep. A few times I have had to do with with a couple of hours, but my body felt on edge the entire day. When it was time to go to sleep it was harder to unwind. Plus, if you get too much sleep it can make you feel all drained. The tips you mentioned help to improve the quality of the sleep, which is a really, really good thing. Thanks!

  • Tim

    For the last three weeks, I’ve been waking up at 5 AM every day so I can accomplish more in the day. I’ve been exercising every morning and I feel better. I’d like to get on a 6 hour schedule, but I am skeptical about how it will affect my mind and body. I’ve studied lucid dreaming as a tool I can use for self-improvement while I’m asleep; sleeping is a waste of time, but is necessary for my body, so I though I’d use that time to try new things.

    My concern with sleeping six hours each day is that my mind will not get enough delta sleep, when REM and lucid dreaming occurs, resulting in less than adequate rest for my mind. Last week, I was surprised to wake up one morning after five and a half hours of sleep and feeling full of energy. The whole day I was energized. The next morning I woke up after seven and a half hours of sleep and I was dragging myself the whole day.

    I’m curious if anyone has done experiments to see how a regular six hour sleep schedule affects the mind’s cognitive abilities (critical thinking, creativity, focus), the body’s reaction in everyday living and whether lucid dreaming can be used effectively.

    I’m no expert at lucid dreaming. In fact, I stopped trying it a while ago. I recalled several dreams and I used a dream journal for a while. I gave up after little success and I left it up to my subconscious brain to do the dreaming and brain repair. I believe that my brain needs adequate time (7 hours) to repair itself, but I may try sleeping six hours to see how I feel. The times I’ve slept less than six hours usually ruin my day, just as sleeping more than 10 hours will ruin my day.

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  • Doug

    As a college student, I constantly face the challenge of balancing quality and amount of sleep with fun. Last year (my freshman year), I would constanly go to bed from 12:30 to 2:30 every day, then sleep till 7:30 on early class days or as late as 1 on weekends. I never felt rested, it was terrible. This year, my friends and I are doing a little better job, going to bed from 12 to 1:30 and waking up from 8 to 10. This (combined with a better schedule) has allowed me to continue working out in the mornings (I habit I started these last 2 summers, but could not continue at school last year), and I feel much more rested and alert overall. I still need a little caffeine boost in the morning, but who doesn’t? If only I could start drinking coffee instead of energy drinks and diet Pepsi Max…

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  • http://www.qualtrics.com Enterprise Feedback Management

    Sleeping is so hard for me. I find not drinking caffeine after lunch to be the most beneficial. After that, I would say exercise helps me fall asleep the quickest.

  • kenneth tung

    some times no work.

  • http://studiopickett.com/ gmpicket

    I cut caffeine out of my life a year ago this month, but it hasn’t reduced the number of hours that I sleep. I just sleep like a rock now, but still the same 8 to 9 hours.

    I’ve spent the past three months working on getting up earlier. I’ve had some success – I now get up 2 hours earlier than I used to – but I also go to bed now two hours earlier than I used to. I still sleep 8 to 9 hours.

    My Dad at age 65 still sleeps 8 to 9 hours per night, like a rock, so getting by on fewer hours of sleep is probably never going to work for me. Total bummer; I would love to be able to get by on 7 hours of sleep.

  • http://www.weightlossworries.com Sara Lynn

    I am a health and fitness coach and spend a reasonable amount of time talking to clients about sleep and weightloss. It is so true that 8 hours of sleep is worthless if you actually aren’t in a deep sleep. Metabolism just doesn’t “cut the mustard” if we are sluggish! Thanks for a great TIP!

    • Lena

      Sara, hello, i have thir really bad habit to sleep 10 hours and i so want to get rid of this,but i just can`t drag myself out of the bed in the morning!;( Maybe you can advice me just few tips how to sleep less or good books that can help me…
      Thanks

  • Tina Fukuchi

    I agree that quality of sleep is more important. I also found that whenever I am stressed or am thinking about work before I go to sleep, I tend to not be able to sleep. Doing something relaxing is especially useful.

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  • http://www.kenfairy.com daixielunwen

    it’s the first time for me to come here.i’m not good at english,but i can understand what u say. it’s so helpful for me because i’m always sleepy but cann’t sleep well in the evening.

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  • http://www.oyuncunet.com Oyuncu

    Well, this very nice and wonderful.

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  • http://sleepfixes.com Fall Asleep Fast

    It is tough to get used to less hours of sleep but as the article says, slow and steady is the way to go. You need to give your body time to adjust to the changes you are making. If you stay on a program, your body will cope with the changes and eventually evolve to require less sleep.

  • aman

    Nice………….

  • http://pribytok.com Francuz

    Your ideas about short sleep is great. But exists a lot of others approaches for shortening sleep time. I tell it for those who don’t find the rules of this artical comfortable for them. Try to find a right approache for you!

  • jerico

    one tip: if you sleep next to a window and it is open, make sure it is not too cold outside or else you will be sick in the morning.

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  • http://www.blogtoread.com Cell Phone blogger

    Sleeping less is not a problem for most people, most people need to sleep more. I know a man that slept at most 2 hours a night for a year and a half. After a while, he started hallucinating and having serious mental problems. Eventually, it will catch up with you.

  • Silver

    “but to be alert, happy and productive during the day, the vast majority of people in this nation need to sleep more, not less”

    … I honestly have to disagree on this one.
    Up until I was about 16, I slept about 4 1/2 hours a night.
    I would be fully alert and wide awake whilst everyone else seemed zombified and tired. However, I too ended up becoming zombified and tired AFTER the age of 16 as I began sleeping much, much less. (2-3hrs a night)

    Now I sleep more. Anywhere from 6-8. At 6hrs I feel more refreshed than 8. And anything after 8, and I’m tired all day.
    Buuut you wanna know a trick to wake up more refreshed?
    Eliminate caffeine altogether.
    I noticed lately I’ve been sleeping MUCH better after a switch from soda to Kool Aid, and so I suspect the elimination of caffeine to be the convict here.

    :) Peace.

  • victor

    everything is fine but to practice. i read a quote in a hospital saying “if you don’t find time to exercise you need to find time for your illness”. nothing comes without practice. the idea was great. lets make an effort to start. everything will be fine.

  • kev

    I have the WEIRDEST schedule. I stay up for 32 hours, then sleep for 16 hours. still sleep the same amount, but get the whole week done in one go.

    my body’s been breaking though (its been going on for 10 months), back aches, weakness, irritability, sensitivity blabl blab, bob law.

    when i go to sleep after 32 hours, its the best feeling in the world, better than any other feeling i can ever have, maybe thats what i look for.
    I HOPE i dont die early.

  • Jon

    To Kev: You will die early if you wont change your schedule. Think about having that best feeling like many of us blessed ones, we are having it every day!

  • kail

    I dream of stopping sleep, since it is impossible I try to reduce it, Ill try these advices and give the feedback here;

  • http://www.pthealth.ca Christian

    What! no more naps? Right! I wish I had the time for naps. I like the idea of a gradual approach to a tighter sleep schedule. Will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

  • http://www.incien.com/web_hosting.php Secure Web Hosting Services

    I usually sleep 6 and of hours only. Hereafter I will sleep 7 to 8 hours

  • http://www.eireads.com john

    Excellent article, very useful and encouraging!

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  • http://www.google.com Preet Kumar

    Well, it is really nice. thanks!

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  • http://godhealthy.blogspot.com rickkgoh

    It’s good to have a shorter quality sleep than sleep deprivation in long hours. A very good info. Thanks

  • http://blog.ernestsemerda.com/ Ernest Semerda

    The “key” message here is QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
    “How” all depends on your body, mind & genetics.

    Some points to achieve quality sleep that have helped me are:
    a. Get at least an hour of sunlight per day.
    b. Exercise to spike your core temp,
    c. Follow a consistent “sleep time” and “wake time”,
    d. Power nap / meditate during the day

    I explained these points in more detail here:
    http://ernestblog.com/sleep-less-and-have-more-energy

    Best,
    Ernest

  • http://www.meetyourpersonaltrainer.com.au/ Gilby

    These are great ideas. Thanks they made a big difference.
    Find a Sydney Personal Trainer and do exercise to help boost your spirits and productivity.

  • http://bestwaystofallasleep.com noah

    I enjoyed your post if you get a chance check out my related page ways to fall asleep. Maybe we can do a link exchange.

  • Blake

    I only sleep 5- 5 1/2 hours a day at most, and I feel fine throughout the day. I guess I must sleep very well when I do sleep. I usually don’t even find myself tired before going to bed on 5hours of sleep, and find myself reading a book for an hour or so. I can function for 40+ hours on 5 hours of sleep.

    I always sleep with black out curtains and a hot-water humidifier in the room. I never watch TV or eat before going to sleep.

    • khaled

      thanks so much for sharing your experience, please can you tell me how old are you . thanks again

  • http://www.bestmattressreviews.com Zach Smith

    The best possible way to achieve better quality of sleep is to ensure that your bedroom is at its most comfortable state. Make sure your room’s temperature is just right and it is free from clutter. Also pick the most comfortable mattress. The right mattress varies from one person to another. Therefore, if you are buying a new mattress, you should personally identify your sleep needs. Go to the mattress store and ask for comfort risk-free trial so you can test the mattress before sealing the deal. Remember that you are going to use your mattress for the next 10 years or so. Put a little more effort in deciding the right one.

  • http://www.infopoool.com/ Paul

    Excellent article! The amount of sleep varies from person to person, and depends on many factors, including age. But it’s good to have a shorter quality sleep than sleep deprivation in long hours.

  • iiiiiiiiiii

    I was so excited about a test I had to take in the afternoon. I managed to sleep only from 4:20 to 6.
    I took a shower and tried going back to sleep until 7:30 but couldnt. So I just drank lots of water and went for a jog, walked my dogs while cursing at them, trying to have fun. I guess exercising gave me some energy.

  • http://www.elektronikmarket.net elektronik market

    The amount of sleep varies from person to person, and depends on many factors,

  • http://www.sextoys.gen.tr seks shop

    I was so excited about a test I had to take in the afternoon

  • http://gmail sukhmanreet kaur gill

    i am a school student i sleep uto14hrs a day i am unable to balance my studies my grades a down please help me. i cant concentrate on anything please help

  • http://www.athlonfitness.com.au Melbournetrainer

    Great Post! thanks for sharing

  • http://www.bteknoloji.com.tr Marka Tescili

    I always sleep with black out curtains and a hot-water humidifier in the room. I never watch TV or eat before going to sleep.

  • http://www.yaaqub.com Yaaqub Mohamed

    Nice tips! I am at a point where I am scheduling to sleep at about 6 hrs; I need to try out a few tips here!

  • Cadet Kerr

    I go to the marine military high school, were we wake up at 5:55 and are supposed to go to sleep at 10:00. But, in reality, you have so much work to get done that you actually go to sleep around 12:00. I don’t really have any problems with less sleep, and in fact we do grinding exercise workouts in the morning also. Any tips on how to make my sleep feel better or longer?

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/sleep_less Sleep less

    Wow great article! I’m always happy for any tip helping to sleep better and recover in a shorter time ;)

  • student

    Just thought I should put this out there. How you feel on a certain day depends on the sleep you got 2 nights before not the night before. If you are feeling bad one day chances are that you didn’t get enough sleep 2 nights before. That is the way our bodies are programmed. If you have something to do a certain day it is important you get enough sleep 2 nights before. So, if Monday you got 7 hours of sleep and Tuesday you got 5 you may feel great on Tuesday but once Wednesday comes around you will be crawling out of bed with 7.

  • http://www.qmattresses.com Shawn James

    Matt’s comment from August 2007 is hilarious. But in all seriousness, consider napping if you’re not happy with your sleep. Like Y. Graf says, it’s not just about the quantity of sleep, but the quality. Some think that sleeping more is the answer. In reality, if you sleep too much, you actually increase your risk for migraine headaches (trust me, I’ve been there). Aim for 8 hours, but take less if you are able to sneak away from the desk and have a quick 20-minute nap. More and more research is being published to support that this actually helps keep you alert and energized.

  • Maria

    but my problem is ,it’s very very difficult for me to wake up .even if i sleep till 1 pm! but whenever i decide i can sleep.I don’t know what can i do? I hate this kind of life :(

  • http://thecopywritersdesk@yahoo.com Cathy

    Funny, what I had expected to see isn’t here. I have been thinking about getting a new mattress and have been looking at http://www.qmattresses.com/ to help me find the one that might help me sleep better. The mattress I have stinks and I am almost certain it is affecting my ability to sleep. Some other really great points though. My big change will be cutting out the soda before bed.

  • http://www.adela.vn/dich-vu/thiet-ke-to-roi-to-gap.html Thiet ke to roi

    A very meaningful article.

  • http://shedpoundstoday.co Lucigriffith12

    Hey thanks for this, it was really insightful and helpful. I’m always trying to get that extra hour everyday, but it is always slipping away… I’m going to try the five minutes a week approach. I think it’ll be great! Thanks again.

  • office furnitures

    Napping at work IS actually good for you. You can grab some zzz’s in your car, in the office park, or even in your office cubicles if you have enough privacy!

  • office furnitures

    Napping at work IS actually good for you. You can grab some zzz’s in your car, in the office park, or even in your office cubicles if you have enough privacy!

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  • Njg hfhh

    I slept 2 hours a night when I created swaggerspot.com. Now I am a multi-millio.aitr

    • Ankurg50

       jst two hours at nyt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Liam Ellis

      You Beast, You must teachme!

    • Liam Ellis

      You Beast, You must teachme!

  • http://indserial.com Ind Serial

    they normally say 8 hours but for me as long as you feel you have a complete rest, you are good.

  • http://www.telemartnetwork.com/ Teleshopping India

    Sound sleep is very important for healthy, fit & active body. I like your article. It has covered relevant points & important ones for getting good quality sleep. Thanks for sharing this post.

  • Zak

    The reason you make feel more sleepy after 9 hours of sleep compared to 4,8 or 12 hours is due to the cycle of sleep. If you wake up in deep sleep which is at 2-3, 5-6, 9-10 hours, you will feel quite fatigued. But if you awake with the 4 hour interval you will feel much more awake. 

    If you have to get up at 6am and it’s 12pm, head to bed so you’ll have about 4 hours sleep (around 1.30-1.45)

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  • Top SEO firm

    Can you please explain more about sleep optimization program…. a very good posat though…….. but there are examples like NEWTON and ghandhi who used to sleep 4-5 hours a day….haw exactly they did it….

  • HosAta

    to change a bad habit, you gotta be patient! and I’m not !! :(

  • http://www.nylacrystal.com/ Nyla

    Cute proverb and definitely applies to this. I try to get to bed early so many times, but going from a bed time of 1 or 2am to a bedtime of 11pm is very hard to do. I’ll try the 5 minutes earlier method.

  • Tanning Perks

    Thanks for the informative writing. Would mind updating some good tips about it. I still wait your next place. ;)
    Tanning Perks

  • Nicolas Korneev

    I waste more time watching porn and being on the internet

  • http://www.perfumebee.com/ Discount Perfume

    Very Interesting. I am one sincerely trying to change by waking habits in the morning.

  • Balu309

    really super

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    Why does this URL (http://www.pickthebrain.com/go/sleeptrack.php) redirect straight to ebay.com? Is that a glitch on my end? So weird.

    • http://twitter.com/hailleymari Hailley Griffis

      This happened to me too. I’m wondering if it’s something you can buy on ebay?

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  • Mujeeb

    hey guyz.. its very simple.. it has been taught to the minkind in QURAN 1400 years ago.. Wake UP  for the Fajr(early morning prayer)  and start your day… sleep after Isha (means isha will be around 8.30. just spent 2-3 hours time for your personal things. and go to bed. if you wake up forty days continuously.. you made your habit.. you will be automatically waking up at that time… and please dont be over confident in waking up..one day you might not wake up….because every soul will taste the death..(Iam not being Negetive but I am telling the truth ) Mujeeb

    • Patrick

      subhanallah!

      • tw

        Um. Okay.

        • NoApology

          Sorry but I do not believe in the Quran because I do not support violence.

          • TrueFacts

            If you do believe in Quran, you can’t support violence anymore.

          • izanami

            I was going to call you retarted but that’s offensive for mentally disabled people :/ you’re a disappointment to human kind…

          • Aditya Prasoon

            Quran does not support violence :)

  • Hokage

    Well written article. I learned many useful things worth trying. I myself is struggling to prolong my working hours without sacrificing too much sleeping time. I wanna be productive yet at the same time having healthy rest hours…

  • Jon

    I had really good results with this program, http://powerfulsleep.com. It also teaches how to sleep less and be more rested.   It also talks about exercise, but they recommend avoiding exercise close to bedtime.  Has anyone else had success with this program?

  • Jason Xiao

    take any name of god and understand the meaning of name that you will meditate on ten with your breath concentrate on this world and meaning.the very first thing you will realised that while meditating on this two thing your brain will forget other thoughts that is worring you.
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    Good post you have. I have tried it and it works very well.

  • http://twitter.com/hailleymari Hailley Griffis

  • http://twitter.com/hailleymari Hailley Griffis

    Great post, going to give this a shot!

  • Thiet9

    i sleep 15 hours a day normally i stay awake for only less than 7 hours

  • J

    There is only one Man who Will make you completely fulfilled, and that Man is Jesus. I promise that if you seek him and let him into your heart you will experience rest and Everlasting Joy. I pray that you will take this message to heart and experience TRUE Happiness in Jesus. God Bless.

    Pray to Jesus about all of your problems so that he will help you like he has helped me always.

    • champaglal

      right..

    • Bluerising

      Wow, as always religious comments make me super uncomfortable…

    • Adam G.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah…. I gave your God 32 years of my life. Nothing waluable I asked him had happened.
      Now I’m out of this and I made my life MINE.

  • George Washington

    Who said well written? It is riddled with grammatical errors that should make one question the legitimacy of the article (and I am no english nazi). That being said, the information seems accurate, albeit common sense. I would argue about the soft limit of 1hr less sleep that is given. I can function on 5.5hr no problem right now and am working towards better. I do not keep a regular sleep schedule but that is just me. I would say if you are serious about this, just commit to your goal and use trial and error to get there. That is what I have done. Why there are religious references below I do not know, that is not the same topic. Also 2 weeks, 40 days, whatever people say it takes to form a habit is not accurate. It is not entirely wrong, but most reputable studies have shown a range, and a wide one at that. 10-150 days possibly? I do not recall so that number is not exact but should be within the ballpark.

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  • Mr.tv

    No tv before sleep will not healp you if tv is the only thing making you sleep