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.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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