When looking at my long list of to-dos, I get hit with this wave of annoyance towards my grandma-like sleeping tendencies. Surely there has to be a way to sleep less and do more with my mornings. Instead I like being tucked into my crochet blankets by 9:30 p.m, and wake up in a snoring mess by 8:00 a.m.. Half of my day is spent in my pajamas, dreaming of all the moon pies and silk scarves my heart wants. But while I'm away in my dreams, my to-do lists sit not-so-patiently on my desk, wondering when the blanket tossing will be over with and the day could begin.
And the thing is, I'm totally a morning person. I love throwing off the covers and padding in bare feet down to the kitchen, only to take out my favorite coffee mug and a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I like grabbing a magazine or beginning the day with an episode of Simpsons, then diving into my work. My hitch is when the evening hours come and I find myself reaching for one of those old-timer pompom sleeping hats, because apparently I'm a 90 year-old grandpa that needs to conk out by seven. But with all that time I could be doing so much more — from writing to going out with friends, getting a work out in to catching up on some reading. Below are 11 tips on how to sleep less and do more. Our pajamas had their reign, now it's time for them to move over.
1. Know Your Sleepy Windows
There are times during the evening when our bodies start to naturally power down. If you want to become an earlier riser, make sure to hit the sheets before that window, or if you want to stay up later make sure to miss it. Lifestyle writer Dave Asprey at self-improvement site Bulletproof offered, "Hit the sack before 11 p.m. There is a window between 10:45 and 11 p.m. when you get tired. If you miss it, you get a cortisol-driven 'second wind' that lets you be productive until 2 a.m., or keeps you awake until then." It's helpful to know when your body starts to naturally nod off, so you can plan to wind down or amp yourself up.
2. Make Waking Up Less Heart Wrenching
There's no way you're going to wake up rested and in a good mood when your alarm clock sounds like a fog horn. Instead, find one that's more soothing and natural. Lifestyle writer Alan Henry from Lifehack recommended, "Grab an alarm clock app that will wake you to music or soothing sounds, or try a wake-up light that slowly rises the light level in the room as you approach your wake-up time." That way when you turn it off, you'll be in a happy mind set and not on the verge of a stroke.
3. Focus On Energizing
If you're feeling sluggish because of your cut hours, business writer Shawn McIntyre from Entrepreneur suggested you focus on energizing rather than sleeping. He offered, "Instead of taking a power nap in your office, try taking a 15-minute walk or moving your fitness routine to the middle of the day." Movement will help you snap out of your hazy lulls.
4. Use Exercise To Your Advantage
If you get your creative wind during the night time and work best when everything is cozy and dark, then change your sleeping cycle with a burst of exercise. When speaking about falling asleep earlier Asprey advised, "Don’t exercise [less than] 2 hours before bed, at least." So if you start powering down around nine, fall into a workout routine to get your body amped and to shake off the sluggishness.
5. The Food You Eat Matters
The saying "you are what you eat" might be cliche, but it's true. So to ensure your body runs smoothly on less sleep, watch what you put into it. McIntyre advised, "You won’t have energy without the proper fuel...For each meal or snack, focus on getting good protein (chicken, eggs or salmon), green vegetables and healthy fats from things such as cashews, almonds, flaxseed or coconut oil." If your body is getting the correct fuel, you won't pass out underneath your desk.
6. Start A New Sleeping Rhythm
Your body works on rhythms, so to train it to stay awake longer or wake up earlier you need to put it on a new schedule. In order to do that, you have to go to bed and wake up at the same hour until it becomes habit. Dr. Verma, a specialist in sleep medicine, explained to Lifehack, “An often overlooked way for people to optimize their sleep is to wake at the same time every day, or at least within the same hour." Once your body gets used to that new rhythm, you won't be groggy any longer.
7. Have A List To Get Out Of Bed For
Whether you want to wake up early or stay up late, have a list prepared of exciting, inspirational things that will get you moving. The Daily Mail suggested, "Have a list of things that you want to get out of bed for. The more motivating your list is, the more likely you are to want to reduced your sleep time." For example, if you're working on a passion project, polishing up a hobby, or waking up earlier to look for inspiration, you'll be more likely to spring out of bed.
8. Take Baby Steps
If you find that shifting your sleep by hours is too hard for you, take baby steps instead. The Daily Mail suggested, "Reduce your sleep time steadily and consistently. Wake up five to 10 minutes earlier each day until you arrive at an amount of sleep that works for you." Seems doable, right?
9. Use Tasks To Your Advantage
Are you trying to stay up? Then make sure you earmark the tasks and activities you really enjoy for those later hours so you don't nod off into a bored snooze. CEO Alexandra Damsker offered Time, "when I get a few energy slumps, I rely on some tried and true solutions: I switch tasks to things I really like (so I save that stuff for sleepy times)." The opposite is true for those that want to tuck in earlier.
10. Avoid The Light
If you find it hard to get sleepy earlier in order to wake up with the crack of dawn, your screens might be your problem. Asprey pointed out, "Don’t stare at your TV, iphone or ipad until you’ve dimmed it all the way either — white light is not your friend at night because even 5 minutes of it shuts off your melatonin production." If you want to be an early riser, make sure to switch off the screens at least an hour before you hit the sheets.
11. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Often times when we feel tired, it's not because we need to face-plant into a pillow. It's because we're dehydrated. Business writer Steven Ma from self development site Spark Flow explained, "Hydration is key to energy. Avoid drinks full of caffeine or sugar, like coffee and sodas. Those only dehydrate you." Keep glugging water all day and you'll keep yourself refreshed on your new sleep cycle.
In these ways, you can sleep less and do more. It's totally possible — try it out and see what you can accomplish!