Getting Enough Sleep

Here is an interesting TED talk by Arianna Huffington on sleeping more in order to succeed. (Don’t worry, it isn’t very long, but is humorous).

I agree whole-heartedly. Sleep is so amazing important to being able to think clearly. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll never be able to use all of your ability.

I used to be one of those dudes that only slept 4 hours a night. It wasn’t really due to choice, but because I literally had too much to do. That had to change. In college, I began to realize that if I didn’t sleep enough, my mind was a little hazy. I started getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night and it was better.

Then when I started working as a programmer, I realized even that wasn’t enough. Programming is taxing on the brain. I had to be more alert, have a better short term memory and be able to think super clearly about complex problems. I changed. I made sure that I got 8 hours or more of sleep a night.

Now I am super protective of the amount and quality of sleep I get. Even one hour less than normal and I notice a difference.

What do I do?

  1. I stop drinking anything with caffeine between 6pm and 7pm. It takes about 4 – 5 hours for the effects to wear off (for me, ymmv).
  2. I go to bed around 11:30pm – no later than Midnight.
  3. I set my alarm for 8:20am (living close to work is nice)
  4. I normally start to naturally wake up around 8am – after around 8 hours of sleep.
  5. If I feel like getting up, I do and turn off my alarm.
  6. If I feel like staying in my nice comfy warm bed, I do and then get up when my alarm goes off.

I plan to be in bed about 9 hours a night. This gives me time to fall asleep and time to slowly wake up. It also gives me time to meditate on my day before I fall alseep. The alarm is less to wake me up and more to let me know it is time to take a shower. The idea is that I’ll already be mostly or partially awake when it goes off. Waking up suddenly sucks and I’m prone to snoozing it.

If I think I’m going to have trouble falling asleep, I read. TV, movies and the internet make your brain too active. Reading lets you escape and wind down, while also wearing you out a little. Even a good book will make me drowsy if I’m reading it close to bed time. Of course, I also put it down when it is time to go to sleep.

So, get more sleep. We need more people thinking clearly and paying attention. Put yourself on a schedule if you have to. Go to bed even if you aren’t tired. Read a book for a little bit if you can’t fall asleep.

Getting 4 hours of sleep a night doesn’t make you better at anything. Quit bragging about it. It doesn’t make you seem cool or successful – and you’d have the presence of mind to realize that if you got more sleep.