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Sleep Hack: A Simple Strategy For Better Rest In Less Time

Sleep Hack: A Simple Strategy For Better Rest In Less Time

Do you start every morning with an internal argument over whether or not to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock again? Do you struggle to fall asleep at night and end up catching a “second wind” that lands you on the couch watching TV at 4am? If so, this sleep hack is for you.

Sure the term “hack” has been used a lot. But in terms of simplification of a very complex process into two quick steps, this hack takes a very large cake. Keep reading to see what I mean.

    I stumbled upon this sleep hack weeks ago. Like some of the better hacks in existence, this one was unearthed by necessity. I’d reduced my belongings to fit into two carry-on’s (another post entirely) and headed to work in Boston.

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    I’d only given myself 6 days to find a place to live and it wasn’t until my final day of searching that I finally found an apartment. It was cheap. It had a bed and desk. It was Sunday night. By the time I’d signed a lease it was too late to go shopping for bedding. There was a clean fitted sheet in the bedroom closet that fit the mattress. I had no soft pillows, no 1200 thread count sheets, and no down comforter.

    I took the bath towel from my bag, folded it a few times, and used it as a pillow. It was a warm night and I slept easily. I woke in the early morning chill of darkness. It was 5am. I didn’t need to be up for hours.

    But I had no reason to stay in bed. Bed was cold. Bed was unwelcoming. I had slept. I was awake. The day had begun.

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    As days slipped by, I continued to sleep on that fitted sheet and mattress. Each night I’d get tired around 10:30pm, drink some water, and fall asleep immediately. Each morning I’d wake, grab my towel and head to the shower. I no longer had to argue with myself over whether or not I’d get out of bed.

    If I woke very early and still felt tired, I might fall back asleep for another hour but only if I really needed it. Those accidental morning naps I’d experienced in the luxury of my previous bed no longer haunted me. I was free.

    I now have a regular sleep schedule with better rest than I’ve had in years. I wake on-time without an alarm and enjoy an extra 10-12 hours per week that I’d have spent awake but in bed in years past. It’s really, really good.

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    So here’s the hack.

    Step 1: Treat your bed like a recharging station.

    Get rid of the temptation to treat your bed like anything other than a recharging station. You won’t need books by your bed. You won’t need fancy pillows (unless your doctor says you must). Your bed is a place to help you get from wake to wake in as little time as possible with optimum rest. If you’re young like me the mattress won’t be such a big deal. If you’re over 40 you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a good mattress though.

    Step 2: Get rid of your bedding

    If you’re really, really tough you can just fold all your bedding up and put it in another room. Chances are good that you’ll give up and drag you bedding back in the middle of the night if you can though. I recommend giving your bedding to a local homeless shelter or, if it’s really ratty, throwing it out.

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    Step 3: Try it for at least 7 days

    One night won’t work. You need to give yourself time to get used to this lean way of sleeping. If you wake up at midnight and feel cold, don’t grab a blanket. Throw on a sweatshirt instead. Most of us live in climate controlled housing so there’s really no excuse for all the bedding we tend to heap on ourselves.

    Does this sound crazy? Sure. Does it work? Absolutely yes. I love sleeping in a big bed with warm blankets and big pillows. But I don’t need that extra sleep right now. I don’t need the morning arguments with my alarm clock. I need productivity. If you feel the same, I suggest you give this a try.

    Have you tried something similar? Do you have a specific question? I’ll get back to you in the comments.

    Image: Freddy The Boy

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    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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