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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 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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