Sleeping with fiction

Slumbering, snoring, snoozing, synonyms, for this post on sleeping I’d like to share some of my own experiences and findings. So without messing about, here goes:

I currently sleep between 7-8 hours a night. It used to be < 7 but a slightly older and more realistic version of me told me yawning around a 100 times a day is not the healthiest of habits. Common knowledge, I knew that just fine. I just didn’t want to spend too many hours of my day sleeping. I still prefer not to but have finally accepted that I need a few more winks or those extra hours awake won’t account to anything anyway. Besides, I got tired (tee-hee) of dozing off like Chandler here.

I see sleeping as a practical matter, so a couple of years ago I experimented and monitored my sleeping patterns to figure out how many hours I needed, what my sleeping ‘segments’ were and what resulted in me feeling the most fit and chipper the next day. I started by doing some research, which mostly focused on the 90 min cycles and reaching deep sleep, which I took into account. As for my own results, I found that I would usually ‘wake’ after 3.5 hours and again 3.5 hours after that, totaling the 7 hours I felt I needed. Due to an increase in physical activity, age and probably many more factors, I now follow a 2x ~4 hour pattern. At the end of both segments, my body sort of starts up again. Most of the time I don’t notice this at all but sometimes I’m vaguely aware. (Or fully aware, bathroom breaks occur in this ‘waking’ stage)

Now, whatever my pattern is, there’s a lot that influences it and there’s loads of research and science behind all this. Deconstructing sleep just isn’t that simple. There’s plenty to Google (like: if you want to find out more. Also, if you’re keen on finding out your own sleeping patterns, try using a fitness/smart watch or phone app. I find it remarkable how much effect a little extra knowledge and self-awareness can have. Side note: there’s also a lot of research on alternative sleeping cycles, like 20-30 min naps every 4 hours or 2x 4 hours with a 4 (productive) hours in between. Interesting stuff.

In the end, winning is sleeping better. 
– Jodie Foster

Even though I found it intriguing, I stopped using apps after a while because I don’t want to have my phone in or near my bed. In fact I’ve banned all screens in or just before bed. A slight Netflix-launch relapse aside, this has worked well for me. I used a combination of fewer screens, reading (fiction) and meditating (light forms) to decrease my ‘falling asleep’ time from 30-60 mins before to max 5 mins now. Oh and yes, I still use my phone as an alarm, it’s just in another room. On silent except for the alarm tune.

I still use these methods to help me fall asleep when necessary, or whenever I feel like reading. I only read fiction at night, so my mind can just absorb and doesn’t have to activate [and process] too much. On top of that I tried taking a little cocktail “That knocks your right out.”, recommended by Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis (see video below). It’s made of Apple Cider Vinegar + honey in hot water. Whether it’s placebo or not, it worked pretty well!

I highlighted the prioritizing sleep bit but the whole video is worth a watch. It’s part of the reason I got into journaling as well, mentioned in There and back again. Tim and Chase are definitely a fascinating high energy duo.

A proper night’s sleep and activities such as journaling and meditating are regarded as a few of the most important parts of the day by a great number of successful and inspiring people. If by studying your own sleeping habits you could increase your productivity, fitness or creative output by as little as 10%, it’d still be worth it, right?  Feeling rested and energetic can change a day for the better, so see what works for you!



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