Finding Time for Sleep

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 14, 2011 at 1:59 PM

I've been wanting to get more sleep recently (mostly thanks to the advice of Paleo-Hackers), but it seems impossible. I wake up early, work 8 hours, with 2-2.5 hours worth of a commute, go to the gym, come home, spend 30 min-1 hour with the wife, prepare for the next day and then go to sleep. I have very little wiggle room.

I suppose I have two questions:

1) How do you find time to get plenty of sleep in your modern life?

2) How do you maximize that rest?

Thanks all!



on February 15, 2011
at 09:50 AM

Have you ever experimented with steady (9 hourse, 14 days same wakeup/sleep time) sleep ?

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6 Answers



on February 14, 2011
at 07:46 PM

Hey "sleepy:.

#1. Do you actually need 8hrs of sleep? Do you wake up feeling great with the sleep that you do get? If you feel awesome when you wake you, you're probably fine. If not, more sleep might be helpful, but you might also be able to increase sleep quality. (people have already posted good suggestions for improved quality)

#2. The single biggest area that you have to "hack" (paleo hack - ha!) would be your commute. That is 10-12hrs/wk of unproductive time that probably doesn't get you any closer to anything important in life.


A. Move really close to work. Personally, I refuse to work more than 15min from work. (Not an "easy" thing to do, but well worth it in terms of time (life) freed up. You can always get more money, but you can never get back your time.)

B. Change work schedule: - can you work 4days @ 10hrs each, and eliminate one day of commute - can you work from home 2days per week? - can you go to work earlier, so you can leave earlier and beat traffic to reduce commute?

#3. Also, in your question you account for 11.5hrs of your 24: 8 work, 2.5 commute, 1hr wife If you slept 8, that would 19.5 left over, so that would give you: 4.5hrs to workout, and prepare for the next day. At most you only need 4hrs per week to be in excellent, amazing shape. So, maybe looking at the 4.5hrs that you have unaccounted for.



on February 14, 2011
at 02:58 PM

Do you carpool or use public transit? Just a thought but you might be able to sleep on a bus/subway/etc. and take the stress of driving off of you...but I know that's not always possible (or very restful/quality sleep).

also, do you have blackout curtains or a very very very dark place to sleep? This ALWAYS helps your body get in that "its time to sleep" mode. (I believe Robb Wolf talks about this)

and I just try not to be too tough on myself. If I'm having one of those nights where I just can seem to fall asleep I just remind myself that resting my body is beneficial. Normally this happens because I have a lot on my mind. So I journal/jot down my thoughts, ideas, and worries to get it all out so I can get to sleep.

I would also suggest taking naps if you can, but your schedule sounds pretty full like mine is. (my husband can because he gets home before everyone else does)



on February 14, 2011
at 02:57 PM

Hi there.

Do you have any free time at work in which napping is a possibility? I am a big fan of naps and even short sessions really make a difference to my day, as the afternoon is when I usually start feeling weary. Ten minutes or so can really give me a boost.

As for optimizing sleep, a lot of people here will agree with making sure your room is as dark as possible - this means no lights at all (no electronic alarm clocks or whatever). Try to make your bedroom completely about sleeping (and sex of course!). So blackout curtains, no electronics, no lights.

Try to make the hour before you go to bed as relaxed as possible - if you use a computer during this time I would recommend f.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/) which has really made a difference to how I feel before bed. Relax, perhaps drink some herbal tea or partake in whatever light activities help you to chill out. I like to read and listen to prayer music (I am not ashamed!).

Also, and the thing I find can really make a huge difference, is trying to lower my body temperature before I retire. I usually have a cold shower. Everyone always asks me if this wakes me up but it seems to have the opposite effect - yes I am alert whilst I am showering but once I get to bed I seem to be able to relax a lot faster.

Hope this helps.



on February 14, 2011
at 07:04 PM

People's sleep requirements vary a lot. I function well on about 6-7 hours of sleep per night -- or 5-6 hours on workdays and a >12 hour sleepathon on a weekend. I know people who need 9 hours of sleep per day or even more. So it all depends.

I think that the sleep requirement is genetic and you can't "train" yourself to sleep considerably less. You can change the pattern of sleep, though (e.g. use naps, siesta, etc.) if that's more convenient for your life. There are also hard-core methods of messing with your sleep which try to maximize the REM sleep (deep, dreaming sleep) percentage of your total sleeping time, but they involve major self-training.

Finding time to sleep is really just a side effect of general time management. This is a huge topic of its own, but basically if you want something to happen, allocate time to it. Yes, that involves trade-offs and sometimes sacrifices. Only you yourself can decide which trade-offs are worth it and which are not.



on February 15, 2011
at 09:50 AM

Have you ever experimented with steady (9 hourse, 14 days same wakeup/sleep time) sleep ?


on February 14, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I wish sleep came easier too. No suggestions here, just wish we could get more sleep. I have a one year old who's teething right now. Last night we got up with her five times. We desperately want to make it super dark, but when you're making a nightly trek to another room to care for a baby, it makes it a hazard. I also get up early and have a 2 hour commute. My husband works 10 hour days. Forget about working out, there just isn't the time for it right now. I hope you're able to work it out!


on February 14, 2011
at 05:34 PM

I switched workouts to the morning (particularly while fasted). I also limit caffeine intake to one cup of coffee in the morning. I limit my alcohol intake to one glass of wine with dinner. And I now sleep in a completely dark room.

My old battles with insomnia are almost completely gone.

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