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A Quick Way to Improve Your Sleep Habits

If you’re wondering what sleep has to do with mental strength, consider how easily your resolve deteriorates when you’re tired. Your ability to focus and persevere depends on a number of different factors, including how much sleep you’re getting. The more rested you are in the morning, the more alert you will be, and the more prepared you will be to meet the day’s challenges. Here’s a quick way to improve your sleep habits.

The Sleep Cycle

There are 5 sleep stages and it takes your body roughly 90 minutes to get through one cycle. If you’re really groggy when the alarm goes off, it’s probably because you’re in stage 4 or 5. Notice that when you wake up to go to the bathroom, it’s usually not that hard. That’s because you’re only going to wake up for something like that when you’re in one of the lighter stages.

Timing

If you want to make it easier to get up in the morning, try timing your sleep in 90 min intervals, so your alarm will go off somewhere around the time you come out of a deep sleep stage. If you keep multiplying 90 minute intervals, you’ll find that they occur at 1.5 hrs, 3 hrs, 4.5 hrs, 6 hrs, 7.5 hrs and 9 hrs. You may not hit it perfectly, but at least you’ll be closer to a light sleep stage when the alarm goes off.

My Own Experience

For example, I got only TWO full cycles tonight. That’s roughly 3 hours, but I had no problem waking up. In fact, instead of waking up with my 5 a.m. alarm, I found myself awake at 4:45, which was when I was most alert. If I had told myself that I could get away with another 15, or even 30 minutes, I would have slipped back into another cycle and found it really hard to get up. So I just took advantage of it, did a few burpees and made some coffee.

It is now 5:45 a.m., I’ve been writing for 30 minutes and I’m feeling alright! I’ll need a nap later, of course, since I only got 3 hours of sleep. But it’ll be 90 minutes long, to coincide with another sleep cycle. I’m not saying you should sleep twice like I do, because that might not be possible for someone with a regular day job. I do it because I’m self-employed and find that it works better for me. But even if you get your sleep all at once, it can still benefit you to keep those cycles in mind when you get ready for bed and set your alarm.

Quit Struggling!

I’ve been researching sleep for years, due to the difficulty I’ve always had getting enough of it. What I’m telling you here is the most helpful info I’ve been able to find on the subject. I’m not saying you’re going to feel like running a marathon this way. What I am saying is that it beats stumbling out of bed at the worst possible time, or missing the alarm and being late for work.

Remember that fighting your body’s natural rhythms is a terrible waste of energy. Save that for life’s bigger challenges. You’ll need all the mental strength you can get!

Have a good one!

Mark Abbott

6 Comments

  1. This is very interesting. I always wake up before my alarm and I wake up really refreshed and not groggy at all. But if I try to sleep in an extra 15 minutes, I don’t want to get up. Now I know why. It’s best to just get up at the end of a sleep cycle. I also find that a normal routine helps me. For the most part, I go to bed the same time every day and wake up around the same time, even on weekends.

    • Yes, indeed. Those extra few minutes of sleep are rarely worth the difficulty of being able to get up again, once you get comfortable. Better to just get moving. Routines do help a lot, as well. They can be difficult to establish at first, but it’s definitely worth it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Mark

  2. This is something new to me. I could probably try adjusting my sleeping habits so that I won’t feel groggy when I wake up in the morning. May I know if I sleep at say 10pm, does it mean that it is best I set up my alarm at either 530am or 7am by following the 90mins interval? Thank you.

    • Basically, yes. You might have to adjust it a bit, since we all have different sleeping habits. For example, if you’re used to laying awake reading for an hour before you actually fall asleep, don’t count that time. It should start when you put everything away and commit to sleep. If you’re scheduling it right, you’ll know by how you feel when you wake up. It’s made a world of difference to me, as I’m rarely able to get a full night’s sleep in one sitting.

      Mark

  3. Hi Mark, it’s clear that you understand that we all have different sleep patterns. I don’t worry about 90-minute cycles, but I do function best with 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep.

    Personally, I think sleeping twice in short periods is crazy. But I have heard that before electricity, this was common. There were even books written giving people advice about what to do in the middle of the night between sleep periods. It seems that people today have forgotten how common that used to be.

    You may need long naps due to your sleep cycle but most people can benefit from a nap of any length. I find a 5-10 minute nap works wonders for me in the afternoon or evening.

    • Yes, it was quite common in the old days. Since there isn’t anyone around anymore from back then, it’s not widely known. But I’ve read several different accounts of how people used to fall asleep not long after the sun went down, due to lack of visibility, then wake up a few hours later to do something like read, then knock out again until just before sunrise. The impact electricity has had on our lives is really something, if you think about it.

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