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Solving (my) Sleeping Problems

(picture: CC BY-SA 2.0)

Disclaimer: In this post I am not indending to solve most of the sleeping problems, nor am I qualified to do so. I merely describe what worked for me to solve some of my, very particular, problem.

I have never had sleeping problems in the classical sense:  I fall asleep when I lie down in the bed and I don’t wake up until I have slept enough. But for a long time I couldn’t make myself wake up when I wanted:

  • I would almost never wake up earlier than an hour after I had decided to wake up,
  • If I had to be somewhere in the morning I would never wake up before it is too late: I would come late and never have time for breakfast, let alone do anything else that I would plan.
  • I couldn’t predict when I am going to wake up even if I didn’t have to wake up at any particular time.

Needless to say this greatly reduced my productivity and control over my timeA year ago I decided to put an end to this and try to learn to take better control over my sleeping patterns. I experimented with polyphasic sleep but with very low success. I managed to have two or three siesta days (6 hours of sleep at night and 0.5-1 during the day) in a row but then the pattern broke. I would either oversleep the naps or the night sleep. So this didn’t really work. I started also a consistent morning routine in which I stretched, worked out, ate breakfast and meditated (experimenting with different orders). This, (surprisingly for me at the time), helped quite a bit. I had more motivation to get up in the morning and my mornings felt more meaningful to me. But it was not until this April when I really got the hold of it. What happened was that my girlfriend and I decided to wake up at 5 AM every morning during the whole month (we lasted eventually even longer). One of the reasons was that I had to move to my mother’s house for several months and I wanted to have more awake time alone when everyone else is asleep, so I could concentrate on work. My mom thought I was crazy. For whatever unexplained reason (I think the fact we did it together was a big factor — love, you know) it worked right from the beginning. We didn’t wake up exactly at five every morning, but we definitely woke up before 6. There were only 3 exceptions during April. This was great. Very efficient time. In the mornings obviously the time was very efficient and I got a lot of work done while other’s were still sleeping. But the evenings were also more efficient than usual. This is because in the afternoons and evenings I was still synchornized with the society and came home from my hobbies or work at around 8 PM. And when the “relaxing time” of my family started (which lasts to around midnight), I joined them only for an hour and then went to sleep earlier than anyone else. During this time I

  • learned to wake up when I decide to,
  • realised that I don’t need so much sleep as before: I can now easily replace my normal 8h/night by 5.5h on two or three nights in the week without any problem, in fact, it seems more natural to me now..
  • no longer have any problems whatsoever waking up early enough to get things done before I have to go to work.

In the same way as concentrating on mathematics for 2 weeks in a row resulted in a permanent skill to get into the state of ‘mathematical flow’, concentrating on waking up for a month resulted in a permanent skill to control my sleeping schedule (well, its been only two months now, but I am optimistic!)

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