Plan To Gradually Decrease Sleep

I've been setting my SleepCycle app to wake me between 5:30-6:00 A.M. every morning. Life has conspired to keep me from 7-8 hours of sleep a night lately -- due to being kept from going to sleep when I wanted to, or being woken up at night or early in the morning. But I've resisted the temptation to "catch up on sleep" by sleeping in. I may take a nap or two this weekend if the situation arises (haven't decided yet), but no more sleeping in. I plan on keeping the 5:30-6:00 A.M. wakeup time. I think this will help with normalizing my circadian rhythms.


I FINALLY got blue-blocking shades, to wear before sleep. I've been using the spiky sleep mat, grounding mat, 2 EMF filters in bedroom, and occasionally consuming pre-sleep cocktails like Upgraded whey, collagen, MCT oil, etc. In other words, most of Dave's sleep hack suggestions. Also meditating daily -- not as long as I'd like to, but at least some every day. I've been taking upgraded glutathione in the mornings, dry-brushing my skin daily, and occasionally taking calcium d-glucarate and/or extra vitamin C to reduce the toxic load on my body so I have less work to do during sleep.  I think I will stick with the alarm set for 5:30-6:00 A.M. daily to create a good baseline (for at least another week or maybe two), and then I may start slowly making my wake-up time earlier. Like 5:20-5:50 A.M. for 7-10 days, and then 5:10-5:40 A.M. for 7-10 days, etc. I would LOVE to reduce my sleep need to 5-6 hours so I can milk more productivity and more "me time" out of each day. The key is to take things slowly -- to make sure I'm healthy, high-performing, and low stress at every rung of the ladder as I slowly decrease sleep.


Any suggestions, criticisms or encouragement re: this plan are welcomed. I willl keep note of my progress.


Full disclosure: I originally posted this in the "Personal Biohacking" thread here:


However, I've noticed that I don't get much commentary or advice from others on that thread. I really want to solicit others' advice regarding this sleep plan, so I'm posting this is the "Sleep" thread too. Moderators, I hope you don't mind!



  • I've read all of Dave's articles on reducing sleep, but what I found lacking was something putting it all together and explaining how to get from 8 hours of average sleep to the holy ground of 5 hours. However, I did find this article [ ] which references a study in gradual sleep reduction:



    I think I'll use this protocol as a model, possibly with tweaks. The study indicates sleep reduction is possible with mild to moderate decrements to quality of life; after the study ended quality of life rebounded but sleep levels stayed below basline. Fascinating!


    If these study subjects can do it back in the 1970's, I think I can do the same thing with the additional knowledge available on sleep hacking such as blue blocking shades, spiky mat, meditation, honey, etc.

  • I'd be interested to see someone track a quality use of time measure e.g. productivity or something else important to you and compare a week with 5 hours sleep vs. a week with 9 hours sleep.


    My bet would be that you'd get more quality time from the 9 hours sleep and it would vastly make up for any hours not spent asleep. I'd love to see some data on it.

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  • I'm doing fine on 6 hours and getting up at 5:30. Not something i strived for it just happened.  I don't take any specific sleeping supplements.

  • An update. . . .


    I kept the baseline for about a week and a half, then moved my wakeup time earlier by 10 minutes. . . .I did this for 2 days before oversleeping 2 hrs on a Saturday. So I went back to baseline. I did another week of baseline, and then overslept 30 minutes on a weekend. I've done another 2 weeks of baseline since then.


    I've noticed that I'm waking up with more energy. Often I'm getting out of the house to go to work sooner than before. Less time wasted by being groggy and slow in the morning. I'm not ready to decrease sleep yet -- I want to get to feeling really awesome at baseline first. By the way, my compliance with blue-blocking shades has been very low lately.


    I'm a bit concerned because I'll be going to a stargazing party an hour's drive from home tonight. There's the possibility of me consuming caffeine to stay awake for the drive home, and it's unclear at what time I'll actually get to sleep. I intend to keep with the same wake-up time regardless, because I've heard that's the best thing for your circadian rhythm. If anyone has conflicting advice, I'm happy to hear it.

  • Interesting subject and experiment, could be interesting to see how it develops.

  • SystemSystem mod
    edited August 2014

    I, too, have purposefully cut back on a lot of sleep. Now that school has started, I'm waking up at 4:00 AM so that I could fit in an hour of Qi Gong befroe class, which starts at 7:00 AM. Lol. I go to sleep at around midnight, so I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep a night.  :cry:

  • @Zeke, how are you feeling on that level of sleep? And do you find the trade-off worthwhile, to sacrifice an hour sleep for an hour of qigong?

  • GarrettGarrett
    edited September 2014

    I'm doing construction work & a fitness program, and if I get really anything less than 7 hours, I'm fucked. I honestly don't believe that sleep hacking is a good idea. 

    I wake up at 445/5am'ish, and generally aim to be in bed by mid 8pm, and asleep shortly after 9. It's the only way that I can handle construction work, a fitness program, and running a business. Even with modafinil. 


    Not a supporter of cutting tons of sleep away. Not at all :)


    By the way, I challenge you to cut out your caffeine for 2-3 weeks while sleep hacking. THEN your body will emphatically tell you what it thinks of your decision to remove its restorative period. You can block lack of sleep through stimulants for awhile... but it will catch up to you.



    Also, I just happened upon this. Very very timely.


  • edited September 2014

    Also not a fan of sleep hacking. Your body goes through four stages of sleep. The first two stages are light sleep, which you've probably experienced as you start to doze off but are still somewhat conscious. One of the most important is the third (and a fourth, but lumping them into just stage three for simplicity) stage of sleep, or deep sleep, when your brain repairs your body and mind. The fourth is REM or your dream state. The third stage is arguably the most important stage, and REM is when chemicals such as serotonin are replenished so it's very important as well. You experience more deep sleep in the earlier hours of sleep, then more REM towards the end of your sleep.


    When you deprive yourself of sleep, the sleep cycle changes. By shortening your sleep overall, you will get less REM sleep since the longer periods of REM occur towards the end of your night (or morning). However, you also force your body to cut down on deep sleep and use more REM sleep. When you are sleep deprived or sleep less than you should, you may go directly to REM sleep or at least greatly shorten the other stages of sleep. And while REM is important, if you force your body to go straight to REM sleep, you skip the stages that repair the mind and body.


    While you will be up longer, this overall reduces your stamina, causes depression, and increases fatigue.

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  • RekaReka ✭✭✭

    I completely agree with Garrett and Modaminds, If I get to live 100 more years to immerse myself in all biohacking and become a BP Jedi Master Guru, sleep hacking will still be something I won't be able to tackle.


    Short story: what happens when you try to fight the fatigue with caffeine: a long time ago in university when I didn't know better I managed to drink my 12th or 13th coffee for the day, around midnight, and promptly fall asleep still at the desk. After a while it just doesn't work because you're working against your body.

    Unless you are a freak of nature, in which case, more power to you!

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  • Arrianna Huffington, Tony Schwartz, Darren Hardy, and TONS of high powered executives extoll the virtues of sleep - it's sooo important. Very much so.

    Most of North America's population is sleep deprived. You've been given amazing tools to enhance the quality of your sleep, and get more OF that good sleep.

    Why would you willingly give up that awesome rejuvenation advantage? What are you doing that's so important, as to push you to hack off 3-4 hours of high quality restoration time from your day?
  • RekaReka ✭✭✭

    To be honest I would do it if I could. But there is no way for me.

    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.


    Is your social worker in that horse?


    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • SkeletorSkeletor The Conqueror Worm ✭✭✭
    edited September 2014

    I, too, have purposefully cut back on a lot of sleep. Now that school has started, I'm waking up at 4:00 AM so that I could fit in an hour of Qi Gong befroe class, which starts at 7:00 AM. Lol. I go to sleep at around midnight, so I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep a night.  :cry:

    Holy shit, man. That sounds incredibly rough. How are you doing with that, and how long have you been keeping it up? Do you sleep more than 4 hours any day of the week, or do you keep to this schedule on a daily basis?


    Sleep hacking interests me; who wouldn't love to have more time to get shit done! This having been said, I love my sleep too much. Even now, when I get less than 7 or 8 hours I'm a wreck. Supplements and caffeine can only ameliorate the ravages of inadequate sleep so much. I've done crazy shit in the past; staying up 36 hours at a stretch, working 2 weeks of 16 hour shifts straight, etc. It sure as hell ain't healthy, even if I got some stuff done/made some money.

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  • RekaReka ✭✭✭
    edited September 2014

    Yeah I'm wondering how long one can do it. When I tried to cut sleep I always had to make up for it on the weekends. It just wasn't worth it, I could go on with 5-6 hours of sleep during workweek, so instead of 16 good waking hours I had 19 crappy ones, feeling half dead all the time. Then on the weekends I had to sleep for 12-13 hours, and the oversleeping made me feel terrible, same zombie state as before. Same time spent with sleep because after a while I always have to make up for the lost sleep.

    When I didn't sleep for a night because of an exam I kept falling asleep standing on the bus on my way home. Then slept for 16 hours.


    I'm wondering if most people out there can keep up with this on the long term. Based on some accounts here they can.


    More power to them.

    It doesn't get easier... It's you who gets better.


    Is your social worker in that horse?


    Success has a price, not a secret.

  • Yeah, I need my 5 blocks of 90 minutes per night. :smile:

    I can go one or two days on 4 blocks, but by the third day I am dreading it.

    On the weekend I like to do one night (Friday or Saturday) of 6 blocks.
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