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Friday, July 8, 2011
Do you start every morning with an internal argument over whether or not to hit the snooze button on your alarm clock again? Do you struggle to fall asleep at night and end up catching a “second wind” that lands you on the couch watching TV at 4am? If so, this sleep hack is for you.
Sure the term “hack” has been used a lot. But in terms of simplification of a very complex process into two quick steps, this hack takes a very large cake. Keep reading to see what I mean.
I stumbled upon this sleep hack weeks ago. Like some of the better hacks in existence, this one was unearthed by necessity. I’d reduced my belongings to fit into two carry-on’s (another post entirely) and headed to work in Boston.
I’d only given myself 6 days to find a place to live and it wasn’t until my final day of searching that I finally found an apartment. It was cheap. It had a bed and desk. It was Sunday night. By the time I’d signed a lease it was too late to go shopping for bedding. There was a clean fitted sheet in the bedroom closet that fit the mattress. I had no soft pillows, no 1200 thread count sheets, and no down comforter.
I took the bath towel from my bag, folded it a few times, and used it as a pillow. It was a warm night and I slept easily. I woke in the early morning chill of darkness. It was 5am. I didn’t need to be up for hours.
But I had no reason to stay in bed. Bed was cold. Bed was unwelcoming. I had slept. I was awake. The day had begun.
As days slipped by, I continued to sleep on that fitted sheet and mattress. Each night I’d get tired around 10:30pm, drink some water, and fall asleep immediately. Each morning I’d wake, grab my towel and head to the shower. I no longer had to argue with myself over whether or not I’d get out of bed.
If I woke very early and still felt tired, I might fall back asleep for another hour but only if I really needed it. Those accidental morning naps I’d experienced in the luxury of my previous bed no longer haunted me. I was free.
I now have a regular sleep schedule with better rest than I’ve had in years. I wake on-time without an alarm and enjoy an extra 10-12 hours per week that I’d have spent awake but in bed in years past. It’s really, really good.
So here’s the hack.
Step 1: Treat your bed like a recharging station.
Get rid of the temptation to treat your bed like anything other than a recharging station. You won’t need books by your bed. You won’t need fancy pillows (unless your doctor says you must). Your bed is a place to help you get from wake to wake in as little time as possible with optimum rest. If you’re young like me the mattress won’t be such a big deal. If you’re over 40 you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a good mattress though.
Step 2: Get rid of your bedding
If you’re really, really tough you can just fold all your bedding up and put it in another room. Chances are good that you’ll give up and drag you bedding back in the middle of the night if you can though. I recommend giving your bedding to a local homeless shelter or, if it’s really ratty, throwing it out.
Step 3: Try it for at least 7 days
One night won’t work. You need to give yourself time to get used to this lean way of sleeping. If you wake up at midnight and feel cold, don’t grab a blanket. Throw on a sweatshirt instead. Most of us live in climate controlled housing so there’s really no excuse for all the bedding we tend to heap on ourselves.
Does this sound crazy? Sure. Does it work? Absolutely yes. I love sleeping in a big bed with warm blankets and big pillows. But I don’t need that extra sleep right now. I don’t need the morning arguments with my alarm clock. I need productivity. If you feel the same, I suggest you give this a try.
Have you tried something similar? Do you have a specific question? I’ll get back to you in the comments.