I used to need 9 hours of sleep before I learned this one trick that increased my deep sleep so much, I now sleep less and have more energy each day. This is how it’s done.
This simple trick requires little more than tapping into our primal sleeping patterns. In 1992, the Journal of Sleep Research published research results in which participants had no access to clocks or sunlight. Interestingly enough, the participants soon had no idea what time of day it was and thus relied on their primal instincts to decide when to go to sleep.
Nearly all the participants adapted a primal sleep schedule where their deep sleep “was divided into two symmetrical bouts, several hours in duration, with a 1-3 hour waking interval between them.”
This study supports the idea presented in Roger Ekirch’s seminal paper that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. Here lies the one trick you must know to achieve more deep sleep every night.
To achieve more deep sleep and wake more refreshed and with more energy, wake up in the middle of the night. The first night that I did this, I achieved more deep sleep in only 6 hours than I had in three months of sleeping 8 hours!
Here is how to do it properly:
Track your sleep – Personally, I use an UP24 band. A cheaper alternative that works nearly as well is the Sleep Cycle app. These tools will track your sleep and present the data in a graphical interface. You’ll be able to see when you were in deep sleep, light sleep, and awake.
Sleep for a week – This provides enough data for you to find consistent trends in your circadian rhythm. For me, I noticed I was ‘awake’ from 2:30am to 2:45am. This became my ideal wake time in the middle of the night.
Keep the same bedtime – By going to bed at the same time every night, you’ll guarantee that your body follows it’s natural rhythm for deep sleep. Waking up in the middle of a deep sleep can be detrimental to your overall sleep, so you want to make sure you’re waking up when your body is ready.
Keep water beside your bed – Part of feeling horrible when you wake up has to do more with dehydration than sleepiness. Having a small glass of water when you wake up in the middle of the night will keep your body hydrated the rest of the night and help you wake up more refreshed and energized.
Wake up for 5 to 10 minutes every night – Set an alarm to wake you up at the designated time. Both the Up24 band and the Sleep Cycle app will monitor your sleep and ensure that you are awakened in the middle of a very light sleep, right around the time your body tends to wake up. I currently wake up around 2:35am and I stay up for 5 to 10 minutes. This is just long enough for your body to fully awake and take full advantage of the trick.
Don’t stress out if you can’t fall back asleep – The amount of deep sleep you’ll gain will more than offset the amount of time you lie in bed trying to fall back asleep.
Benjamin Franklin, accidentally, took advantage of this deep sleep trick quite frequently. In his Essay “New Mode of Bathing” written in 1768, Mr. Franklin described the trick as such. “This practice is not in the least painful, but, on the contrary, agreeable: and if I return to bed afterwards, before I dress myself, as sometimes happens, I make a supplement to my night’s rest of one or two hours of the most pleasing sleep that can be imagined.”