11 Tricks for Perfect Sleep (for you sleep deprived bankers...)

AndyLouis's picture
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Whether you're a Tim Ferriss fan or not, he puts out some solid empirical data, particularly from tests he conducts on himself. This one is in regards to sleep, something I know a lot of you are looking to improve.

For me, the problem with improving sleep was being unable to measure it. I could record the time when I got into bed and when I woke up, but I couldn't pinpoint when I fell asleep, much less what happened while I was asleep.

The problem with testing these in a proper sleep lab (the test is called a polysomnogram) is that you generally have at least 22 wires attached to you to measure brain activity (EEG), eye movements (EOG), skeletal muscle activation (EMG), heart rhythm (ECG), respiration, and sometimes peripheral pulse oximetry.

Guess what? No one can sleep in a weird lab with 22 wires attached to them on the first night. So the data are terrible. Then they come in the second night after an effective all-nighter and crash like heroin addicts. Double bad data.

Alas, I would need a pocket-sized sleep lab to test them under realistic sleeping conditions, and I was able to do this recently using the Zeo brain-tracking device, video recording of sleep movements, accelerometers, and more.

Here are some of the most important initial findings, ranking sleep from 1-10, 10 being most restful:

1. 8-10 sleep was most dependent on the ratio of REM-to-total sleep, not total REM duration.

The higher the percentage of REM sleep, the more restful the sleep. The higher the REM percent, the better the recall of skills or data acquired in the previous 24 hours. Higher percent REM sleep also correlated to lower average pulse and temperature upon waking. Based on available studies, I expected deep wave to affect the latter two, but the correlation was erratic.

2. I could increase REM percent by extending total sleep time past 9 hours or waking for 5 minutes at approximately 4.5 hours after sleep onset.

Short wakings of 5-10 minutes, particularly one additional waking approximately 6.5 hours after sleep onset, dramatically increased REM percent. It turns out that waking is not necessarily a bad thing, at least when intentional.

3. 200mcg (micrograms) of huperzine-A 30 minutes pre-bed can increase total REM by 20-30 percent

Huperzine-A, an extract of huperzia serrata, slows the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine ( 1). It is a popular nootropic (smart drug), and I have used it in the past to accelerate learning and increase the incidence of lucid dreaming. The increased REM seemingly caused by huperzine-A could explain the increased retention some experience with it. I no longer use huperzine-A except for the first several weeks of language acquisition, no more than three days per week to avoid side-effects, and I do not recommend using it unless you do your homework. Inhibition in the human body usually triggers compensation -- and often delayed side-effects -- somewhere else. The brain is a sensitive instrument, and this drug is contraindicated with a fair number of medications.

4. More than two glasses of wine within four hours of sleep onset decreases deep wave sleep 20-50 percent.

Even four glasses six hours beforehand did not appear to have this effect. Conversely, taking 15+ drops of California Poppy extract appeared to increase deep wave sleep up to 20 percent.

5. Having two tablespoons of organic almond butter (or peanut butter) on celery sticks before bed eliminated at least 50 percent of "feel like shit" 1-3 awakenings.

Ever wonder how you can sleep 8-10 hours and feel tired? Often the culprit is low blood sugar. Make a pre-bed snack part of your nutritional program.

1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil (120-240 calories) can be used in combination with the above to further increase cell repair during sleep and thus decrease fatigue. It tastes like a mixture of cat urine and asparagus, so I recommend pinching your nose while consuming it per Dr. Seth Roberts.

Turning Off Monkey Mind

The most important thing, of course, is getting to sleep in the first place. No matter how theoretically restful my sleep should be based on Zeo results, more than 30 minutes of onset insomnia negated it all.

Here are the changes and tools that had the largest and most predictable effects. Some will no doubt be more convenient than others. I excluded drugs from testing to avoid both side-effects and dependencies:

6. 67-70-degree temperature

This was the variable I most experimented with while in Nicaragua for my medical tourism adventure (another story -- I used one hospital trip to pay for a beach vacation), and it was also the variable that had the most consistent effects. Specifically, using a single bed sheet, 67-70-degrees Fahrenheit produced the fastest time to sleep. Warmer temperatures never worked, but as low as 65 would work equally well if I wore socks to keep my feet warm. If you can't control the ambient temperature, testing socks of different thicknesses is the easiest variable to change for tweaking heat loss. No joke.

Ideal temperature is highly individual and a narrow range, so experiment with precise controls.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-ferriss/11-trick...

Comments (22)

Jan 22, 2013

I think someone just blew their load. It wasn't me, I swear.

Jan 22, 2013
D M:

I think someone just blew their load. It wasn't me, I swear.

I was going to mention that blowing your load helps you sleep better.

Jan 22, 2013

Sleeping when you're room is 65 degrees is great... until you need to get out of the bed in the morning. Then it's a struggle to leave the warmth of your sheets.

Jan 22, 2013
LHDan:

Sleeping when you're room is 65 degrees is great... until you need to get out of the bed in the morning. Then it's a struggle to leave the warmth of your sheets.

That's mainly due to lowered body temp when you wake up.

Jan 22, 2013
LHDan:

Sleeping when you're room is 65 degrees is great... until you need to get out of the bed in the morning. Then it's a struggle to leave the warmth of your sheets.

ah, if only someone would invent an automatic thermostat that would...

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

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Jan 22, 2013
WalMartShopper:
LHDan:

Sleeping when you're room is 65 degrees is great... until you need to get out of the bed in the morning. Then it's a struggle to leave the warmth of your sheets.

ah, if only someone would invent an automatic thermostat that would...

Those are great. Too bad my ghetto college apartment does not have anything particularly fancy. I literally have a dial.

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Jan 22, 2013

Cool stuff. I've used aniracetam and oxiracetam (other acetylcholine modulators) but not Huperzine A, I'll try it out now.

Jan 23, 2013

Do what I did - get one of those timed switches that you plug in-line to the wall, set it to turn on at 5:30 am, and plug a space heater into the other side of it. works a treat and will cost maybe a hundred bucks to set up.

Jan 28, 2013

I'm tired as hell if I get less than 9 or 10 hours sleep. 6 or less and I'm toast. I sleep well though in my opinion, I usually fall asleep after reading a book pretty quickly and I'm in deep sleep rather quick. I know this cause my phone goes off with a bunch of text messages and emails through the night and it never wakes me up. If I don't set an alarm I'll routinely sleep in till 10, 11 or even noon for a good 9 to 11 hours sleep.

Any opinion on why I'm tired if I don't get 8 or 9 hours in?

Jan 22, 2013
Gmoney23:

I'm tired as hell if I get less than 9 or 10 hours sleep. 6 or less and I'm toast. I sleep well though in my opinion, I usually fall asleep after reading a book pretty quickly and I'm in deep sleep rather quick. I know this cause my phone goes off with a bunch of text messages and emails through the night and it never wakes me up. If I don't set an alarm I'll routinely sleep in till 10, 11 or even noon for a good 9 to 11 hours sleep.

Any opinion on why I'm tired if I don't get 8 or 9 hours in?

Sleep apnea

Jan 22, 2013
Gmoney23:

Any opinion on why I'm tired if I don't get 8 or 9 hours in?

Maybe you're a pussy?

    • 1
Jan 13, 2018

No that's normal. Most of the adults need on average 7-9 hours of sleep, especially if it's winter, if you slept less during the week, if you have intense days, if you are sick. I recommend Arianna Huffington's book, The Sleep revolution, it is really great! She says that some athletes sleep up to 12 hours a day before every big game in order to completely rest their muscles.

Jan 28, 2013

Anymore than 6 hours of sleep and you are wasting your day away.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, "I've always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend. Because you only need to sleep six hours and then you have 18 hours left, and there are a lot of things you can accomplish."

To comment on people talking about body temperatures, to kickstart your efficiency in the morning, take a hot shower. It will increase your body temperature much quicker thus making you feel more alert and awake. Statistics show employees get the most work done from 10-12 AM because around 10 AM is when your body temperature has finally increased. Take a hot shower, and be ready at 8 AM instead.

Jan 28, 2013
yeahright:

To comment on people talking about body temperatures, to kickstart your efficiency in the morning, take a hot shower. It will increase your body temperature much quicker thus making you feel more alert and awake. Statistics show employees get the most work done from 10-12 AM because around 10 AM is when your body temperature has finally increased. Take a hot shower, and be ready at 8 AM instead.

Dude, who doesn't have hot showers? Unless you're Hugh Jackman and you're training for Wolverine, and none of you are, so i doubt anyone is having voluntary cold showers.

Jan 28, 2013
Oreos:
yeahright:

To comment on people talking about body temperatures, to kickstart your efficiency in the morning, take a hot shower. It will increase your body temperature much quicker thus making you feel more alert and awake. Statistics show employees get the most work done from 10-12 AM because around 10 AM is when your body temperature has finally increased. Take a hot shower, and be ready at 8 AM instead.

Dude, who doesn't have hot showers? Unless you're Hugh Jackman and you're training for Wolverine, and none of you are, so i doubt anyone is having voluntary cold showers.

Haha
Good point, but I was differentiating between not taking a shower in the morning and taking a shower in the morning. Suppose I should of been more clear.

Jan 28, 2013

I'm a huge Tim Ferriss' fan, but Ive never had problems with sleep.

I would check out Dave Asprey's sleephacks, which are just as good as Tim's, but I consider Dave much better for experimenting.

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/category/sleephacks/

Jan 13, 2018

3am cannot fall asleep and reading this right now...

Jan 14, 2018

Guys/girls, also for all-nighters if you can spare an hour to get home and shower it will help a lot. Some just bring extra shirts and put them under their desk, but they have to shave in the bathroom and look disheveled.

If you can't stay awake with all the redbull, coffee or 'other things', and you're in a meeting and have to stay awake because some client or high up boss is presenting, the best thing to do if you can't leave the room is start clenching your body, part by part. You can also lift your legs up and do ab excercises

Also, keep in mind that when you stay up all night, you burn through calories. You will face additional fatigue if you don't keep eating. Eat clean burning things like fruits and vegetables, Lara bars, trail mix, etc. Hydrate as much as possible. You should be pissing clear.

When I was in the military in Air Traffic Control school as a CCT Trainee, we would all fall asleep in class and our team lead would make us do air-chairs against the wall taking notes on our knees. ha. You'd be surprised though, right when we sat back down, we fell asleep.

So basically the decrease of blood and oxygen has an immediate effect in putting the body in a near sleep state. So shortly after you put your legs down, you conk out again. Which means, to be a true rockstar for pulling all nighters, you have to be in shape as well so that you can pull off these 1000 cal undercover office ab workouts to keep you awake in conference rooms. Meanwhile, the chubby VP across from you is eating a powdered doughnut and chuckling to some odd picture on the powerpoint, misting the doughnut powder all over his suit lapel, oblivious to everything like usual.

Another odd thing about this technique (feet off the ground to top of table is probably the hardest) is that some memories get branded into your head, typically near fatigue. So you'll probably do this and have an innovative idea in a meeting, but after you get all the glory, you're going to have to come back and thank me for the Conference PT workout.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 14, 2018

Also, if you have any control over the thermostat, you want it as cold as possible to stay awake and alert. Classic technique. Girls get chilly though and are usually quick to speak. So bust out that UVA blanket and loan it to them, be a nice guy. Or the thermostat will be turned hotter and you'll pass out like a log.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Apr 15, 2019

With years I've found the best combo for myself. I don't use phone/mac or tv in one hour before the bed, I take a little before going to bed and let in the bedroom some air before going for the walk. It's the most natural way to calm myself and prepare my mind for the night.