How to sleep less and be more productive!

Wait?! What? That’s crazy!
Seth Kniep
October 3, 2019
Grow your Amazon store
Here’s the thing. I hate going to sleep. I absolutely dread going to bed.

The days are filled with so much opportunity. Imagine what you can accomplish if you never had to go to sleep? Your productivity would be insane. You could get so much done! 

For example, the US non-profit National Sleep Foundation offers a range of 7 - 9 hours for optimum sleep for adults. 

Other studies say different. I recently looked at a study from USCD conducted in 2010, concluded that sleeping from a period under 7 hours to a maximum of 9 hours or more, showed no real significant health changes. 

The study researched various individuals over a period of time and monitor their overall physical well being. 
Participants had their health measured through wrist actigraphy, a common way to measure the physical well being of a person during periods of rest and activity. 
This study showed that mortality risks did not increase based on individuals who slept 6 hours or under.

Other studies counteract that study, and other studies counteract those studies.

boy wearing gray vest and pink dress shirt holding book
Photo by Ben White

It’s a circle of madness! Is it even possible for us to know definitively how much sleep any one person should have?
Or is it based solely on the individual, case by case? 
I don’t know. I am not asleep expert or a professional.
I just want to sleep a little less and be a little more productive. 
Even if it’s just 15 minutes.
Imagine what you can do with 15 extra minutes! I want to get as much sleep as I need minimally to function and not a minute more! 

So I did a little experiment.

The Sleep Question

The very simple question I am trying to answer: how can I get enough sleep for maximum health but as little as possible to maximize my fleeting asset of time?

My goal is to get as little sleep as possible without compromising my health. 

Time is an asset you will never get a refund on, and sleep is a thief of time. But if I reduce my sleep hours to get more time in my day at a level that hurts my health, than I’m gaining hours today but likely stealing from extended years of life when I’m old.

It’s like managing assets: if you spend one asset, like money, to save another asset, like time, you give up one to gain the other.

So here is how this works. I am going to go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up every morning, just a few minutes earlier. 

I am going to do this for as long as I can, and bring my sleeping down until I just can’t bear it anymore.

I want to gain more time in my day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Imagine how much time that is in a year.

Now, you are welcome to try this for yourself if you would like. Just keep in mind, I want to get more time back in my day, and that I am doing this voluntarily  as an experiment.

I am not advocating nor advising anybody to take serious health risks to gain more of that time asset. Your health should always be a priority in your life. Different bodies have different sleep needs.

So what happened?

First few days I felt great. I went to bed at a consistent time and woke up at an incrementally earlier time. 

By day 10 though, something interesting happened. I was totally thrown off of my schedule. I had gone to bed later than what I intended but tried to make up for it by waking up at a later time. It definitely affected me, but it wasn’t too bad. I learned that consistency really does make a difference.

On day 12, I tried something a little different. So far I had been cutting out a little bit of time each day and eventually shaved off an hour of my sleep schedule. Then, I went to bed an hour earlier and woke up an hour earlier, but getting the same amount of sleep as I had the night before. I had a lot of trouble getting up. I felt so groggy despite the number of hours of sleep being the same.

On day 13, I went back to my sleep schedule the previous night and boom felt totally fine. So the actual time of when you go to sleep versus when you wake up really matters! Consistency is key here.

Overall, I feel that the experiment was a success. I was able to free up an entire hour of my day, which is so awesome. Here are 3 things that I took away from this experiment, and if you are so brave to attempt it, what I would recommend based on my own experience.

1. Go to bed the same time every night.

It doesn’t matter what’s going on, you have to discipline yourself the night before. 

Your body loves consistency. Even if you got 8 hours every night but went to bed and woke up at different times your body will not feel as rested because this throws off your pattern.

 It’d be like trying to change your breathing pattern all the time. 

Your body loves patterns, and consistency allows it to maximize its efficiency. This is why doctors for years have said there is no such thing as catching up on sleep. Your body does not function that way. Once a night has passed, your chances of “redeeming” the lack of sleep--or a bad sleep--are gone forever. So the only thing you can do is move forward on a new, consistent pattern.

One thing that helps me make sure I got to bed at the same time every night is planning my evenings. This is not just about what I must do but what I also must not do.

  • No caffeine after 2 pm.
  • No Netflix or YouTube binge-watching the night before that tempts me to go to bed later.
  • No checking email, slack or messages or anything work-related the last 2 hours of the day. If I do my brain shifts into battle mode and I can’t relax.
  • Workout every day. Do something that makes me sweat and hurt. My body will have far more rewarding sleep as a result.
Photo by Carolyn V

2. The first night, wake up at a time where you know for sure you had plenty of sleep.

At this early stage of the experiment, it’s better to error on the side of getting too much sleep rather than not enough.

Let’s say for example you are convinced that 8 hours is more than enough sleep. So go to bed at 11 pm and get up at 7 am. This is what I did my first night of this experiment. This sets a nice precedent going forward.

3. Each subsequent morning, wake up 5 minutes earlier than the night before.

It’s vital that every night you continue to go to bed at the same time. It’s weird but my body almost can’t tell I am getting less sleep…for a while.

I worked my sleep backward to 6.5 hours doing this and I feel amazing. If you feel extra tired each morning than slow it down to waking up 5 minutes earlier every other morning instead of every morning. Give your body time to adjust and you will feel so much better.

green button
Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez

4. Hit the reset button when necessary

As you do this experiment, keep in mind that every day is different, so if you have 1 or 2 bad nights of sleep, this does not necessarily mean that you slept too little. There are hundreds of factors that impact our sleep. So give the experiment enough time to make sure you are learning what your body needs.

 Everybody’s body is different, and if your body needs 8 or more hours of sleep than great. 

In conclusion...

So all in all, I managed to successfully shave off an hour of sleep out of my routine. That’s 7 hours a week, something like 364 hours a year! I can do so much with that time! Time = opportunity, and with more time I can create more opportunity to be   with my family, work, or just live my life. I have stolen some time back and I right now, I feel great! 

Learn your limitations Warrior, and take advantage of the opportunity you can get out of life. This worked for me, it might not work for you. Don’t be discouraged though, you can find ways just throughout your day of maximizing your time. Especially if you are well-rested. So if you do want to try it, then I encourage you to cut out time by 5-minute increments like I did. Make sure you body has enough time to get into the zone. 

Time is one of our greatest assets, and we need to spend it wisely. So find a way to work out the best use of your time, or try to take some of it back. 

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Seth Kniep

Married a pearl. Fathered 4 miracles. Fired his boss. Turned a single dime into $104,857. Today, a self-made millionaire, Seth and his team of 8 badass coaches teach entrepreneurs how to build passive income on Amazon.

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