A Sleep Experiment

February 11, 2018

Waking up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

That is my dream.

I cannot remember the last time I truly had a good night's sleep and woke up not feeling groggy.

As I go through my day-to-day life, I am (finally) starting to realize how important sleep is to my productivity. If I want to make the most of my time, I need to become more educated on the science behind resting.

Sleep Cycles

In an attempt to reach my dreams, I went on a adventurous journey. I Googled for phrases like "how to sleep better" and "how to stay asleep at night".

Before this, I had a basic understanding of sleep cycles and how it may be beneficial to wake up at the end of your sleep cycle. It is recommended that you plan out your sleep and wake up times based on 90 minute intervals.

As a result, I tried to get around 5 sleep cycles a night (7.5 hours of sleep). However, through research, I began to understand that different people have different sleep needs. The idea of sleep cycles is not a one size fit all concept.

Furthermore, I am certain that I do not go through the entire process of 5 sleep cycles because I wake up constantly during the night (which is pretty annoying). Also, my sleep time varies even though I try to account for the 15 minutes or so it takes me to fall asleep.

The Experiment

As I read more and more about sleep, it seems that the most optimal amount of sleep for any individual is dependent on that person's body. A good way to determine how much sleep your body thinks you need is to sleep without an alarm and see when your body wakes up naturally.

It is quite a simple test but it made complete sense to me.

I attempted this experiment for 10 days to see how my body would react. For weekdays, I usually already wake up early so I set my alarm for an extra 1.5 hours of sleep (that I hopefully won't need).

Results

Here is the amount of sleep I tracked for 10 days:

  1. 9:30pm - 5:30am (8 hours)
  2. 12:00am - 7:00am (7 hours)
  3. 11:30pm - 9:00am (9 hours)
  4. 9:30pm - 6:00am (8.5 hours)
  5. 10:00pm - 6:30am (8.5 hours)
  6. 10:00pm - 6:00am (8 hours)
  7. 10:00pm - 6:30am (8.5 hours)
  8. 10:00pm - 6:00am (7 hours)
  9. 11:30pm - 7:00am (7.5 hours)
  10. 11:30pm - 8:00am (9.5 hours)

Yes, I sleep pretty early but I also wake up pretty early so it evens out. Also, keep in mind that this does not account for my issue of constantly waking up during the night.

I wish I could have seen more consistent results but it looks like it varies a lot based on factors that I may or may not know about.

The average amount of sleep I got each night during the entire experiment was 8.15 hours.

I try to squeeze the most out of each day (which may be a bad thing) but this number was not too terrible for me to try to accomplish. I am currently attempting to sleep 8 hours a night to see if that will decrease my fatigue during the day.

As of writing this post, I have only increased my sleep amount for about 2 days and I am still feeling about as tired as before. I will continue to keep my sleep consistent to see if it helps long term.

However, I do have a feeling that my tiredness is mostly coming from the fact that I wake up often during the night.

Closing Thoughts

I am striving to become a better software developer and person this year. One aspect that I can work on that will help achieve this goal is to become more productive by being more well-rested.

What are you doing this year to become better at what you do? Also, do you have any advice for getting better sleep? In particular, how to stay asleep during the night?

Copyright © 2017 - 2018 David Tran