Can’t Get Enough Sleep? 5 Ways to Run on Less Sleep

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Are you tired of sleep cutting into your jam-packed schedule? If you’ve got a mountain of work ahead of you and nobody but you to do it, you don’t have to stress anymore; compelling evidence suggests that you don’t need as much sleep as you think, especially if you sleep smarter.

It seems like there are several pieces of advice we’ve abided by for ages. Some of these cultural relics are based in sound science, like “eat your veggies,” or “count your blessings.” The minerals in leafy greens and all manners of plant products are critical in hormone production and enzymatic processes, and studies have proven that keeping a gratitude journal increases happiness and satisfaction.

But some of these old saws, logical as they may seem, just don’t add up. For example: “Get at least eight hours of sleep a night or else.” This one has many entrepreneurs and self-employed people shaking in their boots. It’s common “knowledge” that not getting eight hours of sleep will lead to misery, but it just isn’t factual.

A 2002 sleep study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Diego (USCD) found that the ideal sleep range is between five and seven hours. The research also revealed a 15% increase in morbidity with individuals sleeping fewer than 4.5 hours a night or eight or more hours a night.

What could you do with an extra three hours of time each day? With the insights of scientific research and advice from peak performance websites, millions of people are discovering the benefits of sleeping less and doing more. Here are five tips to help you cheat sleep and increase your productivity.

1. Fall asleep fast

Having a high-fat snack with salt, a natural hypnotic, before bedtime is the perfect way to kick off a deep sleep session. Sleeping is a fat-burning activity that requires ample calories to fuel, so a deficiency of calories or fat-burning capacity will impair your sleep quality.

Many people wake up groggy because they didn’t have the energy to sleep in the first place. So kicking off sleep time with a salty, nut butter snack, such as almond butter or coconut oil and bananas, will give you the fuel needed to enter deep sleep cycles. (Saturated fats, like palm oil, coconut oil, and butter, have proven to have a calming and metabolism-boosting effect.)

2. Go back to sleep fast

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Waking up between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. signal adrenal hyperactivity, which is common in people working their tails off. A simple solution is salt and sugar. Matt Stone, expert metabolic researcher, recommends a 5-to-1 sugar/salt ratio. The sugar provides mitochondrial fuel, and the salt tempers intracellular balance and promotes respiration. Take a pinch of salt and hold it under your tongue — this “sleep dust” will have you back to sleep in no time.

3. Supplement with magnesium

Magnesium is one of the greatest deficiencies in the modern diet, and it is wreaking havoc on our sleep. Magnesium is a key facilitator of more than 300 different enzymatic processes and is a critical component of mitochondrial respiration, which is what gives us energy to live.

Since energy is so critical to falling and staying asleep, supplementing with magnesium or eating a ton of organic, leafy greens each day is one of the smartest strategies in cheating sleep — try adding spinach, kale, or chard to your superfood smoothies. (Bonus: Magnesium is also a muscle relaxant, so you can take it before bed to fall asleep faster.) 

4. Do aerobic exercise during the day

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Aerobic exercise during the day increases sleep quality and duration. Hit the stairs hard at work, or bust out the jumprope in between meetings to get your heart pumping and your cells oxygenated. Squat jumps are also one of the most intense exercises that boosts your heart rate, so make a habit of breaking prolonged sitting periods with a quick set of explosive jump squats.

Sitting for 30 minutes or more at a time has been associated with elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn disrupts sleep. So breaking up your day with intense cardio exercise has a two-fold positive impact on your sleep quality.

5. Supplement with gelatin

Gelatin inhibits adrenal over-activity and increases thyroid function, which improves sleep. Sleep is the opposite of stress, so diffusing stress in every way possible will improve your quality of sleep and mood. Mixing Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate with your fatty, salty snack before bed will earn you five hours of power sleeping. The amino acids that make gelatin, glycine, and proline, are inhibitory, which means they keep neurons that could interfere with your sleep from firing throughout the night.

Experimenting with these strategies will help you make the most of the sleep you get, so you can accomplish more.

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