The Biggest Sleep Hack That No One Tells You

There can’t be such a thing as a sleep hack, right? At least, that’s what I thought for years. But if there’s anything we should hack, it’s our sleep. On average, you sleep 7 hours and 50 minutes per night. Considering that life expectancy for countries in the Western world is about 80 years—you’ll spend 26.6 years of your life asleep. That’s almost 1/3 of your time on this planet. And yet, we feel tired so often. Just look at the person sitting next to you at the office, on the couch, or at Starbucks. Sleep plays a big role in our lives—we depend on it. Have you ever had a bad day and said it was because of a lack of sleep? It sucks. That’s why we’re obsessed with ‘sleep hacks’ and listicles that promise us to sleep like a third grader that has nothing to worry about. For the past 12 months, I’ve experimented with many things that should improve your life — one of the aspects that I focused on was sleep. I’ve kept a spreadsheet since January of this year—every day I write down what time I went to sleep and woke up. I also rate my energy level during the day on a 1–10 scale. On my scale, a 1 means doing absolutely nothing but eating and drinking. A 10 means doing 10 hours of focused work and 2 hours of exercise while traveling to the other side of the world (this almost never happens). When I started, most days were a 6 — that means about 4–5 hours of real work, browsing the web, reading news articles, checking my social media accounts, watching TV, hanging out. Pretty average stuff. I asked myself, “How can I become an 8 every single day?” I’d rather be an 8 every single day than to be a 5 one day, and a 10 the other—consistency is my goal. An 8 for me means 5–6 hours of productive work, 1–2 hours of exercise, and being in a good mood all day. Sleep Hacks That Didn’t Work I started by doing research on the web. I found dozens of articles with advice that everyone kept repeating.So let’s talk about what DIDN’T have an effect on the quality of my sleep and energy level. Track your sleep — I used the Sleep Cycle app to track my sleep. The app works fine and looks nice. But having all this data didn’t help me sleep better. Read a book — I love books, and I read a lot. If I have to recommend something to do before sleeping this would be it. But reading didn’t always help me fall asleep. More often than not, I was wide awake after reading an awesome book. Reading is good, but not a game-changer. No screens before bedtime — I get the whole melatonin thing. But if I want to read a text from my friend at 11.05, I will. Crack a window — Not in the winter, thank you. Drink tea — I like tea, but this had no effect on sleep whatsoever. Sleep with a notepad — Every evening I plan my next day, so this becomes obsolete. I already know what I’m going to do tomorrow, so I don’t have to write down things that keep me up. And when I go to bed, I don’t want to write, I want to sleep. Have a bath — I only have a shower. Change your sheets — I want to sleep well every day. Do I have to change my sheets every day as well?