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You spend a third of your day counting sheep. Not a big deal, right? Most people sleep 7-9 hours a night. But, think about it. In the course of a year, that’s the equivalent of 122 days. Imagine all that time spent with your eyes closed.
Now, we know sleep is critical for recharging your batteries, but you ARE always trying to figure out how to fit in your run or your workout. So, just think for a minute: what if you could cut an hour a day out of your sleep schedule? You’d add an extra two weeks of time a year to your waking hours. What if you could add more?
Ultrarunner Dean Karnazes can tell you exactly what you could do. This is the man who ran 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states a few years back. He told Outside magazine he sleeps four hours a night. He said, “learning to sleep that little was also about a month’s process. It was really, really tough. I used to set my alarm and force myself to wake up, and I’d be groggy. But what I’ve found is that now, those four hours of sleep are a really good, solid four hours, where I used to have seven or eight before, and a lot of that was restless stirring around. Now when I sleep for four hours, it’s very restorative sleep.”
Sounds crazy, right? Some scientists would argue that Dean must have the gene that lets him sleep less and still function well. But, what if he doesn’t? What if it really is just a matter of training your body? Here are four quick tips to help you give it a shot.
First of all, invest in a good bed AND good pillows. If they’re uncomfortable, you’re going to toss and turn.
If you want to strengthen your internal circadian clock to be able to pop out of bed, you’ve got to stop hitting the snooze button. Be disciplined.
You know this already. The better foods you eat, the healthier you feel. It’s that simple. But that means cutting out the booze, junk food and sugar. They all decrease the quality of your sleep.
Reduce sleep 30 minutes a week. Or even 15 minutes a week. You don’t want to shock your body. You also want to take your time to see how the body and mind react.
So, what do you think? Is sleep training a bunch of hooey or the holy grail of productivity? Share your thoughts!
Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.