The 5 – hour sleep project

In times where schedules are full, deadlines short and workdays long, it is tempting to try new ways to free up more time. Leonardo Da Vinci, for example, was famously known for only sleeping 2 hours a day.

The most productive people among us would all like to free up some extra time. One way to do that is to become more productive. Another way could be by spending less time under your sheets.

” Sometimes the most productive thing one can do is to sleep.”

5 Hours

So I decided to try this out. For the next two weeks, I would only sleep 4-5 hours a night instead of the 6-8 hours I usually get. As I spend most of my time in my office to work on projects and also like to work out a few times a week, I will be able to measure my mental focus and productivity as well as my physical performance.
But first, let us look at what happens during our sleep.

The 4 stages of sleep

During our sleep, we encounter four stages.

  1. Light transitional sleep (muscle and brain activity decreases)
  2. Moderate sleep (Heart rate slows down and body temperature decreases.)
  3. Deepest sleep
  4. REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

Approximately every 90 minutes REM-sleep occurs. On average we spend about 15% of our time asleep in REM-stage. It’s during this stage that we dream and that our brain is very active while our body and muscles are relaxed.

Importance of sleep

Sleep helps our brain to function. Studies show that getting enough sleep improves learning and problem-solving skills. A shortage of sleep can have a negative impact on someone’s emotions and behavior. Sleep deficiency has been linked to depressed feelings, lack of motivation, and concentration.

Physically, a lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and obesity.

How much sleep is enough?

So we’ve learned that sleep is important and getting too few is bad for our health.

But how much is enough?

The amount of sleep we need differs from person to person. However, on average an adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. How much you need is something only you can figure out.

Do you feel tired during the day? Do you feel like you are getting enough sleep? These are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself. Nevertheless, chances are that your ideal amount of sleep is in that 7-9 hour range.

What it did for me

The first day with 2 hours of less sleep felt alright. I woke up early and felt amazing knowing that I already had completed a workout, ate breakfast and had a shower by the time I would normally wake up.

However, after just a view days I started to feel like it was much harder to concentrate for extended periods of time. During a meeting, I noticed that I started daydreaming more and often lost track of the conversation going on. It also took me until noon before I started to feel sharp and awake.

Overall I felt tired and wanted to skip workouts even though I didn’t feel like my workouts got worse.

During the evening I normally read or work on projects. Unfortunately by the end of the day, I was too tired to be able to concentrate. What started as a project to increase my productivity and to speed up completion of my projects, resulted in just the opposite.


How to increase your productivity instead

So sleeping less will most likely not increase your productivity. Fortunately, there are other ways to speed up your projects and gain more time for yourself. Here you find five ways to do so.

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