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What you need to know about your sleep in order to get enough sleep
What you need to know about your sleep in order to get enough sleep

You don't have to be an early riser and get up early to be alert and productive. You need to study your dream and understand what is right for you.

What you need to know about your sleep in order to get enough sleep
What you need to know about your sleep in order to get enough sleep

It so happened that 2016 was a year of sleep for me. Or, rather, his absence - and, as a consequence, a deep study of this topic. In fact, I sleep as much as the average metropolitan office worker. I'm just not ready to put up with it.

My dream

I have a starting point - those periods of my life when I worked from home and could sleep at any time convenient for me. I remember how clear my mind was, how much more effective I could make decisions. Now I feel only 50-60% of that state.

Besides, I am used to listening to my body. If he says that there is little sleep, then there is little sleep. If he says that you need to go to bed at 4 in the morning, and not at 10 in the evening, then you need to go to bed at 4 in the morning. As much as I suffer trying to force myself to sleep at midnight - just as much I am happy when I can work productively all night and fall asleep peacefully in the morning.

I experimented a lot with sleep, trying to teach myself to sleep "correctly", that is, go to bed early and get up early. But all the experiments ended in the same way: I understood that this was not suitable for me.

One day I wanted to go to yoga, which began very early in the morning, and I spent a whole month practicing getting up at 6 in the morning. The yoga went well, but I gave up early waking up the very next day, because they only brought me suffering - and no benefit. I feel much the same when jetlag shifts my sleep schedule to an earlier time. No matter how much I sleep, I can't get enough sleep.

It's okay to be an owl

It is believed that getting up early is cool. Wake up early is advised by all efficiency improvement books and every second "rules of life."

It is generally accepted that all great people get up early. In fact, of course, this is not the case. There are many celebrities among owls (Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, Franz Kafka), and there is no direct connection between success and uptime.

In 2016, Vox's Brian Resnick published an article with the comforting title "Science believes that if you are not an early bird, you will never become one." It says that a "standard" sleep schedule from 11 pm to 7 am is natural for only 40% of people.

Many people know that we all have internal clocks that help maintain a consistent sleep cycle. Much less is said about the fact that this clock is different for everyone.


There are owls - those whose sleep schedule is shifted forward, and there are larks - those whose sleep schedule is shifted back. The shift can be small, or it can be extremely large - for example, 0.2% of people prefer to go to bed around 4 am. This shift is especially common in adolescents, and with age, it can gradually decrease.

The good news is that our genes are driving this shift, and it's dangerous to argue with them: they can be harmful to health. Therefore, it is better to stop fighting with yourself and try to determine which sleep time is best for you. The most frequent advice I have come across is to shift the sleep schedule by 30-60 minutes and watch the body's response. Sometimes an extra half hour can greatly improve the situation.

Sleep duration

The optimal sleep duration is also different for everyone. The average healthy person needs approximately 7 hours 40 minutes of sleep - 7.63 hours for women and 7.76 for men (If Our Bodies Could Talk, James Hamblin).

There are people who are satisfied with 4 hours, but there are very few of them. Do not try this at home: people start talking about sleep deprivation when the duration of sleep is less than 7 or 6.5 hours. And someone needs all 10 hours for a good rest.

Just sleep as much as you want.

Sometimes a long sleep can be a symptom of a problem in the body. But if you've slept more than eight hours your entire life, or just regularly get enough sleep on weekends after your work week, then there's nothing to worry about.

More precisely, getting enough sleep is not a good idea; it is best to sleep the same number of hours at the same time every day. But if there is a lack of sleep, then a longer sleep in the following nights is a natural reaction of a tired body.


After a flight from one time zone to another, a person's circadian rhythms cease to coincide with the daily rhythm. You still want to sleep according to the "old" time, regardless of the time of day at the current geographic point.

The greater the difference in time, the more difficult: the sleep schedule is shifted more and it takes longer to return to normal.

In this case, it is better to fly from east to west than vice versa. It is believed that in the first case, one day of recovery will be required for every hour and a half of the time difference; in the second - for every hour. For example, if the time difference is 3 hours, then for a flight to the west it will take 2 days, and for a flight to the east - 3.

I live in London, I sleep comfortably from 2 to 10. The most difficult jetlag I experienced after the flight to Bali, where the difference with London is 8 hours. The first days I continued to sleep in my usual schedule, but it was not very convenient in Balinese time: from 10 am to 6 pm. I felt great at the same time, but the day turned out to be strange: breakfast, sleep, dinner, reading at night, breakfast again.

It is better to correct the schedule in the most relaxed way. You can just stay awake for a day, but it’s unpleasant. It is better to sleep, but a little less than usual, and then go to bed early.

The jet lag after the return flight was also funny. I began to sleep a lot and wake up very early. I went to bed at 9-10, woke up at 5-7. Considering that I am a night owl, I was very sorry for my nights, and I didn’t feel sleepy either. It took a whole week to get back to normal.

Jetlag affects not only sleep, but also appetite and mood.

Usually I feel good in my body, but after a long flight I suddenly stopped feeling hungry. However, overeating too. I can safely not eat all day, but I can eat a lot at one time, and I will feel the same. The best thing to do in such a situation is to monitor the regularity of your meals until your body is ready to do it on its own.


Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation, or sleep deprivation, is a lack or lack of sleep; leads to a deterioration in brain function, bad mood, increases the risk of certain diseases. It was used for torture, but more often than not people deprive themselves of proper rest. Too many things to do, too little time, too much influence from the outside world on our sleep schedule.

Owls have a particularly hard time: school and work hours are usually geared towards early risers, and everyone else has to adjust to them. In the standard schedule (5 working days, 2 days off), people do not sleep much on weekdays, and then sleep on weekends. This whole situation is a little easier with coffee, although there are lucky people like me, whose body does not react to it in any way.

Since sleep deprivation has become a habit for many, it is quite easy to overlook it - in the sense that constant fatigue is becoming the norm.

It terrifies and delights me at the same time. On the one hand, just think how many people are suffering from lack of sleep right now (in developed countries - about a third of the population, while among women this figure is higher). On the other hand, imagine how much humanity can do if it just starts getting enough sleep. But in order to solve a problem, you must first realize it.

Lack of sleep can manifest itself in different ways. Constant irritation, insatiable hunger, dented appearance, constant illness, inattention and the ability to fall asleep at any convenient and inconvenient moment. And yet, oddly enough, you turn into an owl and feel a surge of energy closer to the night. Thus, the body tries to return you to normal sleep patterns, but it usually ends with the fact that you go to bed late again and do not get enough sleep.


To get out of the vicious circle, you need to cheat a little: get tired at the right time. Try not to rest in the evening, not to read Facebook and books, but to do different things so that fatigue accumulates by night and it is easy to fall asleep. The easiest way to do this is outside the house, so that later you just come and go to bed.

Owls are at risk for certain diseases (obesity, depression, heart disease). But I haven’t seen any studies that showed late waking up itself negatively affects health.

The main problem here is that most owls have a constant lack of sleep. Larks can have similar problems if they have to work late. So if your natural sleep schedule turns out to be incompatible with your work schedule, I see only one way out: change your work schedule. For example, this year I will try to come to work an hour later. At the same time, I will monitor the reaction of the body: if this is not enough, I will try to shift my working day even more.

How should you sleep?

There are many ways to help your body fall asleep. 1–2 hours before bedtime, turn off the TV, close the laptop and put down the phone: the blue light of the screens suppresses the production of melatonin. Programs like f.lux and the Night Shift mode on an iPhone might help a little, but it's best not to overuse them either, otherwise you might accidentally read your Facebook feed until morning.

Ideal sleeping conditions are a cool (but not cold) room, quiet and no light at all.

In about the same 1-2 hours, you need to finish work, workouts and other activities: the brain needs to relax and get ready for sleep. You can meditate or read a book. English audiobooks lull me especially well.

If it is not possible to block out all sources of light and noise, you can use a sleep mask and earplugs. It is best to sleep at the same time, even on weekends. Before going to bed, you should not drink coffee and alcohol: the first will prevent you from falling asleep, and the second will worsen the quality of sleep. If you can't sleep for more than 20 minutes, it's best to get up and do something until you're tired enough to try again.

To make it easier to wake up, you can try using a smart alarm clock. Some of them know how to wake a person with the help of light, simulating the dawn of the sun. Others wake us up when it's easiest - in REM sleep. And over time, you can generally learn to do without an alarm clock.

When you sleep enough hours, your body wakes you up. I even know several people who regularly succeed, and I myself sometimes get lucky too.

The most important thing is to sleep when you want. And as much as you want. After all, only you yourself know what is good for your body.

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