How to get by on 5 hours of sleep a night

Steven Aitchison
Written by Steven Aitchison

For a few years now I have been getting by on 4 -5 hours of sleep. I didn’t realise how unusual this was until a few weeks ago when I was having a conversation with some of my work colleagues.  A lot of them said something like ‘Oh I need my 8 hours of sleep every night’.

It got me to thinking where this myth of needing at least 8 hours of sleep per night came from.  So I carried out some research and found out it comes down to science.  It’s the scientists that say we need at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night depending on age, gender and working patterns.

So why do I need only 4 -5 hours and other people, like my wife, need about 8 hours of sleep per night?

I decide to try a little experiment.

For the last few weeks I have been trying my hardest to sleep for 8 hours per night.

My results were strange.  The first few days I kept on waking up at 4.30 – 5.00am.  I forced myself to stay in bed and try to fall back asleep, I dosed on and off.

By the 5th day I was able to sleep for about 7 hours before waking up.  The thing is I felt kind of groggy when I was getting up and the rest of the day felt rushed and I was trying to catch up with myself.

The last week I actually got into it and I was starting to get used to sleeping longer, on average about 7 – 7.5 hours per night.  I felt less groggy and got into the swing of the day a lot quicker.

A few days ago I went back to normal and got up at 5am after turning out the lights at about midnight.  I felt groggy again as my sleep pattern had been upset again however this morning I feel fine after getting my 5 hours
of sleep.


What this has shown me is that we get by on what we are used to and our sleeping patterns will take care of itself once we have developed a sleep habit.  My habit is 5 hours of sleep and I believe my sleep cycle will work itself into my habit of 5 hours of sleep.

Of course our body needs to rest and we need sleep and our sleeping cycle, REM time, delta sleep, theta sleep and alpha sleep etc all play a role in replenishing our minds and body’s.  However, I believe the sleeping cycle will work itself into our own sleeping habit.

Here is how to get by on 5 hours of sleep per night

  1. Know your sleeping pattern just now.  You will already know what time, roughly, you go to bed each night and when you wake up.  Work out how much sleep you get per night.
  2. Decide on the pattern you would like  E.G. if you would like to get by on 5 hours per night or 6 hours.
  3. Break the new routine into a four week block.  For example if you currently get 8 hours per night just now and your goal is to get 5 hours per night.  Your pattern should be

Week 1 – Get 7 hours 15 minutes of sleep per night

Week 2 – Get 6 hours and 30 minutes of sleep per night

Week 3 – Get 5 hours 45 minutes of sleeper night

Week 4 – Get 5 hours of sleeper night

  1. Breaking it up this way will not shock your body and make you feel as groggy throughout the day.

Now the only thing you’ve got to worry about is what to do with the extra 15 – 25 hours per week.

I occasionally have the odd dose in front of the TV for 15 minutes but it’s one of those micro-naps when I feel totally refreshed after it.  I know have a lot more time to fit everything I do online into my schedule and feel much more productive throughout the day.

Some other articles you might be interested in:

How to Micro-Nap your way to success

90 Minutes sleep cycle for a better life

Sleep Paralysis

My Morning routine – Zen Habits

Wake up at 5am for 30 Days

How to become an early riser

Some Amazing Comments


About the author


  • Well, Cindy seems to be pretty adamant about what a lot of unnamed studies say. I will tell you this. Before you believe any study, read it yourself. Don’t assume it concludes what other people tell you it concludes.

    One of the main problems with the vast majority of sleep studies is the researchers don’t know about something called “standard deviation”. They don’t test for it, and naturally they don’t report it. Everything has a standard deviation. That is, a RANGE that is acceptable.

    If sleep researchers were researching people’s height, they would tell you that you MUST be 5’5″ tall, based on a “nurse’s study” (predominantly female) conducted exclusively in the U.S. and Canada. They would make no allowances for gender, ethnicity, nutrition, socio-economic status, etc. And if you were 4’10” or 5’10”, this is just unacceptable to them.

    In reality, we know that there is an average height. And then there is a range of heights that is normal. One standard deviation from the average in either direction would include 68% of the population. However, a very significant 32% of the population would be outside this range. Within 2 standard deviations, we would include 95% of the population. But still, 5% of the population (1 in 20 people) would be outside this range. And those outside that range would be considered “tall” or “short” but not “freaks”. We don’t get to that until we are outside about 3 standard deviations.

    Now, what is the standard deviation for required sleep as established by these sleep studies? There isn’t one. It’s an untested parameter. Everyone MUST sleep the exact same amount without any variation, according to these “studies”. While the studies may have some value in providing a guideline (they provide the average), they fail to identify a standard deviation. This is a serious lack which greatly damages their credibility and usefulness.

  • Listen to Cindy. Steven, please post the following blood test results
    Fasting blood sugar
    Fasting insulin
    WBC count

    Then we will judge if you are as healthy as you claim.

  • And for those that say 4-5 hours sleep can lead to headaches and stress. I’m never stressed or handle stress a whole lot better than the average person and I’m always happy as well. I never get headaches! Scientist studies change every few years depending on who the research team in the last decade scientist have come out saying 8hrs then 6.5 then 7. Sheesh. Make your mind up. So I’d rather do my own experiments tailored to myself and if it causes health problems down the track then il deal with it then. My experiment on my self seems just as relevant as these so called scientists who keep changing there opinions every few years

  • I originally researched if 4-5 hours sleep was bad because I’m an aspiring heavyweight boxer who’s still in its infant stage so I don’t get paid to box. So I have two jobs. This is a typical day for me.
    Wake up 6am
    At the gym 6:15am weights n sprints on treadmill
    Drive to my boxing training. 7am-8am
    Shower n go work 9am-5pm
    Relax with wife n son 5:30pm 7:30pm
    Start 2nd job 8pm -1230am
    Drive to gym for weights n sprints 12:50am-1:30am
    Shower and in bed 2am

    And ive been doing this training hard and sleeping 4-5 hours a day and I don’t have a problem with being tired through the day.

    Sometimes I only get 3 hours sleep and because I’m busy n my mind is focused on work and boxing I probly always forget I’m supposed to be tired.

    I’m hardly angry or negative or stressed with anything so I guess mentally I don’t need to replenish much. Just physically but I always make sure I eat protein to take care of that.

    I enjoyed this article and am comforted that sleeping 4hours is not going to kill me.

    Future heavy weight boxing Champion.
    Will Nasio from Gold Coast Australia

    • This is a great article. I once read about CEO’s one of who only had 4 hours of sleep a night and ate sugar balls during the day. The article said this kind of lack of sleep and energy paralleled Manic Depression more Manic. But unlike Manic Depression these CEO’s made Good Decisions. Also remember the General who ate one meal a day, jogged, and only had 4 hours sleep a night. He was relieved by Obama from his post in Afghanistan. Clearly like you a Warrior. Good luck on your boxing career.

  • 5 hours of sleep is average. If you have time for, or need more than 5 hours of sleep, you need another job, or to see a doctor.

  • Good analysis – but to truly be an authority, you have to analyze the data yourself (read a research article and see if you agree with its conclusion).

    I get by on 5 hours a night. Our subconscious brain has a program in mind (Stage 1-4 – REM – Stage 4 – etc.) when it goes to sleep and has to know how long we sleep before, not after, we wake up. This is the only reason we have trouble adjusting our sleep patterns. Not because 5 hours of sleep is ‘bad’ for a human. Does data exist to disprove this theory?

  • […] understood the controversy that surrounds the subject of being an early riser.  In my article How to Get By on 5 Hours Sleep a Night there is a heated debate still burning about whether or not it is possible to do get by on 5 hours […]

  • I’m tired of sleeping 8-9 hours per night. But there is so much contradicting info out there about it. When scientist say you need 8-9 hours to restore yourself, they are ignoring the outliers, because that’s what studies are, studies of averages. They never study the exceptional and successful individuals. I’d like to know what makes people successful.
    Right now I’m checking into polyphasic sleep, but here on day 2 I’m feeling pretty laggard mentally.

    • Rich, by what determination are you stating that these individuals are ‘successful’? The fact that they can get by a few years at a time on little sleep? And you are convinced that this is not wreaking long term health consequences, why? Through what objective scientific apparatus are you viewing this apparent perspective through? Please, can we all stop speaking about ‘science’ like it’s patch work, or just a set of beliefs based on gobbledygook? The scientific process is formidable. The fact that we are all speaking to one another across vast distances on a computer screen is evidence enough of this. But the primary point to take to bed with you tonight is that science does not deal in sound-bytes, it deals in whole pictures. Because it is not a belief system, but a pursuit of truth. Dispensing with its conclusions because you can wake up many many nights after a mere 5 hours and think you feel okay doesn’t mean a damned thing in the outset. People can binge drink over and over and over, does this mean that it is not going to eventually take its toll and kill them? The latter seems to be an easily accepted truth by most, why is it so difficult to accept other evidence based truths? The evidence is not open to discussion based on your whims. All you can do as a good citizen is report your experiences to your physician, and several symptoms may be forthcoming at that point, such as high blood pressure, anxiety and other nervous system related symptoms. The adequate renewal of the nervous system and all its bodily phsyiological functions, on average, takes more than a mere 4 hours of sleep. This is a FACT observed via the fundamental tenets of scientific STUDY. STUDY! And did I say STUDY?

  • This is the same as too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Sometimes, I sleep for 5 hours a day the the weekdays and sleep more on the weekend. It is actually making me even more slugish, tired, and uncomfortable. I just like the feeling of lying down on warm bed but I am actually not really sleep, sleep. I think that’s what most usually do, you sleep in but you don’t actually sleep so it just means being lazy so it is actually bad since no exercise or calories burn involve which is definitely unhealthy.

  • there are legit reasons that we need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Just because you think you “feel ok” after 5 hours sleep doesn’t mean squat, scientifically speaking. The body needs 7-8 hours to fully restore/recharge itself. Sleeping only 5 hours, you’re more likely to have stress, get headaches, backaches, etc, etc.

    Yes, obviously it is possible to get by on 5 hours sleep…but it’s not good for your body.

    • Ryan, if you’re willing to listen to scientists generalising about the population as a whole with little or no longitudinal studies done then that is your prerogative, however I would prefer to listen to my own body and test it to the limits. This way I know for sure it works for me. If it works for me then it will work for others.

      The body does NOT need 7-8 hours sleep, your body might, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s body does. Test yourself!

    • The subconscious mind is powerful once you give it a pattern it will make it happen and make other bodily things compensate. so I believe that if you constantly say that 5 hours of sleep wont work and it will cause health conditions than it wont work and you will have health conditions. you become what you believe. it just takes repetition to condition your subconcious mind into excepting anything as real.

  • it’sa proven fact that the brain needs that 8 to 9 hours to recoop from the previous days’s people who are wanting to argue with sleep professionals such as the national sleep foundation are arguing in futility.why would any of you want to be sleeping as little ss you can get by with?? that’s people remind me of my twenty year old cousins who see no use in sleep and want to be awake all night to play around then get 4 or 5 hours sleep toward morning then go to work. this of course,as a regular schedule.unhealthy..period…for one thing,8 hours of sleep per night keeps one’s immune system in checck //why anyone desires to get by on as little sleep as possible to be awake most of the night,is peculiar not just unhealthy

    • Dennis, it’s not a proven fact at all. We only think it’s fact because scientists have told us this, it’s a myth that we need 8-9 hours of sleep. If you’re going down the science route scientists actually tell us it’s between 6.5 – 8 hours of sleep we need. But, if you go down ‘this is my own body, and everyone is individual’ route, you’ll find out the real answer. Use science as a benchmark, not as the ‘only’ way.

      • Steven, do you understand the scientific process at all? It uses the law of averages to determine what is more than likely accurate for most people. Just because you can ‘get by’ on little sleep does not mean it is not wreaking long term health problems by disrupting your bodies homeostasis and nervous system. The nervous system regulates all the bodies processes, and the one thing that repairs the function of the nervous system and renews the many functions of our bodies is adequate sleep. That 8 hour period is not a arbitrary number that ‘scientists’ made up. It is an observed phenomenon through the objective tenets of scientific study. Study steven! The purpose of a study is to find the truth, as determinable by the law of averages. You cannot argue against this unswerving fact. That said, nobody is saying that it is bad to only get a few hours a couple times a week. As long as you are getting 7-8 the other nights.

        • Hi Cindy, thanks for your comments.

          What does the scientific process start with? – It starts with a hypothesis, a hypothesis derived from observed facts. The facts here are that most people tend to sleep for around 8-9 hours of sleep. So now, scientists ask the question why do most people sleep for 8-9 hours and go and look for answers. They then come up with these answers and state ‘this is why we need 8-9 hours of sleep every day.’ we’ve now been told for decades that scientists say we need 8-9 hours of sleep to promote health and wellbeing, so naturally we are brainwashed to think ‘Oh I need 8-9 hours of sleep to be a healthy individual’ so we sleep for 8-9 hours, as it has gone unchallenged for decades.

          what they fail to do is ask two important questions:

          1. What happens when we only sleep for 4-5 hours
          2. what happens if we actually improve the quality of sleep rather then observing sleeping patterns.

          when these questions are asked scientific studies come out with different answers.

          Here is a quote from Time magazine regarding a scientific study carried out in 2002 by Dr. Daniel Kripke of the Scripps Clinic Sleep centre. His studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hours to 7.5 hours live longer, which contradict previous studies, however admitted that scientists don’t really know for sure:

          “One of the reasons I like to publicize these facts is that I think we can prevent a lot of insomnia and distress just by telling people that short sleep is O.K. We’ve all been told you ought to sleep 8 hr., but there was never any evidence. A very common problem we see at sleep clinics is people who spend too long in bed. They think they should sleep 8 or 9 hr., so they spend [that amount of time] in bed, with the result that they have trouble falling asleep and wake up a lot during the night. Oddly enough, a lot of the problem [of insomnia] is lying in bed awake, worrying about it. There have been many controlled studies in the U.S., Great Britain and other parts of Europe that show that an insomnia treatment that involves getting out of bed when you’re not sleepy and restricting your time in bed actually helps people to sleep more. They get over their fear of the bed. They get over the worry, and become confident that when they go to bed, they will sleep. So spending less time in bed actually makes sleep better. It is in fact a more powerful and effective long-term treatment for insomnia than sleeping pills.” Read more:,8599,1812420,00.html#ixzz1oY1hGGMT

          So even with all the objective tenets of scientific study, scientists are not even in agreement about how much sleep we can really get by on without it having any adverse affects.

          Scientists have not yet looked at the quality of sleep question, and I mean NO studies have been done in this area at all. When scientists look at that objectively we may have a better understanding of what our mind and bodies are actually capable of.

          I would rather find out what my own capabilities are, report them, and for other people to discover the limits of their own bodies, rather than have scientists, who don’t even agree with each other, what our mind, and bodies are capable of.

          • Steven, facts are not considered subjective experience under the tenets of the scientific process, especially in study. The ‘observable facts’ are just those, observable, that is, by an OBJECTIVE source. You are not your own objective source, that is not a determinable outcome.

            One fundamental truth however is that the bodies homeostasis cannot be maintained indefinitely on such little sleep. This is an inarguable fact of biology, regardless of ones ‘personal genetics’ (talk about myth, where is the proven data on personal genetics?).

            You’re not publicizing facts steven, nor is the person you quoted. you’re publicizing opinion based on subjective determination, which is the opposite of fact (the person who wrote that time article is not a scientist working the field). Facts must be objectively observable. You are doing a disservice here by making a lot of people believe they can get away with 4-5 hours of sleep without dire long term health consequences.

            The first and most important of these involves the nervous system, which regulates ALL the bodies functions and organs, and lack of repaired homeostasis here can disrupt several of these functions, most of which are interdependent. Meaning, you knock out one and the other is negatively effected as well.

            Please do more research, because I feel your lack of sleep is disrupting your ability to make logically determinable arguments,

            And you are dead wrong that there are no studies indicating negative health conclusions from poor sleep patterns/not sleeping enough.

            One nurses health study followed 180,000 nurses for decades and showed an increased incidence of diabetes and obesity were correlated directly with inadequate sleep.

            Please do more research, because I feel your lack of sleep is disrupting your ability to make logically determinable arguments,

          • Cindy

            I feel you’re missing the points here altogether, due to a blinkered mindset.

            First of all the Time magazine was an article written by a reporter looking at a study carried out by a Scientist, have another look!

            Your one fundamental truth is NOT an inarguable fact of biology, if it was a fact then people like me and the hundreds of people I have taught using the Advanced Early Riser program would not be able to function well on 5 hours of sleep per night.

            The study that you mentioned with the 180,000 nurses? Please provide references so we can all look at this and find out if the data was statistically significant, I highly doubt it will show statistical significance. I am also presuming that the study you mentioned did NOT look at:

            Amount of sunlight the nurses were exposed to each day

            The Amount of exercise each had

            The Amount of water they drank each day

            Their diet

            Their alcohol consumption

            Their sleep routine

            Their quality of sleep

            + Around 20 other factors that affect quality of sleep

            Now, you being of a scientific bent, would understand what the impact of all of the things above would have on homeostasis.

            If you also read what I have written you would know that most, if not all, studies look at the impact of Sleep Deprivation, which is entirely different from regulating your body to get by on 5 hours of sleep. For example – If you have someone who is obese, drinks around 10 units of alcohol per day, no exercise, little exposure to the sun, and drinks little water what effect do you think this will have on their sleep – A huge impact! – So this person would need more sleep, possibly around 8 hours per day. Whereas if you have someone who has managed to look after themselves, moderately well, and set up their sleeping routine to maximise the quality of their sleep how much sleep do you think they would need? A lot less than 8 hours. And what effect would this have on homeostasis? I think you’re intelligent enough to guess at the answer.

            It sounds like you listen to scientists more than you listen to your own body. I listen to scientists and highly respect the field of scientific study, but I don’t blindly follow what they say as being true and I am not afraid to challenge them. Ever heard of the Stanley Milgram social study experiments? I think it will explain why a lot of us follow scientific studies without questioning them. I also like this quote:

            “Great scientific discoveries have been made by men seeking to verify quite erroneous theories about the nature of things” Aldous Huxley

            I challenge you to read my Advanced Early Riser guide, try it for 30 days and report back here what you find, I’ll even give it to you for free if you contact me. If you are an honest person and open minded enough to try it I will dedicate a post on the blog to your findings.

            Ball’s in your court Cindy….

          • Steven, try as you might to outwit someone else, you fall short because of your short sightedness. You are perpetually missing the point that just because you can ‘function’ after little sleep does NOT mean it is not wreaking nervous system damage long term. A lot of people go without symptoms of many diseases till they are in their final stages. after years and years of assuming it was ‘okay’ to smoke, or ‘okay’ to binge drink, not realizing the effect this was having on their nervous systems.

            If you were educated even on a fundamental level in biology you would know the role of homeostasis and how it regulates all the bodies functions, and that, furthermore, lack of symptoms of homeostatic imbalance does not indicate lack of incidence. It means the worst symptoms simply have not shown up yet.

            For anyone who is interested in this, in some people these symptoms include:

            Anxiety/Panic disorder
            Kidney problems
            High blood pressure
            Nervous tension
            Frequent Headaches
            Respiratory difficulty
            High blood sugar
            Weight gain/Obesity.

            Additionally steven, the fact that you say ‘listen to scientists’ is very revealing of how little you know about the tenets of science.

            First of all, I don’t listen to scientists’ because ‘scientists’ are not clergy men, they are not trying to espouse a belief, but to reveal evidence based facts. Your clever attempt to describe the scientific process as another belief system may fall beyond most peoples radars but it did not fall beyond mine. It is a complete and utter FALSE EQUIVALENCY argument that you are espousing here. You are basically saying that everyone is their own best scientist. NO STEVEN! If that were true studies would not exist.

            That does not mean that there aren’t certain things we must trust our own ‘instincts’ with, but this does not qualify as one of them, because it’s too complicated and mere ‘instinct’ will steer one wrong.

            About the nurses health study I referenced. You will have to fish for the sleep study portion of it, but it’s in there.


        • Cindy, I checked the book you referenced in your link for the nurses study that you claim compared sleep vs. health. I think it’s a bogus reference. The index lists only 6 pages in the entire book that have the word “sleep” in them, and they reference things like “sleep apnea”, that hot flashes can disrupt sleep, etc. And these references are only in passing.

          There is no sleep study in this book. There is no data about a sleep study. There isn’t even an abstract about a sleep study in this book. The book doesn’t even mention a sleep study in passing. It just isn’t there.

          I encourage people to read actual studies. I have found over and over through the years that they often don’t say or conclude what people say they do. But people often tell others “read the studies, read the studies”, and get away with it because they know most people don’t want to actually read a study.

          Reading studies is not difficult. They can be dry. The biggest problem is even though the public is told to “read the studies”, most of these studies are not easily accessible to the public. They are hidden in journals who tightly control their distribution, and who charge a small fortune for limited access to their archives. One study that someone encouraged people to read (different topic) would have cost the population of the U.S. tens of billions of dollars if everyone in the U.S. wanted to read it. When you are asking people to read studies, and they realize how expensive it is to actually do this, they have to rely on others to summarize the studies for them for cost reasons (not to mention time constraints).

          Unfortunately, as the book reference you gave illustrates, what people say studies or books say, and what they actually say, can be two very different things.

  • Because you can function on 5 hours of sleep doesn’t mean it’s healthy. What your telling me is you did research and scientists said it was important, so you just disregarded that information and came up with your own theory? Articles like this are why the internet is sometimes bad for people, they read them and think it is fine to sleep for 5 hours a night. Also, Y U NO EDIT YOUR POST?

  • I am a university student and to be fair last week I slept like 6 may be 7 hours in 2 days and I was fine on the Friday during a lecture I just dropped off on the bus and dosed myself up on caffeine :D… Gotta love caffeine <3

  • This is actually EXTREMELY unhealthy. While you’re in sleep, your body secretes a growth hormone that isn’t otherwise secreted. Also, the longer into your sleep, the longer your REM stages get. If you only sleep 5 hours, you’re getting significantly less REM sleep than if you were to sleep for 7. REM sleep is rejuvenating to your body. It restores brain tissue and other tissue in the body. Without precious REM sleep, your immune system can suffer drastically. Getting 5 hours of sleep every night can be detrimental to your health.

  • Its interesting how ive stumbled on this, i recently heavily shortened my nightly sleep, for years ive worked night shift and have been like a zombie most of the time, about 3 months ago i switched to day shift, starting at the same time everyday. I started with getting my 8 hours and felt miserable and almost hungover, i got up at 4am and it wasnt till about 2pm i would settle into my day. One day i pushed my luck and stayed up late, had about 4 hours sleep and felt fresh when i woke! Ive now been doing this ever since. Some days are tough at the start with this little sleep but i still kick into my day after an hour or so.
    Best accidental thing ive done.

  • Since this still comes up high on google search I feel I need to say something. This article is based on one persons individual experience. There have been plenty of studies to show that most people can only adapt to a certain amount of sleep. Apparently about 5% of the population can get away with something around 5 hours but most people need 8 hours of sleep to perform well when they are awake.

    Obviously anybody can try but I think many people kid themselves into thinking they are doing well on little sleep when really they just can’t tell. I’ve certainly been there.

  • This article makes no sense at all. I’d like to know if the author always slept this amount of sleep before and did it change to 5 hours, is the author still sleeping 5 hours, and are there any naps or sleeping in on weekends? The poster likes to cite that scientists have come up with 7-9 hours but where is your science that everyone can get by on 5?

  • Really? 5 hours of sleep? I envy that. I couldn’t
    Even get by a day without at least 8 hours of rest. 5 hours of sleep is definitely not enough for me. I guess different bodies suit different sleep patterns.

  • Lately I have been sleeping from 6am-8:30am and then ~5pm-9pm and I find this cycle to be best for me. However, I am not sure how practical it is so I may need to experiment with another sleeping pattern! 😉

  • Compare two people, one who is awake for 20 hours and the other is awake for 16 hours. The one who sleeps for 4 hours, is 20% less efficient, this means he can only do about 16 hours work. Where is the gain on (lack-of)sleep?

  • A start a new job in a week were a need be up by 3:30am this is totaly diffrent for me as am normaly up at 8am and got to sleep at midnightam hoping a can get by on 6 hours sleep a night read some good advice hete on the subject thanks

  • Hi there, you will all be freaked out. I am 21 and work nights as a stationary engineer, I work 12 hour nights and average 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I have been doing this for 8 months now, I go to bed at 7am right when I get off work and get up at 11, sometimes 12. I eat very well and go to the gym at 2 o clock for 2 hour sessions 5 days a week. I find the secret is to just be healthy. I never sleep more than 4-5 hours, if I sleep in longer i feel sluggish and out of sorts. I have never slept long though, always been an early riser and full of energy. I feel for all you 7-8 hour people but if you love it! you love it! I love my sleep pattern, my co-workers always complain how tired they are even when sleeping 8-9 hours a day, everyday. Thats almost double my sleep time. But when I ask of their habbits, (smokers- non athletic, eat poorly) All of these affect our sleep I don’t know this by science. I know this by personal experience.

    My 2 cents

  • Hey, for some time now I ve been sleeping during the day and I am awake during the night. I sleep considerably less but somehow my body doesn’t seem to mind. That 8 hours of sleep per day is a myth, I actually feel worse when I sleep more.

    Everyone needs to try and find their own “sleep pattern”. Maybe you need 4 hours of night sleep and a nap of 2 hours during the day. Maybe you need 10 hours of night time… Experiment with it and you will find your sweet spot.

    Don’t sleep 8 hours a day just because someone misinformed you on the internet.

  • It is a good thing that sleeping patterns can be easily altered according to our daily routine. On the other hand, not sleeping long enough every night can have some effects on our general health condition, concentration and memory. Each person knows their needs and their limits, though, so whatever works is fine.

  • I’m happy to know someone else does it. I function best on five hours of sleep a night. When i was in college, I worked from woke up at 7:30 worked from 8-12, went to class from 12:30 – 5:00, had PT from 5:30 – 7:00, cheerleading practice from 8:00 – 11:00, then did alot of homework b/c I was a double major. I delveoped a 3-5 hour sleep plan that my body was used to. If i got more sleep, I would get tired, but I’ve always functioned best on 5 hours of sleep. They’ve done research where a small amount of the population can function on 5 hours of sleep a night. These people are still considered helathy . We must be amung that small amount of people.

  • I just managed 6 hours sleep and came straight to Google to find out if any others shared this same period! I was just confused as to whether the body is able to fully function on the 6 or so hours. It’s nice to know that we can possibly “train” ourselves to sleep as long as we feel necessary.:D

  • I too go to bed at midnight and awake at 4:30. I try to lay in bed till 5 and meditate. Then I get up. I have tried to sleep longer but it makes the day much harder. For me, when doing a similar experiment, it seemed that there were periods of tiredness during the day. Even one week into trying to sleep longer.

    A lot of people have a problem sleeping altogether. One thing that will help is developing sleep hygiene.

    One big thing is to get rid of any blue lights like from computers and electronic devices.
    .-= Jon of´s last blog ..Jan 30, The Detrimental Diet are the Foods and Additives to Avoid to Maintian Health. =-.

  • 5 hours – I am a big time lover of sleeping in for about twice that many hours, however I normally am given only 6 hours of sleep. Although, my situation may be under vary different circumstances than you, simply due to the fact that I’m a high school junior in the International Baccalaureate Program. I would like to try this sometime but I think I’ll have to wait till summer because I have no idea when my tests are scheduled. Personally I am the same way as Kabir, able to deal with 4 (although the day would still be pretty miserable) and sleep for many hours during the weekend to try and catch up, but don’t seem to get all the stuff I want to do done either way. I would really like to get my sleep schedule under control.

    • haha, i’m in IB. i sleep at 12 because of all the essays we do… then i have to wake up at 5:15 for school, which actually is at 7 but my school is rather far away..

  • personally I can vary my sleep. I can get by with like 4 hours of sleep if i need to, and have like 13 hours of sleep on the weekend. So I guess i dont really have a pattern…

  • I never understod why one wanted to change one’s THOUGHTS. Wanting to change REALITY is a understandable wish, but doing it via “thinking” is futile. Action changes things, not “mind over matter” shemes.

  • “Comment by Tim Brownson on 12 March 2009:

    There is research that suggests people that only get about 4 hours of sleep a night have mortality rates 2.5 times higher than people that get 8 hours. Having said that people that sleep over 10 hours have a mortality rate 1.5 times higher.

    remember, overall mortality rate is 100% in the end :)

  • I am an artist and often work late with 5-6 hours sleep on average. I think the important thing is not the number of hours but the quality of sleep. 5-6 hours of deep refreshing, uninterupted sleep is much better than 9-10 hours of patchy, disrupted sleep.

    • I agree with you. I’ve come to the conclusion that meditating prior to going to bed each night helps improve the quality of sleep, thereby reducing the amount of hours we need. In fact, the body only needs 4 hours each night to repair itself, however the brain usually needs 6 hours. All this is dependant on the person’s state of mind when going to bed. Best advice I have is to engage in deep breathing, thought blocking activities at least 15 min prior to bedtime.

  • Great article, I’m very interested in trying this. I get about 6.5-7 hours of sleep. I’m familiar with REM and how supposedly, a human can be perfectly fine with just 4 hours of sleep. That is if they can have perfect REM sleep. I do like the idea of breaking it into segments of 3-4 weeks. I will try it out!

    AJ KUmar’s great blog post..Everyone Reads My Blog: How Generalizing Can Help You

  • Lots of people get by with only 5 hours sleep per night. I often wish I was one of them! However, I heard that research has shown that people who get less sleep increase their risk of certain medical conditions. (Possibly dementia among them, I can’t recall.)

  • With children ranging from small to very big and dogs, sleep !! oh yes I did get that once, mind you not sure you should be doing it on the motorway.

    Have always loved the thought of trying to live without time, eat sleep etc when you need to, and not doing so based on time.

  • This is similar to the amount of time I sleep. I agree that what your used to ends up working. The higher mortality rate seems to make sense too.

    From what I understand, most people’s hearts just have a certain amount of beats. If you are awake longer in your lifetime and your heart beats faster when you’re awake, it makes sense that you’d die sooner. But (to be dramatic) how much did you live?!

    That being said, you can train your heart to beat less fast when you’re awake if you exercise regularly and eat well.

    I try to stay away from caffeine too. I work at a coffee shop and yet I still keep that junk out of my system :). Ever since I gave it up and dealt with the whole detox thing, I’ve never felt so awake in my life.

    Ever tried polyphasic sleep?

    • I know this is a really old post, but the time you die has very little, if anything, to do with the number of beats your heart beats.

      Barring exogenous causes for death, it has way more to do with the telomeres at the end of replicated DNA when cells divide during mitosis. Once all of these telomeres are gone, that is when you die of “natural causes.”

      • Brian –

        A very old post, but one I just came across on Google on a search about optimal sleep timing. I am not too scientific but I really appreciate your post – I learned about “telomeres” today! Thank you.

  • I used to sleep 7-8 hours/day. Now I’m thinking of following your suggestion so as to bring down the sleeping hours to about 5-6 hours/day. Thanks for your points!

  • Great information. Im 16/17 & i read alot that teenages should be getting at least 8hours if not more sleep a day. Well i love sleep, but strangly i hate going to bed. On weekends i can lay in my bed till the afternoon geting 12hours sleep. But when i go to college i get about 7hours sleep on avaerage. Going to bed about 12:30 & waking up (VERY TIRED) at 7:30. But even though im extreamly tired in the weekday mornings I still love staying up till the erly hours. I find you post very intresting & i would love to get 5/6 hours sleep WITHOUT feeling extreamly tired in the morning. Maybe if i continue this pattern through my weekends it can work. Ill give it a go & let you know on the results :)


    • Luke,

      Our sleep rhythms change throughout our lifetimes. In the teen years, you need (on average) more like 9-10 hours of sleep to give your brain time to do what it needs to do at night. But, the timing of your sleep changes. Teens’ biological clocks keep them up later at night, and they want to sleep in later. That’s why some school systems are getting smart and starting school later. Even 30 minutes later start can produce pretty big improvements in academic performance!

    • I am a teenager and I have been getting 4-5 hours of sleep for quite a while now. I have had very few side effects. It has not stunted my growth, I am currently 6’2″. I am a little tired in the morning but that goes away after 20 minutes. There is one thing, I tend to eat a great deal more than other people. I do not get fat or anything, I just seem to need more calories to make up for sleep. But my day starts at 5:30am and ends at 1:00am the next day.

      • I am glad to hear that, also a teen who sleeps that long, maybe you just have a fast metabolism

  • I will try this. I get about 8-9 hours a night and feel that my best time for productivity is early morning. If I could gain more early morning hours that would help me get more good things done.

  • Sleep is also a time of rest and repair to neurons. Neurons are the freeways of the nervous system that carry out both voluntary commands, like moving your arm, and involuntary commands, like breathing and digestive processes.

  • Excellent article, very interesting read. I only get about 6 hours sleep max, have done for pver the past 2 months but i don’t feel good for it and need to get into a better routine. I am knackered in the morning and say to myself, i’m definitely going to bed earlier tonight, then when the night comes i feel fine and end up staying up past 1am

  • I have trouble if I’m on less than 9 hours sleep.

    Maybe it’s about melanin levels. Maybe because my apartment is noisy but I’d love to do 5 hours sleep.

  • Pertinent article for me right now — have been trying to change my night-owl tendencies off and on for years because the world is much more accepting of the early bird. I’ve succeeded for only short time periods, and usually just end up a zombie, then catching up on weekends and missing out on much of life around me. I plan to try the above and see how it goes. Thanks for the good info.

  • As for me , I always envy those who can sleep only 5 hours,
    I have no time left for self education , only work and home , that is very frustrating to me

  • This really intrigues me because I’m a mess on too little sleep. For years when I swam regularly my morning times would always be down on my evening times.

    I’m now 46 and have decided to go with the flow so to speak and stop fighting my natural inclinations.

    There is research that suggests people that only get about 4 hours of sleep a night have mortality rates 2.5 times higher than people that get 8 hours. Having said that people that sleep over 10 hours have a mortality rate 1.5 times higher.

    I’m not even sure what I’m saying other than I think it’s highly individual and needs tweaking for the individual.

    Intersting thoughts Steve.

    • There are some important variables I don’t think you’ve taken into account here. For instance, people who sleep around four hours per night will, in general, probably lead much more stressful lives than those who get by on (and have time for) the typical seven- to eight-hour sleep pattern.

      Similarly, those who sleep for nine hours or more are probably more likely to lead very sedentary lifestyles, and could of course be obese or simply inactive exercise-wise.

      Just a couple of thoughts for your consideration anyway – I realise I’m more than a couple of years late, but only just stumbled across this article!

  • I’ve always done better on about 6-1/2 hours sleep a night. If I get too much more, I’m groggy. Any less, dragging my feet. My body knows what I need. Occasionally, I sleep in and get 8 hours, but that’s only when I really need it. I love the early mornings when everything is peaceful.

    I never really thought about changing my sleep pattern…it works for me!

  • i would love to get by on 5 hrs of sleep a night… my body seems to like the 8-10 hours of rest i give it, though. i’m gonna try this and hopefully it’ll work out! :)

    • It’s possible for anyone to get by on 5 hours a sleep a night. Actually you can get on any amount of sleep a night that you wanted beyond the 4 hour mark however, you have to do it slowly which is the reason why the author says to do it this way:
      Week 1 – Get 7 hours 15 minutes of sleep per night

      Week 2 – Get 6 hours and 30 minutes of sleep per night

      Week 3 – Get 5 hours 45 minutes of sleeper night

      Week 4 – Get 5 hours of sleeper night

      This is so your body adjusts to the change in sleep and you don’t take on effects of an alcoholic going through withdrawal in terms of emotions because he is right to just go to 8 hours of sleep one night to five hours of sleep the next night you are going to feel groggy and most likely in a bad mood if it even works at all as you seem to say you are usually an 8 hour sleeper so just do it like he says if you do do it. I will be honest I have done it in two weeks and has gotten my body used to it but I think the author just wants to give a safer way. Not to mention my body is used to interesting sleeping hours and sleeping habits.

  • Thanks for sharing that. I was playing with my sleep patterns a lot during the last few years and I find that I can be quite comfortable with a 6 hours pattern. If I, however, slip into a 7 or 8 hours pattern I can accommodate it very quickly, in about 3 days. So, I totally back up what you’re saying here :-)

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