Hack Your Sleep Schedule To Free Up Precious Time

Posted by Eric Lee on November 01, 2017

If you're someone who just can't go without sleeping but still want more time to work on projects (or just enjoy life), here’s a fix. I went from needing 8 hours of sleep to 7 (and still feel rested) just by going to sleep earlier: at 11:30pm instead of 1:00am. How is this possible?

The Why:

Chances are, your sleeping habits aren’t properly matched with your body’s natural sleep schedule. In other words, your cells are trying to rest but you’re still not in bed resting.

Our body's circadian rhythm determines when our organs are active and resting which, unfortunately, is not decided by you but by environmental factors such as oxygen levels and sunlight. For example, our bowel movement is supressed at around 9 at night, our deepest sleep occurs at around 2 in the morning, and we're most alert at around 10 in the morning. 


Image courtesy of helpscout.net

Imagine that you’re responsible for opening and closing a set of foldable solar panels according to when sunlight is available. You wouldn’t open them 2 hours after the sun has risen and close them 2 hours after the sun has set wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t get as much energy as if you had matched the timing properly. Your body’s sleep schedule works the same way.

By aligning your circadian clock with your sleeping habits, you can max out the duration of deep sleep. This leads to one requiring less hours of sleep to feel well rested. Instead of sleeping in, you'll be well awake and at your peak energy level at the proper times.

By going to sleep at the correct time, your organs are able to rest when they are supposed to and for longer periods. You won’t need to spend extra hours of sleep making up for the missing energy.

The How:

According to the average circadian rhythm of adults, it is best for humans to sleep from 11:00pm to 7:00am. Everyone’s rhythm varies however, so you’ll need to do some calibrating.

Here are the steps to calibrate your sleep schedule (this is how I did it and has worked for me):

  1. Drop everything 1 hour before you go to bed. Make this leisure period as stress free as possible. Remember, this is NOT a waste of time as you’ll be able to save countless hours of time in the long run. Plus, you can spend it on time with family or reading.
  2. During this 1 hour leisure period, observe when you start feeling sleepy. If you start to feel sleepy after just a few minutes, chances are you can push your bed time earlier.
  3. Do this until you find yourself feeling sleepy right when the hour ends. The key is to maintain this 1 hour of time to “wind down”.
  4. When you’ve found the best time to fall asleep, try to set your alarm 1 hour earlier to see if you can sleep less. Try different wake times for a few days, chances are your necessary duration of sleep should be shorter than before.

Of course, we all have different obligations in the morning or at night so you might need to sleep earlier or later. That’s perfectly fine but you need to adjust accordingly.

Personal experience:

I used to go to bed around 1:00am and wake up around 9:00am, needing a total of 8 hours of sleep to feel rested. 

After calibration, now I go to bed around 11:30pm and wake up at 6:30am, only 7 hours of sleep but feeling much more refreshed than before and of course, not only gaining an extra hour every day but also becoming much more productive with a well rested mind.

If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to leave a comment below!

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