2 Tips to get the most from the least amount of sleep

how to manage sleep

“I don’t have time” — college makes one feel like there is so many things to do, but so little time for anything. But if you change your focus and live by one principle, not only can you survive college, you will ace it. The key — Manage your energy, not time.

To manage your energy, sleep is key. How then, do we get the most from our sleep?

Sleep, Social life, Studies — the legendary triangle which students can only choose two from. With the overwhelming load of assignments and activities, sleep is usually the first to go. Yet, we all know that the energy and productiveness from a good night’s worth of sleep cannot be replaced by the 4 cups of kopi-o (or espresso for the Starbucks lovers) we chug down throughout the day!

 So how do we sleep for only 4.5 hours, yet feel like we slept for a good 7.5 hours? Sounds impossible? Most definitely not. Start developing these 3 good sleeping habits and you are set for a restful, energetic and productive student life. (Note: what the habits are is not as important as how you practise these habits)


2 Tips: 

  1. Count your sleep cycles
  2. Take naps


Tip 1: Count your Sleep Cycles

 First things first, we got to get this clear: We control how much sleep we get. You might be thinking, “you got to be kidding me, I have only 4 hours to sleep, what control are you talking about?”

 The number of hours does not matter; it is the number of completed sleep cycles that makes the difference. Have you ever woken up feeling groggy and miserable, even after 8 hours of sleep? Or are there rare occasions which you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world on just 4.5 hours of sleep? Pure coincidence? Far from it.

 Referenced from a study Applied Cognitive Studies, the key factor to high-quality sleep is to have complete sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of your sleep cycle in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage makes you feel groggy and sleepy. In other words, you are in “deep sleep” when the alarm rings. One sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes. Hence to get the most of your sleep, try setting your alarm according to how many sleep cycles you can achieve in multiples of 90 minutes. Here, less will be more: sleeping for 4.5 hours (3 complete sleep cycles) is way better than sleeping for 5.5 hours.

 Of course, the more complete sleep cycles you get, the better it is. However, it is not always possible, so what do you do when you only had 3 hours of sleep the previous night? This leads me to the next tip: take naps.

 Tip 2: Take Naps

Have there been naps where you wake up feeling worse than before? Naps can do magic but like our sleep, we have to be disciplined about the length of our naps. Depending on what you want to achieve from your naps, you tweak the nap duration. Here is an image which provides a succinct breakdown of the ideal nap times:


How long one should nap

Source: http://lifehacker.com/how-long-to-nap-for-the-biggest-brain-benefits-1251546669

20 minutes might not seem enough because you do not feel fully rested. But that’s the point — you are not supposed to. Naps are supposed to give you the burst of energy where you feel more awake than before, but they are not supposed to replace a night’s rest. It will be very tempting to sleep a little more, but just remember about what it can do to your energy levels!

Remember, manage your energy, not your time.

Since we cannot have more than 24 hours in a day, what we do in the 24 hours is the game-changer.

Be conscious of your sleep cycles, take naps, and see your performance and productivity skyrocket through the roof!


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Christina Ho
Christina Ho is a sophomore at Yale-NUS College. She is considering pursuing Environmental Science as her major. An avid fan of sports, she has set her sights on learning squash, wake boarding and mixed-martial arts. In addition, she is also heading the Basketball club in Yale-NUS. Passionate about public speaking, leadership and education, she has conducted numerous workshops in junior colleges such as Hwa Chong Junior College and National Junior College. She is also serving as the Vice-President of Public Relations at Tampines Changkat Toastmasters Club, a public speaking club, and is seeking to charter a Toastmasters Club in Singapore.


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