"Sleep Less" column

why is Cecil SO smug and obnoxious at the beginning?

'Cause he’s Cecil.

Link to the article:
Is there a way to sleep less?

Come on Cecil. It’s been 21 years since this question was raised.
You think there just might be some newer incite on this subject.
How about a new fact-finding mission?

Pretty please?

Hmm. Unless I have been teaching my students the wrong thing unca ceca is wrong.

Sleep cycles go in stages. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is the state in which you are basically catatonic. It would be very difficult to wake you, you are resting very deeply, and this is usually when you are dreaming. This happens about a little over an hour after you fall asleep. The REM lasts for roughly 10 minutes the in this first stage. As the night goes on the REM times get progressively longer until right before you wake-up…that is the longest REM session for your body. This is why when you wake you sometimes remember having "the most lucid, real, vivid dreams".
it is basically the opposite of what uncle said.

There’ve also been a number of studies that show people who spend more time in alpha state while awake can require less sleep time at night. IE those who practice meditation and similar disciplines. (unfortunately, I’m having a hard time finding said studies because 90% of the hits for “alpha brain wave” and similar Googles either bring up ESP sites or ads for those light-flashy things. Sigh.)

So at the moment, all I can offer is ancedotal evidence. In about two years I went from a moderate depressive who slept 10 hours a night to now only needing 6. (and in fact, if I sleep 8 hours, I feel “overslept” grogginess - 7 hours is about my max)

Anyone happen to have any good studies on hand that don’t involve sifting through 50 “look at the pretty lights!” pages?

I agree with Phlosphr. From what I learned in Psychology, REM is basically the only necessary part of sleep. I believe it is below 4 Hz. Waking is 14-20 Hz. (Brainwaves)

If your looking to sleep less, you might want to try this website:


Make sure you have stereo headphones.

Becoming dependant on “gadgets” that alter our perception or induce hallucinations by whatever means may not be a good idea. These methods may set you back by mis-training your natural abilities.

Brain waves are CONSEQUENCES of conscious activity and not reasons for it. We should aim for the evolution of consciousness.

I sleep 4 or 5 hours a night. However, I’m one of those people who does alpha states. (I have to warn my family that I’m doing an alpha state though because to other people they look suspiciously like naps.)

WizardX, I’ve heard this elsewhere, too. But I am curious how to start meditating, what to read / where to go. What flavor do you recommend?

Well, now, if I had any time to meditate, I would have time to sleep more! Criminy. :slight_smile:
I too am surprised by the perfunctory answer given in the column, and would like more info. In the meantime, I’m going to finish drinking this ginormous coffee to try to wake up a bit.

I would also mention Provigil (modafinil), the anti-narcolepsy drug they give to stealth bomber pilots. I’ve had a prescription for more than a year, and can testify that you can go quite a while without more than a few hours of zzzz’s per night, with minimal side effects.

I, too, would love a more well thought out answer to this one. Personally, I am of the belief that their are no shortcuts. Most people need 8 hours a night to be properly alert during the day. If you don’t get that, you will sleep longer on the weekends. If you don’t do that either, you will nap during the day, catch zzzs while commuting, or be brain dead for part of the day each day.

I get approximately 8 hours each night. I don’t need coffee, I read while commuting, I’m as alert at 9 as I am at 5, and on the weekends if I go to bed at midnight I’m up without an alarm clock at 8am (or noon if I go to bed at 4am :wink: ). I’d be willing to bet most people would be the same - the hard part is getting to bed on time each night.

I hate sleeping, because for the past few years I’ve been getting pretty painful headaches, and when I fall asleep, I have dreams – normal dreams of all different kinds, but they all have one common thread – no matter what else is going on, I’ve got a headache in the dream, and it’s really, really bad, much worse than it is when I’m awake. And even though I’m unconscious, it feels just like waking pain (except more severe) during the entire sequence of dreams, and for a few minutes after I wake up.

(Since this all started, I’ve noticed that other pain seems to be grossly amplified in dreams as well. One time the edge of a book was digging into my leg and in my dream I kept rubbing my leg and looking for ibuprofen because my leg was (literally) on fire. And when I woke up I still felt like my leg was burning – even though I quickly rolled over and the book stopped poking my leg, it took several minutes for the pain to subside. And there have been several similar experiences. I don’t know if this is caused by my headaches, or if the headache experiences have made me more likely to notice other pain amplification during dreams, or if I’ve just never been afflicted with some minor but long-term obnoxious stimulus during a dream before. The whole thing has made me very nervous about going into a coma and/or wanting to be maintained in a comatose state on life support – unless I’m totally brain-dead, it could be hellish torture.)

Anyway, so I hate sleeping, and I usually end up staying up all night and falling asleep (which is often pretty rapid, i.e. passing out) at random intervals during the day. I usually get about 2-3 total hours of sleep per day (well, per 24-hour period, at least) and have maintained that state for the past couple of years. But lately I’m starting to wonder if the lack of sleep could be seriously affecting my mood – can chronic lack of sleep cause depression by lowering serotonin levels?

chorpler, I’m not a doctor or anything but this sounds like something you shouldn’t be ignoring. Have you seen a professional about this?

Yeah, I used to see doctors about it, davidm, but nobody was able to figure it out. I tried a couple of anti-migraine medications like Imitrex, but they didn’t help either. Half of the doctors I saw gave me the advice that I should “go to bed early and get up early.” That’s good advice, I guess, but the whole problem is that I can’t do that! And then my health insurance ran out, so I haven’t been to the doctor in a year or more.

I wonder if there are OTC medications or supplements you can buy that will prevent dreaming.

chorpler, Like I said IANAD but I’ve heard and read numerous times that dreaming is an essential part of sleep. If that’s true, then eliminating dreaming would not solve your problem. Maybe you need to see some sort of sleep specialist or neurologist, or maybe even a chronic pain specialist. But I guess that’s not possible without insurance and on that issue I unfortunately am at a loss. Do you lack insurance because your condition prevents you from holding down a job? If so, then maybe there’s some kind of government or charitable assistance available.

chorpler, I think you really need to seek some answers regarding your condition. Don’t know how the whole insurance thing works as I’m not from the US but I hope you’ve had CT/MRI scans to clear out some of the nastier possibilities.

I also recommend trying Osteopathy to see if that can cure or reduce your problems. I have been having good results from it with my sleeping.

I can sleep for up to 14hrs at a time if someone else doesn’t try to get me up. After about 12 hrs it’s normally quite easy to wake me (although I rarely hear any form of alarm, knock, doorbell, telephone, etc…). After about 8hrs it may take 5 minutes and a bit of shaking to rouse me. Less than 8hrs and it can be a hazardous task to wake me.

I am not aware of any of my actions or any attempts to rouse me other than the final attempt (assuming it’s successful), in a way similar to the way you don’t remember getting up and going to the toilet in the night. I can be very agressive and resistence (although luckily not violent) and have been known to throw a few alarm clocks, phones and lightbulbs that happened to annoy me in the waking up process!

I rarely dream and very rarely feel refreshed by sleeping (you’d think I’d feel good after 14hrs!) and so started to see an Osteopath (similar to a physiotherapist or chiropractor but infinitely better than either of the two). I discovered I have apnea (spelt differently throughout the medical world) and was stopping breathing for periods during the night. With a bit of work this has improved dramatically and am starting to gain the benefits of this change.

However I do have a request/question for anyone interested. Since this has changed by sleeping patterns have disappeared. Always a bit of night owl I used to get by on 4-5hrs of sleep but over time the apnea got worse and the sleep did to (ever decide to take a 5 minute nap and wake up 16hrs later in your recliner? Not fun). Now that the apnea has improved my need for sleep is less pressing (actually i never feel that sleepy just have occassions when I can’t get up after a normal amount of sleep) and have left my body clock reeling. As I work from home it has been given free reign and as I type it is 7:30am and I haven’t slept yet! Any ideas how I can help this and sort myself out? Tried to get to bed at the same time and get up at the same time but it always goes wrong.

Any help would be appreciated.