Gaining More Time

“Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.” – Unknown

One obvious thing that might not be so obvious is to just give yourself more time. Besides cutting back on things, becoming an efficiency ninja, and so on, there’s really only one big thing that you can do to give yourself more time to study (or do other things, like live!)… and that thing is cutting back on sleep.

You’ll have to hear me out, here. I love to sleep, almost more than anything. I am a notoriously tired person. Yet, somehow I have been able to cut way back on sleep and feel less tired than before. There are good ways and bad ways to cut back on sleep. Here’s what I think is the best way to do it, because it keeps you fresh all day long. Prepare to revert back to kindergarten sleeping schedules.

Polyphasic Sleeping

There are different levels of “Polyphasic Sleeping.” The most hardcore level (which I don’t really recommend), involves you taking six 20-minute naps throughout the day… and that’s it. 20-minute naps are actually worth a lot of regular sleep, and by keeping said naps under 20 minutes, you’re avoiding that groggy feeling a lot of people get from sleeping too long. Although I don’t recommend this version, I do recommend slightly more “normal” polyphasic sleep patterns. My favorite is the “Everyman 2-nap,” and it involves 4.5 hours of “core sleep” at night, with two 20-minute naps throughout the day. When I started doing this, I was really surprised at how much more rested I felt. I have more time (about 4 extra hours per day!), feel better, and get a lot more done. Plus, I get some relaxing me-time as well. It’s a win-win-win all around. What is all this I’m talking about? Well, nobody explains it better than Dustin Curtis. If you’re interested in changing your sleep patterns to gain more time, I recommend you read his article on it:

Sleep (or how to hack your brain)

Give it a try for at least a week or two – these things sometimes take a bit to kick in!

Waking Up Earlier

Of course (especially coupled with the above method) waking up earlier is another great way to gain more time. I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for waking up early, including ones from members of TextFugu. Go through this list and see if any of them could be applicable to you. Waking up early is great not only because it gives you more time, but also because early in the morning is one of the quietest, distraction-free times of the day, meaning you can really focus and get a lot done!

  1. Decide when you want to wake up, and wake up at this time every morning. I’d recommend something like 5:00am.
  2. Don’t have a set time to go to sleep. Your body will tell you this. When your brain starts to release hormones telling you it’s sleepy time, don’t fight it and go to bed. In the long run, you’ll sleep a lot less, even if you end up going to bed a bit earlier (my guess is that it’ll probably average out at about 11pm). If you’re not tired, don’t go to sleep, because your body knows how much sleep you need, especially as your body has gotten used to your new schedule.
  3. Set your alarm, and make sure it’s across the room. Once you’re up, go somewhere else (besides your bedroom). Go to the bathroom, stumble to the kitchen, whatever. Just get away from the bed. It’s too tempting.
  4. Train yourself to avoid the voices in your head saying “Oh, but it would feel soooo good to sleep some more.” This is the one I have trouble with. Don’t even start.
  5. After a week or two, you’ll get used to this. The important thing is to follow the signs your body gives, and go to sleep when you need to (and don’t fight it). Avoid games, television, etc., too soon before you go to sleep as well. Reading fiction is great.
  6. This is a good one for coffee-addicts: “Smell the coffee and wake up!” There are coffee makers that you can set to make coffee for you automatically in the morning when it’s time to wake up. The smell of coffee is a good way to get you out of bed. (Submitted by TextFugu Member Sumi)
  7. If you have a pet, train it to be fed or need to go out at a certain time (preferably sometime early). Either they will bug you so much that you get up, or you’ll have to get up (before they pee on the carpet), which will get you up, moving, and ready to start the day (Submitted by TextFugu Member kaxxina).
  8. The problem with alarm clocks is that it is so easy to just fall back asleep. Doing something will help you wake up, and I personally can’t go to sleep with my clothes on. Leaving your alarm clock going while getting dressed is a huge plus. If it’s one of those clocks that just keeps ringing and ringing, it will annoy the hell out of you. I think it’s important that your alarm not be pleasant. I use an Ultraman alarm clock from back when I was a little tadpole. The bed is even more attractive in the morning during the winter with all those warm covers. Have something warm ready to put on too! (Submitted by TextFugu Member FeelYourUFO)
  9. Try taking a shower and brushing you teeth immediately after getting out of bed.  It removes almost all desires to sleep (Submitted by Justin)
  10. If you happen to have someone sleeping with you regularly, get that person to “kick you out of bed”. When I have my alarm set for 5 am and I snooze for an extra hour, my alarm goes off about 3 times in that hour. When my partner does not need to be awake that early, she’ll make sure I get up the first time my alarm goes off so she can keep sleeping. Also, it’s basically the same thing as when you were suggesting to have people keep you accountable for your learning (Telling people about your intentions – how to start to learn Japanese – Season 1) but now it’s about having your partner keeping you accountable for getting up early. (Submitted by JD)
  11. Set-up two alarm clocks. One is the standard alarm clock you have and the other one could be your cellphone. Set the alarm time around 5-10 minutes apart. When your first alarm clock goes off and you’re up, good. The second alarm would just be a little reminder or an extra boost. On the other hand, should you turn off the first one and you end up going back to bed, the second alarm serves as a back-up / an insurance policy of sorts. That’s how I get by everyday (Submitted by arashikat)
  12. This is what I currently use; I put something I REALLY like to do in the morning (computer, gaming, drawing, TV) and make it the first thing I do. This makes waking up so much easier (and enjoyable!), thus changing your outlook of waking up from chore to highlight of the day. (Submitted by Jdkce)
  13. To accompany the previous method (#12), which wakes up your mind’s eagerness, this trick helps your BODY to get out of bed. By drinking lots of water the minute you get up (I keep a 1.5 liter bottle at my bedside and I drink about .5 to 1 litre in the morning). Your stomach will get accustomed to being filled at that time, thus hunger will wake you up. It may sound a little gruesome, but this type of hunger is a feeling of emptiness in your stomach, not a dinnertime gastric hunger. This is based on what competitive eaters do before the day of a competition, drink LOTS of water. This is of course, not recommended for everyone. (Submitted by Jdkce)

Those are a lot of tips, but you definitely aren’t expected to go through and do all of them. Just figure out what would work best for you, and try new things a little at a time. You might find something that sticks and ends up giving you thousands upon thousands of extra hours during your lifetime. That many hours could get you really good at Japanese… and a few other languages as well.

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