In February to March, I did some micro-experiments on myself to try to find the best sleep schedule for myself with a goal of maximizing my productivity for the rest of the day. I tried four experiments, each lasting about a week (except the last one, which I’m still following). I made sure I was consistent throughout each experiment and made rule I followed the rules and tracked my sleep with the Sleep Cycle app.

For each experiment, I explain what it was and what the rules were, what the average sleep quality % was, and a subjective rating of my day productivity (1-10, 10 being highest).

1. Sleep less

Intuitively, I tried to maximize the number of hours I was awake. I tried sleeping five hours a night from 1am to 6am. That did not go very well. I woke up groggy and was too tired to work during the day. Coffee is what kept me alive for the most apart.

  • Sleep quality: 52%
  • Day Productivity: 5

2. Sleep less with aid

Next, I tried five hours of sleep but with 5mg melatonin every other night. Melatonin is a chemical that your brain releases that makes you fall asleep. In theory, it would kick me into deep sleep within a few minutes. But my hope were not to fall asleep fast, but rather to sleep better. It was better, but still not good enough. I was still groggy in the morning on occasion and sometimes experienced mild headaches during the day - which, I tell you, is not fun.

  • Sleep quality: 56%
  • Day Productivity: 5

3. No screen rule

After that, I tried the “no screens one hour before bed” rule. It was a hard experiment, mostly because almost everything I do is on my laptop (or my phone). My sleep productivity increased almost instantly. I started falling asleep almost as soon as I turned the lights off. Sleep Cycle app shows a 20% jump in my sleep quality even though I slept an average six hours a night. My days are also pleasant and I get work done without any headaches.

  • Sleep quality: 68%
  • Day Productivity: 7

4. Sleep early

Lastly, I tried to shift my sleep significantly. Instead of going to bed between midnight and 1am, I now go to bed between 9:30pm and 10:30pm and wake up between 5am and 6am. Now, on average, I’m getting about eight hours of sleep and the sleep quality has improved. I do not feel groggy, and I find that my productivity has increased significantly in the morning now. Those three or four hours of early morning when no one is moving and there are no disturbances, is my most productive time of the day now. And it’s wonderful!

  • Sleep quality: 79%
  • Day Productivity: 9

I encourage you to try these too and find what your best sleep schedule is. Let me know what your results are.

Cover: flickr