Becoming Your Own Sleep Laboratory

16.07.2019 |

Episode #10 of the course Sleep hacks: Using science to improve your sleep by John Robin


Welcome to our final day!

I hope that you have been brainstorming how you’re going to use micro-habits to get to know the devil you don’t know. I hope that you’ve been doing so with the benefits of better sleep, inspired by everything you’ve learned so far in this course.

Enjoy your cup of coffee as you get started. It’s a wonderful, healthy stimulant, especially when it’s not covering fatigue.


You Are a Scientist at Heart

As we close, it’s worth going back to history yet again.

Let’s consider how science started—not in expensive laboratories run by governments and institutions. Science started in the notebooks of curious, meticulous individuals who kept track of their results, then looked for patterns.

While it’s important to go to a sleep clinic if you require medical attention, you can, and should, create your own home clinic in the pursuit of the healthiest sleep possible.

We live in a world that is shifting into a knowledge-based economy. It’s safe to assume that the power of creativity, learning, problem-solving, and thinking will be the basis of tomorrow’s jobs. This is all the more reason you want to discover your superpower now and all the more reason you should hack sleep with science itself, through the scientific method.

To start, I recommend that you get a good quality sleep watch. There are many devices that will do this. I use a Polar M400 but the M430 line is more recent. The Fitbit is another common device, with sleep accelerometers built in to tell you when and how you are sleeping.

There are other sleep accessories, and I’m sure in the next few years, these peripheral devices will only get more specialized to allow us to monitor our own sleep.

You can see how this allows you to become your own sleep laboratory. Polar has an app called Polar Flow that works with its devices, allowing you to compare nights of sleep to look for patterns. You can use this to analyze when you sleep restlessly. You can keep a journal to record what you ate/drank (particularly four to five hours before bed), any stimulating activity that might have given you a poor sleep, or other distractions.

The importance of this is that it helps you avoid getting stuck in only one way of improving your sleep. You can continually learn and improve.

For example, when exploring the best times to sleep, I noticed that every morning around 5:30-6:45, I was quite restless if I had gone to bed early. Even going to bed at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. didn’t get over this hump. So, I did some math, working backward:

• 1 sleep cycle = ~90-120 minutes

• 3 sleep cycles, when I get my deepest sleep and less REM = ~4.5-6 hours

So, I tried a 2:30 bedtime, which meant around 5:30-6:45 when I would get that restless spike, I would still be well into my N3 sleep.

What results I noticed!

The most striking: The amount of total sleep I got in bed, compared to how much time I spent in bed, was the highest I’d ever seen. Today, it remains that way, so this is the edge of the innovation curve for me right now.

Pay special attention to these two stats:

• the amount of time in bed = time on your clock when you get up minus time on your clock when you close your eyes to sleep

• the amount of time asleep = sleep time logged by your sleep watch

Many sleep watches will track your amount of restless vs restful sleep. Don’t worry too much about this, other than to try and observe restless spots to pick your best bedtime. You can use all the hacks you’ve learned in the last nine days, as well as continued learning about more sleep science, to hone the cutting edge in your own sleep laboratory.

Fully rested, your mental power is a 10,000-volt lightning bolt. And THAT is the closing thought I want you to take away today and from this course.

Have another sip of coffee and reflect again on that power.

A good cup of coffee gives you one heck of a ZAP for everything you turn your super-charged mind to. Sleep-deprived, you’re barely at 1,000 volts, and that coffee is just keeping you from fizzling out. But with the best sleep possible, coffee will be your input, and creative, fun, engaging, insightful, amazing work will be your output.

Off you go now to unveil that superpower. Thank you for your time learning and improving through this course. Please pass it on!

And I love hearing from students. You can reach out to me at and share your thoughts on this subject or other suggestions for future topics.


Recommended book

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey


Other courses by John Robin

Master your time: The secret to being insanely productive

Mental models: How to make better decisions

Productivity hacks: Lessons from top leaders and billionaires

Most brilliant social psychology experiments

Brain-twisting paradoxes

The world’s most compelling logic puzzles

How to market your book online

How to begin (and maintain) your career as a writer

Great math problems for the 21st-century mind

Foundations of mathematics


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