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How Dave Asprey Gets More Energy from Less Sleep

It’s not about what you do at night. It’s about what you do all day.

Maxim Chuvashov / Getty Images

Can you get all the benefits of a good night’s sleep without having to spend eight hours doing it? For nearly 20 years, the ultra biohacker Dave Asprey, famous for Bulletproof Coffee, has been trying to find ways to do it.

Back in the year 2000, he tried the Uberman Sleep Schedule, which suggested you could do fine on three hours of sleep a day, as long as you accumulated those three hours in precisely timed naps throughout the day. Which, as he explains in his new book, Super Human, was even a little much for him (keeping in mind this is the man who gets regular stem cell injections, has a cryotherapy chamber, a bed of infrared lights, and a supplement routine, to name a few of the pieces of his stay-healthy regimen). He found it “not compatible with having either a career or a social life,” he writes. “Some people have success with it, but personally I felt like an unproductive, antisocial zombie.”

So he resigned himself to having to get eight hours of sleep a night.

Until he read a study from the University of Southern California School of Medicine and the American Cancer Society that looked at the mortality rates and sleep length of more than a million US adults. It found that the people who lived longest, he reports in the book, “slept six and a half hours a night, while people who slept eight hours a night consistently died more from any cause.” That doesn’t mean to live longer you have to sleep less, he says. If the people who lived longest were the healthiest people, then what were they doing to require less sleep?

He points to that study as what changed the way he thought about sleep forever.

The people who lived longest required less sleep, “because they didn’t need as much time to recover from chronic illness, inflammation, and/or everyday stress. If aging is ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ sleep equals recovery from many of those ‘cuts.’ The fewer cuts you need to recover from, the less sleep you need,” he says.

Based on that realization, here’s what he did (and you can, too):

“I started using my sleep length and corresponding energy levels to measure whether I was doing things during the day that made me older. I knew that if I jumped out of bed ready to bring it after six hours of sleep, I was on the right track. But if I felt groggy after a solid eight hours of sleep, that meant I was probably doing something that made me sick and inflamed. This explains why I needed less sleep when I started following the Bulletproof Diet. I was taking fewer hits from the foods I ate, so I didn’t need as much recovery time.

This became a two-step process.

Step one: Reduce the number of hits I took so my body required less recovery time.

Step two: Increase the return on my sleep investment by improving its quality.

Bottom line—if you’re healthy enough, you can use sleep strategically as a performance-enhancing drug instead of a drag. You still have to get enough sleep, but the other hacks you’ll use to become Super Human will reduce the number of hours of rest you actually need.”


This article by Marty Munson originally appeared here:

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