This literally sounds like hell.

February 20, 2019


A few weeks ago I tweeted about my new personal sleep optimization schedule of eating dinner at 4pm, avoiding alcohol and going to bed by 9pm.

It had never occurred to me that becoming the most boring person ever could feel so GOOD!

Others felt differently (one person responded “This literally sounds like hell”) :).

Since writing about sleep on Dec. 6th, I’ve been overwhelmed with responses and inquiries. Underneath our work-obsessed culture where the primitive sleep deprived hero myth persists, most people I’ve heard from feel desperate for high quality sleep.

As sleep quantification technology and supporting scientific findings improve, a societal “awakening” will reconfigure norms – giving everyone cultural and social permission to prioritize it. The data will be too consequential to ignore.

In fact, I’ve been encouraging my 38 person team at Kernel not to pull all-nighters, but to sleep more. To help with that, everyone now has an Oura ring. We’re making high quality sleep a top priority.

Now 5 months in on my sleep optimization efforts, here is an updated list of what I’m doing (it’s important to note that my regime is personalized to me, so yours may be different):

  1. I eat dinner early….and I mean 4pm early (I’m now playing with 3 pm). This has been the single greatest contributor to reliably good sleep (plus the benefits of intermittent fasting). To minimize work/time disruption, I bring both lunch and dinner to the office.
  2. I’m in bed by ~9pm. If I miss the ~9 pm to 1 am window, the data shows that I can reliably expect to have poor deep sleep performance, the most restorative and rejuvenating, and will surely feel lousy the following morning. This is based on my own personal Circadian rhythm; yours is unique to you.
  3. Here’s where things get really fun: I avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar. I know, almost makes life not worth living but it works for me.
  4. I stop drinking water around 5pm to avoid nighttime bathroom needs.
  5. Temperature control: I put a ChiliPad over my mattress, set to 69.8F, house temp to ~67F
  6. I use f.lux to auto-optimize screen colors/brightness
  7. I wear blue light blocking glasses starting at 8 pm
  8. I keep all windows in my room blacked out
  9. My partner and I sleep in a different rooms (don’t worry, we love each other even more now)
  10. I continue to use the Oura ring to capture data (use “goodnight” at checkout to get a $50 discount)

Also, I’ve discontinued ALL sleep supplements including melatonin and hemp/CBD.

If I follow the above rules, I can now get around 1.5-2 hours of deep sleep, 3 hours of REM, and have a resting heart rate as low as 44 bpm.

The data shows that I’ve significantly improved my sleep quality. I’ve seen the same corresponding improvement in my mood, cognitive performance and overall happiness.

As you may imagine, my new sleep practices have decimated my social life. But as an introvert, it hasn’t been entirely unwelcome. Being able to quantify sleep has dramatically improved my well-being and been worth all the effort and sacrifice.

It makes me wonder: we can count our steps, sequence our genome, test our blood, measure screen time, but we have virtually no insight into our brains. What would happen if we could begin quantifying our neural activity? What life and world changing gems are on the other side of that?