Sleep Hacks
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    My local transhumanist group is having a month dedicated to sleep hacking. Sleep hacking is one of the easiest places to start biohacking because it is low-risk and low-commitment. I’m gathering hacks that just about anyone can do with minimal effort or expense so a sensory deprivation chamber is not in this scope. Most of the attendees probably won’t want to go through more effort than a stop at the drug store or downloading an app.

    There will be a presentation where I will talk about the simplest hacks, and some advanced ones, then get people started on the biohacking path. This group will be targeting people who want to see immediate results with minimal effort, you know, the general populace. Our group’s goal is to help people improve their lives and show that biohacking is not dangerous or scary.

    If your hack is anecdotal go ahead and tell me. I won’t present anything as true unless there is evidence but telling the group what other people have done is valuable. For example, Cassox’s VIP experiment [from this thread] will be mentioned.

    If you have a brand new idea DEFINITELY tell me because these groups include people who want to be on the cutting edge and we might be able to get a small experiment together. For example, I have thought about painting my eyelids chrome to block out more light than bare eyelids. Maybe this would help people sleep more restfully. Maybe it could help travelers sleep. I don’t know and I doubt it would do any harm.

    Some of the other hacks are:
    Kava tea
    Passion flower tea or supplements
    Krill oil
    White or pink noise generator
    Eliminating blue light from monitors
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    About painting your eye lids.... Have you thought that maybe the change my alter the results.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    @JohnDoe, do you mean the placebo affect as opposed to some actual benefit?
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I wasn't think a placebo as much as a sudden change. I have found there are somethings we just get used to and learn to live with, as a result it makes us think differently and subconsciously act different. Not a placebo ware it doesn't work but it does because you want it to. Plus what if the paint gives a mild irritation, there by acting as a deep sleep preventive. How relevant is any of that IDK, still how ever worth thinking about.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    Good point. It would be valuable to know if it continues to work or if it is best in short doses. Maybe it would only work in the short-term, like when you travel by airplane. Either way it would be valuable information if there is an effect.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I also think that during hours awake there could be a change of brain function just from there being less stimulus.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    That's a possibility. I wouldn't want this as a permanent hack. Not until I see results. Plus, tattoos on my eyelids isn't how I want to spend the weekend.
    The obvious downfall is that wearing it around would look like eyeshadow. I couldn't get away with that at work. I could put a neutral color over a light blocking layer but I shouldn't be testing this at work anyway. Or while driving, who knows if this could replicate narcolepsy.
    I would hypothesize that you wouldn't notice a difference until your eyes had been closed for at least a few seconds and your pupils dilate.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    That would make sense I think a blindfold would be better....
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    In most cases you are probably right about a blindfold or a sleep mask. Some people don't like something that large touching their faces though. Plus, if you open your eyes your vision is instantly restored. Granted, the investment is large compared to the return.
  • Dirksavage88Dirksavage88 February 2016
    I'm curious as to anyone on this forum has also tried GABA supplement. I realize there is a lack of evidence for the supplement crossing the blood brain barrier. However, since taking half a teaspoon per night I feel more relaxed at night and wide awake in the early morning. It could be placebo, but, in my experience It may have helped with quality of sleep.

    I upped dosage to 1 full teaspoon and noticed in my afternoons spent outside I had felt as if it were still morning and had difficulty waking up. Went back to half a teaspoon and I'm back to feeling energetic most mornings.

    Again, it could be placebo. Or lifestyle changes ( less alcohol, caffeine, more exercise, etc

    Edit: at 1 full teaspoon a day I noticed a sharp increase in short term memory loss. For example , I would remember what someone had said a week prior but forgot who said it (e.g a co worker, classmate, friend). Whereas normally I would remember the person speaking and what they said
  • number1barbernumber1barber February 2016
    In what sense do you wish to hack sleep? there is always lucid dreaming and also controlled power naps where you can force yourself into deep sleep for short periods and come out similar to having slept a long time from what i hear
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    I am looking for sleep hacks which improve the quality or ease of sleep.
    My goal is to make biohacking approachable and easy for people who might be unfamiliar. In other words, sleep hacks that provide a lot of bang-for-the-buck.
    They should be low-risk and ideally that would have a proven record but something edgy would be good to hear about.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    That should be a wiki page,"is biohacking right for me?" We should come up with more simple stuff for people to try, maybe a vegetable based nootropic?
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    That is exactly the kind of approach I take with people. People's eyes light up when they hold a magnetic ring to a microwave and feel the waves for the first time. When I tell them I can feel that all they time they get a kind of awe. Never open a conversation with "I cut finger open to shove a magnet in there." You need to sell people slowly on something so extreme.
    Earlier I started a thread that used simple tricks, like a magnet ring, that would let people experience the benefits of implants by purchasing a wearable version so they could "Try it before you buy it." [LINK] More STUFF like that would be great.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I will see what I can come up with magnets and RFID seem to be covered. How about a simple demo (week long) of a biocoating? I am thinking that AA-bond that benbeezy found on Amazon may be a good place to start.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    That's not in the scope of what I'm doing with the sleep hacking or "Try it before you buy it."
    My local transhumanist group is trying to get more people interested in the movement. Biohacking is my forte but trying to get people excited isn't always easy and I don't want to scare people off. Even at transhumanist meetings I don't always pipe up that I have implants.
    The biosafe coating is a great pursuit but that's high school chemistry lab level compared to the second grade spelling bee I'm trying to do. It's important to show people that biohacking isn't just scalpels and pills. Sleep seemed to be a good jumping on point.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I got nothing for now.... Then I will be thinking about this some more as people at my school have asked me about getting started in biohacking. I also did the magnet and ear plug I tried to use ear buds but I think the hole I melted for the magnet compromised the sound proofing and as a result I am not sure how effective that was. After that I walked to the microwave and tried that with much better results.
  • ChilliEyeChilliEye February 2016
    The app Twilight, for tablets and phones. Reduces blue light to encourage better sleep. Can't say if it works, there may be other apps like that too.

    It automatic based on sunrise and sunset, you only need the blue reduction on a night. 
  • cyberlasscyberlass February 2016
    Not sure how helpful this anecdotal tidbit is but I was curious about the light/blue light blocking at bedtime effect so two years ago I sent five pairs of glasses that had good reviews for sleep hacking purposes to various friends (aka guinea pigs). They followed the instructions and reported back that the glasses had no appreciable effect on their sleep patterns. One reported headaches and another found it hard to concentrate or do bedtime routine things. 

  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    ChilliEye, the Twilight app seems promising. That will definitely make it into the talk.

    Cyberlass, I read the abstract for a study done with similar glasses and the study reported the same thing. But I want to get more ideas together like that and see if I can't round up a few guinea pigs of my own through the presentation.

    It seems like sleep hacking has been a popular thing since there are many good studies and methods, many of which are very safe. This doesn't really put sleep hacking anywhere near the bleeding edge, except things like Cassia's VIP study. 

    If anyone has some far out ideas now would be a good time to share.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    Far out, okay you asked for it.... How about useing a tDCS machine to memick deep sleep brain waves, in order to allow for us to sleep walk (more or less) while we are fully awake. I am not aware of how long after the electodes are removed that the effect will last and the safety of using that inplace of sleep for more that a few hours would be.

    John Doe
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    @JohnDo, you've got me interested. So, your goal is to trick the brain into thinking it is sleeping while in fact you are alert? Ideally this would give the body time to recuperate, heal, convert memories to long-term, but you could spend that time doing non-consequential activities.
    I haven't seen a montage which encourages or mimics sleep but I haven't looked very much. Have you found anything? I have a tDCS but I haven't used it since I used the wrong salt concentration and hurt my arm.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I built one from my parts bin, the story of my life happened (again), I was short a resistor no time to get one. I also can't self experiment atm I think I am developing sleep insomnia.... That may be useful.... My safety concern lies in duration of use repeatedly. I think that maybe we should see the absolute lowest current and voltage to get a acceptable result
  • langnerscott58langnerscott58 February 2016
    These aren't really sleep biohacks, but here are some basic sleep tips I found helpful:
  • GrazerquartGrazerquart February 2016
    What about completely light blocking contact lenses that your can wear to bed, less risks and should have a similar result.
  • ZerbulaZerbula February 2016
    Contacts can suck to leave in overnight. >~<<br />
    There's definitely worse ideas. But this one can suck if it rolls around somewhere it shouldn't.
  • GrazerquartGrazerquart February 2016
    Yeah I am lucky not to have to wear contacts or glasses, but I heard about a type of them that you could leave in overnight safely. I don't remember the name if I can find it later I will throw a link to it in the comments.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    I will try a lot of crazy shit, and do crazier. But dame I draw the line at homemade contacts, or even modified contacts....

    John Doe
  • BirdMachineBirdMachine February 2016
    The only concern I'd see with blackout contacts is waking up in an emergency.
    Surprise house fire? Sudden pain? Waking up to some sort of cacophony and you don't know what it is? Being able to see asap is key. Thing is, a basic sleep mask will have the same blackout effects, and is MUCH faster to remove should you wake up to a piece of you on fire (or something else equally alarming).

    (ps. grazerquart, your avatar is top quality and perfect!)
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    I had the same worry about contacts that block light. In ten years we'll all wear contact that have high resolution displays built in and setting them to "night mode" will be common practice. But, an active display would probably be triggered to turn off if the fire alarm went off.
  • MeanderpaulMeanderpaul February 2016
    crazy thought but what about using those ridiculous tanning glasses? They sit right close to your eye and some have a strap on them and I believe the block out the light.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    @Meanderpaul, I like the tanning glasses idea. They block most light but not all so even if you wake up in a panic you're not blind and you can compose yourself before taking them off. Similarly a pair of tinted safety glasses could be used and those are easy to find. You could even paint over everything except a small hole to block all light from the sides. I see those at the hardware store for 1USD.
    Of course a sleep mask is more comfortable but they don't have any room for experimentation or partial light blocking.
  • JohnDoeJohnDoe February 2016
    What about useing automotive tinting on a plastic? To make a sleep mask....
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    Yeah, tinting could be layered on glasses to make really dark glasses but not so dark that the wearer is blind when wearing them.
    Coming from the other way, we could put holes in sleep masks. Especially the hard shell kind that don't rest on the eyelids.
  • VenielVeniel February 2016
    New member here, first post so first of all: Hello fellow biohackers!

    >Sleep hacking is one of the easiest places to start biohacking because it is low-risk and low-commitment
    >low commitment

    Have to disagree there, at least far as my own experiments went. Been playing around with polyphasic sleep schedules since around 2012. Always had an aversion to wasting too much time on sleep. Most prominent part of my experimentation was with the dymaxion schedule [see pic], that's a 30 minute nap every 5.5 hours. This is where commitment is getting difficult as you really cannot skip or reschedule any of the naps, which tends to not work out very well in social situations(like skipping lunch at work/university to go find a remote corner to sleep at).


    Maintained this schedule for approximately 3 months with great results. Had all the free time in the world and also experienced lucid dreaming very often (has to do with your brain optimizing the limited amount of sleep to "maximum efficiency"). Ultimately switched to a more realistic schedule when the free time became too much. There really is only so much one can do with 22 hours of productivity a day and no actual responsibilities in the world.

    Been on and off with the alternative schedules since then, currently on a comfortable biphasic (2 hour sleep at 8am and ~8pm). Still requires a significant commitment to it, you'll begin to really notice how much our society is built around the 9-to-5 workdays once you break out of that routine.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    Hello @Veniel, welcome to the forum and thanks for posting your story.
    I wonder how my work would feel about me sleeping for 30 minutes at my desk! They probably wouldn't take kindly to it. Polyphasic sleep kind of scared me because of the dedication it takes and the dangers of messing with that cycle. If I didn't have responsibilities all over the place it would be great to reclaim some hours in the day. Unfortunately my schedule wouldn't allow it.
    This is in the realm of what I'm looking to tell people about but too much to ask them to try. Now I can say I've talked to someone who has had success. Not just success, but so much time it was a burden!
    Did you have to do anything special to start your routine? How long did it take to get into the swing of it? Any horror stories about missing a sleep time? Can you nap earlier than your intended time?
  • VenielVeniel February 2016
    The start was difficult with how very sleep deprived I felt (despite already being on 4 hour single-phase sleep before). The first couple weeks I employed a few mates to forcibly wake me when I overslept, don't think I would have managed to adapt to it without this help. Took about 3 weeks to get a steady pace going where I could wake up on my own, still had a few instances of sleeping for a couple hours extra, usually when I happened to be physically active in the most recent waking phase. Had at least a solid one month of oversleeping-free experience though.

    As for napping earlier than intended: wouldn't recommend it, it's beneficial to keep a constant rhythm so your body can naturally adapt to the schedule, even outside of such extreme experiments.

    so much time it was a burden
    Yep, although I would say that it might be more manageable if you have a wide variety of projects to work on. At the time of experiment I only had some minor programming work and games to occupy my time. Eventually ended up spending hours on just staring at my computers desktop waiting for the next nap time as I had become very bored of it all. Also worth mentioning is that it can feel somewhat lonely to be the only person awake at all hours of the day while everyone you know locally is spending half your waking time asleep.

    Considering going back to this kind of schedule again as I'm now getting increasingly busy with multiple exciting ideas(some of which I will post/contribute on this forum soon enough), so I might be able to contribute some fresh information on the subject when the time is right.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    Most people on this forum could easily fill 22 hours per day. Have you ever read the book Beggars in Spain? It's about people who don't need any sleep at all. They advance beyond normal people, sleepers, because they have all this extra time to learn. What I wouldn't give...
    I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in mind for projects. Thank you.
  • VenielVeniel February 2016
    Oh and another tip for starting the routine, and sleep hacking in general.. Caffeine Naps!

    Essentially that means drinking a cup of coffee just before going for a nap. Caffeine will take 15 to 20 minutes to really kick in so you'll be waking up a lot easier and with all the perks of coffee already working in your favor. Might even fit in with some short-nap polyphasic sleep schedules, wasn't really an option for myself though. Still a nice addition to a normal day when you just need that extra energy.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF February 2016
    Oh! Caffeine napping is EXACTLY the kind of thing I want to tell people. I have heard of things like holding something in your hand so when you fall asleep it clatters to the floor and wakes you up but caffeine naps are awesome. I hadn't thought of that.
  • GrazerquartGrazerquart March 2016
    @BirdMachine Thank you so much, it is pretty much the only drawing that I have ever done and been really happy with.

    And as an alternative why not use modified welding goggles. You really can't see anything out of them (other than what you are welding because of the sparks) and some models even have interchangeable lenses.
  • ElectricFeelElectricFeel March 2016
    You have to get the darker lenses, the ones for oxy welding are perfectly visible to me once my eyes adjust.
  • actiiactii March 2016
    @veniel, is it possible to create other/any polyphasic cycles? I always called my technique dreaming you are sleeping
  • CassoxCassox March 2016
    Ive played with polyphasing. There's a lot of research on the role of melatonin in aging cancer etc. The lack of endogenous melatonin is a culprit as to why shift workers die early. I cycled in melatonin during the day. I made 20 minute binaural that induce sleep and then bring you back out. Meds like adrafinil are great too. My routine was 20 down every four hours.
  • CassoxCassox March 2016
    Also focus on physical activity at night, mental during the day.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF March 2016
    @Cassox, I had heard to avoid exercise in the evening. At least not right before bed. What kind of time frame for physical exertion do you recommend?
  • TeymourTeymour March 2016
    Successfully organizing yourself to catch up with dymaxion schedule is tough. Well done @Veniel!

    For those willing to keep a much more "normal" sleep schedule, I'd recommend the following hack: put a few drops od lavender essential oil on your pillow right before going to bed.

    Inhalation of lavender essential oil makes sleep more restful. Probably by extending the length of deep sleep cycles. It's also really helpful to fall asleep more easily.

    Hope that would fit your "bang-for-the-buck" approach @McSTUFF.

    As of your idea of painting eyelids, I believe there's an easier option. After anxiety, the #1 reason why people can't fall asleep at night, or are having restless nights is because their body temperature prevents them from sleeping efficiently.
    When the night falls, one's body temperature is supposed to fall as well, aka "circadian rhythm". If it doesn't, chances are, you'll have a terrible night. You mention travelers. They experiment jet lag for that specific reason: their circadian rhythm didn't change fast enough. Thus their bodies are getting hot & cold at the wrong time.

    A super-duper easy way to fix that it to make sure that your bedroom temperature is around 19°C. Depending on where you live, that might translate into opening the window or turning conditioning air on.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF March 2016
    @Teymour, the lavender drops are exactly the kind of approach I'm looking for.

    The information on the body heat to sleep rhythm was helpful. Some people like a cold room when they go to bed but I never understood that because I like to be warm all the time. It's definitely worth passing on.

    All, the presentation has been delayed so all these comments can be considered. Thanks again.
  • CassoxCassox March 2016
    I meant that on terms of when polyphasing. The natural inclination is to be inactive at night and active during the day. If you are polyphasing, activity helps get you through the night until you've adjusted.
  • ElectricFeelElectricFeel March 2016
    My current sleep cycle is six hours from 6AM to Noon. It's fun.
  • McSTUFFMcSTUFF March 2016
    @Cassox. Gotcha. That makes perfect sense.

    @ElectricFeel, sounds like mine, except move it six hours earlier.

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