T Nation

Getting Low on Sleep


Hey guys,

This isn’t really “training” related, but the topic will probably affect my training at some point.

Here’s what I need help with:

I wake up at 3am, and deliver newspapers until 5:30 (pays pretty well, otherwise I wouldn’t be waking up at such an ungodly hour). I go lift till 7am, come home, shower and eat, and then go work a construction job from 8-5. I come home, eat dinner, and do schoolwork and chores. I don’t do much on weekday nights. I usually get to bed around 9. I know 8-9 hours is the “sweet spot” but that’s tough for me to get, as getting to bed around 6pm-7pm is pretty much impossible, and I need the money I get from the newspapers.

I don’t feel super tired most days, but I do have days where I’m exhausted.

Any ideas or opinions regarding my sleep schedule? Is 6 hours enough? This isn’t permanent - I’ll be quitting the construction job for a much easier one with shorter hours sometime this summer. Any supplements that would help providing I start feeling like crap? Any good foods that would help with anything? Any tips at all? Just stick it out until I’m done with the job?



u said that you feel good and not tired doing this so you can continue till your construction job is done ? this kind of Schedule need alot of discipline ! you need to sleep everyday at 9 pm and not doing out one day with your friend or u will pass out


Sounds like you’re doing a solid job of managing all this.

I recently started using ZMA (3 weeks) and that has actually helped with sleep quality.


Short Tips: Sleep Hacks (original website doesn’t exist anymore)

Long Explanation: Sleep Solution - Chris Winters

The Sleep Solution is perhaps the only read a sleep hobbyist will ever need on the topic.

Where this for example, is disputed with a huge “it depends”.
For example, it is commonly said that “our ancestors” probably slept 9-10 hours a day because of lack of electronics and such.

Yet sleep studies of native South-American tribes have shown them to sleep an average of 6:45 hours.

Being tired and exhausted is perfectly ok, being sleepy is not.



Sorry I took forever to reply. Been busy lately. That link was very helpful in giving me some tips, and interesting to read as well. Thanks.

Mind explaining the reasoning behind the “Being tired and exhausted is perfectly ok, being sleepy is not.” to me? I’m assuming it has to due with something like being sleepy means you’re not alert and not getting good sleep, whereas being tired just means you need more sleep?


Is there a brand of ZMA you’d recommend? It’s been a while - has it continued to help? What is your sleep schedule like?


I just picked up whatever the local “health” store was selling. It’s on my walk home from work to the train station.

I wake up at 4am three to four days per week and 6:30 the other days. I aim for a 10pm bedtime. I have a young child so my sleep times and length is very variable. I feel I get deeper sleepa with the ZMA.

I probably should have thrown the fitbit on to see if it showed a difference before/after… ahh well.


From the Sleep Solution book above, which has a whole chapter on that issue.

I ’M TIRED. I’M SLEEPY. I’M whipped.
I’m pooped, worn-out, blasted, wasted, drowsy, heavy
eyed, bushed, spent, exhausted, beat, zonked, dead.
These terms are as common in my
office as the patients fast asleep in my cozy waiting room.
To understand your sleep problem, you need to dissect its nature and determine if calling
yourself “sleepy” is a great place to start. In this book, when I use the word sleepy,
I’m referring to an individual who is likely to go to sleep or has a high sleep tendency.
25 This is an important definition because people often use the terms sleepy and fatigued
interchangeably when in fact they do not mean the same thing. A person who describes
herself as sleepy but tells me it takes her four hours to fall asleep is not particularly sleepy
based on my definition. There is a low drive to sleep, not a high drive. Understanding the
differences between sleepiness and fatigue will make you better educated about your own
sleep issues and what you need to do to address them.

Fatigue: “I’m Tired of Being Tired”
Imagine a football player as he walks off the field at the end of a game. He’s hot, sweaty,
and beaten up a bit from the ass-kicking he’s just received from the other team. His head is
low, and he’s staggering slightly as he limps toward the sidelines. In the locker room, he
may run into a reporter who wants to ask him some questions about the game and why on
earth he would want to run the ball on fourth and fourteen. As the reporter grills him, the
player probably won’t respond, “We made a lot of mistakes, for sure. As the fourth quarter
started, some of the guys and I started getting really sleepy. In fact, on that interception in
the third quarter, I ran the wrong play because I actually nodded off for a few seconds in
the huddle and never got the play the coach wanted to run. I must have dozed off several
other times, too, because I don’t remember a number of other plays. [yawn] Excuse me
I’m going to take a nap before the press conference.”
Most individuals in this situation would not be sleepy, as in this example. They would be
fatigued—they’d describe their body’s energy level as low. You might go to bed when you’re
fatigued, but not necessarily sleepy. You climb into bed early, feeling all your strength
drained away. Despite your fatigue, though, you’ll actually struggle to fall asleep because
you aren’t sleepy. This is a recipe for insomnia.