Sleep Therapy: The Payback Plan
September 2008

Cheri Mah modifies her get-out-of-debt sleep regimen for 9-5ers

Weeks 1-2
Establish a baseline: Start by keeping a journal. Record bedtimes, rising times, any naps, and time spent tossing and turning at night; note your moods and alertness during the day. Whatever your activity, set base numbers (distance and time) to gauge fitness improvements.

Weeks 3-8
Pay your debt: Extend your sleep with a goal of ten hours a night. Try to nap each day at a set time. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed; both lighten sleep and lead to middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Continue charting your performance; expect marked improvements by weeks seven and eight.

Weeks 9-10
Taper: Now that you’re out of debt, find your sweet spot. Most people’s is between seven and a half and ten hours. Estimate how many hours you need based on impressions (mood, alertness) and evidence (performance). You should wake sans alarm clock. Tweak until performance is optimal.