What is the equivalent of Soylent for sleep?

Food and sleep are two of the basic inputs of my life. Soylent solves the food problem. Now, what can I do to solve the sleep problem? The ideal solution would be a button I could push to make myself fall asleep immediately, and not feel any more tired than usual in the morning.

The problem I have is that I tend to naturally gravitate towards a sleep schedule of going to sleep around sunrise and waking up around sunset. This is sadly impossible to reconcile with school or work. What technology or technique can keep me on the right sleep schedule?

Sleeping pills have two problems. First, they make you sleepy. Taking sleeping pills has always backfired on me. I wake up 14 hours later, arms and legs feeling like jelly, having slept right through my alarm without even being slightly disturbed. Second, taking sleeping pills when you are wide awake can have a really bad effect. Twice I took sleeping pills when I didn’t feel naturally tired and both times it was like having a high fever. I was delirious, and stuck in a hellish state of not being able to fall asleep but at the same time straining to move or keep my eyes open. (It could have been my body reacting badly to a certain drug, but I don’t want to try that experiment again.)

Melatonin is great. I’ve been using it regularly for years. It’s mild, which means it only makes you a little sleepier in the morning. It’s dangerous to take if you don’t expect a full night’s rest because it will be really hard to get up. But if you sleep for 8+ hours you’ll just feel a bit groggy, maybe. It also won’t put you into a state of delirium and quasi-paralysis. Melatonin’s shortcoming is that it’s mild, so if you’re not already naturally sleepy, it won’t make you sleepy. All it does is help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

Solving the problem of food has been such a boost to my life. It has drawn my attention to the problem of sleep. A lot of the day-to-day grief in my life is due to sleep. It seems like I’m always either going through my day sleep deprived and overtired or sleeping in and missing class. Sleep is a cycle so the problem is self-perpetuating. Every once in a while I’ll stay up all night and all day to reset my sleep schedule, but it never feels like long before I’m back to square one.

What is the closest approximation to Soylent in the domain of sleep? Soylent is to food as what is to sleep?


If that’s impractical and you’ve already built a tolerance to Melatonin, you can listen to audiobooks. You will fall asleep by chapter 3. With music you might be anticipating the lyrics but with a new audiobook you won’t be able to pay attention for long.

Also make sure the room you sleep in is for only that purpose. Don’t study or watch TV (or other things) in there. You want your mind to associate the room with sleep. These are all things I can think of that you won’t build a tolerance to.


I used to find the early Cure albums (Faith, 17 Seconds) put me to sleep…
What I found interesting in the morning was trying to figure out which songs I remember hearing before nodding off… i.e. when did I actually fall asleep?

Sorry if much if this is covered in the depths of the Sleep thread… but yeah an instant sleep button would be cool.

Also it would be nice from an efficiency standpoint if all the requisite REM and deep sleep could be done in a few hours.

I seem to be doing fine now with 6.5-7.0hrs and with the help of Soylent and a 200mg caffein tablet in the morning I’ve shifted my sleep so that I wake up around 4:30-5:00am which for most of my life seemed impossible. I enjoy the few hours early in the morning before everyone else wakes up… either reading or maybe a run in the dark on a hot day or an early swim… If the sleep cycle could be taken down to a few hours that would net a lot of extra time, although I’m not sure how well we’d last with consistent waking times of over 20 hours (we seem to be stuck on this pesky 24hr cycle although I’d heard somewhere that experiments on people denied access to clocks or the sun naturally fell into more of a 25 hour cycle?)

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this research was faulty because it failed to shield the participants from artificial light … A more stringent study conducted in 1999 by Harvard University estimated the natural human rhythm to be closer to 24 hours, 11 minutes


There’s an interesting product I spotted on IndieGoGo a few weeks back: nuyu. It regulates your temperature based on your sleep cycle. Sounds somewhat promising. It’s definitely not a push-button solution (which would be wonderful), but it might help.

Here’s what works for me:

  1. I exercise regularly. This is one of the best things I do for my sleep quality.
  2. I avoid screens an hour before getting into bed. Likewise, I try to avoid bright overhead lights and switch to lamps an hour or two before going to sleep.
  3. I try to get in bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. It’s hard to do this on weekends, so I aim for a one-hour range.
  4. I set apart my bedroom for sleep, sex, and light reading before bed. Giving my brain the cue that “This is the place for sleep” helps me to feel tired and fall asleep quickly. Likewise, I turn on a fan for white noise and my brain associates that sound with sleeping.
  5. I found the temperature/blanket combinations that work for me in summer and winter. That way, I don’t wake up sweating or overly cold.
  6. I use a dehumidifier in the summer (decreases my need to run the AC) and a humidifier in the winter (keeps me from drying out). I’ve found that I’m more comfortable at a relatively high indoor humidity, but then I live in the American South and I imagine my body is accustomed to humidity.
  7. I invested in a good mattress. For me, that’s memory foam, which lets me sleep on my side without having my arm fall asleep.
  8. When I wake up, I immediately open the blinds and turn on the lights. Tells my body it’s time to wake up.
  9. I try to avoid hitting the snooze button.

This article has a lot of great advice, too: 22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep.


What about specially designed lighting that simulates the sunset that you put on late at night to make you feel sleepy? Anyone know about lighting?

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Polyphasic sleep is pretty extreme. It is where you sleep for a few minutes six times per day.
-Like Soylent in that it gives you more time (less time wasted sleeping, or preparing food in the case of Soylent)
-Like Soylent in that it’s perfectly healthy
-Unlike Soylent in that it is not convenient

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Polyphasic sleep is here you sleep multiple times per day, not necessarily “six times”.

It is in no way conclusive that polyphasic sleep is perfectly healthy. Most of the reading I’ve done indicates that it is not perfectly healthy.


Have you tried valerian root? It doesn’t give you a “sleep hangover” the way sleeping pills and melatonin tend to do. It won’t knock you out, but it helps you fall asleep(if you’re tired) and makes your sleep more restful. Worked well for me when I suffered from insomnia, but some people don’t seem to respond to it. You can steep the roots in hot water for around 20 minutes and drink the tea before bed time; this is most effective if you have it every night for a couple weeks straight to let it accumulate, though it can be somewhat helpful even just for occasional use too.

Here’s some other ways I alter my routine to promote good sleep habits:

  • Dim or turn off all artificial lighting at least 2 hours before bed. I start doing this right after supper; turn off all non-essential lighting and dim anything that is dimmable. Turning off primary lights and using just a little table lamp to light the whole room works well. This is my “indoor sunset”
  • If I need to use anything with an LCD screen(PC, tablet, TV, whatever), I either dim the screen as much as possible or wear yellow or red tinted sunglasses. The blue wavelengths of light from the screen tend to be very disruptive, so yellow/red filtering is surprisingly helpful and keeps your eyes relaxed.
  • I try to stick to the same bed time and wake-up time every day, within a 2-hour window. If I have to get up earlier or later than usual, I adjust the time I go to sleep to make sure I get the same amount of sleep as usual(I function best with 9 hours, but everyone is different so you’ll have to experiment if you aren’t sure)
  • The first thing I do when I wake up is have breakfast. This kicks your metabolisms into daytime work mode.

Also, if you work out every day, try to do so well before bedtime. If you’re doing strenuous exercise close to bedtime, you’ll have a hard time getting relaxed enough to sleep.


Hue lightbulbs from Philips can be set from your Android phone and can be adjusted to various settings. I think they cost about $20 a bulb but are worth it. I love mine.


Not quite but I’m really looking forward to this kind of thing http://www.thync.com/ It sends electrical impulses to the brain to change how you’re feeling. $299

I have been following Thync since long before it launched. I still don’t have the slightest clue whether it really works or whether it’s just a placebo. A related but different technology, tDCS, sounds really cool, but the data so far is discouraging.

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This is a very positive review of Thync http://www.gizmag.com/thync-mood-changing-wearable-hands-on/35535/ and it says the company has done extensive research to make it go beyond a placebo effect (some of this research is on their website).

Yes, but how is an electrical source on the outside of the skull supposed to target a specific neural pathway? Normally when researchers want to elicit a specific response through neural stimulation, they embed electrical probes inside the brain, where they can directly stimulate the relevant regions. I’ll be more apt to believe in the effects of Thync when they release a version that requires brain surgery for installation. Wouldn’t buy it, though, if that were the case :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn’t that the same technology? It’s just not associated with the brand name because Thync isn’t the only group working on it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I can tell tCDS is exactly what Thync implements.

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What I can recommend is these amber glasses after sundown to block out blue light (along with Flux for your computer), and the Sleep Cycle app for waking up easily in the morning.

Probably the most inexpensive option out there.


Damn. I was going to mention https://justgetflux.com/. I run it on all my computers. Great for dimming your monitor based on time of year and time of day. It’s FREE!


Here’s what’s on the Thync website:

tDCS, by contrast, is (accorrding to Wikipedia):

I think what Thync does is cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES):

I have a hammok I sleep in about 5/7 nights of the week. Its way more comfortable than it sounds. Its increased my sleep score on several different sites and they say hammocks are good for the spine.


@deepriverfish, Also in order to fall asleep more easily at the end of the day, try staying away from coffee/tea/ vitamin pills/cigarettes etc at that time of the day.

oh no! soylent is chock full of vitamins!

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