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I think that my body currently needs at least 7 hours of sleep for me to be fully alert and at my best. Are there any methods by which I could get less sleep and still feel and be at my best? (E.G. specific diet, meditation, methods for better quality sleep)

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The most popular method I've heard of is the Polyphasic Sleep and a famous person who has been using it was Leonardo Da Vinci Da Vinci's sleeping schedule

The Polyphasic Sleep method is based on the sleeping phases and takes advantage of the phase which gives rest to the brain, the REM phase. The idea of the method is to sleep only 4 hours a day by taking small naps (20-30 minutes) every 4 hours of the day. The schedule is hard to follow, as you must take naps during the day.

I'd suggest you to first read several people's experiences with this method, before trying it (also, take care of the medical precautions!). Here's a day-by-day log of what happened while following such schedule:

One more discussion here:

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For increasing the quality of sleep, this information was helpfull for me:

The article by Dr. Wozniak is very detailed. He writes about the sleep cycle
and sleeping habits, how to reset your sleep cycle, how the sleep influences
your learning and factors that can affect your sleep.

The post by Steve Pavlina is a practical guide how you can train your brain
to fall fast asleep.

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