Optimizing Your Sleep

What would you do with an extra 8 hours per day? You could double your income by working another full-time job, accelerate your personal growth, or spend more time with your family. This could be your reality if you never needed to sleep! Imagine never requiring to sleep while functioning at your best mental capacity.

If you’re like most people, you sleep once per day at night for about 8-10 hours, with 14-16 hours of waking time, and you think this is the only sleep schedule. This is called a monophasic sleep cycle, and there are actually many different sleeping patterns that have been used long-term by humans. From the standard monophasic which I just described, to biphasic, to the more extreme polyphasic sleep schedule which has you sleeping 6 times per day, for a total of 2 or 3 hours. Polyphasic sleep is the closest you can get to not sleeping, and can effectively add 11 years of waking hours to your life. It is clear why many people would be interested in the concept! More time, when time is such a valuable commodity in short supply, is priceless.

Reducing Time Spent Sleeping

The general pattern I’ve noticed with modifying sleep patterns to increase wake time is to reduce the usual core block of night sleep by adding in naps during the day. To optimize this, you need to sleep as little as possible while still maintaining a vague sense of sanity. Performance reductions should be avoided – but considered (ie: Working at 80% capacity for longer periods could get more done, but you’d never be able to work at 100% capacity even for short periods). I would like to avoid any performance reduction, and just have more waking hours, and ideally a performance improvement.

Polyphasic is arguably the most efficient method of sleep. Polyphasic sleep involves sleeping for 20 or 30 minutes every 4 hours, totalling 2 or 3 hours of sleep per day. It is true that it allows you to actually be asleep less, but studies show that for creative types, and not those that just want more waking hours to do relatively mundane tasks (ie. staying on guard lookout all night), this is not the best sleeping pattern. Steve Pavlina slept like this for over 5 months and documented it extensively, probably the most detailed on the web. In the end he reverted back to monophasic primarily due to the little irks such as trying to plan social outtings around his naps, and missing time with his family during his day naps (where as sleeping less at night gave him more time to spend alone – no one else is awake). He does actually say he would have had no problems sleeping polyphasic if we lived in a polyphasic world. You can check out his logs here.

The Biphasic Sleep Pattern

Biphasic is the sleep pattern I am most interested in. It would reduce my sleeping time to 6 hours per day, and it mixes in with social life more easily than polyphasic sleep. It is close to monophasic in the sense that it has a core chunk of sleep at night of 3-4.5 hours, with a 90 minute nap in the evening around 7pm. There is a wealth of information about biphasic sleep here including logs of countless others who have attempted it. The 90 minute evening nap gives you elevated levels of energy until your core sleep at 1 am, leaving you in a productive state. It is important to keep your sleep to intervals of 90 minutes, as that is the length of 1 sleep cycle. Waking up in the middle of your sleep cycle will leave you feeling groggy. Over time, people report experiencing sleep cycles shortening to about 80 minutes.

I will be doing a 30 day trial of biphasic sleep. During that time I will blog about my experiment detailing how I feel. I expect to feel jetlagged for the first week or so as I transition, but it should be smooth sailing from there.

During these 30 days, I will only allow myself to sleep within the designated biphasic times. This would be:
1:00-5:30 am
7:00-8:30 pm

The purpose of this experiemt is several-fold. First, I simply want to explore other options than the norm. Second, I want the extra time to increase my productivity. I currently sleep about 8 hours per day so this would save me 2 hours per day. That is 14 hours per week, or an extra month of waking time every year! If I just worked my $30/hr job during this freed up time, I will bring in an extra $420 per week, or $21,840 per year. That would really accelerate my financial independence goal! But I could use the time for anything. I drool at the thought of all the extra things I can learn and do!

Since I’ll have more time, expect extra blog posts during the experiment! 😉