I’m getting about 4 hours of sleep in every 24 hour cycle. I’ve been doing so for nearly a month. The Everyman Sleep Cycle has opened up 28 extra hours of productivity every week, and for a busy guy like me, that has been awesome. (Read my first article about it here.)
The Everyman is a disciplined “polyphasic” sleep schedule, meaning I sleep more than twice throughout the day. The Everyman Sleep Cycle consists of one three-hour sleep with three 20-minute naps. I’ve been fairly consistent with only a few slip ups that weren’t difficult to correct.
But I have to admit, I was initially weary of the idea. Usually I blog about whatever I’m up to, but I was hesitant, and I didn’t write about it till I was at least three weeks into giving it a try. Sure, I liked (no, I loved) the idea of gaining almost an entire day of productivity each week, but if it degraded my cognitive abilities to the point of making me less productive, I suppose that wouldn’t amount to much.
There were three side effects for which I was watching carefully, and these side effects are—for the most part—general criticism of the Everyman Sleep Cycle. Let me explain my observations of each of these.
1. Health: Will I Suffer Some Sort of Physical Relapse?
I must admit, I have had to keep in shape for this. Visits to the gym have been necessary (which I now have time for) and keeping to my low-carb diet has helped, too. It takes some focus to stick to the sleep schedule, so it has helped to be generally in good health.
Health is one of the major concerns about polyphasic living. Criticism of polyphasic sleep usually cites sleep deprivation as their concern. My rebuttal: Polyphasic sleep is not deprivation. I get a sound four hours of sleep per 24 hour sleep cycle, and I have noticed no side effects to my health. I feel no more deprived than I did on a regular schedule.
Who knows? Perhaps I would feel an unhealthy downside if I didn’t eat right or exercise. It’s tough to tell. I must say, though, that eating healthy and exercising is good no matter what, and if it helps gain me 28 hours of awake time in a week, then that’s even better.
2. Fatigue: Will I Suffer from Overall Exhaustion?
This was probably my biggest concern. If I was going to be exhausted while trying this, there would be little sense in doing it. I have found that any fatigue I experience is a result of my physical shape, not the amount of sleep I happen to get.
In fact, a strict 8/16 schedule (that’s what I call 8 hours sleep, 16 hours awake) has always created more fatigue than what I’m doing now. I’m my best in the morning, but by evening I’m shot. Not worth much, falling asleep on the couch reading books to my kids, often opting to going to be early and “crashing.” Monophasic sleep helps (a nap in the afternoon, which my wife does). My Everyman Sleep Cycle changed this up, so I was conscientious of how it affected me.
My mornings have always been the best times of my day—and I have now tripled that feeling. I feel rejuvenated after each of my naps (9am, 2pm, 7pm) as well as following my 12pm-3am main sleep. I have grown used to a schedule that shoots through 5-6 hours of work, quick nap, snap back at it afterward for another round of productivity. It took some getting used to, but I see benefits from the routine, not a fatigued downside.
I have to admit, though, that traveling has created a ripple in my schedule. I have taken three big trips in the last month—New Mexico for a debate tournament, Pennsylvania for a speaking engagement, and Cincinnati for a convention (which I’m at now). I had thought I would just ride the same schedule, but a unique form of jet lag has created a bit of a problem for me. I adapted (how I did I may blog about later). It’s worth saying here that I faced my worst fatigue when I broke from my routine.
The principle here: routine is good. It’s the breaking of the routine that leads to fatigue, not the routine itself. In fact, as I write this, I’m concerned about the homeschool conference I’m attending today. I’ll be on the floor for 12 straight hours. I’m thinking ahead on how I will adapt to fit in my 20 minute naps to keep from being overly fatigued and exhausted.
3. Collaboration: Will I Lose Opportunities to Connect With Others?
For a businessman like me, I need to be awake for others and their schedules. This is the biggest reason other bloggers have veered from polyphasic schedules. The social impact of needed naps removes the polyphasic napper from the daily life of others.
And that’s not good. I have 14 children living in my home, and they are very much a part of my life. I have others that I’m responsible for: a debate club, business partners, writers of my publishing company, etc. I have meetings and engagements for which I need to be awake and alert.
The Everyman Sleep Cycle has been a tremendous HELP, not a hindrance. I haven’t been disengaged at all, and for the most part, those that I engage with haven’t noticed a difference. Consider:
- Family. Stealing the three naps have been no big deal at all. In fact, I’ve been available for the early risers (I’m up at 3) and even the late owl (I used to never be up at midnight). My dear wife watches the kids during the day when I need my naps, so there hasn’t been a downfall to my schedule.
- Work. My main writer, debate coach Vance Trefethen, lives in France. I’ve been able to Skype him at his best times (in the middle of my night), which has been good. I have been more conscious of the meetings I set up, thinking ahead to perhaps take my nap a little late or a little early to adjust. I’ve found these to be minor inconveniences.
- Leisure. Fitting naps in I had thought would be a hassle, but they haven’t been. I took a trip to New Mexico for a debate tournament. During the day, I made sure I snuck out to my car, kick the seat back, and snooze for 20 minutes. No big deal. It kept me on schedule to enjoy my day at the tournament.
I’m nearly one full month into the Everyman Sleep Schedule. Health, fatigue and collaboration were my three big concerns, and (so far) these have not been hindered by the sleep. The benefits of 28 hours of production added to my week still wins.[callout]For a follow-up on this idea, read this article: My Fascinating 4-hour Sleep Schedule[/callout]