Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule…


Saving Yourself Two to Six Hours Every Day!

Sleep is a fundamental part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle but how long a person should sleep mainly depends on the person. There are those who require the suggested “8 hours a day” while others can function perfectly fine with less sleep. Different types of sleep schedules pertain to different individuals.

The focus of changing your sleep schedule is to maximize the amount of dream sleep you get each night, which is the type of sleep that is important to restoring your body’s energy and keeping the brain sharp, also known as REM sleep. REM sleep is referenced as rapid eye movement sleep, where the brain functions in a state of almost being awake and is where dreams occur. REM sleep is the most critical part of sleep and is what helps you feel rested each night. By maximizing your REM sleep and minimizing the unnecessary amounts of sleep you will have more time each day while having enough energy to take care of business.

I have noticed that those more motivated and ambitious tend to require less sleep yet still have high bouts of energy throughout the day. Whether it is because goals are more important or that their minds get enough energy with less sleep is not the case but because more productive people require less sleep by nature. Those that are willing to accomplish more adjust their sleep schedules towards their own life, finding more efficient ways to get the most energy from sleep.

Do you think the amount of sleep you get is too much? Don’t feed into the “8 hours a day” rule of thumb, there are many ways to sleep more efficiently to save you time while also making you feel rested.

Exploring Your Sleep Schedule

Everyone tells you that 8 hours of sleep is the ideal amount to get each night but this only applies to the average person. You aren’t average though. On average a person should have 8 hours of rest every 24 hour period but largely the 8 hour a day rule is just a myth. There is no magic number to how much sleep you need, you’ll have to find out your sleep schedule for yourself. Younger people might need more time sleeping to restore their body’s energy but as you get older sleep patterns start to vary.

While most people sleep 8 hours to feel energized others might feel tired and groggy throughout the day from that amount. I am one of those people. If I get 8 hours of sleep a day I tend to feel sluggish and usually nap in the afternoon due to fatigue. I developed another sleep schedule over the years that was more relevant to my lifestyle. It gives me about three hours of extra time every day.

In my case I have experimented on how much sleep I need for quite a while. In my younger years 8 hours was ubiquitously followed but as I grew I started to realize it was influencing me in a negative way. An 8 hour sleep is a big chunk of your day, leaving you less time to stay awake. If you think 8 hours is the “healthiest option” it might just be more than you need. Basing my sleep schedule around 8 hours of sleep proved more tedious than it should have been so I experimented with different sleep cycles.

I discovered I needed less sleep than the average person when I had a zero period back in high school. Developing the routine of 6 hours sleep a night became mandatory in order to get to school on time but surprisingly I was able to keep awake most of the day. After high school I started trying different sleep cycles. I would experiment with X hours of base sleep and Y hours of napping time each day. Instead of an alarm to wake up to I would keep a timer on of how much sleep I was to get that day.

Through my own process I noticed that my body would respond to different amounts of sleep. 8 hours would be too much. 6-7 hours would still make me tired and I would fall asleep for another 2-4 hours after I woke. After much testing and analyzing I discovered that about 4-5 hours of base sleep and a maximum of thirty minutes of napping a day was my ideal sleep schedule. To describe the feeling it is like a caffeine rush for most of the day and even if I tried to go to sleep I wouldn’t be able to because I would feel wide awake. A 30 minute nap in the afternoon would make me feel wide awake again so the optimal amount of sleep for me is roughly about 4-5 hours a day.

This happens to be my model sleep schedule however and is probably different for you. My sleep schedule is a form of biphasic sleep where I sleep twice a day. There are other cycles that are far more efficient that I am looking to try in the near future, these are referred to as polyphasic sleep. You might need more or less sleep than me and you might need your sleep spread throughout the day but that’s okay. The best way to experiment with your sleep schedule is during a period where you aren’t stressed or have time to try out new cycles. There are numerous sleep schedules you can implement but to slowly ease into them you need to first find your optimal sleeping time and from there can start different sleep cycles.

Maximizing REM Sleep

Sleep consists of 5 stages, 4 of which are spent preparing for REM sleep.

* Stage 1 is a relaxed state between being awake and sleeping
* Stage 2 is slightly deeper sleep
* Stage 3 is deep sleep where extremely slow brain waves called delta waves begin to appear
* Stage 4 is also deep sleep where the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively
* Stage 5 is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is when you dream

A full sleep cycle lasts about 90-110 minutes and a person goes through all the stages of sleep from one to four, then back down through stages three and two, before entering dream sleep. A basic 7-8 hours only consists of 1-2 hours of REM sleep though, which means the other 5-6 hours is spent in light to deep sleep, which isn’t particularly important to the mind. That 5-6 hours is time spent in unconsciousness basically doing nothing except prepping the brain for entering REM sleep. The first four stages might help in restoring your body’s health but it is the REM phase that makes you feel rested each day.

REM sleep can be manipulated though, providing more REM sleep and eliminating unnecessary non-REM sleep. Sleep cycles include monophasic, biphasic, and polyphasic sleep. As you probably guessed monophasic sleep consists of one period of sleep each 24 hours. Biphasic sleep is two separate sleep periods per day and polyphasic sleep is multiple periods each day.

Monophasic/Biphasic Sleep

Most people adopt monophasic sleep cycles consisting of one 7 to 8 hour period each 24-hour period. This can be inefficient however because most of the time spent sleeping doesn’t consist of REM sleep. A third of the day is devoted to sleeping and most of it won’t make you feel rested! Think of this as the least effective cycle, it provides little benefit for such a long period of sleep.

What I practice is biphasic sleep where I sleep twice a day, although it is gradually shifting to an Everyman cycle. Biphasic sleep isn’t nearly as efficient as polyphasic sleep but it gives me more time throughout the day than monophasic sleep. I get around 4-5 hours of core sleep and about a thirty minute nap in the afternoon. A lot of college students develop this sleep schedule because they are often busy. If you want to take a step up from monophasic sleep try this sleep schedule.

Polyphasic Sleep

One of the ways to trick your brain into going straight into REM sleep is to go to sleep feeling exhausted. By going to sleep extremely tired the body compensates by going straight into REM sleep instead of going through the other 4 stages. But instead of going to sleep exhausted you can trick your mind into thinking you will only get a tiny amount of sleep, which will trigger your brain to go into REM sleep.

Polyphasic sleep consists of several periods of sleep throughout the day. It is a more efficient sleep cycle giving you more time throughout the day, from anywhere between three to six hours! That gives you anywhere from 19-22 hours of time staying awake every day. There are a variety of methods to choose from including:

The Everyman cycle consists of one longer amount of base sleep, around 1.5-4.5 hours and accompanied with several 20-30 minute naps throughout the day, depending on how much base sleep you get. An Everyman 2 cycle consists of a 4.5 hour sleep and would be accompanied with two 20-30 minute naps. An Everyman 3 cycle consists of a 3 hour sleep accompanied with three 20-30 minute naps. Lastly the Everyman 4 cycles consists of a 1.5 hour sleep accompanied with four 20-30 minute naps. The Everyman 3 cycle seems to work the best as testified by many people who have tried it.

The more naps you are to take the more REM sleep you will get thus allowing your core sleep to be shrunken to a minimum and ultimately allowing you more time awake. Note however that the less core sleep you get the more you have to follow your sleep schedule on cue. Naps play an important role because they are mainly REM sleep so even missing one can make you feel extremely weary. The longer the core sleep the more flexibility you will have in arranging nap times throughout the day.

The Uberman cycle consists of 20 to 30 minute naps every 4 hours. This results to about 6 naps throughout the day and no periods of base sleep. This cycle makes your body go directly into REM sleep to make up for the sleep you lost. It takes time to develop however for the brain to get used to going straight into REM sleep so the first couple of days might be the hardest.

The Dymaxion cycle is a tad bit more crazy than the Uberman cycle. It consists of 30 minute naps every 6 hours, resulting in about 2 hours of sleep a day! That’s six extra hours per day! Think of the Dymaxion cycle as the holy grail of productive people.

These sleep schedules might seem unrealistic to you but the time you’ll be able to save is worth it. Choose a method most suitable for you that revolves around your lifestyle. Polyphasic cycles require a flexible schedule in order to adapt to. It doesn’t make sense to follow the Uberman cycle if you have a full time job to adhere to, it would be better to follow the biphasic cycle in order for you to do your job at your best.

It’s important to give yourself time to adjust to these sleep schedules as well. They can take months to get used to which is why you must be patient and have the time to stick to them. Naps can’t be missed the first few weeks or else it could have negative consequences.

What stands apart from these sleep schedules is most notably the adjustment process. Most of these sleep cycles can take about 30 days to develop, which is on average how long a habit takes to form. The Everyman cycle can take longer to get used to due to it being more similar to a “regular” sleep schedule while the Uberman and Dymaxion cycles are easier to adjust to since it is more of a habit to form than anything else. While the Everyman cycle does take longer to adjust to the latter is more extreme. When starting out you will be extremely sleep deprived which can make these cycles more difficult. Everyman takes more time to adapt to while Uberman and Dymaxion will make you lose the meaning of “sleep”.

Of course, you don’t have to change your sleep schedule if you are happy with your habits right now. These sleep cycles are mainly for those looking for more time throughout their day. People who have adopted these methods have reported that they feel more aware throughout the day and that the world moves slower than usual making the days seem longer. People have also found that they have more energy than before with sharper senses.

I’ll admit not everyone can get used to these methods but if you really want to find more time to do the things you want then trying one of these sleep schedules can’t possibly hurt. What you will need in order to pull through is:

* Undying perseverance when beginning
* A flexible schedule
* A stable and open mental state
* Belief in yourself

What would you do with an extra hour every day? Or two or three? How about six extra hours? The possibilities are endless with the amount of time you could gain and in this way different sleep schedules are a way in “beating sleep”. Spending a third of your life in slumber isn’t a particularly wise practice when most of a 7-8 hour period does little to make you feel rested. Think of applying different sleep schedules as a technique in increasing your longevity, what would be an average 24 hour day can feel like a 30 hour day!

Sleeping Tips

* Minimize the amount of caffeine you drink per day. It will disrupt your sleep schedule horribly.

* Avoid junk food, highly processed or foods high in fats and oils, and alcohol.

* Foods such as dairy, soy, whole grains, rice, seeds, nuts, beans, eggs, meats, cherries, and bananas can help regulate sleep schedules.

* Eat a light snack a few hours before going to sleep.

* Avoid large meals before going to sleep.

* Exercise on a regular basis.

* Keep a consistent schedule so your internal clock will know when to sleep.

* Try not to nap for more than 30 minutes.

* Sleep on comfortable pillows and mattresses.

* Keep your energy levels high throughout the day so that you will be ready for bed.

* Minimize disruptions such as light or noise.

* Manage stress so you can fall asleep easier.

Perry Hua is an aspiring writer in the field of personal development and is passionate about helping others improve themselves. Read more from Perry Hua at

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