Finally after going to bed really early all week I woke up this morning at a decent hour without the alarm. For the past 6 days I’ve laid down by 9 each night. For the first few, I woke up a lot, only getting back to sleep with the help of a few programming books. Regardless of how early I crashed, I could not get myself up until around 9 each day. This night however, I slept through solidly until 7 am and awoke feeling ready to go. While not all of it was sleep, I seem to have wasted at least 12 hours a day all week trying. I am sure that I need more sleep than I used to but am hoping it will be no more than 6-7 hours a day as who wants to spend their life in bed? I shutter to think that I may have become one of those people who simply don’t function right without 10 hours unconscious a day. What a waste of time right? Regardless of what my personal, optimal sleep amount is I plan to shorten it with the help of naps. Tim Ferris discussed this in his book “the four hour body” where he had managed to reduce his required sleep to just 2 hours a day broken up into 6 evenly placed 20 minute naps spaced evenly 4 hours apart. Everything about this was critical, the amount and the spacing. While I do not have his flexibility or discipline, I believe I can still benefit from his research. I plan to take 2 naps a day ongoing. I estimate Tim was able to reduce his total required sleep approximately 75% with his new schedule. As you cannot go without sleep, I am assuming some sort of diminishing returns curve which crosses at a total sleep time line at some minimally optimal point, in his case 2 hours. Making a lot of assumptions about the shape of these curves, and assuming the worst about my required sleep (10 hours a night) I conservatively am planning to reduce my required sleep by 4 house total with 2 evenly spaced 1 hour naps a day. My schedule will be roughly as follows.
- Wake at 6am
- Nap from 1pm to 2pm
- Nap from 6pm to 7pm
- Sleep at 2am
I figure that lunch time will be probably my best shot at a nap during the work week and the evening nap is early enough to not interfere with band practice. As afternoons are my least productive time of day, the 1pm nap should get me back on track. I normally waste this time anyway so might as well be asleep. The 6pm nap should allow me to stay up till 2am so as to get in a productive evening push at the end of every day. As a sleep aid, I will continue to use programming textbooks. I am leaving an hour for each nap rather than the 20 minutes Tim slept as I just do not see myself falling asleep as quickly. If I do, I will try and shorten these as well. I will stick to the schedule and deprive myself of sleep if necessary until I adapt. In the end, I expect to be much more productive in the afternoon and evening than I am currently and will gain 4-6 hours of total time awake each day. With the increased productivity I expect a net gain of at least 10 hours of productivity a day as compared with my current, horribly inefficient schedule. I will have 3 “mornings” a day and morning has clearly become my best time for getting things done. Detailing it out roughly, this 10 hours will come from having an additional 3 hours of morning time, 4 hours regained in the afternoon that are normally wasted and 4 house in the evening programming before I go to bed which I’ve not been good about in the last year. I will still be spending 6 hours in bed total which for many people is standard. Realistically, this would be impossible for me if lumped in to say the 12-6am range every day. Broken in to 3 sections, however, it just may be enough. I am cautiously optimistic regarding both the sleep time and the productivity gains. The whole plan is open to adjustment of course. I may even find it possible to try 3 naps a day depending upon my schedule. Regardless, if this works even in part, it will be nothing short of life changing. For more information on Tim’s self experimentation and findings check these out:
The Secrets of a Fantastic Night’s Rest