The Everyman Sleep Cycle

I’m big into efficiency, a living and breathing productivity app. I have my work disciplines, a pound-it-out kind of work horse. But there has always been one barrier to total awesomeness: SLEEP. I’m 24 days into tackling that with a vengeance.

sleep

I have disciplined my sleep patterns to model a Polyphasic Sleep Cycle, specifically the Everyman Sleep Schedule. This is a deviation from the traditional 8-hour sleep schedule that is most common in our industrialized society. You probably have never heard of it, so this post digs deeper. 

I’m about as un-industrial as a person can be. I don’t have a job and I’m not on anyone else’s schedule. I am a solo-preneur with residual income. My work associates are in all different timezones, one of my closest lives in France. I’m about as far away from a punch-clock as you can imagine.

And I’m as busy as a dog. Seriously, what I could do with a few extra hours per day! I’m in my most productive time of life right now, and I am seeing opportunities go to the wayside for no other reason than a lack of time. I suppose this is what makes me a productivity nut: I focus on efficiency and am able to squeeze out extra minutes during my work. For years I’ve been very good at this focus.

Now I’m shifting focus to be more disciplined in the one thing that I thought was non-negotiable: my sleep habits. I’m still in experimental mode, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Everyman Sleep Cycle works for me. After reading up on what others have tried, I thought, “Why not take advantage of the freedom I have in my work and structure my sleep habits accordingly?” I’ve got three thoughts that have given me a determination to try the Everyman Sleep Cycle.

1. I’ve Been Sort of Doing This for Years

I’ve always been a big believer in naps. My sleep pattern hasn’t been as tight as a polyphasic pattern, but I’d say it is similar. I would sleep from 10 p.m. till about 4 a.m. (6 hours) and take about two naps during the day. I usually wouldn’t go to bed during the day, but I would kick my feet up on my desk and take a snooze when I got sleepy at the computer. Since I am self-employed, why not? My sleep patterns were loose—hardly disciplined, just the way it worked out.

Does this sound slothful? To the industrialist it does. It would be difficult to do this in a traditional 9-5 job unless I skipped lunch break for a nap (which apparently some polyphasic people do).

The industrialist may look at my pattern as lazy, but I’ve found it to be incredibly productive. For years this has been my routine, though not as structured as the Everyman. If I was at my desk doing something that is somewhat boring, I’d naturally get sleepy and take a little nap. I would wake shortly after more refreshed and ready to take on the boring-but-necessary project again. I’ve found myself much more productive and I have years of productivity to prove it works.

The skeptic is out there, I know it. They’ve been conditioned to think that 8 hours per night is good, and 16 hours of work is expected. My studies have shown otherwise.

2. Monophasic Sleep Is Assumed to Be Healthy

The more I study Polyphasic Sleep Cycles, the more I discover there hasn’t been many studies on it at all. Some bloggers have come out against polyphasic trials, claiming they’re unsafe and bad for the body. There are two objections they make to dissuade people from trying alternative sleep cycles: sleep depravation and lack of studies.

Yes, sleep depravation is bad—it’s used as a form of torture—but polyphasic sleep cycles are not depravation. Instead, it zeroes in on the efficiency of your sleep by maximizing the level of deep sleep in the time you allot to sleeping. You don’t deprave yourself of sleep anymore than a dieter deprives herself of food. I’m just being more disciplined and thoughtful about it, that’s all. Makes perfect sense to me.

The second objective people make to polyphasic sleep cycles is that it is unhealthy. “There has been no empirical studies showing it healthy,” they claim. However, there hasn’t been empirical studies showing the 8-hour schedule as being necessarily healthy either. The monophasic sleep schedule works great for people stuck in the industrial age, but there is no reason for someone like me to remain loyal to that.

In fact, there is a stack of evidence that shows simple naps—at least a biphasic sleep schedule—as beneficial. One of Michael Hyatt’s most shared articles is on the benefits of naps (Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day), and he cites a Harvard University study that showed that a 30-minute nap boosted the performance of workers, returning their productivity to beginning-of-the-day levels.

There are advantages to nap taking, and that alone pushes back on the industrialized 8-hour-sleep/16-hour-awake schedule. It makes sense to go with a schedule, or at least try, to overcome the obstacle of time in your life.

3. The Advantages Are Sooo-Weeet!

There are variations to the Everyman schedule, the ideal to be considered one 3-hour sleep pattern with three 20-minute power naps throughout the rest of the 24 hour day. Here’s the image of the sleep cycle taken from Wikipedia:

everyman-sleep-schedule

Take a good look at this and consider the extra time a sleep schedule like this would provide. The Everyman would give me a total of 4 hours of sleep, but lead to 4 hours of extra time per day. Do the math:

  • 4 hours X 7 days = 28 hours extra per week
  • 4 hours X 30 days = 5 extra days per month
  • 4 hours X 1 year = 2 extra months per year
  • 4 hours X 20 years = 3.3 extra years to life

For a productivity junkie like me, these advantages are too attractive to ignore.

My experiment

Considering all this, I started the Everyman schedule on March 9. Heading into my busiest season of my year (setting up debate camps and publishing curriculum for next school year), I knew my sleep would be sacrificed anyway. I figured, why not give a disciplined schedule a try?

I’ll post more on this later, but here’s my observations three weeks into this: I love this! I feel like I’ve finally discovered healthy sleeping. I’m still “experimenting,” but I’m thinking I’m going to stick with a disciplined sleep schedule for good.

There is a lot to consider, and I will post on these considerations in the future. Keep posted by subscribing to ChrisJeub.com, and let me know what you think.

What do you think of the idea of a polyphasic sleep schedule?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I’d like to know how your very first week went. Were you exhausted initially after only 4 hours of “night” sleep? Also, how did your family play into this, did they like your new schedule, or not? I think it would be hard to implement “naps” into my family life. Can’t wait to read more Chris.

    • Good questions. I’ll roll these into my followup posts, but real quick answers:
      1. First week was toughest, of course. My body and brain needed to get used to the cycle. That said, it was easier than I thought it would be.
      2. My family has been extremely supportive. Wendy is manager of the home, so my sneaking three 20 minute naps hasn’t been difficult. Wendy schedules a nap in every afternoon (she’s a biphasic sleeper), so naps are still possible for her, just not 3.

  • I’m looking forward to your follow-up articles and the result of your experiment. I get the concept, and understand the math. I’m just wondering if it is sustainable. Sleep is given to us by God (Ps 127:2). Too much sleep is classified in the Bible as laziness, results in waste and poverty, and is therefore wrong. However, I wonder what we need to keep our bodies healthy, and our minds clear.
    I don’t have an answer. I’ve certainly tried eliminating sleep rountinely from my schedule. (As a bi-vocational pastor, I often have had to miss entire nights of sleep to study in order to rightly divide the Word, which takes a great deal of time.) I am not self-employed, so polyphrastic sleeping is probably out for me at present, but I am interested in what you find out.

    • I don’t have all the answers either, so I emphasize the “experimental” aspect of this. However, I’m seeing that perhaps our ideas of how much sleep we need isn’t quite on target. It may be more cultural than it is scientific. I’m sure enjoying the experience….will keep you posted!

  • Huh! No wonder you were willing to meet at 4am. 😀

  • Munna Ch

    I’m gonna follow a polyphasic sleep cycle. Still have a couple of questions. What if i’m doing more physical work? what kind of diet fits a polyphasic sleep cycle?
    btw, this is my sleep cycle.
    4pm to 9pm (5hrs) and
    two 20mins 3am to 3.20am, 6.40 am to 7 am

    • I would think physical work like construction would help; physical exercise helps me stay up to shape for a more rigorous sleep schedule. I find a low-carb, low-sugar diet is best. My body is more alert and spends less energy breaking down sugars.

      My most recent article on this explains a bit about these concerns you have: https://www.chrisjeub.com/adding-28-hours-more-per-week/

      Your cycle looks do-able. Let me know how is goes for you!

  • Alsteria

    Hey this sounds like a great idea, i didn’t actually know of any other types of polyphasic sleeping pattarns other than Uberman and Biphasic, i actually tried Uberman 2 years ago for 4 months.

    It was awesome while i was on it, i was actually getting bored of my activities and looking for new ones and everything in the house was cleaned for my partner every morning xD just having those extra hours to sit down and not stress is really great, but the one thing it wasn’t good for was going out or breaking the sleep in any sort of way, i had a misshap where i slept too long in around about the 2 month mark, and my mental state when i woke up was not up to shape, i got back on track but once i hit the 4 month state i stayed up to long due to going to the shops and after that i slept for nearly 2 days to get my Previous routine back 🙁 (after those 2 days where i probably slept 12 hours each day i was absolutely fine)

    all in all it was a great experience though and untill now i left it but the everyday pattern seems to be worth trying since even Uberman didn’t give me any adverse effects ^_^

    • Wow, your post is really interesting. I have been tempted to give Uberman a try — like you, just a few months — but have settled into my the Everyman quite nicely.

      • Alsteria

        yeah i wouldn’t suggest it if you’ve found a nice pattern with the everyman. i enjoyed it but i wouldn’t exactly do it again ^_^ its slightly to harsh if you deviate from it :/
        i was finding i was starting to crash if i stayed up even 1-2 minutes after the timer had gone off which was inconveniencing me if i was trying to finish something up before a nap xD ridiculously efficient though and a pretty interesting experience overall O.o

  • Silvia Cucurnia

    Hi Chris! I landed on this article ’cause I’m trying to cope with a problem as a new mom. I’m breastfeeding my 16 months old so, at this point, I’m too fatigued. Staying monophasic (whilst baby needs you each three hours top) is very hard to me. Now I feel I have no energy and no focus.
    Do you think this pattern would help me? Is there any downside I should be aware of? How do you think I could train myself into poliphasic sleep?
    (sorry for my English…I’m italian 🙂 )

    • I would suggest letting your body get more sleep than less, and napping is definitely advised. I believe all mothers should take at least one nap per day. Once your baby gets into a feeding schedule, you’ll be able to adapt a structured sleeping schedule to adapt.

      • Silvia Cucurnia

        Thanks for your reply and piece of advice.
        Baby now is 16 months old so he already has a schedule but it is very very flexible 🙂 according to his mood, health, walks, weather, food… etc.
        Anyway, is there a method to learn how to nap in an effective way? If I lie down in bed in the afternoon for 20-30 minutes I never fall asleep… I feel like I need more time to get into real relaxation.
        (I read you have 16 children… your wife has to be a superwoman!)

        • Wendy is a superwoman! =)

          Napping is a habit that took a while. I would set my alarm for 22 minutes and rest. If I didn’t fall asleep, I wouldn’t consider it a failure. Sometimes I’m just too wound up and can’t sleep. Other times I would crash, but would refuse to sleep longer than 22 minutes. That’s how you get into the habit: you refuse to “fudge” here and there, on both ends of the sleep/can’t sleep spectrum.

          Today I have very little trouble falling asleep when I decide to. I also do not dose off as easily as I used to. I have control over my sleep better than ever. It just takes practice, I suppose. Don’t get frustrated because you aren’t able to instantly fall asleep at will. Keep it up and you’ll get to the point of YOU being in control.

  • Merissa Hillsberry

    Hey Chris, I’m glad I found your article. I just recently switched back to graveyard, and I’m finding that I can’t sleep 8 hours. I’ve already naturally been sleeping three and a half hours at a time, and I can’t sleep more, so I’m going to check this out and hope that it works OK.