Sleep behaviors

by Admin
Updated: July 12, 2018

Here is a list of the various sleep behaviors I use and my subjective evaluations of them

I’ve had the luxury of full control over my time for several decades and this has given me the opportunity to experiment with a variety of sleep patterns (or behaviors - sometimes there is no pattern).

I work and travel across 9 hours of timezone difference - from the West Coast to western Europe - but with few fixed appointments.

I vary how & when I sleep, sometimes through necessity (travel), but mostly because I choose to.

It continues to serve me well: I don’t have any health problems (I’m not on any medications) and I’m not overweight.

Motivations & benefits

I love sleeping, but I prefer being awake. That is not to say I’m always happy and sometimes I’m under a lot of pressure. But in these situations, being awake and working provides a strong sense of control which is a fantastic remedy for chronic stress. Chronic stress is, I’m fairly sure, a major cause of fatigue in most people.

Happy or not, being awake when the rest of the world (nearby world) is asleep is a great feeling.

With polyphasic sleep, I can work late and start early. Through my communications it can seem like I’m always on.

I should probably also point out that I don’t do phone calls except by appointment so my sleep never gets interrupted that way. Electronic communication only.


Unless otherwise stated:

  • I might reduce, but I don’t block, ambient light
  • I fall asleep on my back and don’t move until I wake
  • I wake by myself (no alarms or other help)
  • I allow myself a few minutes to wake before moving
  • I don’t recall any dreams

Normal sleep

By normal sleep, I mean at night, for 6-8 hours.

I do this, but not often. I like it because it seems to be the only form of sleep in which I dream (and I like my dreams).

Normally, even when I’m very relaxed, I simply don’t like ending the day and going to bed.

No sleep

By this I mean 36+ hours without sleep within a narrow set of timezones (+/- 1 hour).

I find it easier when changing timezones because I can sync to daylight.

Basically, this simply means staying up all the night. I can only really do it with something highly interactive such as programing or really good conversation.

Moderate amounts of coffee &/or alcohol are fine provided I stay hydrated (otherwise I start to get a headache). Mostly, I’ll drink hot tea.

Yes, there is a price to pay. I will eventually crash for at least 6 hours but over the years I’ve acquired the ability to put that off with a 90 minute nap.

It used to be that the attempted nap became the recovery sleep. I wouldn’t be able to wake up and this would then put me seriously out-of-phase with the daylight).

I probably do this no more than 3-4 times per year. The longest was 4 days and 4 nights.

Airplane narcolepsy

This is a term I made up, not a medical term.

A long time ago, when traveling across timezones, I would get jet lag like everyone else.

To overcome the jet lag, I took overnight flights whenever possible and, after switching to destination time, act as if I was asleep.

Now, I’ve become so accustomed to sleeping on planes that I can’t stay awake on one. Even short flights in the middle of the day, zzzzzzzzzz.

Power nap (20 minutes)

This is not a good choice if overtired.

When working at the computer, I sometimes run out of mental enthusiasm. I can fix this with a power nap. The procedure is as follows (requires soft floor plus an ottoman):

  1. Lie on a soft floor with lower legs on the ottoman, effectively in a sitting position rotated 90 degrees backwards
  2. Arms out to sides (cruciform)
  3. Eyes shut (but don’t make the room dark)
  4. Mentally, start counting from 1, about 1 per second
  5. If lose count but still conscious, just start from 1 again

I’m usually out by 20-something but have gone much higher.

I’ll wake in 15-20 minutes unless overtired and can do 2-3 in a 24 hour period before it becomes difficult to fall asleep or wake.

I’ve heard of people getting this down to under 10 minutes multiple times in a day but this is the closest I’ve personally come to true polyphasic sleep.

Siesta (sort of)

Personally, I find sleeping soon after eating uncomfortable. In countries that do siesta, I’m usually out-of-phase with the local times.

An afternoon break (about a hour after lunch) is OK but a late morning nap is also sometimes a good choice.

For me, these naps last for 60-90 mins, and I only need two if I’m burning the nighttime candle at both ends.

Because the sleep time is longer, something softer than a floor is needed. Bed is OK provided I don’t lie on it in a way associated with normal sleep - diagonal works for me.

I also find that covering my body (not my legs) helps - small blanket or corner of comforter works.

Nothing special is needed to sleep. I’m usually already sufficiently tired if I’m choosing this method.

Stress crash

Nothing is more draining than stress. Chronic stress (worrying about stuff) is worst but acute stress (putting out fires) takes it’s toll.

Every few years, depending on stress, I could sleep for 48 hours straight. Although it’s been more than 10 years since I last needed one of these.

Problem: Sleep deprivation is bad

Solution: Sleep until you’ve had enough

More info

“Polyphasic Sleep Beginners Start Here” at

“Polyphasic Sleep - One Year Later” at

“... the Spanish Siesta” at by the National Sleep Foundation.

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