Picture of Six Days a Week
Last year I tried polyphasic sleeping, with little success. This year, in the continuing effort to find a sleeping schedule that works for me, I am now attempting to sleep as if there were 28 hours in a day. Multiply this out and you find that 28 x 6 = 24 x 7: each week I'll have six sleeps where most people have seven.

The picture below shows the schedule I'll be sleeping and working on. The red is when I'm scheduled to sleep and the green is when I'm scheduled to work. I am starting this on Wednesday, April 1; or arguably Thursday April 2, as the 2AM sleep start is the closest to what passes for normal for me otherwise.

I have earplugs and an eyeshade already. I'll add steps here every day or so to track my progress. We will see how it goes!
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Step 1: Why?

For a very long time I've been unable to get to sleep 8 hours before I have to wake up. In other words, if I regularly wake up at 8, I regularly can't get to sleep before 1 or 2. Midnight just doesn't do it. A few times in my life I've had several weeks of leisure to wake up Whenever, and what happens is I go to sleep later and later, until I'm nocturnal, at which point I usually have to start doing something during the day again.

I have heard vaguely of an experiment with people living clocklessly in caves, where the cycle they slept on tended to be 25 hours rather than 24. It's well known that circadian rhythms are 'about' a day long (thus the name). I think that my innate sleep cycle at least is longer than 24, so now I am testing that. No I haven't really done that much research. If you have ideas for stuff I should read, I'd love a comment about it.

Step 2: "Day" One

I went to bed last night, Thursday April 2, at 2:10 AM and was asleep within 15 or 20 minutes. This is pretty normal for me so I figure this Counts as On Schedule. I woke up at 7:30(!) but only had to go to the bathroom, and was able to get back to sleep easily. I woke up one more time around 9, i think, and went back to sleep then too. Woke up for the last time at quarter to 11 and lazily dozed until my alarm went off at 11. I estimate I got about 8 hours of sleep overall.

I felt slightly sleepy all "morning" but that's not unusual for me either. Plus I am not drawing any conclusions yet. The 2AM - 11AM sleep isn't really weird for me either, although I do not usually wake up so many times.

Next sleep: 6AM - 3PM Friday April 3.

Step 3: "Day" Two

Last "night" I went to bed at 6AM. This was Friday, April 3. I stayed up at home, sewing hats (Instructable in another couple days) rather than, say, going clubbing. I was a little tired but no more than any other late night. Got to bed on time and slept right away. I woke up at 1PM to pee, then easily slept the remaining 2 hours, waking up about 5 minutes before the alarm went off.

So far I've had no difficulty getting up at the specified time, which normally is terribly difficult for me. Of course, normally I'm not getting 9 hours of sleep.

Next sleep: 10AM - 7PM Saturday April 4.

Step 4: "Day" Three

Went easily to bed when it was time; woke up at ... not exactly sure, probably noon or 1 to go to the bathroom, then again at 5:30 PM. I thought I was awake for good, then, but did get back to sleep after 15 minutes or so, to wake up a few minutes before the alarm at 7. Again it was easy to get up on schedule (a truly welcome change).

Last night it was somewhat difficult to stay up all the way to 10AM, despite having woken up at 4. I definitely had a sense of should-be-asleep. Now, this could be simply because I've so far just stayed at home working on projects, in a dark quiet house; if I were to bestir myself to go Out this feeling might dissipate. I'll try that tonight, there's an event I have in mind to go to that'll run Late. And an 11AM meeting as well.

Also, I normally drink about one can of coke per day (but never coffee or tea or other caffeinated things), and although I never particularly notice a caffeine rush I'm sure it affects me to some degree. Since Wednesday I haven't had any coke, mostly because my food pattern has changed, and this might be affecting my sleepiness too. I haven't decided whether I'll keep not drinking caffeine, or have some. I'll note that here as it is likely to be related.

Next sleep: 2PM - 11PM Sunday April 5.

Step 5: "Day" Four

Two in the afternoon is a very weird time to go to sleep. It's too early to think of as just going to bed early, and too late to think of as having stayed up really late (ten AM just barely stretches into up-late territory). I didn't sleep that well; I woke up several times and finally at about 10:30, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, decided I wasn't going to sleep any more and got up.

I think it did not help that I had 2 cokes 'yesterday'. WRT caffeine, I decided that since this experiment is aimed to see if the 28 hour day can be normal for me, I would not have any special rules about non-sleep items. Therefore, if I wanted a coke, I could have one, as usual. I do have a usual rule of one per day, which should apply -- but I broke it. As I occasionally do.

I did finally manage to have regular meals, which I had not done previously. So far I had 'breakfast' of cereal and an orange around midnight, then 'lunch' of eggs & sausage at an all-night restaurant around 5. I'll have 'dinner' at lunchtime today. Not sure yet if I should try to maintain 3 meals daily or move to 4 slightly smaller ones... I will consider this over the next few days.

I am feeling rather tired 'today,' perhaps due to the utter backwardness of the schedule on Sundays, or perhaps due to not having slept as well as previously. I am finding that nighttime hours are longer than daytime hours :)

Next sleep: 6PM Monday April 6 - 3AM Tuesday April 7.

Step 6: "Day" Five: FAIL

Dammit. So during "day" four I was pretty tired, partly I am sure because I didn't sleep all that well the "night" before. I went to bed ten or fifteen minutes early, at about 5:45 PM. I woke up to my alarm for the first time. This was at 3. I dragged my ass out of bed, ate a bowl of cereal, sat down on the couch, and woke up again at 9AM. Drat.

"Yesterday's" scheduled sleep was 10PM to 7AM. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to get to sleep at 10, having had basically 12 hours the night before, and having woken up at 9. I also figured that was a strong sign that 28 hours is too long a day for me. I considered my options. Should I try to get back on it and continue throughout April anyway, assuming it simply will take some time to adjust? Should I give up and go back to struggling through the week on 24 hours? Or should I alter the schedule?

Next sleep: 10PM Tuesday April 7 - 7AM Wednesday April 8

Step 7: "Day" Six: Busted & Adjusted

Picture of "Day" Six: Busted & Adjusted
(Sorry about that title, I couldn't help myself)

As I suspected, I was not able to sleep at 10PM. I went to bed then, and after some upping & downing I got to sleep around midnight. I awoke at 8. This isn't too far off, though; I believe I can still use 10-7 as the schedule. I chose to alter it, and below is the new version. It pushes each night's sleep back by only 2 hours, not 4, and then I get a nap on Sunday morning to tweak it back into night order. I also marked Sunday night as starting at the same time as Monday; I don't know if I'll keep it that way or sleep at 4, according to the strictest interpretation.

Next sleep: 12AM - 9AM Thursday April 9

Step 8: "Days" Seven and Eight... or, April 9 & 10

Having adjusted the schedule now so that none of the sleep times are ENTIRELY backwards from normal, I can use regular day names and dates, which is clearer.

On the 8th/9th I slept at midnight as planned, or even a little earlier. The 9th was fantastically busy and I did not have a chance to write this up and unfortunately I no longer remember any details of that night, the one before last as I write this. I do remember not particularly wanting to get up in the morning, but made myself do so on time at 9AM. I had a coke at dinner at around 6:30, but no caffeine after that. I got quite tired around 10:30 but got a second wind in an hour or so, such that when 2:00AM rolled around, the next sleep time, I didn't quite make it. I got in bed around 2:20 and had difficulty going to sleep. I probably slept before 3:30, and woke up often during the night. I could have gotten up at 8:30 or at a lot of points afterwards, but I powered through with the sleeping and did not get up until quarter til 11, just short of schedule. Today, the 10th, I've been quite perky so far!

Next sleep: 4:00AM - 1PM Saturday April 11.

Step 9: Week Two-ish

Picture of Week Two-ish
After changing to 26 hours per "day", I found that I had much less need to pay attention to the sleep schedule (thus the lack of daily posting). I did not keep to it exactly, but it's been fairly close. And in any case, the point of this is not to keep exactly to a schedule, but to feel like I'm sleeping in a way that is natural. I'm not sure this is it, but it's not bad.

The adjustments I made are shown in today's picture, which is not of a PLAN but of the sleep I actually slept. The most difficult bit was Sunday, which as planned and as slept required a short overnight sleep and getting up early, most likely not fully rested. Since this is what I often get during much of the week, if I can get one day of not enough sleep, wonky & tired, down from 4 or 5 days of it, I'll call that a win!

Overall I've felt fine; some days my eyes are tired, some days not. It has been interesting to discover how closely tied my sleep actually is to daylight, which I had not thought to be the case from previous experience. I do find myself waking up after a couple hours of daylight, even on the later days when I ought to sleep more. I've been letting myself go back to sleep, which I rarely or never have trouble doing.

Also I find that my usual resentment of bedtime has reversed. Usually I am annoyed that I ought to go to bed already, and stay up late out of perversity. Last week a couple times I felt annoyed that I had to stay up later, and perversely went to bed early.

Step 10: Week Three-ish

Picture of Week Three-ish
This week was rather messed up in the restart area, which is supposed to be Sunday. As you can see from the image, instead of sleeping all the way through from 6PM on Sunday according to plan, I took a short nap then was up until 12:30. To tell the truth, there was an event I wanted to go to...

Then I kinda swapped Friday and Saturday's schedules, this time due to a friend visiting from out of town. Man, other people, you know?

(But next week is worse, I'm afraid! I don't think I'll be able to draw any real conclusions at the end of April. I will have to keep going through May.)

Step 11: Week Four-ish

Picture of Week Four-ish
This week was really off. I had friends visiting through Wednesday and couldn't reasonably do the early early bedtimes of the first part of the week. Either because of that or for some other reason I was tired more than usual this weekend and slept earlier than normal. And last night instead of the scheduled 3 hour nap I slept a full night, waking up at ten, and am just Not Sleepy now when I ought to have been in bed an hour ago. Yikes!

I was going to keep this schedule through April and then think about whether to try and do it regularly or revert to 24 hours. But I don't feel I have really properly been able to evaluate a 26 hour day. So I'm going to take another month, and with luck I'll have a better sense at the end of May whether this works for me or not.

Of course, even on a 24 hour day one rarely keeps EXACTLY to schedule. There's always something, a book you just need another hour to finish, or some exhausting thing that puts you to sleep earlier than usual, or a party that's too much fun to leave at midnight, or one, or two, or five... So I may go a little easier on the weekends, and allow myself more leeway. We'll see how it goes on!

Step 12: Week Five-ish

Picture of Week Five-ish
Weekends are giving me a lot of trouble, which spills over into Mondays. The rest of the week is working reasonably well but I'm pretty sure at this point that 26 hour days for the full week isn't natural for me. Sleeping at 6PM is just Hard! The last two weeks I napped a bit but then woke up fairly early in the evening and could not sleep any more until I'd gotten up and done stuff for a while. I'm sure this is at least partly because I'm not managing to do the short sleep as scheduled on Saturday night.

I'm going to keep on with the M-F schedule throughout May, but try various changes for the weekends to see if I can improve them.

Step 13: The End

Picture of The End
Success! My quest to determine whether a longer sleep cycle works better for me than a messed-up 24 hour cycle is over!

It doesn't work better at all.

Drat. But check out last week, below. It is very clear that keeping to the 26 hour day (not to mention a 28 hour day) is Not Natural for me. It takes a lot of work, and I fail frequently. This is not easier than failing to keep to a 24 hour cycle, which is basically what I've reverted to. So, I'm stopping this experiment. I will probably come up with another one at some point but I don't know what it is yet. Perhaps I will simply try to have no schedule at all!
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Earplugs will irritate your ears. A pink noise generator will drown out noise and promote sleep. I think it actually helps to clear your mind relax. You can buy one, but it's cheaper to build the one at the link above.
Isn't it white noise?
The one I linked to is a pink noise generator. There is a difference. It's explained in the article.
i'm currently on my third day of doing polyphasic....... my schedule: starting sunday, i sleep 10am-6pm, then next i sleep 2pm-10pm, 6pm-2am, 10 pm-6am, 2am-10am, 6am-2pm that gives me 6 28 hour days....... it.s perfect for the weekends when i play at clubs at all hours of the night on the weekends.......
rachel (author)  DjFluorescent6 years ago
That's very similar to mine, only I start on Saturday and sleep 9 hours instead of just 8. I'll be interested to hear how yours goes! Keep posting here -- or if you're posting about it elsewhere, put up a link. (I don't really consider this polyphasic, though, as that generally refers to much shorter sleep cycles, several a day, 'poly' indicating many.)
(yea i didn't know what else refer to it as. just a lack of terminology.) So, now i think my body has adjusted.... but it took awhile for me because for one i was a hardcore insomniac , and secondly you have to stick to your schedule without cheating or your body will get "confused"... but sleeping like this has been a major improvement for me. I am a dj on the weekends and i have to up and energetic usually from 10 at night till 4 or 5 in the morning...
Interestingly I've ended up with roughly four or five nights of sleep a week, well nt nights but occasional naps, not sure how I got in to this routine but the way it lines up I'm always awake when needed. I'll do some figuring out and record times roughly, the length of days vary in my cycle though...
stkelsiej6 years ago
If you want to make your sleep schedule really efficient, find out what your sleep cycle is. Most people sleep in cycles of 90-120 minutes. Do some research on it and you will see that you only need 1-2 sleep cycles per every 8-12 hours you are awake and productive.
luvit6 years ago
i only sleep one or 2 hours a nite evry nite. thare is no adversse site efects.
I hope your spelling is not caused by lack of sleep.
i dunno what you mean, none. i am a credable sorce of sleep knowledge and has a phd..
you're still kind of spelling things wrong and your grammar is a bit off too ;D
i;m a masture jedi.
A "masture jedi" that seems permanently drunk.
i;m savvy like that.
man, only 2 hours of sleep? do you sleep during the day ? i sleep 9 hours!!! record!!
i thinks i sleep when i drive because i can never member between the beginning and end of the trips.
Rainh2o6 years ago
Maybe try the US navy submarine cycle. 18 hour days. You work for god who knows how long and then get to sleep for like 3 hours...LOL...no really, the days are, or use to be, based on 18 hours instead of 24 hours. We would work for 8 hours and have 10 hours to to study or do whatever with meals at 7, 12 and 5 and then another one at midnight if you wanted. You get use to it after about 2 weeks and its no big deal. However as someone pointed out we never saw real daylight for sever weeks or more at a time so maybe thats why it seemed easy.
gentry6 years ago
What works for me is having to take my kid to kindergarten in the morning. It gets me at least 20 minutes outdoors in the daylight early in the morning, and here in Sunny California, even an overcast or rainy day is reasonably bright. (I used to live in Seattle, where in the winter, this would have been useless.) If I don't do that, I definitely have the one- to two-hours later every night effect.
Daddyshome6 years ago
It's not about what you eat or drink, you can get used to pretty much any meal plan. But humans are not nocturnal creatures. Your body produces melatonin in response to the lack of sunlight. Its what helps you sleep. The effect is not strong but if you spend a long time in a "cave" with inadequate lighting it will screw up your inner clock. My advice: for better sleep and general quality of life go outside every day when the sun is up AND when its down, turn most of the lights down a couple of hours before getting to sleep and don't close the drapes during the day. Perhaps people are not perfectly designed for a 24 hour long day but remember that we have be flexible to handle all sorts of situations. Sometimes you have to stay awake for 48 hours or more, and most people are capable of that. My theory is that we have to "force ourselves" a little bit to go to sleep every night because otherwise we wouldn't be able to stay awake for long periods of time on those rare occasions when we really have to.
t.rohner6 years ago
I need 5-6 hours of sleep. When i go to bed at 2AM, i wake up around 7 normally. Then i have to get up, nature calls. When i go to bed again and try to sleep some more, i feel really sleepy when i finally get up. Not everybody needs 8 hours of sleep. You just have to find out your needs. But it's a very interesting experiment, but it wouldn't work with my job...
I get 7 1/2, bed at 10 and awake at 5:30, when I actualy go to sleep is a different story however mabey 11 something
Silence6 years ago
Try reversing your meal schedule with this... make your breakfast your largest meal and the one before bed your smallest. Should give you the energy to go for your extended day.....
raymccullie6 years ago
Just a thought but after reading this whole thing. You seemed fine the first few days. Chalk that up to the placebo effect perhaps but the day you went back to drinking coke, it seemed downhill from there. I don't just assume that it's the caffeine, most likely it's some other ingredient in coke. Try coffee, try another soda, or just stick with plain water for a week. See what happens to your sleep cycle then.
nice one, brutha! you, however, should try this experiment in something like a windowless room or something, as long as you take lots of books and things to do, don't want you to go stir crazy, somewhere that you can remove the variable of daylight and night, which will put you off your plan, otherwise, nice work, I loved your other one too, about polyphasic sleep, you rock the socks!
el_darwin6 years ago
This is dangerous! Not only will your response become equivalent to a drunk person but also you'll start gaining wait as sleep help the secretion of hormones that regulate appetite!
I did something similar to this in college. I would typically stay up all night doing work twice a week for class (tough program), and after class, sleep an extra 3 or 4 hours. But then we started stringing these together, wake up at 8am, go to class, do work, whatever, stay up till you can't see the paper, drink a cup of coffee and immediately fall asleep for 30mins - 2 hours, then stay up working till you couldn't again. It turned into a competition "I slept 2 hours of the past 60 - oh yeah, I slept 5 in 80!" I ended up having to catch up on sleep every few days by sleeping a bit more than normal, 10-12 hours. In the end, you gain like 2 8-hour shifts per week. In my final month of my final year I took it one step further, I worked 40 hours, slept for 8. 40 hours, sleep for 8. Every morning, I would stop, take a shower, eat breakfast, and act as if I'd slept, then I'd have light meals all day and plenty of coffee. I worked a typical work-week every 2 days. You do start to hallucinate though.
Farewell88s6 years ago
I don't sleep. I blackout every night.
barri_kid6 years ago
Hey, this is kinda my problem, I guess I can get up if I have an alarm though, but usually I will still get back in bed and hopefully not fall asleep again, which I usually do, and sometimes I forget to turn my alarm back on :S Anyway, The last few nights of university I had a ton of work to do, so I had to pull 3 all nighter's in a row. Then for a few 8:00 morning exams, what I did was I went to bed at 4 the previous day, wake up at midnight, study till 8, then do my final. If your problem is waking up for 8, then if you go to bed at 10:00, you will wake up at 6-7 so you will be ready for 8. I guess really why I dont like going to bed at 10 is that it seems like a waste of time. I could be up for an extra 5 hours, but if you really think about it, since id normally wake up at 1, I would wake up at 8, which normally I would be sleeping. This is what I made, if you need 8 hours take the 8, or 9 if u need 9. Gray is sleep, green is awake. Friday and saturday you stay up for 24 hours doing what ever you want. Party, do stuff, idk. But both times it gives a 6 sleep week
Forgot to add the image
Small mistake, Wednesday you should go to bed at 9 instead of 10 Also, this is for a 6 day, its probably better to go 7 days and just use the 8 hour, and do the same thing every day from 11 - 7. Probably the more normal thing to do
Gjdj36 years ago
Nice! I've always wanted to try this. Although there is the possibility that "this schedule will eventually drive one stark raving mad".
Indy6 years ago
You probably saw this in your research, but there is an xkcd on this topic
But who hasn't read through the whole xkcd archive at least five times? No one I know.

Have you considered using a light box, like the ones used for Seasonal Affective Disorder and travel-induced time shifting? There are also some uses of light boxing for sleep disorders like insomnia. There are various theories about nice (~30 minute) dose of light in the morning if you're a sleep-in person. Or a shorter (~15 mins) session at night if you're a wake-early person instead. There's also some talk about how blue spectrum is more important that UV. The Apollo GoLite seems to be the most common of the modern tuned spectrum blues. But, they're not the classic 2 foot x 3 foot (or more) WALL OF LIGHT that are people usually characterize as a light box.

My thought is that you could use a light box to create start and/or stop events in your synthetic day. If you find you're having a hard time waking (for me, all days that end in Y) then drag the light box in front of your barely awake face. If you get up too early, especially following days that were mostly in solar dark, take a little hit of light when you brush your teeth. The idea here is to suggest to your brain "Hey, my day ended here, start your clock now"

But I suspect much of the research is focused on a 24 hour sleep model, so light boxing might instead be a counter-productive tool. It would suck if the box is pushing the "light defines my cycle" buttons in your brain and you're trying to somewhat break from the sun in the first place.

Your previous polyphastic sleep experiment looks too complex to use something like a light box, but in this experiment you're "only" messing around with the boundaries, so it might help.

And finally, most of the implementations I see put the "normal" days on Mon, Tues, Wed. I would put them on Fri, Sat, Sun. If I'm going to hang out with other people, it should be my friends on the weekends, not my co-workers. And that puts your largest off-from-normal day on Tuesday. Who gets anything done on a Tuesday anyhow? That's right. I'm calling out Tuesday.

Good luck!
Gjdj3 Indy6 years ago
Psh, I'd never sink to the level of reading through the archives 5 times... I've read through it at least 8 times. hahaha
Goodhart Indy6 years ago
But who hasn't read through the whole xkcd archive at least five times? No one I know.

Hi Indy, I am GoodHart, pleased to meet you ;-)
rachel (author)  Indy6 years ago
I generally can nap afternoons in sunlight, and am used to sleeping in, so I may be OK light-wise. If not, I may well employ one. I did consider several different cycle patterns but for a number of reasons the normaller days fit best for me early in the week. In any case I am more likely to hang out with friends at night on weekends, so hopefully this will work for me. We shall see!
finfan76 years ago
This kind of sleep cycle is just like what I used to do during my summers without school. I figured out that I run on a 26 hour circadian cycle a half dozen years back. The problem now is finding a job where I can actually sleep on that schedule for this summer or ever. Last summer I worked at the air force base and had to get up at 5 something. That was painful.
Sooo, when do you have to go to work?
foxstele6 years ago
This is interesting, You might also consider tring a 32-hour rotation. I can't find the link anymore, but I remember reading it was a 32 hour rotation people fall into if they don't have day/night indicators or sleep time requirements. I know for a fact that if I don't have to be up or to bed at a specific time I fall into a 32 hour rhythm myself.
I agree. A long time when I was a kid I naturally fell into a 32 hours cycle in the summer. ...Rich
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