Six Days a Week




About: I run Neal's CNC in Hayward, CA, an expert CNC cutting and fabrication service. Check out what we do at I'm a founding member of Noisebridge, a hackerspace in San Francisco, and Ac...

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!

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

(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

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

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

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

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

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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123 Discussions


10 years ago on Step 3

I have often we ( mostly...not ALL) are a hodge podge basically of different nationalities from across the globe....and the time zones being what they are around the you think the reason some people have problems sleeping **normal** schedules is because somewhere in their DNA, they are displaying the ancestral tendencies ( ie: they are on the, say for instance ..European or perhaps even Middle Eastern time frame)?

I am nocturnal by nature... I seem to be happiest going to bed around 5 am, and getting up in the afternoon around 1. IF I allowed my body to sleep when I felt the need to and get up when rested....that is the schedule.( I recently broke my arm and was off work for 2.5 months...and that was the schedule I ended up on allowing myself to go with the flow of the rhythm of my body)

I know my ancestors aren't from America entirely...( I am going back a long ways...not just grandparents....but maybe their grandparents grandparents....LONG LONG ago)
It is seen by different people, that children will have tendencies to behave like an ancestor, without training to. Could this be yet another throwback to our roots?
I really hope I explained what I am trying to say here... I don't seem to be as articulate as I normally can But I wanted to throw this thought out there and get some feedback from everyone!!
Good luck on your study of your own sleep pattern!!

6 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I read somewhere about people who received a transplanted organ from deceased individuals suddenly craving foods that the deceased enjoyed eating.

Think it's called fractal memory or something along those lines, but don't know how legit it actually is. If it is though, I think it would fit into your theory of possibilities.

I also read somewhere that most of our genes contain "junk". Science doesn't really know what it is for, one possibility is that it could contain memories in some manner?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

That certainly would explain why someone resembles a far off distant relative.

The junk chain in the DNA might actually be the most interesting aspects of our ancestry and to understand why we do what we do, what we like, why we behave why we do... and to think we are are playing it forward in our own children and adding our own piece of "junk"....

I would love to know more about all of this... I wonder if it is too late to get into this science for study? At my age, I am not sure I would be able to go back to school and change my life, but it would be wonderful if they broke that coding in my lifetime !

Hot MilkFretka

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

That's an interesting idea, but then would almost all people from USA have trouble sleeping, because they originate from somewhere else.

FretkaHot Milk

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Perhaps it is something that triggers a certain DNA coding. Maybe it is something that makes a certain trait more dominate than other traits from other ancestors. Sort of like the occasional Blond Blue in a family of predominately Brunette Browns. There was an ancestor that had that coloring, and something made that DNA trait more dominate in that particular individual than the rest of the family.
I cannot say, but I love that it provokes thought and serious consideration. WHAT does make us tick the way we do?


Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

THAT is an interesting idea, that the 'setting' of the body-clocks of our ancestors can be passed to our DNA. Hmm,....interesting. Another interesting (yet much much more unlikely) thing like this, is what is in the game 'Assassin's Creed'. In ti, scientists use what they call 'DNA memory', the idea that the past experiences of your ancestors are recorded in your DNA. Now, your theory makes a lot more sense, I hope you look into it. Send me a message if you do, please!

Win GuyJamesTB13

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I, myself, just awakened 10 minutes ago... I was born at 1:38 AM, so... Maybe that has something to do with it? I dunno. Just a theory.

Win Guy


8 years ago on Step 4

Tea is only SLIGHTLY caffeinated, and I personally have no 'energizing' effects from it. Actually, I find a nice cup of tea before bed does wonders.


10 years ago on Step 9

I really don't think your problem is with the length of your schedule. You really need to look at this holistically - how much exercise do you get? how's your diet? are you stressed? what is your pre-sleep routine? I suspect that the solution to your sleep problem lies with the answers to those questions. And for the love of your health - stop drinking Coke - it's just about the worst thing you could put into your body. Eat well (good, unprocessed foods), get some good exercise every day, make sure you are dealing with the stress in your life in a healthy manner and take a good hour to prep yourself for sleep (no electronics, no tv, no radio, no music ... maybe even a little meditation) and I guarantee you will get a good night's sleep. And remember - you may not necessarily need a full 8 hours; 6 or 7 would probably do. Get yourself into a regular, daily routine and you'll be fine. I was all over the map until I got into a serious rhythm. There's no mystery, it just takes some effort. Good Luck!

3 replies

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Hmm,.... I find it very difficult to sleep without some music on from the radio,...


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

having (or physically preferring to have if work etc didn't prevent) a different sleep schedule is not intrinsically a problem or a symptom. I for one have always had a very long day, when possible, around the 32 hour mark mentioned, or possibly a bit longer, and generally needed a very short night of sleep, like 6 hours, though at times more (that does change with stress and health etc). this has been pretty consistent for decades and did not change when I got a lot of physical exercise or none; when I ate really well or only OK, or even when I didn't get enough to eat; when I ate meat or was vegetarian; student, working, or unemployed; high stress or low; coffee or no coffee. all your suggestions about improving diet and exercise and reducing stress are a good idea, I am just objecting the assumption that the 24 hour schedule is right and trying to show how much it is possible to vary these other factors and not change one's natural sleep schedule.


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

I don't think I implied that the 24 hour schedule is "right", but I would argue that it's "natural", given the natural day/night cycle. All living things have evolved to adapt to their environments & the most powerful force in our environment is the sun - so it stands to reason that our bodies natural rhythms and patterns would match the sun's rhythms & patterns. I have no doubt that you've found an 'unconventional' pattern that works for you, but your assertion, if anything, confirms the notion that the original author's search for the 'right' sleep schedule is misguided; that a regular routine and consistency are more important.


9 years ago on Introduction

I am a teenager and get 5 or less hours of sleep every night. I AM 13 AND NEED COFFEE!!!!! what should i do i stay up until about 2 or 3 am and have to get up at 8 sometimes 7! i am also addicted to caffeine already. if i dont have it i get migraines. any suggestions?

7 replies

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

sounds to me like you have sleep apnea which is a very serious condition, please have your folks take you to the doctor to have it looked into. Cut back slowly on the caffeine if you are having issues sleeping drinking alot of coffee is going to compound the issue.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

yeah, wow. that's a giant leap. he said he goes to bed late and has to get up early, sleep apnea is something COMPLETELY different. it's not like he's sleeping 8+ hours, but not feeling rested, he's just not sleeping enough.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

i have something like your problem. no matter when i go to bed i always sleep till 9:30-10:30 AM. if i dont sleep till around those times in passing out in 4th period im so tired and like someone else said school does start to early


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

  I used to get this amount of sleep at this age too. It's just a teen thing. You have to learn to make yourself go to bed earlier and then you won't NEED the caffeine.

 As for the headaches... they are more likely caused by your lack of sleep, not because you aren't getting caffeine. I would try getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, take a benedryl if you have to. Ask your parents first, but it's a mild allergy and sleep aid and will make you sleepy. When you get a headache you should probably take an advil or something instead rather than caffeine, which can actually make your headache worse. If you REALLY do get migraines then you might want to see a doctor, but natural cures are normally the best first route. :)


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Actually, the teenage years are when the normal sleep schedule of a person begins to develop. It can be dangerous to both mental and physical health to sleep on hours that you are not biologically predisposed to, which is the reason we get jet lag. It takes two days to readjust, and in most cases extended periods of a strange sleep schedule can cause serious harm.

The problem is not that the kid is going to bed too late, but that its school is starting too early.

Incidentally, the 28-hour-day is among the more dangerous strategies, so of course I tried it for a while. I have also tried staying up for two days and sleeping fifteen hours every third night (which will make you extremely crazy, to the point of constant hallucinations) and have now settled to simply sleep four or five hours, tops, a night, because that is all my insomnia will allow if I'm not really tired.