Power-Napping

Power naps have become an important part of the day over the last couple of years, as keeping up with the boy requires a steady supply of energy and patience and I'm stupidly working just about every hour of the day1. Generally a five-to-ten minute deep sleep somewhere in the afternoon has made it possible to remain alert and functional up until half-past midnight. However, this month I've found that getting two power naps in during the day pretty much eliminates the desire for sleep until sometime around 3am … which is slightly terrifying.

The sleeping schedule generally looks like this now:

  • 10-minute power nap at my desk between 2pm and 4pm
  • 10-minute power nap after the boy is in bed around 9pm
  • 4 hours of sleep

A polyphasic cycle.

While this is an unorthodox means of resting, history shows that some of the world's most creative people got their sleep in smaller blocks of time than a standard 8-hour monophasic cycle. Leonardo da Vinci and Nokla Tesla were rather extreme in their habits, sleeping for 20 minutes every four hours. I'm nowhere near as creative or in demand as these two geniuses were, and I'm not going to try to replicate their cycle. Instead, I'm going to see whether it's feasible to add one or two more power naps in the day and measure the results.

Will I be less patient? Will I lose my appetite? Will my health degrade? There's only one way to find out.

What I would ultimately like to accomplish is freeing up enough time in the day to properly take care of all my responsibilities while also leaving a block of time for my own endeavours, be it studying, reading, of software development. So much of the last three years have involved jumping from one "must do" to another to another to another from the time I wake up until the end of the night. What I really seek right now is time; a non-renewable commodity that so few of us seem to have after the age of 30.

The day job will continue to receive about 10 hours of my time every day. The family will have anywhere between four and six, depending on the day of the week2. When the weather cooperates, I try to go out for a one-hour walk in the afternoon. Tack on three hours of more "creative time" and that works out to 18 ~ 20 hours, which leaves between four and six hours for a polyphasic sleep cycle.

Is this tenable?

With the Christmas holidays coming up, there's a good opportunity to test this out. If it doesn't work, then I go back to sleeping for six hours straight every night. If a polyphasic cycle proves to be beneficial, then I'll keep it up into the near year.

We're all given the same number of minutes per day. I'd really like to enjoy a few more of mine.


  1. Fortunately it's not all for the day job. Quite a bit of time is being invested into personal projects and learning as well.

  2. When Reiko works, I spend more time with the family because nobody leaves a toddler unattended for more than a handful of minutes. Weekends I spend a great deal more time with the family, of course, as there is no day job stuff to do unless a server goes down.