Sleep Is For The Birds: How To Make Your Life Fit Your Clock
Everyone always says that it’s the early bird that gets the worm, but what they fail to mention is that the night owl prefers small rodents, and those that rise far too early are simply fowl. Birds with flexible schedules? Forget about it. They’re out for nectar. To be most productive you’ve got to feed your bird what it wants, but what if you’re caged by the traditional early morning start to the business day?
Figuring out whether you’re a lark, a hummingbird or a night owl will help determine your menu. Though most of us perceive ourselves as being either early-rising larks or candle-burning night owls, the facts show that most people are adaptable hummingbirds and can adjust relatively well to either sleep cycle. Most hummingbirds show tendencies towards one extreme or the other, but the number of genuinely larky or owly folks is quite low. Right away we see that most of us deal with worms okay, and a small few are especially delighted. Of course, then there are those of us that ask, “Who?”
Night Owls have it rough in a worm-driven world. Feeling a natural instinct to start later in the day means being drawn towards staying up until the wee hours as well, which complicates the lives of those who obey the relatively nine-to-five work schedule on which we operate. Studies have shown late-risers to have less emotional stability and higher levels of depression and addiction in addition to being generally less dependable than early birds. Add that to the higher propensity towards neurosis, and it’s enough to make your head spin. As a definite nightbreed myself, I find these results a bit troubling.
Owl’s Well That Ends Well
It’s important to realize that the forces that govern our sleep tendencies are mostly genetically determined. Thus, your bird’s gotta’ sing its own song. Working against your body’s natural inclinations is a losing proposition, so adapting a strategy for optimizing your productivity schedule is a much better bet. Luckily, in the startup world there are fantastic opportunities to work at virtually any hour. One of the greatest byproducts of the tech revolution has been the slow but steady erosion of the nine-to-five mentality.
The Cuckoo’s Nest
Maybe you’d like to escape this liberal use of avian puns and buck the sleep trend altogether. If you’re willing to suffer a period of extreme discomfort and exhaustion, you may be able to acquire the Uberman’s Sleep Schedule. This experiment replaces uninterrupted hours of sleep by taking six twenty to thirty minute naps every six hours of the day. When the brain is forced to adjust to this furtive sleep schedule, it adapts by entering the REM cycle within minutes after falling asleep.
Shiny Happy People
Since the REM cycle is the most important for restoring and refreshing the mind, the benefits for achieving the Uberman’s Schedule are attractive. Subjects who successfully completed the transition to this sleep pattern demonstrate a spike in cognitive ability, and with the obvious advantage of being awake for 21 hours of the day, you’d be able to work circles around the snoozers.
Everybody Hurts Sometimes
While this sleep-free lifestyle is a tempting thought, it must be noted that the period of transition from normal sleep patterns to the Uberman’s Schedule is extremely grueling, and that the potential for psychological damage has yet to be determined.
Editor’s note: In the Seinfeld episode, “The Friar’s Club” Kramer sleeps 20 minutes every 3 hours, (based on the supposed Polyphasic sleep patterns of Leonardo Da Vinci). If I remember correctly, Kramer ends up in the Hudson River. Propensity towards neurosis or not, I’m sticking to my Night Owl sleep patterns, TYVM!