It seems most people do all they can to lengthen their resting times. But there are some folks out there who not only strive to shorten their sleep times but actually swear by the method, believing it brings them better cognitive function and more productivity.
What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of sleeping 3 hours a day? How complicated is the adjustment period and what tips and tricks could help you to obtain such a schedule? Read through for a comprehensive look at this sleeping method, how it used, and what it can do for you.
The Dangers of Sleeping Only 3 Hours
First things first, while some people do believe there are some useful benefits to this method, there may be a few dangers to be aware of, too. One major side effect may be a decrease in cognitive function and proper decision-making. This could lead to accidents, irritability, depression, or memory loss.
There could be multiple physical ramifications caused by sleep deprivation as well. Some people have experienced weight gain, a decreased sex drive, and changes to the skin like dark circles under the eyes. Other illnesses like heart disease or diabetes could become a possibility if the body receives inadequate rest.
Find Out More: Sleep Deprivation and Psychosis
Benefits of Sleeping Only Three Hours
Despite the difficulties in implementing limited sleeping, is there anything you stand to gain? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.
One major benefit of this style is the peace and quiet of alone time so often denied us by our busy schedules and hectic lifestyles. Sleeping at periodic intervals could result in the sleeper being awake while others are still at rest.
This could be a great time to indulge in personal hobbies or focused work tasks, free from disruptions and distractions. New skills could be developed that you may otherwise be nervous to attempt, taking comfort in the solitude to take a risk. This can be a great time to further relax and clear the mind by utilizing meditation, introspective activities, or yoga.
Because of the perceived increase in time spent in the typically late-stage REM cycle, many polyphasic sleepers believe the “Everyman method” – which relies on cues taken from the body, like a decrease in alertness, to tell the sleeper when to stop and take a nap – allows them to experience higher quality sleep than if they were to sleep 6 to 8 hours in a row.
Listening to your own body and basing your nap times around your individual physical needs is also believed to produce a better quality rest as your body is engaged in sleep when it needs it the absolute most. The working theory is that more time spent in deeper rest will promote more alertness and energy throughout the day overall.
Many people who use the polyphasic, or segmented sleep method report more productive hours when they are awake. They no longer wait half the day to catch a few winks, so many do not feel tired and run down halfway through their shift. Some report a decrease in energy just before their nap times, with increased and sustainable alertness following rest.
Because of this increased mental state, many people find themselves putting in higher quality work and getting more done at the same time. As a result, some may find themselves with more free time not only because they are sleeping less, but because they have less work to attend to.
Ready to give this type of sleeping a try but not sure where to begin? Here are a few tips that could help you adjust to this new method.
You may have relied on coffee, energy drinks, or sodas to keep you going after a night of fitful rest. Some proponents of the Everyman method recommend cutting out caffeine and its effects from your diet completely, or at least as much as possible. It is believed that caffeine makes it difficult to wind down and relax enough to actually drift off for a quick nap and should thus be avoided so as not to interfere with the schedule.
In theory, consuming less caffeine shouldn’t be an issue once the sleeper adjusts to this new method. An increase in energy and alertness should reduce the need for a caffeine-induced pick-me-up.
Learn More: How Does Caffeine Affect Sleep Quality?
Listen to Ambient Sounds
A big reason so many people sleep at night is that it is peaceful and quiet. People are done working and traveling for the day and there are fewer sounds to keep us distracted and awake. Trying to nap in the daytime could be a challenge for people who are particularly sensitive to noise disruption.
Try using headphones to listen to relaxing sleep music or ambient sounds to help drown out everyday noises. Experiment with different genres and settings so you can figure out what to listen to that promotes a relaxed frame of mind so you can meditate and unwind.
Get More Info: Effects of Listening to Music While Sleeping
No Driving Policy When Tired
While fans of the Everyman method do report an increase of energy, they have also been known to experience deeper feelings of exhaustion just before nap times. These sleepers may become so tired that they are slightly delirious and have trouble handling ordinary tasks before taking their 20-minute nap.
For this reason, it is very important that you do not operate a motor vehicle when you are feeling less than fully awake. Adhere to a strict policy that forbids you from driving when you are likely to experience these exhausted states to ensure your personal safety and the safety of others.
Find Something That Interests You
You might find your body doesn’t want to wake up after only a few hours, or minutes, of rest and prefers to keep on sleeping when you are first trying to adjust to this new regimen. Some suggest having a plan for your waking hours that includes projects, hobbies, and skills that you are very important to you.
This train of thought assumes that your interest will be enough motivation to get you up and moving after your rest period. It may be beneficial to add some variety to your daily activities to avoid becoming bored. Everyman users believe the more interested you are in a subject the more likely you are to adhere to the schedule, and monotony is only likely to get in the way of that.
Plan A Schedule That Works
No two reduced sleep schedules will look the same. You will need to find ways to plan your nap times around your work and social schedules. Don’t feel too pressured to stick to a specific schedule if it cannot realistically fit into your day.
Some people have had success requesting a little down time around their lunch hours at work. Others prefer to have their “core” sleep earlier or later in the night depending on their general habits. Many longtime sleepers that do this caution that it may take a few weeks to fully adjust, so keep that in mind when determining whether or not your schedule needs to be revised.
Listen to Your Body
The original Everyman method stuck to a specific schedule in which naps took place at equidistant intervals. Not everyone is able to sustain such a schedule, so Everyman users began to tweak their individual cycles to suit their bodies’ needs.
Fans of this method promise once a beginner adjusts to this new way of sleeping that they will feel better than ever. But they also caution not to overdo it and to pay close attention to your physical needs. It is recommended to switch back to a regular sleep cycle if this style of sleeping proves to be detrimental to your health.
Meditation is often an important factor in rest and relaxation. Taking time out of your day to think positive thoughts or to clear your mind of mental clutter could greatly improve the quality of your nap times and allow you to be able to drift off even in the middle of the day.
Remember to take a few moments for yourself to unwind every so often. Spending a few minutes before each rest period could be a great way to de-stress and is likely to bring more peace of mind even if you don’t get the hang of reduced time snoozing.
Read More: Meditation Before Sleep
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 3 hours enough?
This will depend largely on how your body responds to resting this way. Some people are able to function on only 3 hours very well and actually perform better after sleeping in bursts. Though many experts do still recommend a minimum of 6 hours of sleep a night, with 8 being preferable.
Can you survive a day with 3 hours of sleep?
At this point, you may be wondering if 3 hours of rest is for you and could be wondering how to function after so little time. Exercise and energy-boosting foods could be helpful, healthy ways to help you adjust to this new sleep cycle. Ultimately, your body will tell you whether or not you can manage 3 hours sleep a day.
Are there negative effects?
Some experts do caution against these types of methods because there is very little research to show what the long-term ramifications may be. Some worry that shifting the sleep cycles is unnatural and could be a detriment to the metabolic and endocrine systems. A spike in blood sugar levels and hormone disruptions may also be caused by reduced sleeping methods.
In the end, the choice to sleep in bursts in one continuous session is completely up to you. Only you will know what your body can handle and whether or not either sleep structure is suitable for your various needs. Be careful to pay attention to side effects that may affect your health negatively and adjust your nap times as-needed or return back to a traditional routine.
Remember that it may take you a little bit of time to adjust to this new method and employ soothing techniques such as meditation, relaxing ambient sounds, or endorphin-inducing exercises to help keep yourself on track.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.