How to Stay Productive on a 4 to 6 Hour Sleep Cycle

As an entrepreneur, my work schedule tends to be much different than a standard 9-5 job. I’d like to think that my lifestyle is unique, but I know there are thousands of other people out there sharing in my late-night hustle.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

I read an article today about a 22-year-old who has spent the last two years living on 4.5 hours of sleep per night. Interestingly enough this works out to earning him an extra two months worth of awake time every year. As I read the article I couldn’t help but laugh. Not only did I have this guy beat by an additional three years of practicing my unusual sleep cycle, but I had no clue that there are several different types of sleep cycles in the first place. Most people follow a monophasic sleep schedule, which involves seven to eight hours of continuous sleep every night. But Dubovoy, now 22, switched to polyphasic sleep at age 20. He sleeps 3.5 hours every night, supplemented with three 20-minute naps throughout his day

A typical workday for me starts at around 9 am. I wake up ready to take on the day with roughly less than five hours of sleep. While I tend to wake up around 9 am, I also fall asleep around 4 or 5 am that same morning. Unlike Dubovoy, who practices polyphasic sleep, I supplement my five hours of sleep with a 1-2 hour nap after the workday. This is known as a biphasic sleep cycle. This type of sleep may be known as biphasic sleep, but I refer to it as the “getting shit done” sleep cycle.

My philosophy is that life is too short and exciting to spend 8-10 hours of a 24-hour day laying in bed. Every second that I spend sleeping is a second that someone, somewhere around the world is working to put me out of business. While I can’t stop that natural competition from happening, I can dedicate as much time as possible to getting shit done and helping our users. It’s not only the thought of competition driving me though, but it’s also the passion I have for the work that I do. Not many people can say they wake up every day and can’t wait to start “working.”

I can generally map out my day as follows:

9 am-10 am: Do some morning yoga/stretching, eat, and shower. I make it a rule to not check email until at least 10 am when I’m ready to start attacking the workday.

10 am-12 pm: I save this block of time for the most important thing on my to-do list on any particular day. Some days it can be meetings, calls, or answering emails. Other days it could be scheduling social content, creating social ad campaigns, or even expense reporting.

12 pm-2 pm: Reading, researching, and engaging fans across dozens of social communities (personal, client, and our brand.) This requires more time than you would think, I manage over dozens of accounts with large communities.

2pm-3pm: Lunch/meeting schedule block.

3 pm-4 pm: Emails, calls, meetings.

4 pm-6 pm: Gym, lifting, and cardio.

6pm-7pm: Dinner.

7pm-8pm: Power nap.

8pm-10pm: Downtime. I usually read, listen to music, or spend time with friends and family depending on the day.

10 pm-1 am: Chatting with my team (usually on Facebook) about what was accomplished, what our plans for tomorrow are, and general conversation.

1 am -4/5 am Solitude. Aka getting shit done. No distractions across email, social media, and the real world. This time of night is when I have my best ideas, write (this post for example), or learn. In peace and solitude, I can center my focus on any problem and come up with a creative solution.

4/5am- 9am: Sleep.

My sleep schedule shifts on the weekends. Typically I give myself more downtime, focused dedication to big projects, spending time with family and friends, and catching up on some sleep. I should also mention that I workout is every day and eat a well-balanced diet. Coffee isn’t part of the equation. I like to think I run on passion.


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