From Sleep to Growth

May 11, 2019

I was expelled from engineering school at 18. It was a traumatic event, my grades were bad. I needed to develop a method to learn more and better. I started reading about sleep.

My thought process was quite simplistic at the time: I needed more time during the day, so I wanted to figure out a way to do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t.

Sleep accounts for one-third of our lives. You can’t do anything when you’re sleeping. It doesn’t mean sleep is useless, but I wanted to find a way to cut down on sleep.

Retrospectively, it was quite a terrible idea. Sleep is one of the three pillars of health. However, terrible ideas usually prove themselves to be great experiences - if you manage to follow through without getting yourself killed.

I started with polyphasic sleep, more specifically, an Uberman Sleep Schedule: you sleep for two hours by taking 20-minute naps spaced equidistantly throughout the day. I never managed to get used to it and gave up after a few days. Monophasic sleep is part of our culture, it was just not socially sustainable to take a nap every four hours. The adaptation period was also too much of a productivity drop for me.

Then I tried biphasic sleep (Siesta sleep schedule). It was an on-and-off relationship, but I was quite happy with the results. You sleep between 5 and 6 hours at nighttime and you have a 20-minute nap when the afternoon starts. Power naps are incredibly useful for creative workers: increased memory, increased alertness, relaxing effect… the benefits are many. Eventually, I had to revert back to my previous monophasic sleep pattern.

I used the following years to learn more about how to make the most of my waking hours, instead of simply wanting to have more hours. Quality, over quality. I learned a lot, and now it’s time for me to try again this biphasic sleep thing.

That’s how my curiosity about sleep led me to read about personal growth.