sleepless study?

Days 32/33 – Sleeping 4h30mn as an Indian Student


An email exchange with my friend Pavithra the other day revealed some interesting stuff about many students in India (related to sleep, of course).  It may not be so uncommon for people to spend years on a 4 – 4:30h sleeping schedule (although I would find it horribly hard without naps in between!).  Here’s her account of it:

I was thinking about it and then realized that I did something similar for almost 3 years of my life. I only slept for about 4 or 4.5 hours every single day of my life whilst in high school. Starting age 15 through age 17, I did this and never actually found any problem. I just got used to it. This was mainly to deal with academic pressures. And it was quite the norm in my friend circle. I would go to bed around midnight and wake up at around 4 or 4.30 to study (in our culture, early morning study is deemed as the best for retaining concepts. my parents would be very upset if i did not wake up in the morning and study. even if I did not study a lot, it was almost an unsaid rule that early morning study is mandatory.)

At 5.30 am, I’d go out for mathematics tuition classes (this I did for 3 years), and return at 7.10 am. I’d then get ready and go to school. After school I had a whole bunch of extra coaching classes / mock exam classes that I had to go to. By the time I returned home, it’d be 8 pm and did not have enough time for actual ‘study’. I’d be awake till midnight, go to sleep and wake up at 4 or 4.30 am  to finish up rest of the work. And this wasn’t just me. Everyone in my school would follow a similar schedule.

sleepless study?

sleepless study? -- Illustration by Dr. Fede

So I guess sleeping lesser number of hours has always been prevalent in other parts of the world to make more time for work. I once went to a tuition teacher, who actually recommended and taught polyphasic sleeping to his studentsso that they could do well in exams. It was too much for me to take, so I stopped attending his classes. This guy actually told me, 16 years old, at that point, that I was sleeping too much 🙂 :)However it was different every time I had an exam, I’d go to bed around midnight, wake up at 3 am (for fear of not being able to revise completely), revise until 5.30 am  and then go back to sleep. Wake up at 7 am, go to school + write exam, come back at mid-day after exam, take an afternoon nap for about an hour. Start studying for the next exam. I’d study until midnight and then go back to sleep and then repeat – wake up at 3 am.

But if it was a maths or physics exam, I’d totally fret and skip my early morning nap.  I’d wake up at 3 and continue studying till I actually had to put the book down and go write the exam! I am still pretty scared of those subjects! :-/

Interestingly, I have always found that my retention levels between 3am and 5am have been much much much higher than any other time-frame I’ve chosen for study. This is how I have always written exams. I’d do the same if I had to write exams even today. My body cannot comprehend any other way 🙂 And it has worked quite well for me, I think  But, to have this kind of sleep patterns without a real motivation (like exams), is very hard for me. So kudos to you!

It’s worth saying that her studying paid off 😉 … and Pavithra went on to work at fascinating destinations and projects with the United Nations.  Do the readers have a similar story to tell of sleepless study?  I would sleep well (8h – 9h) all through the study time, … and then go crazy on the night before and make a knowledge absorption marathon sleeping 3h or 4h using the adrenaline boost prior to the exam.  (but this may also have something to do with the memorization required in many exams under the Spanish university system).

Here’s an overview of the week before this one:

one week of polyphasic sleeping on E3 (Everyman 3 nap schedule)

one week of polyphasic sleep (26 March - 02 April)

Author: alvaro

A scientist, entrepreneur and wannabe polyphasic sleeper


  1. I’m a student and I’m trying to adopt the Everyman 4 sleep. My school starts at 7am and ends at around 4pm? So when should I have my naps? My core sleep is usually at 11pm to 3 am.

  2. Hi Kitty,

    I don’t think there’s a single solution for everyone. Different people have different bio-rhythms so you have to find one that works for you. If you can’t take naps between 7am and 4pm it’s going to be hard to do the Everyman Schedule. Maybe you can do core sleep + siesta. Are you allowed to take a nap between 7am and 4pm?

  3. Hi Again Kitty,

    I’ve overlapped my E3 (everyman-3-nap) schedule with your school schedule. It seems that you could do it as long as your school is close to your house 🙂 check it out:

    If you take you sleep 3h30 at night, then take your morning nap at 6, and the afternoon one at 5pm you can probably pull it off as Everyman-2. Of course don’t do anything that interferes with your health. If you don’t feel well stop and go see the doctor. I just have to warn you that it does take some time to adapt.

  4. Hi Alvaro,

    Thanks alot, I think I’m able to take a 20 mins nap between 10.05 – 10.40am and 1.35 – 2.10pm. But is it alright if I take a nap at that timing? I’ve also heard that our body detoxify at 11pm to 3am. So if I sleep at 11 to 3, will the breaks during my sch hours be suitable? Since I’m new to this way of sleeping, should I do alternate days?

    • I honestly don’t usadrntend WHY people would want to try this!?! I’ve been googling advice and this page pulls up.. I just started a full time job after being laid off for months, and I went from being able to sleep for 10-12 hrs ( I LOVE sleep), to only being able to sleep for two hours at a time! It’s killing me!! My job is 2nd and 3rd shift and my internal clock must just be really confused.. Can anyone explain why they would want to do this to themselves?! LOL

  5. Hi Kitty,

    it sounds like you could do naps at 6:00, 13:35, 18:00 and so practice the Everyman-3. I don’t know anything about the body “detoxification” between 11pm and 3am. Do you have any references? I’ve never heard of people doing alternate days. The only way I’ve seen adaptation done is trying to do it for 2 – 4 weeks until the body starts adapting. But many people give up. One needs to be very rigorous with the schedule to make it. (if you want to try alternating it’s up to you … that is another experiment in itself). I would also say that you have to find something that works for you. Every body has different rhythms and habits.

    • The draw for doing something like this is geitntg more time, so it’s especially attractive for entrepreneurs and people who just have a lot of projects to work on. It works better than simply sleeping for 3 hours because you spread out the naps throughout the day.However, after doing a lot of research, I’ve decided Uberman isn’t really a good option. However, doing something like a Siesta schedule can be awesome.

  6. Hi Alvaro,
    Yeah, the reference is here:
    I read it from somewhere that you could do the polyphasic way for alternate days or the first few days of the week.
    Okay, so I can sleep at 11 to 3am and have naps at 6am, 1.35pm and 6pm?
    Thanks alot.

  7. >> I can sleep at 11 to 3am and have naps at 6am, 1.35pm and 6pm?

    Remember that I’m not an expert. I’m just a scientist exploring polyphasic sleep for the first time. You can obviously try it and draw your own conclusions. I’ve been doing a similar schedule (sometimes waking up at 2am, sometimes at 2:30am, and with 3 naps (around 6am, 1pm and 6pm plus minus 1h). And it seems to work.

  8. Right, thanks again.

  9. Great Article! I’m really excited to try this one out! But then i’m not sure if i’d be able to do it cause i have a really tight schedule.. I’m a college student and i’m always in school from 9am – 6pm (Mondays), 9am – 4:30pm (Tuesdays), 9am – 1:30pm (Wednesdays), 7:30am – 3pm (Thursdays) and 9am – 4:30pm (Fridays). No classes on the weekends!! 🙂 It would be of great help if you could help me find a good schedule for my naps. 🙂 Oh, and i’m 18 years old.

  10. Hi,I noticed that you made it a month with the Dymaxion, much legonr than most others I can find on the web.Did you make it to the end of the second month? If so, how long did you go? If not, can you comment on why you ended the project?I would be interested to hear how this turned out.Jon

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