While working for TippingPoint’s DVLabs, I was fortunate enough to not be held to any kind of regular work schedule. Working in an almost pure research role, without the requirement of regularly interfacing with customers or even the rest of the DVLabs group, I had the opportunity to explore something that I’ve never really had the opportunity to before, at least not for extended periods of time; my body’s natural sleep cycle.
After a couple of months of letting my body get into it’s own natural rhythm, which seemed to be a 27-hour day, I found a work schedule that not only worked well for my body’s natural rhythm, but also worked well for being at the office at predictable times so that if someone did need to interface with me, they had a good idea when to do so… For the last 6 months or so of employment at TippingPoint, my weekly work schedule was as follows:
- Mon: 1:00am – 9:00am
- Tue: 4:00am – 12:00pm
- Wed: 7:00am – 3:00pm
- Thu: 10:00am – 6:00pm
- Fri: 1:00pm – 9:00pm
As you can see, this is essentially a sliding schedule, adjusted by 3 hours per day. While keeping this schedule my body would regularly sleep between 6 and 7 hours per night, if allowed to rest and wake when it wanted to. This gave me a ~20 hour day, without any required naps. Now, if you continue this schedule through the weekend days:
- Sat: 4:00pm – 12:00am
- Sun: 7:00pm – 3:00am
It becomes obvious that this schedule does not align with a 7 day week (5 day work week), so some weekend adjustment was required to maintain a regular schedule during the weekdays. My solution was to simply not go to sleep Sunday morning and delay that around 6 hours or so until Sunday evening, which effectively reset my body’s sleep schedule for the upcoming week.
Obviously deviating from our societal and cultural norm is not for everyone, especially if you’re not fortunate enough to be employed by a flexible company. If you are however, I highly recommend doing some experimentation to find out what your body naturally does if left to it’s own devices. During this period working for TippingPoint, I was much more alert while awake, felt less fatigued toward the end of my “day”, and required a lot less stimulant such as caffeine and sugar to keep me awake and energetic in the “mornings”. I also had very few problems falling asleep when it came time to do so.
To help with your own experimentation, you may want to review some resources that I’ve recently come across:
- Wikipedia Article on the Circadian Rhythm
- Boston Globe’s How to Nap
- Hack a Day’s post on Polyphasic Sleep
There are a multitude of “alternative” sleeping methods, and each and every person is different regarding what their body wants to do naturally, so experiment and find what works for you!