1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Studying Need help finding an ok sleep schedule while in school

  1. Mar 2, 2016 #1
    I'm in my last year of school. Im more productive late at night, and i feel depressed/trapped if i try to force myself to sleep early. So i thought of 2 different ways that will allow me to work late at night and get at minimum 8h sleep a day:

    Get home from school at 3pm, sleep until 6, work until about 2am, go to sleep, wake up at 7:40 and go to school


    Sleep at 8pm, wake up at 2am, do all my work, sleep at about 5:40 and wake up at 7:40

    Appreciate any advice :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2016 #2
    Maybe sleep at night?

    Humans are biological creatures. The brain decides independently of your conscious thought when to sleep. If you want to feel depressed and be unproductive, go ahead and try to force yourself into an unnatural sleeping pattern.

    Of course this is the answer you don't want but you must have known that this would be the only answer you are ever getting before you asked.
  4. Mar 2, 2016 #3
    If i was sure this was the answer why would i ask? Also, I've read about how we will function just as well by breaking up 8h sleep into two parts.
  5. Mar 2, 2016 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This isn't true, sleep isn't just 8 hours. You can stay up later for two hours, and sleep in for two hours and still feel tired. The best is to have a natural sleep/wake time. I go to bed at 20, wake up at 4:30. Get to school at 5, and get work done before my classes and after classes. I go home at 16, and have time to play video games until 19:30. It's not healthy or good for you to force yourself to stay up late. I used to do it, I'd get 4 hours of sleep per week. It was not worth it at all.
  6. Mar 2, 2016 #5


    User Avatar

    I did the two sleep period thing for awhile as an undergrad. It has come to bite me in the butt in grad school though. There aren't enough hours in the day to go through the cycle of going home, sleeping and waking up twice.
  7. Mar 2, 2016 #6
    Did you feel rested though? I live right next to the school, so time wouldnt be a problem. In fact, by sleeping in the afternoons i would be much more productive than forcing myself to work since i am always sleepy at around 3-4pm.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2017
  8. Mar 3, 2016 #7
    I'll just point out that sometimes, you just can't get 8 hours. It's physically impossible to squeeze that much time into one day. Some semesters, you may just have to bite the bullet and lose some sleep. Last semester I had a few 4-hour nights. It happens.
  9. Mar 3, 2016 #8
    Do less stuff. You really need 18 hours a day to study? Even if there were 25 hours in a day, the brain can only take up that much. It doesn't work like that. All you are saying is fundamentally flawed.

    Also, you ask for advice at the wrong place. Go look at research done into sleep or done into effective time spend learning.
  10. Mar 3, 2016 #9
    I'd assume people here would have a lot of experience with balancing work/studying with a good sleep schedule. I've looked into the research, and like I previously mentioned, spliting sleep cycles into a two separate sessions typically works better than sleeping it all in one go.
  11. Mar 3, 2016 #10
    You dodged the most important point I made.

    Do whatever you do. It won't keep me awake at night anymore because my conscience is clean.
  12. Mar 3, 2016 #11
    Somehow I don't believe this.
  13. Mar 3, 2016 #12

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Victorhugo, it sounds like your mind is made up and you're looking for validation, not advice.
  14. Mar 3, 2016 #13


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    What if your body/brain needs a minimum of 5 hours to actually make use of the sleep cycle? You will then need two independent 5 hours naps, so to speak. I feel (note, opinion only) that this actually is probably better and may work well for you. But at the end of the day, you used 10 hours of sleep compared to your classmates typical 8 hours.
    But it is true that your brain needs to sleep and experience REM sleep for your brain to re-arrange its thought process for learning and retaining knowledge. Having two periods in the day to do so, should result in a better / larger amount of learning. But that is my opinion only, as I have no scientific evidence to support this .
  15. Mar 3, 2016 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I think this is something that you need to figure out for yourself - probably by some experimentation.

    You might also want to try and figure out why it is that you feel more productive in the evenings or late at night. First, are you actually more productive, or do you just happen to get most things done later because you spend the earlier hours doing other things or procrastinating?

    Does your diet play a role in this? Sometimes if you eat a heavy, high fat meal, you can feel sleepy or afterwards (after lunch, after supper, for example). Later at night, your blood sugar levels etc. may be in a state that's more conducive to concentrating for you.

    Does environment play a role? Are you more productive because it's quieter? Are there simply less distractions (room mates are sleeping, less options on TV)?

    The reason I suggest looking at the problem this way is that as someone who has done shift work in the past, my personal experience is that mucking with your sleep schedule can really throw you off, and sometimes it can introduce consequences that are not quick to recover from. Further, while this may work while you are in school, once you join the working world, most jobs (and lifestyles) are not as flexible with their hours as your undergraduate student years.
  16. Mar 3, 2016 #15
    I get sleepy in the afternoons and always end up procrastinating, so I end up being more productive at night. Also, I feel more creative at night. Possibly because all that noise and heat during the day doesn't let me get into the moment.
  17. Jan 24, 2017 #16
    I use to wake up early morning and after coming from school sleep for 1-2 hrs and then continue to do my homework and sleep till 9 pm. In school days i was early to bed early to rise that kind of girl.:smile::wink:
  18. Jan 24, 2017 #17
    From my experience, it's a very personal thing. 8 hours is recommended-I actually sleep better with 5 or 7. I'm a night owl by nature, but actually work better in the mornings. As choppy said there's a lot of factors that you should be paying attention to when deciding what kind of sleep and study pattern works best for you. I wouldn't force yourself into a weird sleep pattern just because it was suggested online. Pay attention to yourself and experiment with different hours and study times. Environment plays an important role for studying too. It's all about optimizing what works for you personally.
  19. Jan 25, 2017 #18
    As previously mentioned by others, this matter is purely personal and you have to go into experimentation to know your true schedule. There is no general sleep time or unified schedule. 8 hours is just an average, most people only need 7 or 6 while others can't survive without 9.
    Now you said that you feel more able at night and that is logical (less sound and heat, solitude and no interruption, also procrastination is not an option since you are a couple hours away from submitting that assignment for example). Where I live there is a student that ended up second on the whole country in the official exams by sleeping all day and waking up at night. That is of course what he felt is best for him. He did not find it on the internet.

    Now for the splitting part. I still think that you have to experiment. But some advice first:
    there are apps on smartphones that can record your sleep cycles and you can benefit from them because the average human has a 1:30 sleep cycle but everyone is different ( I have 2 Hours for example). After you calculate it properly on more than one try you should know that a human needs 4 to 5 sleep cycles every night. Now just before you wake up there is what is called REM sleep which is very important for your brain. I am no expert so i don't know the effects of splitting your sleep and having 2 REM sleeps maybe per day. I would advice you to try splitting you sleep and record some info like your grades in that part, and then try sleeping at 3 or 4 and waking up at 11-12 and then just stop sleeping. That way you will have one big complete cycle and have all the time you want at night to do what you want. But be careful also that you may then have a habit of sleeping at these time thus not being able to attend events on these hours where most things happen.

    So go into a month of two of experimentation and collect info with every experiment , I would advice a week or two for every experiment so that the transition does not affect the actual benefits of some sleep pattern. For example go a 2 week cycle of experimentation and but don't collect data in the first and last 2 days of every cycle.
  20. Feb 6, 2017 #19
    @victorhugo - I feel for you, as I have gone through similar struggles myself. My suggestion is be careful and go slow - don't make drastic changes all at once. Here's an excellent book by sleep psychologists that might at least serve as a guide for your self-experimentation: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/158333534X/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1, by Michael Terman Ph.D. and Ian McMahan Ph.D. Or if you want something more academic, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/019958785X/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1, by Steven W. Lockley and Russell G. Foster; however, this is more technical & has less do-it-yourself information.

    Beyond that, I have a few specific comments on what has been said already in this thread:

    Please list some cites that back up this claim. I am skeptical, for two reasons: 1) I'm not myself aware of any literature within sleep medicine that supports such a claim; and I have read a great many more papers than most people, being someone with several different sleep problems himself. Also 2) by chance I mentioned the "two sleeps are a normal pattern for human beings" idea to the sleep psychologist who is treating me, and we briefly discussed it; he dismissed it as more an academic fad than a proven claim.

    More specifically, this claim you're repeating tends to be driven by anecdotal speculation by various academics that somehow, prior to the invention & widespread distribution of artificial lighting, Europeans in particular relied on a "two sleep" pattern in which they would sleep for some hours, then be awake for an hour or two socializing or doing other quiet things, then go back to sleep for the second time. My sleep psychologist says there is no real literature to back this speculation. Further, he cited the following study, in which several currently existing pre-industrial societies were examined for their sleep habits in the absence of artificial lighting. Perhaps surprisingly, all of these peoples delay going to bed after dark, just as we do - so this habit is evidently not caused by artificial lighting. as the two-sleep advocates tend to claim; and none of these people practice prolonged periods of wakefulness during the sleep period. Here's the cite: Yetish, Gandhi, Hillard Kaplan, Michael Gurven, Brian Wood, Herman Pontzer, Paul R Manger, Charles Wilson, Ronald McGregor, and Jerome M Siegel. “Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-Industrial Societies..” Current Biology : CB 25, no. 21 (November 2015): 2862–68. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.046. Here's a link to the full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4720388/

    Quite different than the "two sleeps at night" pattern is the siesta pattern, in which a couple of hours are lopped off nightime sleep and replaced by the siesta; this pattern is much better studied. It doesn't seem to be what you're proposing for yourself, though.

    To my knowledge, @CalcNerd is correct. This is something else my sleep psychologist said: It is indeed true that if you do wish to divide your nightly sleep into two sessions, each session needs to be long enough to be effective. Two or three hours is not enough; I don't remember the exact cut-off but it's at least 4 hours. For whatever reason, a siesta period at mid-day can be shorter than that; I don't know why.

    Yours is a common experience. However, as others commenting in this thread have already stressed, there are many factors involved for things like getting sleepy in the afternoons, procrastinating, etc. You need to be more scientific than this to really understand your sleep.

    This is untrue and a common myth. In fact research has consistently shown across many decades that "most people" who get only 6 or 7 hours are chronically underslept. The fact is, most of us do better with 8 hours of quality sleep, and few of us get it. We are just so used to not getting it, we think we can get by without it & don't realize the ways in which our health is already suffering.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  21. Feb 6, 2017 #20
    Tell that to someone with Bipolar Disorder. Do some reading on circadian rhythm:


    Even something such as not sleeping the same time every day can have negative effects. Some people are rather ultra-sensitive to this.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted