Little Sleep: What to Expect, How to Stay Awake, Polyphasic Sleep, Morning Routines

“My life like my shoes, worn out in the service of God.” -President Spencer W. Kimball

-when much is at stake, you must lose the calendar, and just go full throttle. This means you sleep when you must, not when a clock says something. And when you must sleep, you do so incrementally, then get back to work, as a little sleep can be restorative.

-stock up on sleep so when you can’t, you have reserves. The science shows that it indeed works like this, the use of stored energy, and the power to renew one’s self with a reasonable night’s sleep even if you’ve been without for a few days.

-in seasons of critical performance, get all you need to do completed, then rest a season. It’s feast or famine. You can’t wait until it’s convenient in your schedule to get your work done.


I’ve been a full-time college student for the past 6 years, all of said years having also worked a full time job and maintained a marriage, and during some of which having raised a number of children, I have thought much about where the line is for giving one’s all for the betterment of society. Though this line (as well as one’s ability to move that line in a per needs basis) varies from person to person, here are some generalities I’ve come to believe from much trial and error, much success, and much failure.

My soul cries out, Oh God, how strict are thy ways, and how high are thine expectations! I tremble to think of what trials lie ahead, and I tremble to look at what we have already gone through in this life and what we have gone through in the pre-mortal existence. We know not if we could do now and tomorrow what we could and did then. Nevertheless, we know thou wilt sustain thy servants in the hour of their need. As our days shall demand, so our succor from thee, our constant aid, shall be. Thou we may not KNOW that we in our flesh shall conquer this selfsame hour, we can surely BELIEVE.

Note: I have no knowledge about how much sleep a pregnant woman needs, it’s likely greater.

Note: regularly resorting to medication and junk food (including soda) is a sign of an unsustainable lifestyle, and is not recommended for any substantial stage of life, including college semesters or new-born baby months, or times of extreme poverty, etc. For these seasons of great distress, other more sustainable options are available to those who seek them.  If these nutriativly empty substances are to be used at all, it is in rare emergency or rare celebration. The seeker of greatest joy & service recognizes that it is best to never use them for either or celebration. Even those who work a graveyard shift or heavy class/work/family load perform better when adopting healthy coping mechanisms.


This section shows what one can expect based on how many hours of sleep they get, ranging from 11 hours to 0 hours. Refer also to my similar article of compiled quotes and examples from prophets and other inspired individuals on sleep.


11: solution for 0-hour prior night

10: have you no dignity man? / open rebellion

9: there goes your life / probably depressed / complete restoration from a week of clearly diminished rest.

8: ready to do sustained intense focus / born again / easy to be optimistic; must exercise for max alertness. Missionaries sleep this amount (Note: missionaries are young and may need more sleep due to their age of development). Napoleon Bonaparte military genius suggested that for a mature adult to sleep this amount is wasteful.

7: going along just fine / let’s do this. No music is required for focused study.

6: I’m going to make it. Constant mental effort required for sustained focus; exercise boosts function if can conjure the motivation to exercise. 2nd episode of exercise mid-day gives equivalent of 1-hour nap. Napoleon Bonaparte military genius suggested this amount of sleep for men of ambition. Music is required for focused study. Comedic relief serves in this phase to boost the immune system and deflect depressive instincts. Jovial social interaction further serves to sustain usefulness in this sleep schedule. Menial tasks which require little to no thought are good to accomplish in this schedule, reserving one’s energy/time/prime for the more daunting tasks of designing, calculating, and so forth.


crossing line of chronic health / sustainability; below this point will need nap for max function / economic point of diminishing returns


5: life is pain; only sustainable with spiritual fortification; high risk for depression & bodily temptation; occasional relief from pain when highly distracted; you can perform mentally, but you won’t think you can; multiple episodes of physical fitness required to override mental fatigue. 1-hour nap 2/3 through day enhances remaining 3rd to 7-hour-like performance. Increase caloric intake by 400 to compensate strain on body. You can still have normal social interaction in this stage. If very interested in a topic, can carry on as though you had 8 hours of sleep therein, but performing begrudging tasks is most dreadful. If is likely that Dr. Hugh Nibley frequently used this sleep schedule, as he was known to suggest to students that they study until 2 or 3am to perform with excellence in school and lamented that the ‘lamps didn’t burn’ late into the night in BYU dorms. Nibley was famous for being the best in his field and being better than everyone else in their own fields. Participation in an economic society is virtually disabled at this sleep level, particularly meaningful and hearty participation.


4: “why did i do this”; “there is no mercy, no mercy!”; focus on nutrition (esp. vit. C) to avoid eminent sickness; I have a fighting chance of surviving without illness, but I’m not happy about it; must build time into schedule for staring into space and repeatedly pondering the question “why”; increase caloric intake by 700. Avoid stressful situations as to not lose your temper. You’re bent and almost to breaking, potential for “Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde syndrome” when encountering unexpected stress, particularly related to interpersonal interactions; “what happened?”; must write morals on palm of hand as they’re no longer in thoughts; this is the final stage of semi-reasonable sleep length. You can perform scheduled tasks, but time in between scheduled tasks is wasted in lament and grimace of pain. You will be easily distracted and use much of your limited fuel in creative rather than administrative tasks. The infamous Joseph Richardson who maintained a 4.0 in high school, always 18 credit semesters in college (still 4.0), and graduate school in computer science and physics (still 4.0), reported a particular semester of graduate school where he had an average of 4 hours of sleep per night, which he reported was most miserable & somewhat maddening, though succeed he did. One key to Joseph’s academic success is that he never allows himself to sleep if there is unfinished homework which is due the next day. It is to be noted that Joseph never used caffeine and had a diet high in milk beans and wheat bread from a young age. Joseph also reports some long-term negative health consequences which he correlates with these and similar times of his life. Generally speaking, it is unwise to expect to perform well academically on such diminished amounts of sleep.  I believe Brigham Young was on this average of sleep when doing last minute temple ceremonies before they had to leave in months soon to come. Onset of diarrhea is a key sign that debilitating sickness is eminent, retreat and fortify (although sometimes there are things worse than diarrhea, as evidenced by the courageous battles of George Washington, where he reported diarrhea during battle).


crossing the line of acute health: emergency status


3: sick; onset of an inflamed uvula upon waking indicates severe stress on the immune system. There is a small chance that sickness can be avoided in this schedule with the employment of a series of brief naps throughout the day; exercise decreases health; seek restful moments throughout day whenever possible, deliberate psychoactive self-restraint to decrease stress of constant pain; increase caloric intake by 1500. Social interaction requires full attention / is ineffective. Some temptations are diminished in this stage as extreme exhaustion brings a sense of humility and compassion for humanity which comes with inevitable resignation on account of one’s abilities to reach all personal goals. Some things can be maintained with this amount of sleep, such as clocking in and out of work on time, attending mandatory school classes, and completing assigned homework. Small infrequent medication to calm symptoms so as to complete needed social performances are considered, but with awareness of impending liver and other damage to those who medicate casually/frequently. As completion of homework is critical to maintaining a grade point average, the student is justified, as the provider is justified in making sufficient money to pay bills at this sleep level, in temporary heroic sprints in this phase to complete needed tasks. Time is such that some days are more important than others, and if you have only 3 hours of sleep to meet demands of the more crucial days, compensation/health reconciliation must be completed.  Note: emergency status can often be avoided with good planning, which evades the need of procrastinated workloads.

2: 5th dimension Leonardo Da Vinci / polyphasic sleep; sick, but not bedridden sick if execute naps

1: forestall impending doom. Insufficient naps; Increase caloric intake by 2000.

0: kamikaze. Timebomb. One becomes not only sick, but useless. However, if only employed once or twice a month and other days have a healthy amount of rest, including small repair in the aftermath, this schedule can be tolerated.




Ways to Stay Awake on Graveyard Shift

(In a somewhat healthy way; staying up all night is inherently unhealthy, but sometimes required to provide for a family while going to school, etc.)

Stretching! Become a master of flexibility, you’ve got nothing but time. Can read in stretch positions too. Get a book on flexibility or print stuff to try lots of different stretches.

Avoid time fillers like video games and junk food.

Classic narrative and otherwise compelling literature.

Paperwhite kindle

Mp3 player

Phone with usb otg (for reading editing files and playing music and video)

Draw/paint landscapes.

Sculpt with clay, then bring home creations to cook into permanence.

Plenty of protein so not Hungary; low carbs so not tired


‘desk cycle’ seated portable foot bike


Flex cords

Gum, sun seeds

Dandelion ‘tea’ energizes

Reading with a purpose: to complete books; minimal highlighting, speed read

Minipiano with headphone jack, and bud headphones so not bulky, and printed ‘tabs’

Electric Acoustic guitar with headphone jack so as to play without noise.

Seek other instruments that can plug in headphones

Free weight workouts: squat, jj, su, pu, jump, ‘dry’ ollie (squat, jump up, tuck, land in squat)

Look sharp so you feel sharp, it’s energizing.

Journal freewriting. Spill ideas onto a page. Could write stories to tell the children too.

Construction books with lots of pics, its an active subject

Math; it’s an active participation thing.

Look at books on sport technique; an active subject.

Print out articles and edit them with red pen to later electronically update. Have a keyboard to type plugged into the phone where possible if computer not available.

Pomegranates: takes long time to peel, lots of little rewards.

Bring ice for your feet

Lotion hands and feet; this relieves pain/irritation so you can focus on other things

IBU Tylenol something so you can happily do something without focus on pain (will kill the liver & intestines if used too much)

Nuts, seeds



Polyphasic Sleep:


Video: Click here

(Going on 1-4 hours of sleep per day, with periodic 25 minute naps (a few per day).)
REM sleep happens in the 25 minute range, so the 25 min. naps provide quality sleep which eventually feels like hours of rest.
The first few weeks are hard but then you get used to it.
Several renown thinkers purportedly did this.
It’s supposed to not only give more time, but more health and energy including weight loss.


Morning Routine Sketch

Before going to bed:

-prayer and journal and write in planner stuff for tomorrow’s doings

-phone charge in other room, use actual alarm clock. Helps avoid social media etc.

-set alarm for 6 hours after time of going to bed; while caring for infant, may set for 7 hours, since plan on an hour of tending baby; when under the gun in school etc., set for 4 hours (Joseph has proven that optimal brain function & health aren’t required for academic success)


Getting out of bed:

-not hit snooze lest I get into another sleep cycle; countdown from 5, and get up

-use cold therapy to shock your brain into alertness via cold shower

-treadmill 30 minutes, try for at least 2 miles

-scripture study for 30 minutes. Don’t procrastinate these things for later in the day: later in the day is when you need to be getting homework etc. done. These things will launch the day effectively. Without these things, the rest of the day can easily astray.

-review the planner list of stuff to do

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