With the ever-growing demands of today’s world constantly weighing on our shoulders, sleep can feel like a real inconvenience. Who has the time to just lie down and do nothing for eight hours when there’s so much to be done?
Enter the Everyman sleep schedule. But is it legit?
What is the Everyman Sleep Schedule?
Alternative sleeping schedules offer a way to maximize the precious time we have by condensing our sleep into shorter, more frequent periods. Engaging in multiple snooze sessions is known as polyphasic sleep, which adds up to far less time in bed than the traditional single block of rest known as monophasic sleep.
Many variations of polyphasic sleep exist, but by far, the most popular is the Everyman Sleep method. Developed in 2008 by Marie Straver (who also developed the Uberman method with her pal, Psuke, after a long battle with insomnia), Everyman is considered the most “user-friendly” of the polyphasic sleep schedules.
Note: most people will thrive on a more typical sleep schedule and that alternative sleep schedules should only be attempted with the supervision of your doctor.
Unlike the other methods, Everyman offers a much more gradual adaptation period by utilizing a core 3-hour sleep period during the night and adding in more brief 20-minute naps throughout the day as opposed to completely relying on naps for sleep.
The idea is that you’d get to go through multiple REM cycles during your core sleep and at least one REM cycle during your nap.
Here’s an example of the Everyman schedule:
- Sleep: 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.
- Awake: 3 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Sleep: 8 a.m. to 8:20 a.m.
- Awake: 8:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.
- Nap: 1:20 p.m. to 1:40 p.m.
- Awake: 1:40 p.m. to 6:40 p.m.
- Nap: 6:40 pm to 7 p.m.
- Awake: 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.
While every polyphasic sleep schedule can be adjusted to meet your individual needs, there are generally five variations of the Everyman that people follow:
- Everyman 1: Technically, this is a biphasic sleep schedule as it only consists of two periods of sleep. You have a core 6-hour block at night and one 20-minute nap during the day for a total of 6 hours and 20 minutes of sleep. Everyman 1 is considered the easiest pattern to follow and a great starting point if you’re new to polyphasic sleeping.
- Everyman 2: Everyman 2 builds upon Everyman 1 by adding in a second 20-minute nap and reducing your core sleep. It involves a 4-hour and 30-minute core sleep and two 20-minute naps for a total of 5 hours and 10 minutes of sleep.
- Everyman 3: Everyman 3 is the most common schedule and involves a 3-hour core sleep and three 20-minute naps for a total of 4 hours of sleep.
- Everyman 4: Everyman 4 is slightly more difficult and involves a 1-hour and 30-minute core sleep and four 20-minute naps for a total of 2 hours and 50 minutes of sleep.
- Everyman 5: Everyman 5 is another extreme Everyman schedule but grants you a little more sleep. It involves a 1-hour and 30-minute core sleep and five 20-minute naps for a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes of sleep.
Benefits of the Everyman Sleep Schedule
Science has yet to find evidence to support any kind of polyphasic sleeping, but the benefits of power napping (in addition to a normal night’s sleep) are well-documented. Studies have shown that a 20- to 30-minute siesta is enough time for your brain to enter what’s called slow-wave sleep, or SWS.
SWS is thought to be critical for physical and mental recovery, as your body repairs itself from the day’s wear and tear during this stage of sleep. So if you enjoy a daily power nap, you may also enjoy benefits like:
- Improved mood
- Faster reaction time
- Stronger short-term memory
- Increased alertness
- A greater ability to focus and concentrate
The theory behind Everyman and taking short, 20-minute naps throughout the day is that you’ll be able to take advantage of multiple SWS cycles without spending a full seven to nine hours in bed.
While napping can keep sleepiness at bay during periods of sleep deprivation, it can’t replace the benefits of a full night’s sleep. In fact, polyphasic sleeping has only been proven to have positive benefits during temporary situations where a traditional sleeping schedule isn’t an option, like solo sailors who need to stay awake during a race.
Risks of the Everyman Sleep schedule
Adults require seven to nine hours of sleep. Anything less than that is considered sleep deprivation—and the Everyman schedule falls right into that category.
Even the most adaptable Everyman schedule still only grants you barely more than six hours of sleep. While you may feel energized enough to get by on that amount for a few days or even weeks, it’s not sustainable in the long run. In fact, there’s a long list of potential risks associated with sleep deprivation, including:
- Heightened stress levels
- Impaired cognitive function
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Weakened immune system
- Lower sex drive
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of car accidents
- Increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke
Now, there is a very—very—small set of people who require less sleep than most. Science recently discovered that the DEC2 gene, a mutation that’s found in less than 3 percent of the population, allows people to function on just six hours of sleep.
There’s currently no genetic testing to see if you carry the DEC2 gene, but if you find that you feel well-rested on six hours of sleep or less, it’s possible that you may have it.
Adapting to the Everyman Sleep Schedule
If you still want to give the Everyman schedule a go (even knowing the risks involved), there are a few ways you can make the transition as smooth as possible:
- Start with Everyman 1. It’s the easiest Everyman schedule to adapt to and will give you a better chance of success. Commit to it for a few weeks before you try a more advanced Everyman schedule.
- Invest in some sleep-inducing gear. Since you’ll take a lot of daytime naps, an eye mask, blackout curtains, and a white noise machine will become your new best friends.
- Make your doctor aware of your sleep schedule. They may want to monitor you more closely for any health risks associated with sleep deprivation. If you find that Everyman isn’t working for you, talk with your doctor about other sleep schedules that may be a better fit.
The Everyman is a polyphasic sleep schedule involving multiple short naps throughout the day. While having more time awake may sound enticing, sleeping less than seven hours is not sustainable and will lead to chronic sleep deprivation. However, it may be helpful in the short term for people who need to stay awake during periods when a long, luxurious eight hours in bed isn’t possible.
If you want to try out Everyman, talk with your doctor first. They can help you monitor any health risks associated with sleep deprivation and guide you to a sleep schedule that better fits your needs.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The “short sleep” gene: When six hours is enough. https://sleepeducation.org/short-sleep-gene-when-six-hours-enough/
Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Here’s what happens when you don’t get enough sleep (and how much you really need a night.) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/happens-body-dont-get-enough-sleep/
Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Should you take power naps? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/power-naps/
Filardi M. et al. (2020). Pre-race sleep management strategy and chronotype of offshore solo sailors. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7210035/
Hilditch C. (2016). A 30-Minute, but not a 10-minute nighttime nap is associated with sleep inertia. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26715234/
Hirano A, et al. (2018). DEC2 modulates orexin expression and regulates sleep. https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1801693115
Hirshkowtiz M. et al. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073412/
Mantua J, et al. (2017). Exploring the nap paradox: Are mid-day sleep bouts a friend or foe? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598771/
Roth T. (2009). Slow wave sleep: Does it matter? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824210/
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