What Is a "Nine to Fivers" Sleep Schedule?
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Working in the corporate world may chain you to a desk—but it doesn’t have to chain you to a sleep schedule. If you’re struggling to get enough shut-eye monophasically (a fancy term for the traditional single-block of sleep our society is built around), it may be time to explore a polyphasic alternative.
Polyphasic sleep is an umbrella term for any schedule that involves multiple periods of sleep throughout the day, as opposed to the single, night-time stretch most of us are used to. Some methods are extreme and don’t fit within the 9-to-5 lifestyle, but there are a few that could benefit the average office worker.
Types of Sleep Schedules for Nine-to-Fivers
Switching to a polyphasic sleep schedule could help you make the most of your day—but it’s not for everyone. Some methods are more intense than others, and some are more conducive to holding down a full-time job. No matter what, you’ll want to make sure you check in with your doctor before switching up your sleep schedule.
Here are a few snooze structures that won’t interfere with needing to clock in and out.
Dual Core 1
Enjoy one, three and a half hour block at night, another hour and a half block in the morning, and a quick 30-minute power nap to avoid the afternoon lull. Here’s an example:
- 9:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.: Sleep
- 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.: Awake
- 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.: Sleep
- 6:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: Awake
- 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Sleep
- 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Awake
Everyman 3 is a less intense version of the Everyman schedule, which allows for longer night-time sleep. It also only requires three 20-minute naps instead of four, making it a bit more manageable. Here’s how it breaks down:
- 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Sleep
- 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.: Awake
- 1:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.: Sleep
- 2:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.: Awake
- 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.: Sleep
- 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.: Awake
- 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sleep
- 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.: Awake
Dual Core 2
Another version of the Dual Core schedule, Dual Core 2 requires two night-time sleep instead of one and two daytime naps. This makes it a bit easier to adjust to, as you’re still getting a solid chunk of rest in the early hours of the morning. But with all these schedules, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got prime sleeping quarters for your lunchtime nap.
Here’s an example:
- 12:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.: Sleep
- 2:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m.: Awake
- 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.: Sleep
- 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Awake
- 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Sleep
- 1:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Awake
- 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Sleep
- 7 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.: Awake
Why Would Nine-to-Fivers Optimize Their Sleep?
A traditional full-time job eats up at least 40 hours of your week, if not more. Taking advantage of the time outside of the office to work on your goals or do more things you love can help you feel more productive and less stressed.
While a lot more research is needed to validate the claims often made by those who practice segmented sleep, anecdotal evidence suggests there may be benefits to be had. These include improved focus, productivity, and creativity, not to mention the lure of more personal time in your day.
Worried that napping on your lunch break will turn you into a groggy, unproductive mess? Don’t be. Science has found that a short 20- to 30-minute snooze is more effective at getting over that 2 p.m. slump than a cup of coffee.
Of course, any kind of sleep schedule that messes with how many hours of rest you get carries risks. The most obvious is sleep deprivation, which is anything less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for healthy adults.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of problems, including weight gain, decreased productivity, moodiness, and even an increased likelihood of accidents. On the other hand, getting enough sleep has been linked with improved moods, increased productivity, and an ability to get along better with others.
Sleep Tips for Nine-to-Fivers
Ready to make the switch? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Find the schedule that works for you
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to sleep schedules. So consider your natural peaks and valleys of energy. When do you feel the most alert and awake? When do you feel the sleepiest?
Keep a log of when you feel the most productive during the day and use that as a starting point for finding a schedule that works for you. And remember, it’s okay to experiment. If one schedule isn’t working out, try another. Just take it slow and make sure you’re still getting enough sleep overall.
2. Get your environment set up for success
If you’re going to be napping during the day, make sure you have a comfortable place to do so. This could be a recliner in your office, a sofa in a break room, or even your car.
If possible, try to find a spot that’s dark and quiet. You may want to grab a sleep mask and noise-canceling headphones to help you drift off even when the rest of the world is still very much awake.
3. Create a sleep routine
Just like when you were a kid, having a bedtime routine that focuses on sleep hygiene can help signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Ideally, make the routine something short that you can mimic anytime, anywhere, like enjoying a warm cup of tea or listening to a calming playlist.
The more consistently you can stick to the routine, the better. This will help train your body to fall asleep more easily, even when you’re not in your own bed.
4. Alert the necessary people
If you’re going to be napping during the day, it’s important to let your boss and co-workers know. This way, they’ll know not to bother you during your scheduled nap time.
You may also want to consider alerting family and friends, so they don’t try to reach you during the times when you’re asleep.
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep at night, you may want to consider implementing a segmented sleep schedule. This type of schedule can help you make the most of the hours you’re awake and improve your focus, productivity, and creativity.
Of course, it’s important to experiment to find a schedule that works for you and to be mindful of the risks. No matter what schedule you’re adhering to, getting at least seven hours of sleep is crucial for your health and wellbeing. So don’t skimp on your zzzs just to get another hour or two of productivity.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). How Much Sleep Do I Need? https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
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/
Dimitriu A. (2022). Segmented Sleep May Boost Productivity, but Is It Healthy? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psychiatry-and-sleep/202202/segmented-sleep-may-boost-productivity-is-it-healthy
Harvard Health Publishing. (2009). Napping may not be such a no-no. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/napping-may-not-be-such-a-no-no
Papathanasiou P. (2016). I used to be tired all the time too. ‘Segmented sleep’ solved that. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/05/tired-segmented-sleep-night
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Get Enough Sleep. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep
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