28-hour day experiments notes
I decided that I would experiment with a 28-hour day for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately it turned in to a week-and-a-half deal, as I had to fall off the wagon for some other commitments. I thought I’d write up some notes on it in case you decide to experiment with this yourself, because I couldn’t find a lot of literature on the subject (other than people theoretically positing things).
Basically the idea behind a 28-hour day is that instead of following a 24 hour circadian rhythm (16 hours awake, 8 hours sleep), you follow one that is 28 hours long (20 hours long, 8 hours asleep). This is inspired by the xkcd comic (which is always a bad idea to take things on it seriously)...
I made some adjustments to the plan, namely that my day is divided up into 18:40 of waking time, and 9:20 of sleep. This means that I ended up with the same amount of sleep as you would on a typical 16/8 24-hour cycle. I also shifted the days around slightly so that I would wake on Tuesdays at 00:20 (you can calculate the rest from there). The advantage is that it gave me some time on Monday mornings during business hours, at the cost of some loss of time on Friday afternoons in business hours.
The bonus for me, theoretically, is that I am always exhausted when going to bed. Which is great when you have sleeping problems.
The biggest problem you’d encounter with such a schedule is the rest of the world. I get around this by having a bit of flexibility in the hours of my employment (but not everyone has this). If you’ve got flextime, you can basically go nuts. Then if you’re living with anyone else, their schedules are a problem.
You also lose a day. Some people go crazy when they’ve realised a day has “gone missing”.
My eating habits were also a problem. I noticed I was a lot hungrier on this cycle. Typically I can get away with three meals a day with ease (sometimes two, by having a bigger dinner), but on this, I found I needed to eat four to five meals a day. This is because of the bigger energy demands of staying awake for longer.
My bowels caused trouble as well – they went absolutely haywire. I think if I stuck with the schedule for longer and setup artificial lighting in my room, I could trick them into working properly again. This could be diet related as well, YMMV.
I wrote a clock to help me monitor how my sleeping is supposed to be, and calculate it into something “normalised”. I also published the sources to this on github. I’ve got an updated version with a HTML5 canvas diagram in the works, I just haven’t finished it properly.