A few weeks ago the Reddit Internet Tour bus stopped at the Foundation. Over barbeque and a live twitter stream, Alexis Ohanian had a discussion with 4 entrepreneurs about what’s important in startups, community, and life.
Naithan Jones, founder of the exciting AgLocal, and former Kauffman Foundation colleague gave a piece of advice not often associated with startups: get some sleep.
Turns out, there is a lot scientific research to back him up. Besides physical health, sleep helps our memory formation and ability to learn (here, here and here), emotional processing (here) and performance in procedural skills like driving (here and here). You can’t problem solve as effectively or engage in optimal decision making when you are sleep deprived.
But when even 24 hours don’t seem to be enough to knock out your work list, shortening your working hours to 16 can be a tough sell. While significant benefits are seen after 8 hours of sleep, there are also benefits to a few hours of sleep and as little as 6 minutes of sleep. Polyphasic sleep refers to alternate sleeping schemes in which sleep is broken up into multiple sessions, usually reducing sleep time to 2-6 hours. Below is a nifty infographic outlining predominant patterns. Green dots indicate REM cycles while red space indicates the rest of the sleep cycle.
There is a catch, however. The less total sleep, the stricter the schedule must remain for naps. In the two and three nap “Everyman” variations you shouldn’t miss your nap by more than a couple of hours, and the “Uberman” method requires naps be within 30 minutes of their allotted spot. This could be difficult for many. In most workplaces in the U.S. midday naps wouldn’t be well received. However, you’re an entrepreneur and besides your consistent sleep deprivation one of the other hallmarks of your profession is that you make your own schedule.
So go ahead and take a nap.