The more I hear this one, the more I am skeptical: ‘I need only three hours sleep a night’. The catch is that you can do that only with the cursed alarm clock. And you might be able to kid yourself after many years that you are operating at your best after that brief horizontal stretch. But not so, zombie. Most people know that sleep goes roughly in 1.5 hour cycles, ranging from deep sleep to rapid eye movement sleep (REM).
But it also changes after about 3-4 hours. The deep sleep of that first phase does all those necessary things to your body – process alcohol, repair wounds, muscles and nerves, ease those wrinkles. But then you get hit with the second phase and all its REM. This is the time for grand voyages, scary moments, horny dreams, and whatnot. It’s when the brain processes a whole pile of crap, solving problems that seemed insurmountable the night before. Get that sleep and in the morning you’re carvin’ it. Miss it and you get distracted and cranky, make mistakes, manage mechanical tasks but not sustained thought. In other words, life is crap and you feel like death warmed up.
All this reminds me of the triple-8 campaign by the unions. It wasn’t a campaign for the 8-hour day; it was for 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep and 8 hours leisure. I guess it all comes from living in a solar system with one sun, on a planet that does its impressive spin roughly every 24 hours. It would of course be somewhat different if we had two suns and different cycles, but we’re stuck with this one.