How to make more time and Boost your Creativity While Sipping Mojitos

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How to improve your Creativity while sipping mojitos

I don’t get it. You go to bed late, wake up early, and still have so much energy! I kind of hate you

With these words, she turned off the lights and kissed me good night. I then went into the living room, did some sit-ups, wrote the next blog post, did some editing and watched a few tutorials on YouTube. The next morning I woke up fresh and full of energy, smiling at her grumpy face as I handed over a cup of coffee. This got me thinking.

I might have just found a quick and simple way to squeeze more time out of every day.

The fight against sleep

sleeping woman
Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

Ever since I was a kid I’ve disliked sleeping. Back then it was because my parents made me do it. Lately, it’s because sleep is stealing time from me.

Time is a scarce and precious resource that I want to use how I want. And sleep is this annoying thing that is getting in my way every day. Sadly, sleep is also something I need to function properly. My body is so sensitive to lack of sleep that 2-3 sleepless nights will inevitably cause me to catch a cold.

But I wasn’t prepared to give up 1/3 of every 24 hours without a fight. I was determined to find a way of controlling my own time. So I started researching sleep cycles and patterns, looking for a way to have more time at my disposal every day.

Massage and mojito anyone?

Your sleep is just a repetition of the basic sleep cycle. One such cycle lasts about 90 minutes and typically looks like this:

Phase 1: transitioning into sleep ~ 1-7 mins.

Phase 2: first stage of true sleep ~ 10-25 mins.

Phase 3: deep sleep ~ 20-40 mins.

Phase 4: dream sleep a.k.a. rapid eye movement (REM) sleep

REM sleep is the one you want. And not just because it’s the only time when you get to sip mojitos under a palm tree surrounded by 20-year-old blondes that are only interested in your personality. It’s also because this is when your brain is doing maintenance work. So while you’re enjoying an imaginary Thai massage, your brain is improving your learning skills and consolidating memories.

Can I have some more of that?

I found several studies showing that a high REM/total sleep ratio gets you a lot of benefits (cognitive, executive, creative, and more). So that’s my aim — more of the good stuff! And less of the long and unnecessary foreplay. (This idea refers to sleep, don’t go applying it to other bedroom activities)

I’ve tried different approaches, but the most effective one was polyphasic sleep. This means that you don’t have just one large chunk of sleep per day (monophasic sleep), but break it down into several short episodes of sleep. This way you will get more REM sleep in less time.

Think of it like comparing The Big Bang Theory to The Hangover: you get the same amount of laughter, just faster and in smaller bits.

Mojito and lime on a beach

More massages, less foreplay, and improved memory — who can say no to that?

Getting back control over your time

Here’s the key to designing your own polyphasic sleep schedule and taking control over your own time:

1 nap = 1 sleep cycle (90 mins. of “normal” sleep)

So for every nap you take, shave off 90 minutes of your night sleep. Let’s say you normally sleep about 7.5 hours per night. For starters, reduce that to 6 hours and add a nap during the middle of your waking period. So if you’re awake between 6 AM and midnight, take a nap around 3 PM. To get an idea of what this looks and feels like, you can read my sleep log.

Cutting your normal sleep by 1.5 hours will result in self-imposed sleep deprivation. But don’t panic, this is exactly what we want. It will jump start your afternoon nap: you skip the foreplay and jump straight into the sweet dreams of REM sleep.

This way the benefits of 90 minutes of sleep are crammed in ~20-30 minutes of napping. After that, you should wake up refreshed and full of energy, ready to kick ass during the rest of the day.

Need even more time during the day? No problem! It’s surprising how much time you can win by just following the rule mentioned above: cut 90 minutes of night sleep and insert one nap during the day. Here are some popular schemes of polyphasic sleep:

Monophasic: 8h asleep / 16h awake. Biphasic: 6.3h asleep / 17.7h awake. Everyman: 4h asleep / 20h awake. Dymaxion & Uberman: 2h asleep / 22h awake.

The good, the bad and the zombie

Are you ready to take control over your time? Good. But there are a few things you should keep in mind when using polyphasic sleep

The good part is that you can design your own sleeping schedule (and call it “the mojitoman” if you like). You’re not limited to the schemes above. Tweak them to your liking, as long as you follow the main rule: 1 nap = 90 minutes of night sleep. I have a personalized triphasic version called “The Nightshift Doctor” (4.5 hours of night sleep + a nap after the night shift + a full 90 min. cycle in the afternoon before entering the night shift).

The kind-of-bad part is that you have to find your ideal nap duration. It varies with every individual but should be around 20-30 minutes. It depends on how tired you are and how fast you can fall asleep. You will get better at this as you practice. Set your alarm clock for 30 minutes and see how you feel. Play with the duration until you wake up refreshed and full of energy. That’s your sweet spot! Take a note and use that nap duration from now on.

There has to be a cost for all those massages and tight bikinis, right? Well, there is. And it’s not in $$$ or €€€ but in discipline. You must never nap for 40 minutes or more. After 40 minutes you’re in the deep sleep phase and waking up will make you feel like you’ve had far too many mojitos.

Also, the more fragmented your schedule is and the more naps you introduce, the more discipline you need. You must take your naps at approximately the same time every day. And whatever happens, do not skip a nap if you’re on a scheme with 3 naps or more. It will make you feel like a walking zombie and you will wish you had never tried this stupid program. That’s why I would reserve Dymaxion or Uberman as an emergency solution and only use them for a limited time.

The final problem

Now that you know how to take control over your sleeping schedule, go out there and make the most of it! Don’t forget to let me know how it went and what cool stuff you did with all that extra time. Write it all in the comments below, I promise to read them all.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us – Gandalf the Grey

How to make more time


As always, I would love to know your thoughts on this. So drop me an email. I promise to read them all.

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4 thoughts on “How to make more time and Boost your Creativity While Sipping Mojitos”

  1. I’d like something clarified if you don’t mind. You say to never nap for more than 40 minutes. But you said you were using the following cycle “4.5 hours of night sleep + a nap after the night shift + a full 90 min. cycle in the afternoon before entering the night shift)”.
    Does this mean it is no longer considered a nap because you are able to complete a full cycle? Does your body still skip the foreplay if you sleep a complete cycle? Is it better to sleep that 90 min instead of 30? If so, why not just add it to your night sleep since the time spent is the same?

    1. Hi Luis, thanks for asking this.
      A full sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes long and contains all phases of sleep (including both REM and non-REM). A nap is anything shorter than that. So a nap won’t contain all phases of sleep, just the one that has the most benefits. If you follow the advice given in the post and keep your naps at around 30 minutes, you will get all the goodies from REM sleep without entering the deep sleep phase.
      Relying exclusively on naps (and REM sleep) may be dangerous if done long-term and I would never recommend it to anyone younger than 20. But if you’re an adult and lack time, you can easily replace one sleep cycle of 90 minutes with a 30 minute nap. Net win = 60 minutes. The more you do that, the more time you gain during any given day. But be aware that it also requires more and more discipline.
      Another advantage is that you don’t need one block of 7.5-8 hours. You can fragment it like I do when I have night shifts.
      As for skipping the foreplay, this comes down to practice and to tiring your body. If you practice this enough you learn to fall asleep faster. And if you’re tired enough it’s a lot easier. That’s why I recommend first reducing your night sleep to 6 hours and adding one nap the day after. Once you get the hang of it you can experiment with the more complex sleeping schedules.
      I hope this wasn’t too long and that I’ve managed to answer your questions. If not, please let me know. I’m glad to help.

      1. So how does the body know that it will be a nap beforehand and skip the non-rem sleep? Does it just go directly go into rem due to being exhausted already?
        And then what is your opinion on weekend sleep? I’m assuming it is probably better to stay on the same schedule instead of trying to sleep longer in one block and “catch up.”

        1. You’re right on both accounts.
          If your body is tired enough it will go directly into REM sleep when you take a nap. You can also improve this by napping regularly and at roughly the same hours. I usually recommend doing it at around 2-3 PM, because that’s when you have a physiologic cortisol dip.
          With regard to weekends, it’s best to stick to the same schedule as during the week. It’s been shown that “catching up” on sleep is a bad idea. It just messes with your sleep rhythm. If you’re really tired, just include one more nap on weekend days (by now you know all about those, so it should work like a charm).

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