This may be a stupid over-answered question but Ive done a search and am only finding information about pre-bedtime routine re. supplements for example.
I know it´s advised that you have 8-10 hours sleep per night (?) but my question is, does it matter when those 8-10 hours start and end? For example, if you go to bed at 2am and get up at 10am do you get the same quality of sleep that you would going to bed at 10pm and getting up 6am?
For me, I find that I need at least 8 hours of sleep per day, but not necessarily a continuous 8 hours. Half the time, I get about 5-6 hours at night and 1-3 hours of nap time sometime during the day. If I get any less than that, I definetly feel it later.
Having said that, I ran my season’s best after having worked 80 hour weeks and getting only 4-5 hours of sleep per day … go figure.
From what I’ve seen, read, and experienced, sleeping when it’s dark out is more in tune with what our bodies are genetically designed for (ie, there was nothing else to do before the discovery of fire and the advent of light). Read Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by TS Wiley and Bent Formby…I found it to be an excellent read. I find that when I go to sleep at 10pm and wake up at 6am, I’m far more rested than going to bed at 1am and getting up at 11pm.
Me personally I try my hardest to go to sleep the same day I wake up…By this I mean in bed …hopefully sleeping by midnight. I also take naps in the daytime…just 30-40mins…I have found this helps me to train better in the evening after work.
From my experience, I can adapt to whatever sleep schedule my life demands at the time. I guess I operate better when I have a consistent pattern. I’m a morning person, so I get up around 5:00am each day, but that means, on average I’ll have to shut it down around 10:00pm, or else I’m toast the next day and good for nuthin. For me, naps during the day just don’t seem to help as much as for others, but we’re all different.
I think the whole light dark thing plays a role. My wife was a shift worker and did nights for a brief period and it kicks the crap out of you.
If you have a routine and can stick to it you’re better off. If that means 9pm to 5am or 12am to 8am then whatever. I think the number thing is a bit of a load, but when you can get into a routine, you’re body will appreciate it.
yeah ive always wondered about the sleep thing, I find I feel alot better and can get alot more done when i go to bed early and wake up early. However ive run my best times in competition doing full time shift work??
Hey everybody thanks for the replies, they certainly straightened a lot out for me. It seems that people mainly think its best to have a regular schedule, i.e. going to sleep and getting up at the same time every night and morning. Generally I do that, I was just a bit worried because it doesn´t always tend to be before midnight and I had heard that “every hour before midnight is worth 2 after” line too. However I´m definately going to try and sort it out a bit better and get to bed before midnight, thanks!
Everyones body has a biological clock, known as your Circadian Rhythm which keeps your body, or tries to keep your body on a 24 hour system. Bright Lights help to reset the circadian rhytm(ex. looking at the sun in the morning wakes you up). This is why its difficult to sleep with the sun out, and this is also why most people sleep at night.
8-10 hrs is about the average amount of sleep, you may need more or less depending on weight, age, sex, diet, exercise, amount of stress, and whether or not your systems are functioning correctly(sick, disease, etc). If you deprive your body over a long period of time, it will make up for it. Sleep deprevation doesn't reduce your physical capabilities, but it will hamper you mentally, eventually causing you to sleep for an extended period of time (or become very sick). After three or so days with out sleep, your system will automatically shut down and force you go to sleep. I wouldn't sleep(nap) during the day either because that may cause unwanted shifts in your Circadian Rhythm.
If you want to have a perfect night of sleep then you need to not wake up by any external means (The Sun, alarm clock, Angry girlfriend, etc), only naturally.
Another think to consider is if when you get in bed can you go to sleep immediately. Simple changes can make falling asleep much easier. Such as not exercising within 3-hrs of sleep time, no computer, tv, video games within 1-hr, no caffeine or any other adenosine blocking substances, and no intense emotions or thoughts while in the process of falling asleep.
Lastly I heard the most important night of sleep for a competition is 2 nights before (march 1-sleep great, march-3 meet)[ul]
three processes, each influenced by hormonal, neurological, and environmental factors, underlie sleep regulation:
[li]circadian rhythm determining periods of high and low sleep propensity, and high and low REM sleep propensity.
[/li][li]homeostatic - determined by recent sleep and wakefulness.
[/li][li]ultradian (recurring body cycles of less than 24hrs)
The interrelationships and relative importance of each process and system remain uncertain.
the mean free human circadian rhythm is actually very close to 25hrs. humans need external influences to bring it into line with our 24hr days.
Although a number of studies have shown sleep deprivation to have minimal effect if not negligible effect on performance[A,B]; A is particularly relevant
There have also been some studies that show a reduction in psychomotor performance and reduction in anerobic performance after 36hrs of wakefulness  and general decreased performance levels even when performing relatively simple tasks .
The real key here is that you must set your own sleeping pattern based on your own needs. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day for a couple of weeks, adjust as required. It’s best to start short of your sleep requirement so as not to get into the habit of oversleeping (quite easily done); as a reference point 7.5hrs is a good average sleep requirement to work from.
In direct answer to your question it is my understanding that by sleeping at irregular times, even though it may well be regimented sleep - it can cause disturbances in the circadian rhythm and negatively affect your sleep requirements.
So obviously the great bulk of your sleep should be at night at a reasonable time so that you can experience the 5 stages of sleep properly and wake up refreshed in a morning. Anecdotally I really do find people are more productive if they wake up refreshed and early, which usually means getting to bed around 11pm-12pm!
I also don’t see the harm in a half hour nap during the day so long as it is planned and well regulated - In fact i personally find this beneficial to my mental well being/motivation etc, especially after a hard training session (and PWO meal!).
[i][A] Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Aug;20(4):374-80.
Physical performance and physiological responses following 60 hours of sleep deprivation.
[B.] Mil Med. 2001 May;166(5):427-31.
Effects of one night of sleep deprivation on hormone profiles and performance efficiency.
 J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 May;89(5):2119-26.
Adverse effects of modest sleep restriction on sleepiness, performance, and inflammatory cytokines.
 Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 May; 9(3-4):359-66. Epub 2003 Mar 25.
Effects of one night’s sleep deprivation on anaerobic performance the following day.
 Neurosci Lett. 2002 Jun 28;326(2):133-6.
Physical activity increases the dissociation between subjective sleepiness and objective performance levels during extended wakefulness in human.[/i]