Unique Sleeping Habits of Geniuses

Genius Garden


Having above-average intelligence has long been connected to having strange or interesting sleeping habits. One theory is that some of this may be due to the unique circadian rhythms of those with high intelligence. However, one trait that has been observed of all geniuses is that they meticulously maintain strict, yet often unique, sleeping routines in order to get a consistent, good night of sleep.

Nikola Tesla

Although always unique, some of these sleeping habits were not necessarily healthy. Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor, and engineer, dedicated just two hours a day to actual sleeping, with a total of five additional hours dedicated to some other form of rest. He is known to have had a manifestation of insomnia which possibly plagued him since boyhood. At the age of 11, he was said to have been spending entire evenings reading in his room instead of sleeping.  When his father discovered this, he put an end to it with intense disciplinary action.

Tesla’s poor sleeping habits followed him to university where his professors took notice. After they consulted with his father, the professors never saw Tesla again. He dropped out and took the remainder of his tuition money and spent it on gambling. Despite his popularity, and in some part possibly due to his lack of sleep, he suffered several nervous breakdowns, which may have negatively affected his work.

Polyphasic Cycles

Quite a few well-known geniuses preferred to get their sleep in a polyphasic manner. Polyphasic sleeping is based on what is known as Uberman’s Sleep Schedule. This involves sleeping for a total of three hours per day in six short increments.

Unique Sleeping Habits of Geniuses

Before you think about adopting this sleep schedule, make sure to learn about its requirements and health benefits. It is based on the theory that sleeping in shorter increments can help the brain reduce its need for parts of the sleep cycle that are not entirely necessary. Because of the strict nature of this system it imperative that a regular schedule is followed. The short periods of sleep need to always occur at the same time every day. It can also be very difficult to get adjusted to such a cycle and, in fact, many people find it impossible.

Despite the difficulty of maintaining this sleeping pattern, you may still want to try polyphasic sleeping if any of the below goals apply to you:

  • Increasing alertness and minimizing low levels of alertness
  • Increasing creativity
  • Increasing the health benefits of minimal sleeping hours

Included among the list of geniuses who are believed to have followed a polyphasic sleep cycle are Thomas Edison, Bruce Lee, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s participation in this sleeping cycle has come under question in some circles as there are no records of his sleep schedule, and his era was known for extolling the benefits of relaxation.

Biphasic Sleeping

For most people who are long gone, it can be nearly impossible to find any sort of official, verifiable sleep cycle records on them. While many geniuses have been theorized to have followed polyphasic sleep cycles, it seems more likely that they actually followed biphasic sleep cycles. This involves sleeping a regular seven to nine hours a day, split into two increments.

While polyphasic sleeping is often correlated with general sleeping disorders, biphasic sleeping seems to come to many people naturally. In fact, you may be following a form of biphasic sleeping already. Even if you sleep for six hours at night and take a 20-minute nap in the middle of the day, you are sleeping biphasically.

Unique Sleeping Habits of Geniuses

Research on the impacts of various sleep cycles as they relate to genius and creativity are mixed and inconclusive. For historical figures, while sleep was regarded as important to health, measuring its impact on the brain was nearly impossible. Today, with modern medical technology, we may begin to see more and more research that can be used to determine how sleep cycles impact us, but this research has not yet been conclusive.

If you want to be a genius, the best way may not be to emulate their sleep patterns, but instead to perfect your own schedule and maintain it meticulously. This is essential for a good night of sleep. It is also important to realize that many historical geniuses suffered from insomnia, mental distress, and other psychological disorders, as is common in those of high intellect. This easily could have contributed at least to the fact that so many of them are believed to have followed polyphasic sleep cycles.