Sleep Schedules in the Absence of External Factors

In our fast-paced lives, sleep is essential for our overall well-being. Our current sleep patterns are governed by the natural cycle of the sun, as well as the demands and influences of others. But have you ever wondered what our sleep schedules would look like in a world without sunlight? Without other people? If you never knew the time, and never had anywhere to be?

Without the Sun to guide us, our bodies could even lose track of just how many days — or weeks! — are going by, and when we should be sleeping.

Natural vs. Artificial Lighting

Without the sun as a guide, our circadian rhythm – the internal clock that regulates sleep patterns – could undergo significant changes. In the absence of natural light, artificial lighting would play a vital role. We would rely heavily on advanced technologies to replicate simulated daylight, allowing us to establish a new sleep-wake cycle.

A study conducted in 2015 investigated astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), where they experience 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. This rapid cycling of light and darkness disrupted their circadian rhythms and caused irregular sleep patterns. The researchers utilized artificial lighting to regulate the sleep/wake cycles of the astronauts to mitigate the impact of the absence of sunlight.

Individual Freedom

Consider the freedom of having complete autonomy over our sleep schedules, unaffected by societal obligations or external influences. Without the time constraints imposed by work, social commitments, or any outside obligations, we would have the luxury to design our own sleep routines based solely on personal preferences and natural inclinations.

The Role of Internal Body Clocks

Our individual internal body clocks would become more prevalent, determining each person’s ideal sleep and wake times. Some might discover their natural tendency to be “morning people” while others may prefer the quiet hours of the night for rest and rejuvenation. This freedom would enable us to sleep according to our body’s preferences, leading to increased productivity and overall satisfaction.

Finding Consistency

In a world without external interference or sunlight, establishing consistency in sleep patterns might present challenges, as we would no longer have a natural cue for a fixed sleep-wake cycle. Maintaining a sense of regularity would require personal discipline and adherence to self-imposed routines. However, the absence of time constraints and external expectations could make it easier to adapt to individual sleep preferences.

Polyphasic Sleep Patterns

Without traditional work schedules and societal norms dictating our sleeping habits, some individuals may naturally gravitate towards polyphasic sleep patterns. Polyphasic sleep involves dividing sleep into multiple shorter periods throughout the day. While polyphasic sleep is rare in today’s world, it might be a more common pattern in the absence of external influences, allowing flexibility and efficient use of waking hours.

Benefits and Challenges

The liberty to regulate our own sleep schedules without external influence would have both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, we gain the freedom to optimize our sleep patterns according to our individual preferences, which may result in improved productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. On the other hand, the absence of external cues like sunlight and social schedules might make it challenging to maintain a consistent routine, leading to potential disruption of sleep patterns and increased variability in sleep quality.


While the scenario of a world without the influence of the sun or other individuals on our sleep schedules appears intriguing, it is unlikely to become a reality. Our current sleep patterns are intricately tied to the external world, and the cyclical nature of day and night. Nevertheless, considering hypothetical scenarios allows us to reflect on the importance of sleep and its impact on our lives. Understanding how our sleep schedules can be influenced by various factors helps us appreciate the delicate balance between personal preferences and external influences in achieving optimal rest and well-being.