Through trial and error, I found out for myself that both of these schools are suboptimalsleep patterns. Both of them are wrong if you care about productivity. Here’s why:If you sleep set hours, you’ll sometimes go to bed when you aren’t sleepy enough. If it’staking you more than five minutes to fall asleep each night, you aren’t sleepy enough.You’re wasting time lying in bed awake and not being asleep. Another problem is thatyou’re assuming you need the same number of hours of sleep every night, which is afalse assumption. Your sleep needs vary from day to day.If you sleep based on what your body tells you, you’ll probably be sleeping more thanyou need — in many cases a lot more, like 10-15 hours more per week (the equivalent of a full waking day). A lot of people who sleep this way get 8+ hours of sleep per night,which is usually too much. Also, your mornings may be less predictable if you’re gettingup at different times. And because our natural rhythms are sometimes out of tune with the24-hour clock, you may find that your sleep times begin to drift.The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches. It’s very simple, andmany early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthroughfor me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’msleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always getup at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.I go to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up. My sleepiness test is that if I couldn’t read a book for more than a page or two without drifting off, I’m ready for bed. Most of the timewhen I go to bed, I’m asleep within three minutes. I lie down, get comfortable, andimmediately I’m drifting off. Sometimes I go to bed at 9:30pm; other times I stay up untilmidnight. Most of the time I go to bed between 10-11pm. If I’m not sleepy, I stay up untilI can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Reading is an excellent activity to do during thistime, since it becomes obvious when I’m too sleepy to read.When my alarm goes off every morning, I turn it off, stretch for a couple seconds, and situp. I don’t think about it. I’ve learned that the longer it takes me to get up, the more likelyI am to try to sleep in. So I don’t allow myself to have conversations in my head aboutthe benefits of sleeping in once the alarm goes off. Even if I want to sleep in, I always getup right away.After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into anatural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier andget more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less.My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at thesame time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable.A side effect was that on average, I slept about 90 minutes less per night, but I actuallyfelt more well-rested. I was sleeping almost the entire time I was in bed.