This had led to research over the concept of how much sleep is optimal, and how much is enough. Interestingly, it seems that many who are into heavy fitness schedules (bodybuilders etc) require lesser sleep amounts to maintain an alert state. This would seem to fit with my own observations, in that if I have exercised heavily, I tend to fall into a deeper sleep, within a shorted period of time. However, if I have exercised in a way that has over-strained my body, sometimes extra rest can be required, most likely so that it can "fix" itself.
I have many memories of college wherein intellectual stimulation would also have the same result. Coding would run into the early AM hours, and at some point when my brain was reduced to gelatin I would return home for about 3-6 hours of sleep, and still manage to feel active and refreshed the next day. Coding where I went to bed before my brain gelified might result in tossing-and-turning.
Stimulants, of course, affect either of these situations, but as I'm not much of a caffeine drinker (particularly later in the day), I believe that can be ruled out.
So, how much sleep does a normal slashdotter need before being able to achieve uncaffeinated alertness? What tips and tricks can you recommend to pull a few extra hours out of the day (much like many fitness fanatics do) without sacrificing your health or alertness? How do you trick your body into achieving the almighty "power-nap" or "super-sleep" for quick revitalization?"