I had posted this a couple of days ago on another topic but it seems to apply here as well. Cheers.
I started sailing a couple of years ago and, of necessity, have been solo sailing, some at night. I have completed a couple of two-night passages and a couple of others overnight. My sailing has been in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Shipping has not been much of a problem. I did cross the Cabot Strait a couple of times last year and at times had several large ships within a few miles but nothing worriesome. Mainly good luck.
My personal experience is that I sleep when ever I can. During the day I sleep in the cockpit with no timer. Just cat naps. I never really sleep deeply. At night I set kitchen timers to wake me every 30-minutes. Crossing the Cabot Strait, every 15-minutes. I get tired and am not nearly at my best when woken between 3am and 5am. But, I have always found that to be true. For years I was a maintenance supervisor and would either have to take calls at odd hours or sometimes pull all-nighters. Those hours have always been very difficult, sailing or not.
I left Burgeo at 7:00am headed for Sydney. The first night was blustry and occasioned a 3am sail change. I set the timers for 30-minute intervals. I really got bounced around bad that night. The next night I was across the strait but running parallel to the coast and aware of the shipping lanes.
I set the timers for 15-minute intervals. Having arrived at Sydney at around 7am (a 48-hour beat then calm) I set about putting the boat to bed for winter. I turned in at 10pm that evening. So despite the rough first night and short interval on the second night I was adequatly rested and able to put in a full days work.
On the other hand at the end of my crossing from Sydney to Grand Bank, some 38-hours, I was ghosting into Grand Bank when I saw, for an instant, a three masted schooner arise out of the fog. Then again, and maybe a third time. I thought I could hear the sails luffing but no voices and no motor. The radar
showed nothing. I blew the fog horn and got no response. Upon entering Grand Bank the Harbour Master says "Well Be'y, didja see that 100-foot schooner going out? The Mist of Avalon? She just left this morning." Well did I see her or was I hallucinating from lack of sleep? I'll never know.
I'm not happy about solo sailing, but that is my lot and I would rather take the calculated risks attendant than to skip the experience. My wife says I'm nuts and since she is a Psychoanalyst she is emintently qualified to make that judgement.