Polyphasic Sleeping Update - Day 18: Are We There Yet?

written by treybean on March 18th, 2007 @ 10:41 AM

No. Now, if you’d just sit down, let daddy drive, and stop oversleeping, we’ll be there in no time. That is as long as we’re on an actual road with an actual destination and not simply tootling down some sleep-deprived detour from normality.

So, where have I been the last 2 weeks? Sleeping.

I’ve been meaning to write—really. I just wanted to be able to report that I was living the fully-adapted polyphasic dream life. I’d get close and start polishing up some prose and then, just as I’d be about ready to post, out of nowhere, I’d oversleep, setting me back another day or two. After enduring each mishap, and the ensuing exhaustion, I would get close to breaking through; maps would be mostly restorative, nights would pass without much effort, then I’d somehow or another find myself waking up again, wondering “where am I?”, “how did I get here?”, “when did I go to sleep?”, “where was the alarm?”, and most commonly, “should I keep pursuing this power napping pipe dream?”.

I’ve had about five of these unintended, prolonged—at least in polyphasic terms—sleeps. They are spaced pretty evenly, one every 2-3 days, and usually last about 3 hours, although, one was an epic seven hours long. Most usually occur, not by me sleeping through the alarm, but rather by my griggly-groggly head issuing some commanding logic right after the alarm goes off. “You had didn’t fall asleep immediately, so, you’d better reset the alarm for a few more minutes to make up for it.” “With all of that activity today, you should take a little more sleep now to prevent a complete crash later.” “Ooh, it’s so cold out there. Stay under these blankets and stay warm. Don’t worry, I won’t let you go back to sleep” Really, how is one supposed to argue with that? I would then comply and continue setting my alarm over and over for the next three hours.

After each of these oversleeps, I would go through a period of feeling great, followed by a steady descent into constant drowsiness. When the drowsiness got bad enough, that voice would pop up again, pleading for more time on the clock—it’s wishes were granted.

I felt really guilty about this, because, at first, I took pride in how easy it was for me to wake up. Many people I talked to that had tried this spoke of great contraptions they devised to prevent them from unencumbered slumber; all I needed was this little kitchen timer and my self-determination. Since I still had that pesky timer staring up at me indicating just how long I’d overslept, it indicated that it was my willpower that was out to lunch. Damn you willpower.

Each time this happened, Erin and I would walk our discouragement back around to motivation. I realized that I was intrigued enough by this schedule that, whether this attempt succeeded or not, I would try again. So, if I was only going to try again, it only made sense to keep on trying from where I was; maybe I could avoid that first-week head cloud. Yes, these oversleeps led to a few days of pretty intense tiredness, but it was better than starting from the beginning—at least, that is our current working theory; I haven’t yet managed to adapt fully, so, who knows?


  • Tim Connor on 19 Mar 12:42

    You could go bi-phasic – which there is some evidence that we might be more evolved for – if it just won’t work. One chunk at night and one afternoon (seista baby), and naps between.

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