Well, 19 days later, my wife, Erin, and I have decided to throw in the polyphasic towel. Last Sunday, we had plans to get together with family from 3pm – 7pm. Unfortunately, my 5pm nap fell right, smack dab in the middle of that time block. Being the ever adaptable people we are, and not wanting to interfere with the planned festivities with a “shh, Trey is sleeping” period, we tried modifying my nap schedule for that day—instead of 1, 5, and 9, I slept at 9am, 12pm, and 2:45pm, before heading off to Granny Mia’s.
As family get-togethers so often do, this one ran late, and I didn’t get back until a little after 8pm, making this the longest period I’d been awake for in 2 1/2 weeks; I was exhausted. On top of the extended awake period, I spent a bit of the afternoon chasing a three-year-old around in what can only be an evolutionary precursor to the game of tag. I immediately hit the sack once we returned home. Then, we spent the next four hours trying to keep me awake. I even tried taking an intermediary 15-minute nap. Nothing helped. So, after my full nap at midnight, still bleary-eyed, wiped out, we decided enough—we’re sleeping next to each other tonight, for a whole 8 hours. And did I ever sleep?
So, this is the end of my first polyphasic, uberman sleep experiment. What follows are some of my thoughts about the whole experience.
Will I do it again?
Definitely. The big take away for me, is that the normal 8-9 hour per night sleep pattern isn’t the only viable option, and might not be the best solution for me. There is evidence, even , “that the consolidated sleep schedule is a modern result of living in a less tumultuous time”http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/opinion/19ekirch.html?ex=1174622400&en=90eb7a176cea66d7&ei=5070; you sleep much better if you aren’t worried about marauding bandits or are kept awake by the chronic hacking of your tuberculous neighbor.
I don’t know if the uberman schedule of 20-minute naps every 4 hours will be the plan that works for me, but I’m confident that neither is the 8-9 hour solid block every night. I fully intend to continue to experiment, hoping to find the perfect plan that will allow me to spend only the necessary amount of time sleeping, while still feeling completely rested.
Was it worth it?
Totally. Aside from teh first couple of days, I think I was performing at 80-90% most of the time. My stress level plummeted with all of the extra time I had, and on top of that I was able to get tons of things done, surely contributing to the lower stress level.
I really missed curling up with my wife each night, and even more waking up next to her, but towards the end of the experiment, I started going to sleep at the same time as her, allowing a little normalcy. We even would go to bed a while before I actually had to nap, so we could get some good cuddle/hang out with each other time. When I try it again, this time will be a must-have.
How did you handle all of those lonely nights?
They didn’t phase me at all. Granted, all of my nights were consumed with trying to stay awake. Maybe if I adapt, it will become more of a problem, but I doubt it.
Didn’t you eat a lot more?
I didn’t really ever feel like I was eating much more. I definitely ate a little bit more, because I had to fuel those extra hours I was awake. Again, because I didn’t fully adapt, I don’t know if this would change. I have heard about people adding a fourth meal in the middle of the night, and though I tried it a few times, I don’t know if I’d really need it, especially anything large.
I did use food to coax me out of bed a few times. I made some delicious cookies one night and used their scrumptious, chocolate morsels as a reward for getting up. The sugar also served a good pick-me-up, too, so I think this is something I would recommend and intend on trying again.
Well, those are the most common questions I get about my experience. If you have more, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer it.
I’m looking forward to my next attempt.
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?
Oh, I’m so
So much for all of that noble “back on the horse” talk from my last post. Mere moments after posting that, I decided I felt so tired that I wouldn’t get anything done between then and my 5am nap, so I’d take a nap then. Nap I did, for two and a half hours. Sheesh!
I don’t know if it was because of my new relaxed attitude about naps, or how busy and physically taxing my schedule was that day. Whatever the case, I’m now aware that I’m capable of slipping up too and am going to make the necessary adjustments, both actual and mental.
Now I need to get some work done.
I’ve decided to stop keeping such meticulous notes: no more multi-paragraph entries discussing every twitch I had as I was falling asleep, goodbye to the monotonous entries about my yummy oatmeal with flax seeds. This experiment shouldn’t really be about the quality of my sleep anyway, but rather, about the quality of the awake periods. Therefore, you can stop cringing every time you see a new post from me; “great, another tome of a post from Trey about his little naps”. Banished!
In their place, I intend to provide more general overviews about how the experiment is going, discuss how I see the viability of living a polyphasic lifestyle, and get back to other topics dear to my heart (I now have more time to sit and brood about the state of the world – beware).
So, how were days 5 & 6? First of all, I’m really surprised that I made it this far. When I started this, I set an internal “reevaluate, and turn back to monophasic if necessary” plan. March is a very busy month for me, and if I wasn’t going to be as productive as I was in monophasic mode, I’d have to postpone the experiment. The date set to make this evaluation was last night.
Unfortunately, I was so tired last night that I was unable to think about it in those terms. All I could think about was cuddling up with my wife in our nice warm bed, and NOT SETTING AN ALARM! Oh, that memory foam mattress pad was calling my name. Luckily for the experiment, Erin and I began discussing the pros and cons of going back to monophasic sleep.
As many of you know, when it comes to reasoned debate, I always have the energy. We had a good discussion of the pros and cons of polyphasic sleep, and by the end, we’d decided to throw in the towel. But debating the issue woke me up so much that, after talking about the decision for another 20 minutes, I had to crawl out of the warm bed, get dressed and head back into my nocturnal sanctuary—the other room in our tiny apartment. I didn’t decide to keep putting myself through this insane regimen just to prove all of the naysayers out there wrong, but because, after the prolonged “should I/shouldn’t I” discussion, I was re-energized, ready to take on the night that lay before me.
I ended up pushing through with relative ease and had my best day yet, with one caveat. I had my first run-in with oversleeping. Well, it wasn’t so much as oversleeping, as tired miscalculations. After returning from the dentist, I had about an hour and a half before a business meeting. I decided to get my nap in a little early, and through that shroud of sleep, instead of 25 minutes, I set the alarm for 1 hour and 25 minutes. Erin realized my prolonged absence about an hour into it and woke me up, but I think it still counts as oversleeping.
Now, even though all of the polyphasics out there talk about oversleeping like it’s the plague, I have to say that after the initial super-drowsiness wore off, I felt fantastic for the rest of the night. If I continue to have trouble with drowsiness at night, I might play with working in a longer nap every now and then. For now, though, I’m going to hop back on my horse and see if I can’t see the other side of this adaptation period.
And one final note about my 9pm nap. Erin took it with me. Mmmmmm, to have a warm loving body next to me, this is easily the thing I miss the most.
We almost just gave in and turned it in for the night. After about 5 o’clock pm today, I just started dragging. My head wasn’t foggy like it has been, I was just tired. The energy I’d get from my naps wouldn’t last very long and while we were watching the Daily Show, my body took over and shut my eyes. Luckily, Erin noticed pretty quickly, and woke me up. But that just started all of the tired rationalizations about why this isn’t the right time for this, and how it really is best if I just concede that polyphasic sleeping is for the birds (literally).
We walked all the way to the line, I was in bed, teeth brushed and flossed, ready to turn out the lights. So badly wanting to turn out the lights. Then, I remembered how cool it would be if it worked; I could get all of those projects done that my monophasic self never has time for. And harmonizing with that thought, was the sound of all the skepticism people had toward this. Thinking of these things, I looked at my cell phone—11:36 pm. I only had 1 hour and 24 minutes until my next nap. That was nothing.
So, here I am, banking on the hope that tomorrow will be better—just like today was better than the day before.
Of all of the accounts that I’ve read about other people’s experiences with this nutso sleep schedule, I never really found anyone talking about how much of a roller coaster it is. During one awake period, I feel fantastic, so much it baffles me to think of how little I’m sleeping. Then, the very next awake period hits you with a ton eye-dropping bricks. My guess is that my body is simply still trying to adjust. It’s getting closer, but then, just like a tantrum-throwing toddler realizes they are no match for the superior reason of the power-wielding adult in their lives, it lifts it’s legs and make you carry it if you want it to move at all. Well, I’ve got news for you body, you’re coming with me. Now get in the car and behave!
Here are my notes for day 4. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far.
Nap 1 – 1:00pm – 1:25pm – After reading how more more and more people suggest 20-25 minute nap periods, I decided to give it a whirl. Also, since falling asleep in my current fatigued state is no longer a challenge, I’ve also cut back the pre-nap “relaxation period”. I think I woke up moderately less groggy.
Nap 2 – 5:00pm – 5:25pm – I finally emerged from the house. Erin and I walked down to Wild Oats to grab some groceries. It was kind of a crazy experience. My head is still a little foggy, though it seems to be less so after I wake up. My body was almost numb as we walked. It was like I was, with little effort, floating down the sidewalk.
This worried me at first—I didn’t want to tax my body too much by walking the 4 miles round trip, but it felt so nice to be out in the cool, crisp, air. We pushed on, and after being in the store for about 10 minutes, I really started to crash. A small, dull headache set in. In fact, it’s still kind of lingering now. I grew less and less aware of what was going on around me and it became almost impossible for me to make any of our culinary decisions. Broccoli? Sure. Amaranth instead of Millet? Sure. Head Cheese? Sure. I’m a vegetarian, but I’m sure if that last one would have been thrown out, I would have let it slide on by, completely unaware.
We got back to the house at about 4:45, just in time for my nap. I probably should have pushed it back a little bit, to give my body some time to come down from the walk back, loaded with groceries I might add. I remember looking at the clock at 4:58 and thinking I would hold off on starting the timer; I could use those two minutes to relax further. Wrong. I woke up at 5:05. Realizing the timer hadn’t started, I reset it for 20 minutes and went back to sleep. I was worried that my brain would use some sleepy logic to sneak in some extra rest, but it turns out it’s still pretty trustworthy.
At 5:25, I woke up, hopped out of bed, and surprisingly felt a good deal reenergized. Like I said, my headache was still present, if not subsiding, but my thoughts seemed to have returned. In fact, I think this entry is the most coherent writing I’ve done since I started this experiment. Good signs.
Nap 3 – 9:00pm – 9:25pm – Pretty standard nap. I went to bed at 8:58 and was up at 9:25. I did spend a few more minutes than usual working on going to sleep, since I didn’t have my pre-nap nap. Hopefully, it won’t be so hard to stay awake until 1am tonight; for the last two nights, this has been really tough. On the same note, I was having a hard time making it to 9:00pm tonight.
Nap 4 – 1:00am – 1:30am – Another standard nap. I can report that I did, indeed, have an easier time making to the 1am nap. And sleep was pretty deep; I woke up wondering how long I’d been asleep. Now it’s off to see how productive I’ll be tonight. Productivity has definitely taken a dive in the past two days. I just pull up a project and just stare at it, until I give up and go do something else to help the time pass till the next nap. Luckily, it’s been a weekend, so I’m not really behind on anything. However, it’s now Monday—time for some work! I really am starting to miss my normal, clear-thinking self. Come back, self.
Nap 5 – 5:00am – 5:30am – The period between nap 4 and 5 was easily one of the best I’ve had yet. I remember thinking that I was so awake that even if I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, I wouldn’t be able to drift off. What’s more, I didn’t really feel tired until about 15-30 minutes before 5am. Another sign that I’m probably through the worst of it, and that this might actually work. Too cool.
The nap, again, went off without a hitch. I vaguely remember waking up in the middle, thinking maybe I should just go ahead and get up, but, instead, I succumbed to the call of continued slumber. This might account for the return of the grogginess—that, or the fact I’ve only slept 12 hours in the past 4 1/2 days. Yeah, that might play a role too.
Extra Micro Nap – I don’t know how I can go from one of the best awake period to the worst that quickly. For some reason, around 6:45, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I tried fighting it for a bit, then decided that it would be better to go in for a bumpy landing now, rather than keep fighting and risk crashing hard. I remember reading that Steve Pavlina was inserting an extra small nap between his 1am and 5am naps. At 6:50, I set my alarm for 15-minutes and passed out. When I woke up, I still felt groggy, but not as bad, so I decided to go do the dishes. I just finished them and am happy to report I’m feeling much better—not as good as I was earlier, but it’s only 40 more minutes to my next nap. Disaster avoided.
Nap 6 – 9:00am – 9:17am Wuh? You’re cutting it down further? Not really. I meant to sleep for 25 minutes, but woke up again 17 minutes into the nap. If going back to sleep had anything to do with the epic drowsiness, then anytime that I wake up in the middle of the nap, I’m going to get up. This is an experiment after all, right?
Breakfast – Same old oatmeal with flax seeds, apple juice, and chamomile
Lunch – Vegetable Masala
Dinner – Tempeh Burritos
Other snacks – a tad bit of ice cream, some ‘hot just veggies’, and some grapes
Walked to the store – 4 miles roundtrip
Talk about having some highs and lows. Starting after my 1pm nap, I began to feel like I was coming out of the adaptation period. My body felt rested, and the fog that had set in around my head was beginning to break up; things were looking good. That is, until 11pm, when all of a sudden, I found myself locked in a battle with the sleep monster—I thought I had it on the run. Continuing pretty much till 7am, when I took Dizzy out, I was experiencing serious fatigue. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I couldn’t not concentrate on anything. It was bad.
During this time, I read a bunch of other people’s notes about their polyphasic experiments. It seemed almost everyone else was talking about their 20-minute nap, not their 30-minute nap. Maybe a little more research should have gone into this before I jumped in and gave it a try. Anyway, I went back to my primary source for how it works, Steve Palina’s Polyphasic Sleep, and found that even he clarified a few days into his experiment by stating in his Day 6 writeup, “30 minutes maximum with actual time spent asleep of 15-20 minutes”.
Oh really? I have more than likely been exceeding that with my pre-nap “relaxation” periods, which have become more and more nodding off into probably stage 1 and/or 2 of sleep. I’m going to start setting my countdown alarm for 25 minutes to see if I can shed some more of this drowsiness; it’s starting to get old.
Other than that negative burst, though, I am beginning to see how this might actually work. I still think it’s insane that I’ve only slept 9 hours in the past 3 days, but maybe it’s more insane to sleep 27 hours there, when you only need 9. Who’s to say?
Here are my notes for Day 3:
Nap 1 – 1pm-1:30pm Yay. For the first time, I was able to sleep during the 1pm nap. I actually fell asleep just before 1 and was woken by my cell phone at 1:30. I woke up briefly at 1:10, feeling refreshed and ready to go, but decided to stay in bed the whole 30 minutes; I then drifted off again. I don’t know what the right decision was. I’m just happy to finally get some midday sleep.
3:00pm Even though I’m starting to crash again, for the past two hours, I’ve felt somewhat normal. I mean, I’m not completely dragging like I have been for the past 20 hours or so. My body feels somewhat rested. My head is still a little foggy, and I know that if I were to close my eyes, it would be easy to fall asleep. Still, even this modest progress back towards normalcy is nice. I can’t wait until I feel alert for all of my 21 waking hours. This will rule!
Nap 2 – 5pm-5:30pm Ooh baby! I started the timer at 4:59 and woke up at 5:30. I remember wondering if I was going to sleep or not, but I don’t think I was wondering that very long. I woke up pretty groggy, but now, 25 minutes later (after tea and toast), I feel the best I’ve felt since I started this—easily a 7 out of 10.
One of the side-effects of this experiment is that I’ve become very conscious of my body’s routine right before it goes to sleep. I haven’t learned anything extraordinary, but being more aware of one’s self is always a good thing in my book. I kind of feel like I’ve bonded with myself. Ah.
8pm This is, hands down, the best awake period so far. I don’t really feel tired at all. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is having to physically prevent myself from sleeping and 10 is the equivalent of normal monophasic rested, I’d say I’m easily at a 7. Things are looking good.
Nap 3 – 9pm – 9:30pm It’s just a day filled with successes. I finally slept during the 9 o’clock nap! I didn’t slip immediately off, but I’m pretty sure it was within the first ten minutes. And again I woke up on time. I’m still a little groggy right as I wake up. I hope it wears off, and I have another rocking awake period like the last one.
Nap 4 – 1am – 1:30am Yowch! I’m definitely not there yet. While taken as a whole, today has been rocking compared to yesterday, the period between nap 3 and 4 reminded me that it ain’t over yet. Erin and I started watching a few episodes of Scrubs around 11:30, and by 12:30, I was literally pinching myself to keep me from nodding off.
The nap was pretty normal, though. I woke up once at 1:10am, realized I wasn’t oversleeping and then went back to sleep. I woke up at 1:25 because Dizzy, our black lab, barked some surely evil-intending people passing on the sidewalk—of all the nerve, to use our sidewalk. You tell ‘em Diz.
4:38am It’s amazing how tired I get just before a scheduled nap. I don’t know if my body is beginning to expect the nap, or if the prescribed nap every four hours is based on the ability to last between naps. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t go much longer than 4—at least at this point.
Nap 5 – 5:00am – 5:30am Pretty standard nap. I did sleep on my back this time, though. I’m very groggy as I write this (5:44am). I’m beginning to wonder if the 30 minutes are too long. Most sleep recipes like this suggest 20-25 minutes. I’ll have to read more Steve Pavlina, to find out what made him decide to shorten his naps.
Nap 6 – 9:00am – 9:30am I tried setting the alarm for 25 minutes instead of 30 to see if I feel any drowsier or not. It seems that most people suggest 20-30 minutes, allowing 5-10 minutes to get to sleep. Since I would go to bed 15 minutes before my actual nap time, I might have been experiencing some of the early stages of sleep before I started the countdown, thus slipping past REM and into a deeper sleep by the end.
So far, I feel a little more awake than normal. Of course, it could just be that the sun is out.
Breakfast Good ol’ oatmeal with flax seeds, apple juice, and chamomile tea.
Lunch Tempeh tamale pie and green beans.
Snack around 5:45pm Buttered toast and rose tea.
Dinner Vegetable Masala Stew and a whole lot of yum!
Desert A bit of vanilla ice cream.
This was a doozer of a day. I feel like the majority of the 21 hours I spent not napping were mostly occupied with concerted efforts to not fall asleep. But somehow, I made it. I only had one run-in with oversleeping, and it was so short it might not even qualify as oversleeping. I am now going on 50 hours since my last monophasic, full night of slumber.
What’s weird is that I actually feel more rested than I did this time yesterday. I’m not ready to go run a marathon or anything, but I feel like today won’t be a total waste like I expected it to be. I had a great period of actual productivity last night, getting a bunch of things done that I hadn’t planned on working on until next week. Both mornings, so far, Erin has woken up happy to find a clean kitchen—gotta find some way to pass all of this extra time. It’s the least I can do for all of the support she is throwing my way, from putting heating packs in a cold bed, to waking herself up in the middle of the night—no small feat on her part—just to make sure I didn’t sleep through my alarm. I really thing that without her help and confidence, I would have caved by now.
I’m feeling refreshed and excited to see how day 3 goes. Here are the notes I took throughout day 2.
nap 1 – 1pm – 1:30 – slept again. I woke up once during the sleep (barely) and noticed that slow shaking/vibration. Maybe I dreamt it. I woke up one minute and 40 seconds before any alarm went off. I wonder it that’s good or bad. Even though I woke up on my own, I was much groggier than after previous naps.
I think that as I was falling asleep, I started dreaming before I was actually sleeping. I haven’t read much about how or what lucid dreaming is, but maybe this is a start.
2:00pm – I had lunch and feel a little more awake, but the Zombie state that everyone talks about seems to be setting in. I’m awake, but my eyes are definitely heavier and I’m starting to type slower. And yes, I’m beginning to count down the hours till my next nap. I’m going to try to wrap up some work and take my mind off of sleeping.
Nap 2 – 5pm-5:30 – Oh man. I had a tough time sleeping. About 45 minutes before I was supposed to go to sleep, one of our servers went down. I was able to get it back up and running before my nap time, but I was so keyed up that I didn’t sleep. At least, I don’t think I did. I remember two times that I checked the timer to see how much time I had left. Between those times, I was in a weird dreamlike state—not really asleep, because I could hear things going on around me, and not really awake, because I was thinking of some strange stuff. It was like dreams were going on without me going to sleep. I really need to make sure I’m relaxed before my naps.
Nap 3 – 9pm-9:30pm – Again, I don’t know if I really slept. I surely didn’t drift off into the deep sleeps I had at 5am, 9am and 1pm. I naturally have a 9 o’clock high, where no matter how tired I am, I get a decent second wind around that time. The same thing happened tonight. At 8, I was seriously dragging. I was bouncing my feet on the chair just so the movement would keep me awake, but somewhere around 8:45pm, I started feeling okay again. I drifted initially into a pretty decent sleep, but woke up about 10 minutes in, coughed, and rolled-over. For the remainder of the nap, I was in that kind of here, kind of there, in/out phase of sleep. I don’t feel horrible now (9:40pm). Hopefully, it was enough to get me to my 1am nap.
Nap 4 – 1am-1:30am – Well, it’s more like 12:57am-1:40am. Oh no. Oversleeping off the port bow! Well, not much at least. I was at the end of my pre-nap relaxation period, and apparently couldn’t stave off the sleep any longer, so I went to fell asleep before starting the kitchen timer counting down from 30 minutes. Luckily, though, I’ve started setting my cell phone alarm prior to this “relax before nap” period, so it was already set for 1:30, meaning I would have only slept for a maximum 33 minutes, which I’d have a hard time calling oversleeping at all.
Cue the tired logic. I woke up at 1:15am, realized I didn’t start the timer and thought to myself, “well, I was so tired before this nap, if I don’t get a good sleep here, full of that wonderful REM sleep, it’ll just make the rest of the night that much harder.” I then, reset my phone alarm to 1:40am, thinking I shouldn’t oversleep too much—25 minutes should do the trick—and set the kitchen timer for 25 minutes. And that’s how I ended up sleeping 43 minutes.
I feel so much better than I did between 12am and 12:57am, which is to say, I’m slightly above exhausted. No, I’m pretty much still exhausted, but slightly better than before. I hope this doesn’t have any long term set backs. Must not oversleep. But before I can worry about that, I have to push through to 5am. Wow! What to do?
I wonder if I should post these as I write them, or wait until the next day, like I did yesterday?
4:08am Sometime in the past half-hour, I’ve started feeling pretty good. I’m actually getting some development done! And by “pretty good”, I mean I can actually concentrate on something other than how incredibly tired I am (concentrate is probably an overstatment).
Nap 5 5am-5:30am No oversleeping here. I went to sleep a few minutes before 5, and woke to the kitchen timer exactly 30 minutes later. It was a very deep sleep. I woke up feeling like I’d been asleep for a long time, although I’m still groggy 15 minutes later. It’ll wear off.
One thing I did differently is I read a New Yorker during the pre-nap relaxation period. I think this made it harder to inadvertently fall asleep.
Nap 6 9am-9:30 Our cat, Rosie, made sure I didn’t sleep in this morning. Unfortunately, she also made sure I didn’t get my full 30 minutes. She started licking my face about 15 minutes in. I think it was her way of paying respects to the gatekeeper of the blankets (she loves to burrow in with you when it’s cold outside). I knocked her down once, but was wakened enough to know my sleep phases were going to be screwed, so I was in and out for the remainder of my nap time. Even with the condensed nap, though, I much less like the zombie I was last night around midnight. Hopefully, today will be the beginning of the turn towards acclimation.
Breakfast – Oatmeal with flax seeds, apple juice and some chamomile tea. Multi-vitamin
Lunch – Burrito with refried beans, sauteed vegetables, and tempeh. Corn on the side. Water to drink.
Dinner – Tempeh Tamale Pie and green beans.
I’ve added some chamomile tea to the routine. The hot beverage helps stimulate my tired, tired self. Ooh, and chocolates.
I started to experience a stopped up nose a few times today, accompanied by a tickling in the back of my throat, that made me cough once during my 5pm and 9pm naps. I hope I don’t have to contend with sick-like symptoms as well as exhaustion.
Well, it’s been almost 27 hours since I woke up from my last night of full sleep. And in total, I think I’ve slept a little over an hour. This is crazy. I mean, I’m a little tired, but nothing like I expected to be. I’m sure it will get worse; everybody talks about it like you’re voluntarily checking yourself into Guantanamo. We’ll see.
What follows are notes I’ve taken throughout the day. I plan on doing this every day, at least throughout the adaptation period.
Nap 1: 3/1/2007 1pm – 1:30pm – didn’t really sleep. My feet were cold. I had two pre-sleep leg twitches, so I was close, but never quite made it there.
Nap 2: 3/1/2007 5pm – 5:30pm – slept, or at least tried to sleep, with socks this time—not usually my habit. I had a few moments where I felt like I was headed towards sleep; I would basically get wrapped up into thoughts so much that I forgot that I was doing the thinking.
Nap 3: 3/1/2007 9pm – 9:30pm – this is usually the time I am just getting my nighttime high; bing, what are we doing tonight?. So no, I didn’t get to sleep again.
Nap 4: 3/2/2007 1am – 1:30am – I was so close this time. Erin and I went and got in bed around 12:30, so we could have some nice cuddle-up. I think this relaxed me enough that I didn’t spend my half-hour nap trying to calm my body and thoughts. I felt a good leg-twitch or two, and might have fallen barely into sleep, only to bring myself out again, worrying about whether I’m going to get any sleep or not.
Nap 5: 3/2/2007 5am – 5:30am – Yay. I finally got some sleep. One thing I did similar to the last nap was to lie down about 15 minutes before my nap was to begin and work on relaxing a bit. I imagine I won’t have to do this soon, as my sleep deprivation kicks in.
I’m pretty sure I fell asleep shortly after I started the countdown. I remember waking up briefly when a snowplow drove by and I noticed my body had a slow, subtle shake to it. I woke up right as the alarm went off. I was a little tired and disoriented, but got up, folded up the bedding, and went to the kitchen to get a chocolate and some water. I can’t believe I have to stay awake for another three and a half hours. Nuts.
Nap 6: 3/2/2007 9am – 9:30am – Another successful sleep. I wonder if I’ll ever have trouble falling asleep again. I did what I did last nap, and prepared my bedding about 15 minutes before it was time for me to actually sleep. I then crawled in, warmed up, and started relaxing. Only this time it became a battle for me to stay awake till my nap time actually started. I set both my phone and kitchen timer and at 8:59 went off for the races with the kitchen timer counting down from 30:00 and my phone set to ring 31 minutes later at 9:30. Half an hour later, I woke to the soft alarm of the kitchen timer. I got up and had enough time to disable my phone’s alarm before it went off. Hopefully this means I won’t have to worry too much about the sleeping in problems that others have.
Breakfast – around 9am – oatmeal (with flax seed) and apple juice. also took a multi-vitamin
Lunch – 2pm – Su Casa lunch special (bean burrito and tostada, chips and salsa, water to drink)
Dinner – 10pm – black bean burger and roasted potatoes, water to drink
The Anything Else
Tai Chi at 6:15pm
No, I’m not setting off on a road trip to New York. Yet, the Beastie Boys’ tour rap keeps pushing it’s way into my head today because, though I have no intention of walking the streets of Brooklyn anytime soon, I continue to shout the edgy chorus with full resolve. Why? Because after reading Steve Pavlina’s post about polyphasic sleep and a few other blogs written by other brave, and often tired, souls, I decided to drop the dull 8-hour chunk of sleep from my life and give this polyphasic stuff a try. Hey, if Leonardo da Vinci can be posthumously described as a polyphasic sleeper, maybe I can one-up him on something (he’s even got me beat on the hair and beard).
So, what exactly is polyphasic sleep ?
From the admittedly little that I’ve learned, it’s a sleep cycle consisting of short naps, about 20-30 minutes long, spread out through a 24-hour period. At the end of this “day”, you’ll have 2-4 hours of shut-eye under your belt. The theory is that, during a full night’s rest, our bodies undergo about five different sleep stages. The amount of time spent in each stage, however, might not be in the proportions that would occur naturally. By limiting your sleep to short naps, you end up forcing your body to adapt and to squeeze in the necessary stages.
Now, I don’t know about the theory at all. It’s the least bit interesting thing to me at this point. I figure my body will try to get what it needs, when it needs it. Granted, I understand that our solar-centric lives encourage us to divide up that 24-hour block into two large chunks of time, but who knows if this is vital, or simply convenient. I mean, do you really think it was advantageous for our Neanderthal ancestors to curl up under a tree and check-out for 8-10 hours, especially during the dark, predator-lurking night? I don’t think I’d be here if they did.
If not the theory, then what?
Nothing other than plain, old—probably dumb—curiosity. Reading these other people’s experiences about weaning themselves off of so much sleep made me excited. I’ve always been a night-owl, often proclaiming that there just weren’t enough hours in the day to spend the nights sleeping. Over the past few years, though, as I hung up by crazy, college-kid hat, and other mischief-stained tools I shouldn’t mention, I began going to sleep at hours resembling a responsible, civilized schedule. Erin and I usually turn it in around midnight-one and wake up around nine hours later. My body fought this at times, tossing for hours before I’d find the slumber (usually because I’m horrible at shutting my mind off), or waking at five in the morning ready for some action.
So imagine how intoxicated I became as I read how people were not only surviving on less sleep, but were more alert and productive when the were awake and reported having the best sleep of their lives when they did sleep. I immediately turned to Erin with those scheming eyes and after one more night of a full-night’s rest. I decided to go for it. At least, see if I can do it.
And that’s the other thing that is so intriguing. Willpower. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to force yourself to actually get up after taking a 30-minute nap at five in the morning. If I succeed, it will be because of nothing else but pure willpower (and tons of help and support from my wife, Erin). And if I can pull something like this off, think of the other things that I can set my mind to do. Maybe that tube-system of mine will finally get underway, I sure will have the time.