Adopting a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

As someone who once thought about how long people waste on the toilet doing absolutely nothing, the idea of reducing the amount of time one needs to sleep was inviting.  I’d heard about different polyphasic sleep schedules before but didn’t actually consider attempting it until well…two days ago.

There are a four main different schedules:

  • With the Biphasic Cycle, you would sleep for around 4 hours at night and then take a 90 minute nap in the afternoon sometime.  Pretty basic but you’d only end up shaving about 2 and a half hours from the recommended amount.  Doesn’t seem worth it to me, and finding time for an hour and a half nap every day seems far-fetched for my lifestyle.
  • An Everyman Cycle includes one “core” nap with other, smaller, naps spaced evenly throughout the day.  There are a few versions of this cycle but the most successful seems to be a core nap of 3 hours with three 20 minute naps every five hours or so.
  • The Uberman does away with the core nap and includes only 6 naps of  20-30 minutes every 4 hours. This results in a total of 2 to 3 hours of sleep a day.
  • In the Dymaxion Cycle, only 4 naps are needed at 30 minutes a session every 6 hours.  With only 2 hours of sleep per day, this seems the most efficient, but also the hardest in my opinion.

Basically, by adjusting to a sleep pattern like this, you’re enabling the body to slip right into REM sleep so you’d get all the benefits but with much less time wasted.  I’m going to be honest here and say that I am by no means a sleep expert but this sounds awesome.  Same benefits but with less time sleeping and more time for activities?  Sign me up!  So I looked into it a little more, and while there isn’t really research out there relating to polyphasic sleep yet, there are people who have attempted it and experienced no known health risks while reaping all the benefits. If they can do it, so can I.

I chose the Everyman Cycle and right now I’m on Day 2.  My schedule consists of the core nap starting at midnight and ending at 3 in the morning, then the first nap from 8am until 8:20am, the second starting at 1:20 and ending twenty minutes later, and the last starting at 6:40 and ending at 7pm.

So far…I am tired.  Obviously.  But still very motivated, although everyone I’ve told about my plan has advised against it (especially my mother- she thinks I’m crazy anyway, haha).  I don’t mind that people don’t agree with me, I can’t see that stopping me.  I’m still going to try my best and if it works for me then great!  If it doesn’t, at least I tried!

The hardest part is definitely the gap from three until eight.  I took an extra nap today during that time period and accidentally overslept (I don’t have my phone right now and my computer went to sleep, whoops) so I got an extra hour, but I’m not worried about it.  My other naps throughout the day have been perfectly timed and I changed the amount of time before my computer sleeps so that shouldn’t be an issue again.

The drowsiness is the worst.  I’m getting sleep but still walking around in a fog.  I do get moments of clarity, however, and I’m trying to take advantage of them (hence this blog) because there is no way I’ll be able to write or read while sleepy.  The time period between midnight and eight is the worst, which is funny because last night I was so tired I was looking forward to going to bed at twelve but was slapping myself awake by the end.  I also know that this will be my most productive time once I become accustomed to this new sleeping pattern.  Five hours to myself at a time where no one else is awake to text or distract me…talk about productivity to the max.  So even though I’m dreading having to make it through tomorrow, my excitement for that extra “me” time is what is driving me.  I have a list of 25 documentaries I want to get to eventually.  I might try watching these while walking on the treadmill during the five hours of sleep coma each morning until I can trust myself not to fall asleep so we’ll see.

I just finished my third nap of the day, and am pleased to say that I already feel much better about this whole thing.  I was right in the middle of a clarity moment before taking the nap, which was off-putting because I didn’t want to waste it, but I woke up just as alert and refreshed. I’m also pretty sure I had a dream this time which is a great sign.  Also despite not being  extremely fatigued at the start of the nap, I was able to fall asleep very quickly. I usually don’t have an issue falling asleep (for which I’m grateful) but had a few snags yesterday.  Anxiety over not falling asleep and so not getting all twenty minutes or having to push back naps for the entire day didn’t help.  However, I started using a blindfold and noticed an immediate effect, I’m asleep in under three minutes no problem.

I want to mention two last things for this day.  The first is I really need to focus on eating better tomorrow because I’m sure all the fatty and large quantities of holiday food I’m eating can’t be helping.  Digestion really affects your sleep patterns and I don’t have that eight-hour chunk now for my body to handle everything I’ve put in it today (and yesterday) and this bloated feeling is causing me to feel even more lethargic and drowsy.  I probably should have waited to begin this experiment until after the holidays, but I was very very excited and I wanted to give my body as much adjustment time as I could before classes started.  Moot point now, all I can do is take care of the issue tomorrow.

Lastly, I’m not doing any really intense strength workouts for now because I’m not sure how well my body will be able to repair my muscle tissue at first and I don’t really want to add any extra stress.  This morning I just did 30 minutes of yoga and went jogging with a few push-ups and pull-ups, so besides my calves being a little sore, I’m feeling pretty good.  Also, the exercise did not wake me up like I anticipated it would.  As soon as I was done, the fog settled right back down.  Interesting.  I plan on doing the same routine tomorrow so hopefully I’ll notice improvement when comparing how I felt today and tomorrow post-exercise.

More tomorrow!

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