I’ve not done an update in a while as I didn’t want to repeat myself too much.
Saying that… here’s me saying pretty much the same thing 3 times in one go:
A friend asked about my experience and I wrote:
…hard work as hell to not be so drowsy late at night, fighting desperately head bobbing up and down stealing micro-naps, struggling struggling.. but gradually that’s reducing and it’s becoming easier to stay alert during the night times. I do crash quite often though, whether the alarm doesn’t go or it does but I sleep right the way through it and wake up 3 hours later. sometimes the body just takes what it wants. but going well I think, I feel surprisingly good and optimistic that it will get easier. I like the feeling of having more time available.
That was a month or so ago.
Last week my sister sent me this article published in the BBC about polyphasic sleep:
Here’s my reply to her:
I still haven’t been able to fully adapt, meaning that I still have ‘crashes’ which means uncontrollably oversleeping. This either happens because I don’t hear my alarm (whether it goes off or not I’m not sure or if it does then I sleep right through it) or sometimes inbetween naps when I feel tired I try to ‘rest’ by lying down and reading but the brain switches off into sleep.
However some days I feel really great and nap perfectly on schedule for 25 mins (gives a few mins to get to sleep and a full 20 mins of REM nap time).
The article doesn’t seem to speak with insight about adaptation to polyphasic sleep. If those pilots are going into it without adapting then yeh they’ll be sleep deprived.
The point of the 20 minute naps is that it cleaves off the REM stage of sleep which takes less than 20 minutes.
The full 90 minute cycle includes other stages of sleep, many of which are deemed as relatively unnecessary for rejuvenation. So the 20 minute naps forces the brain to go straight to what it needs most which is REM. The added theory is that a 40 minute nap or a 2 hour core sleep every once in a while can help rebalance any loss of ‘slow wave sleep’ (another cycle) that may be becoming deprived.
When I achieve a consistent nap schedule for several days straight I experience very little drowsiness and no apparent micro-napping. I just feel sleepy about 15 minutes before nap time.
And I feel more alert and clear headed than a lot of the time I’ve had in the past on monophasic 8 hour sleep schedule. So I’m optimistic that full adaptation is possible and can feel better, healthier, with more alertness than standard sleep.
The only remaining question for me is in terms of long-term health. I think any struggle with drowsiness probably indicates a strain on health.
My goal right now is to maintain the consistent 20 minute nap every 3 hours, which is 8 naps per day totalling 2:40 and converting 1 or 2 of those naps into 40 min naps whenever I feel particularly tired.
And here’s my blog update as of 6.55am today 🙂
Polyphasic sleep fans.
Some have asked how it’s going so here’s the skinny:
‘Adaptation’ has completed when I generally feel as ‘well slept’ as when on monophonic sleep cycle… I’m still not there yet.
I haven’t been able to fully adapt in-part due to travel which disrupts nap times, partly due to zombification mode (it’s real), partly due to my alarm apparently either not working or my brain not allowing me to hear the alarm… a loud alarm… for minutes at a time…
When I ‘crash’. I.e. end up sleeping for a couple hours or longer (longest crash seems to have been almost 5 hours which happened once), it gives me jet lag which then takes days to recover from.
So I’m still kind of struggling on through sections of most nights…
However, putting it into perspective:
The majority of nights I have gained hours of extra waking time. During the days I’m pretty much completely fine, until 15 minutes before nap time and I start feeling sleepy.
People around me go to ‘hibernate’ each night for ~8 hours or so which seems kinda crazy to me now. It’s amazing what the body can adapt to.
I just need to get better at going to nap on time, and getting woken up appropriately.
Tonight my nap time was 1am. I didn’t go to nap until 1.20am. (I think this lack of discipline or mere distractedness with sticking to accurate nap times is a big part of the problem for me to adapt).
I set the alarm for 23 minutes later, so 1.43.
I didn’t reach for the alarm to switch it off and check the time until 1.48.
That’s a full 5 minutes of loud music playing in my earphones — and it was loud.
Surprising how the brain can simply cut off auditory input until it’s ready to let me wake up. Which suggests that sometimes the alarm goes (2 music tracks playing back to back totally about 6 minutes) and I literally don’t hear it (even though I’m wearing earphones and volume is cranked to the max on the iPad)…
So what I’m going to do is create a longer track, a 20 minute track, with varying volume, and progressively louder over the first 5 minutes… so that I can more gently ease my brain into wakefulness closer to when it’s finished with the somnambulistic-catatonic-paralytic-zombie-REM-state.
Surreal Time Perspective
Besides the adaptation saga… the perspective shift in my conscious awareness is very cool.
I experience time differently. 20 minute naps feel like they’re 3 hours. So every 24 hours I’m awake for about 21 hours and also have 8 naps of 20 minutes which each feel like 3 hours, which means I have the mindful experience of some 45 hours each day.
I also have very frequent very vivid dream snippets during naps. Sometimes I think I’m awake and then realize I’m not. A gateway to lucid dreaming? (which is when you can control your dreams 🙂
So imagine. If I can fully adapt and learn to activate lucid dreaming during naps. I could end up with the cognitive experience of 45 hours wake time every day…
What’s more, in lucid dreaming the experience of the passage of time can supposedly be slowed down… so maybe I can extend the experience of 3 hours of dream time into 6 hours or 9 hours.
This boggles the imagination — what a paradigm shift in time perspective. Move over Einstein…
…oops… writing this update has distracted me from nap time again! It’s 7.14am Should have been napping from 7.08.
PS. Here’s a 300 day polyphasic sleep journal entry – fascinating details (at least, fascinating to me as I can now very much relate to the nuances) http://www.puredoxyk.com/index.php/2014/11/01/report-from-a-300-day-polyphasic-sleeper-and-a-new-possible-schedule-everyman245/ and here’s a long reddit on polyphasic sleep with the same person (a girl!)