Going Polyphasic: 15 useful hints and tips

February 14, 2010

in Polyphasic Sleeping

I’ve had to break myself into polyphasic sleeping three times now. It definitely gets a lot easier every time. But the first time is an absolute nightmare. Here’s some helpful tips that you may find useful if you also would like to go polyphasic.

1) Be determined. It takes a week to adapt to Uberman before you don’t want to curl up and die. Comfort yourself with the amount you’re going to get done, the euphoria you’re going to feel, and the fact that if you stick to it, even if you go monophasic at some point, you’re never going to suffer from sleeping disorders again. None of this is guaranteed, but seems to happen to most people and certainly happened to me.

2) Make a very, very long list of things that you need to do. If you’re a pretty organised person on top of things, include frivolous things that you’ve thought would be nice but never really had the time nor inclination for. I know we all have things we mean to do but don’t get round to, but those lists probably don’t include things like “Clean every wall in the house.” Make sure you include things that don’t require that much concentration, for when your brain feels like total mush.

3) I would suggest you will probably not be wanting to use the beds for the night naps, or at least not in any way that is familiar or sleep-inducing (so, napping on top of the covers on your side rather than cuddled up in the duvet). I find my most productives naps are taken in a comfy reclining chair.

4) You probably shouldn’t cycle, drive, or conduct crucial tasks that require fine motor control or a fully functioning memory for a week. I ad to have my coursework spell-checked before I handed it in.

5) Plot ways you can actively relax without falling asleep. This is something I definitely have had trouble with. There is only so much television you can watch before your eyes get tired, and when you’re out the adaptation period you will be spending a great deal of time alone and wide awake at 3am.

6) You will not be able to take drugs for the first thirty days, or at least, drugs which will interfere with your sleeping schedule. However, afterwards are largely uncharted waters, and I would be very interesting in hearing from anyone who has used drugs on a polyphasic sleeping schedule that they’ve maintained. This is well worth further research – the brain scan results of taking an REM-only polyphasic nap and LSD, for example, would be hugely interesting.

7) Expect to need to eat more than usual to compensate for being awake an extra eight hours a day. So make sure you’re monitoring your eating patterns.

8) Suggestions for interesting activities to stay awake include board games, fingerpainting your vision, jamming, sex, banner-painting, jigsaws, and other things that require non-intensive movement. You will be taking more exercise than your body is used to and not giving it its usual mechanisms for rest, so you will feel achy, exhausted and miserable sporadically and frequently.

9) You may wish to create a schedule that lists regular activities for you to default to. Pure Doxyk writes “Follow a schedule. Sometimes you just get sick of thinking of the next thing to do – I know I do. Building a schedule, either for your entire day or just for the times you tend to get bored, can be an easy way out in that case.” If you cannot think of anything to do, you will default to either sleeping or drug use, both of which are counter-productive to our aims.

10) If you can hack it, you will need to look at your timetable and work out when you’re going to be regularly out the house and suss an alternative sleeping place. Be prepared to sleep anywhere – once you are polyphasic you can induce a nap by closing your eyes virtually anywhere, including sitting cross-legged and slumped on a toilet. You probably won’t get as good sleep as on a bed but it should tide you over. Be prepared to be undignified.

11) Circumstances in which you should give up at least temporarily: if you become ill with something more than a sniffle or sore throat, if you have a heavy drug session, if you are going on an all-day action, if you are having an emergency, if you are having a deeply meaningful bonding session with someone, if you are going to get yourself labelled as terminally weird by the people you are with and this would adversely affect your career/ambitions.

12) If you’ve fucked up and fallen asleep for longer than twenty minutes, when you do wake up get back on schedule immediately, however awake you are. You need to keep the habit.

13) You’re going to need a countdown alarm. Mine came from Amazon but has now been discontinued, but I would suggest something like a Salter kitchen timer here.

14) If you have any specific tasks that you peg to your monophasic sleeping pattern, say brushing your teeth before going to bed, or masturbating in the morning or something, pick a specific time and frequency to do it in – day, night and days of the week aren’t going to mean very much to you…

15) You should obviously also go read everything on polyphasic sleeping. (Wikipedia has links to most of the polyphasics out there). You may wish to practice sleep conditioning to make sure you can get up immediately: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/. I think the way people nap is different to each other from what I’ve read, so I won’t give any specific advice on how you should do it, but I find lying down in a comfortable position but one that I can’t normally sleep in stops me from dropping off monophasically. I also found that I stayed conscious even when I was asleep and could actually feel the physical and mental shift from waking to REM sleep, so I learnt to “breathe myself down” into REM. You should learnt to master this for when you don’t want to sleep but need to (12pm naps are easy to skip…)

You can also check out my other resources on polyphasic sleeping.

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