In January 2nd of this year, I once again began the transition to polyphasic sleeping. Polyphasic sleeping is a sleeping pattern where you don’t sleep through the night in a block (monophasic sleeping) but take a series of naps throughout the day or night. There are a variety of polyphasic sleeping styles, from the Everyman, which is a block of three hours followed by three thirty minute naps during the day, to the Uberman schedule, which consists of six twenty minute naps spaced four hours apart.
I had previously lived on the Uberman schedule for eight months in 2009: you can read about those experiences, as well as more about the sleeping schedule itself, here. It has been an interesting learning experience going through transitioning to polyphasic sleeping a second time, and I feel that I have learnt many new things this time round.
Below is my diary for the first seven days. As you can guess from the dates, I have only posted the first part of my diary. Further parts will be posted in due course.
Got up at 10am today. Still half-recovering from epic New Year. Currently 84kg, low-carb vegan, no sleep debt.
12pm: First nap taken with little effort. Not tired, so it was more setting the environment and mind-space for future naps. Checked the clock halfway through exactly like I used to, so I suspect that I may get back into this reasonably quickly.
4pm: Much comfier nap. Body still tense, especially the neck, but could definitely feel myself dropping off slightly.
8pm: Checked clock with only four minutes to go. Starting to sleep deeper. Feel slightly groggy on getting up, but also very slightly spacey.
12am: Starting to feel much more tired now, and I’m yawning quite a lot. Checked clock with only seven minutes to go, and again at 2:31. Felt quite restless for the final three minutes. I also slept with the light on – not sure whether this is a good idea, in order to not fall asleep monophasically, or a bad idea, because it prevents me napping properly. Hmm. Very much wanting to go to bed right now and stay there.
1:25am: Feeling a bit tired but quite perky right now. I think it’s because I went downstairs into our cold, cold kitchen and made a drink. Might be a useful way of staying awake.
4:26am: Definitely felt that one. Have no recollection of switching the clock off. Woke up somewhat confused and stumbled next door to wake up flatmate. Am somewhat irritable. The car alarm that is going off outside probably isn’t helping.
8:25am: Feel dreadful. No recollection of switching alarm off – but am awake and about. Feel unsteady on my feet and given to stumbling and staggering everywhere, but that I am moving is progress.
10:19am: Have had breakfast and am now trying to write an article for a local newspaper. It is not going well, my thoughts are all over the place, but words are going down on the paper and I do feel much more with it than I did at 8.
12:33:pm: Don’t remember switching alarm off or sleeping. Heart was racing as I went to wake up flatmate. Have lost a kilogram in weight. Now feel dopey but manageable.
1:33pm: I feel really quite awake now. I think the euphoria is starting to kick in…
1:50pm: Not sure if this is related to polyphasic sleeping, but I can’t eat the same size meals I could only two days ago. I have to leave a small portion to be consumed later. Strange.
4:30pm: Checked clock halfway through but no recollection of waking up or getting up.
6:42pm: Started to fulflil action items. A good sign?
12am: Flatmate was unexpectedly away and I overslept by two hours. Was woken up by a different coincidental alarm.
4:26am: No recollection of napping. Do not feel rested.
6:52pm: Took advantage of flatmate’s absence to sleep over intentionally at 5am. Woke up at 9 but went to sleep again until 10:30am. Took 12pm nap and slept consciously but polyphasically. 4pm nap was put off by 40 minutes as a bike trip unexpectedly took three hours, and was also taken outside the house for the first time. Slept well, although checked clock three times. It will be interesting to see what impact the level of exercise I took today will have on my schedule. Because of the oversleeping and late sleeping, I feel somewhat tired and fatigued.
12:33am: 8pm and 12am naps taken uneventfully. Feel mostly alert and spent much of 12am nap thinking about an interrupted task I was performing. May be due to adaptation, maybe be due to epic oversleep. We shall see at 4am.
10:23am: Slept straight through 4:30am alarm and slept through til 9am. Took another “nap” and ended up having a vivid dream about being in a computer game until woken up by flatmate at 10:20am. Oh, the fail. Feel drowsy, fatigued and terrible.
6:01pm: Slept badly for 4pm nap. Restless, and got up with two minutes to go. My room has suddenly become very hot though, which may be contributing to this. Perhaps if I sleep elsewhere I may be more relaxed.
9:53am: 4am was a definite struggle, and I went to bed at 7am exhausted, slept through the alarm and woke up at 9:30am. While oversleeping by two hours isn’t quite the fail of the day before, I think the strategy of sleeping in my own bed is definitely failing. I will shift into the spare bedroom for a bit and see what happens. I’m also starting to develop back pain every time I oversleep. Another incentive, I guess.
Oversleeping three nights in four seems to suggest that we’re doing something wrong, but even with the oversleeping, I got 4 hours sleep cumulatively in the past 24 hours and feel fine (now I’m up). Polyphasic sleeping is clearly starting to have its effects, it’s just bloody hard to persuade yourself at 7am that you really need to stay awake. I think this is really something I have to think about deeply.
12:28pm: Nap very restful. Feel much better, and got up with a little reluctance. Not a good thing for adapting, but good for the daytime naps.
8:26pm: Took 4pm well. 8pm left me with racing heart and some reluctance to get up.
1:24pm: Midnight nap was taken in another person’s house and went well. Unfortunately, I was prevailed upon to take a sleeping tablet at 1am and was told that it would wear off by 4am. To judge by the way I fell asleep for 8 hours and woke up at 12:30am, I’m guessing that was a pack of lies.