As of the publishing of this post, it has been three days since I started Operation Hack Sleep and I have only taken 6 hours of sleep (Day zero (pre-nap regimen) = 0 hours of sleep, Day one = 1.5 hours, Day two = 4.5 hours). I have been using my Twitter feed as a short journal entry for each of my naps. Each tweet includes information from an app that I use that tracks movement while I sleep called Sleep Better by runtastic. My tweets include time that it took to fall asleep, notable occurrences during sleep (dreams, interruptions, etc), and how I feel going in/coming out of each nap.
A quick recap:
I’m taking six 20-minute naps every four hours for a total of 2 hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle. In monophasic sleep, only 20% of time spent in bed is REM; while 90% of each polyphasic nap (PN) is REM. So, yes, while I’m sleep much less, I’m getting just as much and maybe more REM than I would be as a monophasic sleeper.
Not to mention, this lifestyle allows me to explore and learn things that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. For example: I’ve begun drawing, which I’m doing in the night hours as a form of focused meditation. I haven’t ever been particularly artistic, but I’ve found that drawing is an actively engaging form of meditation that won’t lull me into a premature nap like traditional transcendental meditation might. Drawing has required very little effort; I don’t get frustrated; I enter a zone of focus; and I create something while exercising my brain. I would have never otherwise considered drawing.
As far as an update to my napping situation goes, I have some upsetting news. I don’t think it’s terribly detrimental, but it certainly isn’t ideal. For my midnight nap last night, I was playing Monopoly and Settlers of Catan with benevolent friends who have been supportive and helpful in keeping me occupied/awake during the first phase of adaptation. However, I had a few libations. So for my midnight nap – I could not fall asleep very easily. Plus, a family member interrupted midway through my nap with a not-so-pressing question. I will now be going to sleep armed to send a message.
Because of the missed nap, I was looking forward to my next nap at 4 AM. Maybe a little too much. Because I was worried I wouldn’t wake up from my first 4 AM nap, I went over to a friend’s house that agreed to be my back-up alarm. At 4:20 AM I did not respond to my alarm. At 4:21 AM, Jason did not respond to his alarm. And it wasn’t until 7:50 AM that I actually woke up. Instead of a 20-minute nap, I took a 3 hour and 50 minute slumber. Yes, it felt great, but I know that the adaptation phase (which includes intentionally sleep depriving in order to reset the chemistry of the brain which will allow the immediate dip into REM per nap) will last much longer because where I was supposed to be sleep deprived, my ~4 hour nap started that process over – that’s obviously a bummer because the less time spent sleep deprived, the better.
Prior to the mis-sleep this morning, I felt very agitated, cranky, and irritable. I was testier than normal. That all said I have had very good naps today. I quickly and effectively fell asleep in my noon and 4 PM naps. I don’t feel any adverse effects – probably because I slept too long this morning. I do feel sleepy for about an hour before the naps, which makes it easier to actually fall asleep when naptime comes.
The most interesting thought that I’ve had about this experiment so far is that time has become a fluid concept for me. Night and Day are no longer markers of my day – there is no real distinction for me other than “night” is the time of day where there is no sun and “day” is the opposite. Meals aren’t markers of my day. Before and after sleep is no longer a marker of my day. Before and after work is not a true marker.
I haven’t felt sleep deprived, per sé – just really tired. Other blogs make this adaptation phase out to sound like I’d be zombified. I guess 3 hours and 50 minutes of sleep is enough to pull me out of the eventual throngs of deprivation. So maybe the worst is ahead. Until then, enjoy your monophasic ways. I welcome all questions, concerns, comments, pointers, insights, links to relevant information/fun facts, etc.