Polyphasic Sleep Revamp

Last week I went my family doctor to make an appointment. The nurse who was scheduling me asked if I’d be available for an appointment at noon. I said, “I’ll be napping, no.” She said, “How about 4 PM?” Me: “Nope. I’ll be napping.” She asked me why I was napping so much. I was forced to promptly divert that conversation with a medical professional. #polyphasicproblems

In the past seven days I’ve received 20 hours of sleep. In monophasic sleep from May to the start of July I was consistently getting 40-50 hours of sleep per week. I’ve reduced my sleep by more than 50% and have only felt vaguely groggy and slight irritable and mostly fully active.

In terms of the intended project of sleeping only 2 hours per day, I have not been able to adapt to my sleep regimen of 20-minute naps every four hours, six times per day. Granted, I’ve only tried the adaptation phase for six days. It turns out that waking up from a 20-minute nap after 24 hours of deprivation is a lot harder than I anticipated. Not to mention, interrupting my day for catnaps has been a hassle as well.

The New and Improved Design:

I’m the kind of guy that establishes goals and badly wants to achieve them. Because of this, it still feels like failure. I’m revamping my goal; instead of two hours of sleep per day, I will strive for four hours of sleep per day – broken down in three segments of three 90-minute naps every eight hours.

I am designing my sleep around this regimen for a couple reasons:

  • There is a lot less emphasis on ensuring that I take a nap every four hours like previously intended
  • I can be more a part of society and will be interrupting my day half as often
  • In 90 minute intervals, I can achieve entire cycles of REM each nap
  • With my 1400 mile kayak trip from Indianapolis to salt water, this schedule will more practically suit my needs

I don’t have a set schedule for my naps. I am going to test the waters with naps at 12:30 PM, 8:30 PM, and 4:30 AM. I’m not married to this schedule because the brain cycles in 90-minute increments, called BRAC. (BRAC is theoretical and not known for certain – though, not much is known about sleep. It still seems to be relevant as there is technology that wake the user at the height of movement. The app, Sleep Better tracks my physical movement throughout the night and wakes me up within 30 minutes of my alarm based on my most active time in that 30-minute window. It has been a huge addition to my waking-up process.)

For example:

If you’ve woken up at 7 AM every morning for the past 10 years and even after a full nights rest you still wake up tired and you’re less functional throughout the day. You could be waking up at the wrong time. If you woke up at 6:45 AM instead, it could be that you wake up at the peak of your 90-minute brain wave. Being sensitive to this could have great benefits.

Concluding remarks:

Because I’m not a neuroscientist and I don’t have access to EEG testing, I intend to tinker with sleep times. Instead of disturbing or trying to retrain my natural brain rhythms, I’d like to harness what has been natural for the past 25 years and fit a sleep schedule into my preexisting model. So the above timing will be a first draft that I will likely manipulate and play with. The important thing, again, is reaching REM quickly and more efficiently than wasting 5.5 out of 7 hours of monophasic sleep.

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