Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Polyphasic sleeping

Well, after a week of this experiment it is in for a little change. When I started this experiment it was for exploration and partly the random need to be different and try new things. Now that I have been doing it for a week, I have some really great reasons. My mental clarity has increased immensely. I have a lot more time in the day to get things done. I wasn't sleeping well at night so I didn't feel rested and my back hurt when I woke up because of so much tossing and turning. Also the extra time at night gave me the isolation time that my personality wants. This made me more friendly and extroverted(relatively) during the day because I filled my needs for solitary and then had increased needs of social interaction.

After much reading, I have come to a few new conclusions.

1) Dr Stampi doesn't recomend the 6x30 sleep pattern for more than 6 months without a recovery period. It is healthy and stable during that time, but it is designed for critical situations.
2) I read that the early mornings from 2-5 would always be a little hard because I am a 'lark' (Classically an early riser also one forwhom super short power naps are easy.)
3) Dr Stampi also believes that 4.5 - 5.5 hours is the healthy long term minimum for most people.
4) I felt a great sleep debt, that although I was still in the adaptation phase, I have an inkling that it won't go away.
4b) People describe tho 6x30 pattern as having no sleep buffer, and that doesn't sound healthy to me long term.
5) Everyone that I read about that continues long term on a polyphasic sleep schedule change to the power naps with a short core sleep of 2-5hrs at night.

(Note: Although I didn't record where each of these ideas came from, all my readings are documented in my public bookmarks.)

So my new goal is to take all the same naps(6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm) that I was taking before to get the mental clarity and sustainable energy benefits and then a 4hr core sleep every night from 1-5am. That will actually give me 6 hours a day of sleep. The naps are pure SWS (slow wave sleep), the most physically restorative. This sounds long term sustainable and not only will I be getting a few(1-2) more hours a day total waking time than normal, many more of those hours will be highly productive because of the naps.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

My coworker(Carl Youngblood) mentioned to me a practice called "polyphasic sleeping" recently. The popularized term is "uberman sleep schedule", as popular as it can be. Basically you sleep for 20-25min every 4 hours. The obvious result is that you have 5-7hrs more in the day. Many people also report better energy levels and mental functioning. There is also a psychological effect due to the solitary evenings that can be good or bad depending on your personality. The transition period can last up to 2 weeks if you are doing it mostly right and ranges from rough to hellish. It is basically sleep deprivation until your body modifies your REM cycle. Some people think it works by cutting out the other stages of sleep, however research done by Claudio Stampi and reported in "Why we nap" indicates that our REM cycle adjusts itself to our sleep pattern.

Buckminster Fuller thought that the reason that you can meet your needs this way is that you are constantly refilling your energy needs such that it doesn't take as long to recharge.

I have been following this schedule since Tues Dec 12. Last night(Wed-Thur) and yesterday(Thurs) were very hard. Although my body still has a lot of adjusting to do I have found lots of good tips and I seem to be understanding my sleeping needs in the new context.

The hardest part of the whole process for me was maintaining my commitment when it seemed so difficult and I didn't know if it was going to turn out beneficial or even healthy. The next hardest part is of course keeping your eyes open when they are lead and your brain isn't functioning. That isn't to say I haven't had any difficulties. I have had problems with body temperature and digestion that are somewhat common during the transition period.