Polyphasic sleep – Through the thick of it

Most anecdotal accounts I’ve read of people doing polyphasic sleep have noted that the 4th and 5th days are the most difficult for the Everyman cycle. I’m currently at the end of my 5th day, and in my opinion, the 3rd day was the hardest. For me, the 4th day of adaption was easier, and the 5th was a breeze. This could be due to the strictness with which I’ve maintained my schedule. I’ve never overslept an alarm nor have I allowed myself to sleep off-schedule. It must have paid off since today I woke up from both my core nap and all 3 secondary naps naturally after 3 hours (right before the alarm buzzed).

Although I haven’t fully adjusted to the Everyman cycle yet, I’m confident that I’m through the thick of the sleep deprivation. In general, I feel well rested after each nap, and I’m able to fall asleep for the duration of my naps. On the 2nd and 3rd days, there were a few naps where I would lay awake for the entire time. Yesterday and today, however, I’ve been able to fall asleep for each nap.

Some things I have found to work during this first adjustment week:

  • Reading before bed. I’ll read anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled nap as a way to wind down. I find this is important since I don’t want to spend the first 10 minutes of the 20 minute nap winding down.
  • Eat right after waking up. I have all meals right after waking from a nap. This helps to kick-start my metabolism. Also, any caffeine I drink is within an hour of waking, too. I haven’t run into any issues with not being able to get to sleep after caffeine if I drink it right after I wake from a nap.
  • No alcohol. I haven’t necessarily tested this, but I made a point not to drink any alcohol during the adjustment. Alcohol does enough to mess with monophasic sleep so why complicate things?

There are a few things I’ve had to change so far for this adjustment week. I’m sure things will change further once I’m completely adjusted.

  • Move a nap. On day 2, I had a work conference call scheduled during one of my naps. I moved the nap up 20 minutes earlier, but I was unable to sleep during this nap, unsurprisingly, since this was only the second day. In the future I’ll probably have to move some naps earlier or later since the world doesn’t revolve around my seep schedule.
  • Nap in my clothes. I had initially made sure to undress and get in bed every time I napped but I found this to be a hassle (that’s 8 times a day of changing clothes!). Instead, I started sleeping in whatever I was wearing for the day, and I slept on top of the bed covers. In fact, as soon as I started doing this, I would fall asleep in my naps right away. I think this could be related to a napping habit I developed in college–my naps would always be about 20 minutes, in my clothes, on top of the covers.

I’ve noticed some interesting things during these first few days as a result of switching to a polyphasic sleep cycle.

  • Dreams. I didn’t start dreaming during non-core naps until the latter part of the week. The dreams are very strange. In a 20 minute nap, I find I have many different dreams, and they seem to last much longer than 20 minutes. Moreover, they seem to be much more vivid than my dreams in the past. I have not had a lucid dream yet, but I have had a dream during which I became conscious I was dreaming and instantly woke up.
  • Nap length. I’m finding I almost always wake up before my alarm. The time of my actual sleep has ranged from 15 minutes to 19 minutes. I think the amount of time I actually need for these naps is somewhere under 20 minutes.
  • Perception of time. I am already starting to perceive time differently even though I’m still adjusting to the new schedule. To me, there’s no real break between days (I do have my core nap, but it doesn’t signify a break in days–just a long nap). I can drop something I’m working on for a nap (either a core nap or secondary nap) and pick it back up when I wake up. There’s no real “start of the day” routine since I feel as if I’m in a continual day (with various naps). It’s quite strange. I can definitely see why people on the Uberman schedule start to feel a sense of constant euphoria.

I’m eager to see what Everyman will be like next week when I’ll be coming off the adjustment phase.

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