Polyphasic sleep – What to expect when you’re adjusting

You'll be tired when adjustingI’m a month and some change into the Everyman sleep cycle, and I hope I never have to go back to monophasic sleep. In fact, if my schedule dictated I needed to change my schedule back closer to a monophasic schedule, I’d readily switch to a different Everyman cycle instead, or even something as simple as a core sleep and siesta nap. In fact, there was just an article in The Wall Street Journal recently that touched on the fact that monophasic sleep is a relatively new cultural habit (within the past few hundred years). This makes me think that for me to personally go back to a monophasic cycle is not necessary best for my body.

I’m completely adjusted to the schedule now. In fact, I’d say the majority of my adjustment was over the first week. It wasn’t any more difficult than I expected, but I would definitely not want to go through it again. Here are some things I experienced that you should expect during your polyphasic adjustment:

1. You won’t always sleep on schedule. There will be many times you lie down for a nap, and that’s all. You’ll lie there until your alarm(s) go off 20 minutes later, and you’ll have missed your entire nap. This will hurt–you’ll be more tired by the time your core nap rolls around than if you’d had that nap. Your body just isn’t used to napping on this schedule. Once you properly adjust, you shouldn’t have any issues.

2. You’ll be hungrier. I noticed an increased appetite as soon as I started adjusting. This can most likely be attributed to more waking hours, and, therefore, more energy needed to burn. The meals I was having after every nap curbed my appetite, but I had to make sure they were hearty meals.

3. Your body will fight back. At this point, your body has no idea that it should be adjusting its sleep pattern. It only thinks you’re depriving it of sleep. You’ll notice a variety of physical symptoms until you fully adjust. Some physical symptoms I ran into are:

  • Itches beneath my skin that were impossible to scratch
  • Sore joints and muscles
  • Irritated eyes
  • Occasional brief periods of dizziness

4. You’ll get bored. Even though my to-do list is always packed with things to do, I found there would be points where my brain would refuse to do any heavy processing (that was required for most things on my list). I’d even have trouble reading. I made sure to have a queue of filler movies/TV shows lined up that I could fall back on when my thinking started to get fuzzy.

5. You won’t be pleasant to be around. I have understanding roommates whom I warned of my pursuit before I started. Since I was working from home, I had little contact with anyone except my roommates for that week. My responses to conversation soon became short, and eventually stopped making sense. Be sure to warn anyone you’ll be in contact with during your adjustment that you may be loopy for awhile.

Different people might experience different side-effects during adjustment to a polyphasic sleep cycle. A note of caution, if your particular side-effect doesn’t go away after your adjustment period, it may be cause for alarm that polyphasic sleep is not for you.

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