Polyphasic Sleep: Days 10-14

This is an overview of the last 4 days of the polyphasic sleep 30 day trial. Overall, I have overslept more than usual, I’ve experienced more pain, and temperature sensitivity which was intense at the beginning of the trial has dropped dramatically. Recovery from exercise has been decent and my thinking is still somewhat in a fog. Still, I am enjoying myself.

I shall elaborate below.


Oversleeping Issues

At this point the most important thing I can do is record data more frequently. A lot of the sleep times I have written down are assumed from the time I set my alarm to on my phone (I can set and save up to 9 alarms at once on my phone). Even then I may not write down the numbers before I adjust that alarm for the next day, and in the end I just write down the time I expected to sleep for (e.g. 1-1:25 right on the dot).

On each day from days 11-14 I overslept. On day 11 I couldn’t even make it to the 1 AM nap and I slept from 12:40-4:30. I was far more tired than usual at this time.

On day 12 I took my 7 AM nap to the couch and I did wake up at 7:25 as planned, but shortly after I fell asleep again until 8 AM.

On day 13 I slept from 5:05-5:30… then I decided to set another alarm for 5 minutes… and then I woke up at 7:30. I was upset that I woke up during a nap and I wondered if I could finish it. I did hear a voice, I will admit, that said “Don’t do it!!!” When I finally did wake up it took me a little while to find my cellphone: it was wrapped up in my blankets. I’m fairly certain it did not wake me up in the end.

Day 14 (today) was the weirdest. I laid down for a nap at 3:04, and between then and 6:40 I don’t really know what happened. I’m pretty sure I woke up to the 3:29 alarm but I have no recollection of what I did after. I think I had some dream and thought I was awake… I think next I woke up and saw 5:15 on my alarm clock, and then I’m not sure what I did. I probably either sat around or fell asleep again. I think I meant to sleep next at 5:45—I remember setting an alarm for 6:10, which has vanished. Then I meant to sleep from 6:15-6:40, which is really odd… I had something weird in mind. But I think I told myself that I wouldn’t sleep again until 9. I don’t know where this f’ed up reasoning came from. I think I missed the fact that this would lead to 9 naps today

Coincidentally, falling asleep hasn’t felt like as much of a choice as it did prior to day 11. Then when I laid down for a nap I would think, “Okay, you can fall asleep now,” at just about every nap, and then I would relax and soon enough fall asleep. Now it seems like I do this only during the day.

I haven’t felt nearly as cold in these last few days as I did in the first week and a half of the experiment. I still like to wear a sweatshirt and pants sometimes but there certainly isn’t as much of an urgency to do so. I think that urgency made it easier for me to get up, because I immediately wanted to put warm clothing on. Now I’m content to sit under the warm blankets… and then maybe fall back to sleep.

I know I do a significant amount of unplanned sleeping aside from what I’ve discussed here. Sometimes while I’m working on my laptop in the middle of the night I doze off for up to 5 minutes—occasionally even 10. I never write down when this happens. I feel like a puppet on strings… My sleep is not my own. :P

I’ve made a habit of saying out loud before a nap that I will wake up at whatever time is on the alarm, and when I wake up I’ll sit up, turn it off, stand up, and then do whatever it is I need to do. I don’t know whether this actually has an effect but I like to imagine it helps me to focus on sticking to the schedule. I usually do wake up as scheduled, indeed, but that doesn’t mean I won’t sleep as unscheduled immediately afterward.

Another habit I’m going to throw into the mix is that immediately when I wake up I’ll have to walk over to my notebook and write down, “It’s x (time) and I am awake.” If I do this I can be more certain of whether I was actually awake for a sleep cycle, since I sometimes can’t remember all too well. Of course, a rule of thumb seems to be that if I can’t remember what happened, I probably was sleeping.

I think oversleeping puts me into a fog that I don’t come out of for at least about 6 hours. I may be pushing myself into an oversleeping cycle in that I feel badly from oversleeping, and then I ride on my old assumption that more sleep will help me feel better. Of course, I know this isn’t true anymore—good quality sleep will help me feel better, and good quality sleep is not haphazard.


Pain Pain Pain

I went running on days 10-12 and each time I felt a bit sleepy during the run. Other than that I feel speedier and healthier than I did when track season ended about 1 month ago. That being said, I’ve developed more pains in my body and those that were already present have become worse. However, they don’t bother me as much psychologically. I think some of this pain comes from my body getting far less of a break from sitting and standing than it is used to—sitting, in particular. I sit on the floor more than I do anywhere else but even that tends to be painful now.

Recovery from exercise seems to take place steadily over a few naps. I don’t think I recover quite as quickly as I did when monophasic but I’ve certainly been getting more efficient at this. Prior to day 9 I did not do a whole lot of exercising, and I still haven’t lifted very much since this trial began. Still, I did climb a tree for the first time ever after running on day 12, and I’m quite proud of that (it was awesome!). I wouldn’t say that I’ve atrophied too much.

I think my new running shoes and my presently-vegan diet are more responsible for my pain than this sleep schedule is. My shoes are a newer model of the previous pair, so they are incredibly similar. However, I think the few minor differences are more detrimental than the major differences of getting a new pair entirely would be. It’s hard to say why: I think I’ve strayed more from reasoning and thinking deeply while on this trial. My mind just runs away from these things sometimes, but it does feel semi-chosen.

I’m not ready to blame veganism in itself over me just doing it wrong, but it’s not like this is my first time without animal products. In particular I think I could use food fortified with calcium, such as rice milk. That might have something to do with all this pain in my bones and teeth, though it does seem awfully early (2.5 weeks) to be having such issues. Hm…

What I’ve identified as kidney pain (lower back pain) is still present, and I did not have this before I began this trial. However, it shows up less frequently each day. Drinking water seems to help alleviate it.


Psychological Effects

Polyphasic sleep has thrown me off in more ways than one. In particular, Belief Experimentation has gone out the window. Since day 1 of changing how I sleep I just haven’t wanted to put mental effort into altering my beliefs anymore. I’ve also felt a bit burned out by my challenge to write and post an article everyday for 30 days. Yesterday was day 27 and I screwed up. Oh darn. :P

At the same time, I’ve been making changes to this website and I’ve been planning out the next phase of its life. The second task is a massive creative stretch on my mind, and sometimes I feel like the fog just won’t let all that stretching happen. But I think if I work more consistently on this- particularly during the night- I’ll feel more compelled to get up and stay up as scheduled. Whatever the case, this is an exciting time. J

As for other changes, images in general have been more vivid. When I look at a person or a part of the landscape it seems so alive—they couldn’t be any more real. I usually feel that the only way I can comprehend this fully is to take a subjective reality standpoint, which is interesting considering that matter is secondary to consciousness from this perspective. But, since I started taking this perspective almost 2 years ago I’ve felt that it better enables me to comprehend beauty and feel connected to the objective world.

So, it now seems that polyphasic sleep coaxes me into the subjective perspective. I wonder if this has something to do with frequent dreaming. Long-term I don’t remember my dreams at all, which is the opposite of what I expected. Still, they feel more vivid and I can retain them for up to 10 minutes after waking up. Sometimes it seems that I work through issues during these dreams. After a recent nap I perceived that I had resolved part of a problem I’m trying to resolve during that nap’s dream, and I tried to recall it but I just felt like I could not comprehend the dream… I just remembered a lot of colors floating around.

My dreams are fantastic: I can’t think of too many that have been scary. I tended to dread dreaming more while monophasic, but now I look forward to it. In my most recent dream I lost a tooth (I’m a little old for that!) and that bordered on traumatic, but it wasn’t enough to wake me up. My friends appear in many of my dreams and we have a lot of fun. Actually, the dream-versions of my friends may be more exciting than the real ones… J

I’ve mostly stayed on the down-low about this: I’ve told only very few people. So, I haven’t had to deal with much socially in regards to my sleep schedule. I told my brother about it yesterday and he had no idea I had been doing anything unusual for the last 2 weeks. He must be quite a deep sleeper himself. :P

As I eluded to in my last update, I sleep in the car like an angel now. Before this experiment it was rare that I could actually fall asleep in the car. Now I do within minutes, and I stay asleep for a whole nap (25 minutes). This may prove to be problematic while driving (it hasn’t yet!), but it has been overwhelmingly convenient. I took my last nap of day 13 in the car just because I wanted to—I was home. J

Interestingly, I’ve felt more than usual like I don’t have enough time, yet I’ve also considered my time to be more precious. I have squandered time quite a bit more than usual due, in part, to being tired. In particular, I have spent way more time using Facebook and reading news than usual because it uses my mind but just not enough to make me tired. My urges to go on Facebook are quite strong now… it feels disgusting. I might deactivate for a while.

I have also found watching videos and listening to music help me stay awake, so I have been doing more of these as well. Music does a great job of perking me up. I wish I had tried this during the first week!

Even just focusing on an activity I want to do can help me go from tiredddd to wide-awake. I think my background-tiredness has helped me to distinguish between activities I actually want to do and activities I don’t want to do. Maybe my tiredness will be the equivalent of a dog’s nose, such that if something doesn’t smell right I’ll feel tired all of a sudden. That sounds like a neat power to have. :)

I think my perceived lack of time is due to a nice portion of my time being spent in a fog. I have more waking hours now but many of them are of lower quality—at least, at this point. I trust that by the end of this trial most of my waking hours can be spent in a fairly clear, alert mental state.

Days seem to go by very quickly, but weeks and hours go quite slow. Nothing slows time down more than wondering how long I have until my next nap. When I’m tired it’s very helpful to focus on whatever I’m doing at present—then I feel more alert and time passes more quickly.

Also, on day 12 there was a storm at 3:30 AM which caused the power (electricity) to go out. My laptop still had some juice so I wrote a piece called “Polyphasic Thunderstorms” (creative, right?): maybe I will post it soon.


Lovin’ Life, Man

Overall, I’m not sure that I can officially call myself a polyphasic sleeper at this point, considering all the screw-ups. I  still am on an 8-nap schedule (25 minutes each, for a total of 3 hours 20 minutes of sleep each day) even though I aimed to get down to 6 naps per day: it’s hard to say whether I will at this point. Still, I am glad to have reached this point.

My life seems normal if I don’t think about it much, but when I try to analyze my sleep patterns I think, “Um, are you sure that’s possible?” From an outside perspective I still can’t comprehend this even though I’m right in the middle of doing it. This is how I felt after running my first ultramarathon, too: logically I knew it happened, but I simply could not fathom running that far… Even though I did indeed run that far.

I genuinely enjoy living this way. If not for ultramarathons, speaking of them, I would probably stay like this for at least 3 months total. But hey, maybe I’ll find a way to make the two work out somehow. Maybe I’ll just do one of those really long runs that I’d have to sleep during anyway… :)