Polyphasic Sleep: Days 1-2

If you regard yesterday’s unintentional 11 AM nap as the start of this experiment, I am 22.5 hours in. So let’s just call this an overview of days 1-2.


Physical Experience

On day 1 (May 29 2015) I napped from 11-11:30 AM, 5-5:20 PM, and 9-9:20 PM. The first nap was untimed: the second two were planned and ended by alarms. Prior to the first nap I got a full night of sleep from about 1:30 to 8:15 AM (‘twas not the best night of sleep, but there shall be no more of those). My total sleep time for the day was about 7 hours and 55 minutes.

Today I have taken 5 20 minute naps so far, at 1 AM, 3, 5, 7, and 9. 100 minutes passed between each of these naps. I have slept (or at least, attempted to) for 100 minutes.

Overall, this is going much better than expected so far. I have been a little cold on and off since the 1 AM nap, which was indeed expected. I sleep in only a tanktop and shorts, but when I wake up I put on a sweatshirt and pants. I feel warm enough like this though I can’t say I’ve been outside much yet: we’ll see how that goes.

If you’re wondering (which I know you are!) I’ve been sleeping without a bra and then putting it back on as soon as I wake up. A bra will not stop an exhausted woman from passing out, but it does discourage me from sleeping at least a bit. Plus, having the sweatshirt on makes it just that much more complex to take the bra off, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be cold for now.

My stomach was off throughout the night, so to speak. When I shifted from sitting to standing around 6 AM I had sharp pains for a few minutes. I figured I needed to use the restroom but I turned out to be wrong. I think I did read somewhere about initial constipation. Hm…

My butt hurt (it has been mildly injured, mind you) after sitting in a chair all night, but it feels okay now. I normally don’t use the chair in my room, as it has just a little too much cushion for me. I probably could have changed positions more often but I don’t think I’ll be arrested for this. My legs hurt during the night too (mainly the left knee) but they feel better now that I’m standing.

I’ve had some mild light-headedness (a little dizzy) on and off for the last few hours. Maybe I need to eat, or maybe my body just needs to adapt (I ate basically as usual yesterday and haven’t eaten yet today). I’m not so sure, although this has been a near-constant for the last four weeks, so I’m not sure I can blame these sleep patterns for it.


Psychological Experience

My 9 PM, 1 AM and 3 AM naps were a little creepy—especially the 9 PM one. I wrote this down afterward: “I heard breathing so I opened my eyes 5 minutes in to turn on my headlamp. My mind kept rambling. Neck itched. At the end I felt like I was being pulled into another dimension-- started by seeing blue and gold circles against a black background, then they sort of turned into a tick, then I thought I felt a bug on my neck, then the circles turned into some evil being laughing, and I got closer and closer to it until the alarm went off.”

During the 1 AM nap I could see and feel a dragon quite vividly for at least a few minutes. It had a very rough neck, and I could feel all of its hard scales. I was a little nervous but I was okay with it. It was fascinating.

I believe this was also the nap during which I had a fight with a demon. Even though I was half-asleep I knew I had to resist it consciously, or else I was toast. At one point it disguised itself as a fairly attractive female—it knew me too well. I fell for it at first, but after several minutes I knew I had been fooled so I pulled off the disguise, Scooby-Doo style. He was pissed off. Then I woke up.

I’ve had an increasing sense that I need to be a conscious, or maybe psychic, warrior: I must protect myself from dark energy. This is absolutely crucial to my well-being and sanity. I’ve felt this attitude seeping over into my waking life, where I must beware of cynicism, bitterness, and doubt. I worry a bit about isolating myself in an attempt to avoid negativity, but that may indeed be best for at least a short while (say, a few days to weeks). But, whatever the case, worry is something that must be combatted also. These feelings can be projected by the people around me, but only I, in fact, can choose to take them on for myself.

I know that might sound a little esoteric and weird, but it’s really quite pragmatic. If I let negativity seep in I’m bound to sabotage myself. And if I want to succeed in this or in anything else I cannot sabotage myself. This doesn’t mean I will deny problems that come up: I just won’t allow myself feel any more badly than I absolutely have to in order to solve them (which is probably not very bad). There is no need for it.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

I’m not sure whether to consider this demon-experience as a vivid dream, a lucid dream, hallucination, or pure imagination. I’d like to call it a lucid dream, though I don’t feel like I entered some pre-made dream world. I feel like I deliberately created about 60-80% of it, but it was a far cry from day-dreaming. These images don’t put on a show for me: I very much participate in them. Perhaps they reflect parts of myself I don’t totally understand or have awareness of yet. Or maybe it’s simpler, and this feeling reflects my current belief experiment, which states that Things do not come to me: instead, I create them.

At some point during one of these night-naps I could feel a heavy force weighing down on my back, and I envisioned looking at myself from that force’s view (I was above myself). I’m pretty sure this was during the 1 AM nap. It didn’t hurt and it wasn’t too scary. Maybe staying calm helped it to go away.

I think I saw a similar dragon during the 3 AM nap but I wasn’t as creeped out this time, and I’m pretty sure this one was demon-free. Boy oh boy do I need to write down these details if I want to remember them.

A constant in all of these naps has been very vivid imagery within two minutes of closing my eyes. Sometimes if I think a certain thought or move a certain way I see images that relate to that thought or movement. But most of the time the images seem to arise involuntarily. But, this doesn’t mean I can’t exert some control over them once they show up.

The 5 AM nap was decent: I probably slept for a few minutes. When I woke up from my 7 AM nap I was surprised to find that I had been asleep. I hope this is a sign of progress. J

My 9 AM nap was a bit calmer. I was interrupted by a knock on the door about 15 minutes in but this didn’t bother me too much. I was concerned that I may have overslept but the clock told me otherwise. I began to have an interesting dream it had to be ended. I’ll have to get used to this lack of flexibility: in monophasic sleep I could have chosen to try continuing the dream. But I am fine with this.

At first the naps reminded me somewhat of my biphasic-sleep naps in that they seem very light and semi-conscious. But it quickly became clear that these naps are darker and far more intense. I’m not sure whether this intensity will continue. I suppose this will be determined once I actually start having dreams, if I haven’t already.

My experience of time didn’t feel too weird until around sunrise. I was surprised to see that it starts to get light out at 5 AM, and by 5:20 it’s pretty bright. When I look at a clock now, I feel like something in me gets disorganized and it then reorganizes itself in a different way. I get a feeling of, “Oh, so that’s what 30 minutes is? 15 minutes? An hour? Okay, I guess… If you say so.”

Sometimes I’m shocked at how quickly a 20 minute nap can go by. Other times, particularly when I need to make adjustments (e.g. move my hair, turn on a light), I feel pleased to realize I had much more time than expected.

I now properly regard the start of a day as midnight, rather than whenever I wake up. I wonder whether the distinction of separate days really matters aside from social activities (e.g. when other people wake up and businesses open).

I’ve had no problem up to this point with sitting up immediately when my alarm goes off. Sometimes I get a fleeting thought that I should lay down a little longer, but the intention that I must get up is much stronger. I hope it remains this way. It isn’t an issue to sit where I’ve been sleeping for up to maybe two minutes, but after that point I feel it is best to move elsewhere.

To reduce the temptation to flop down and sleep, after each nap I move my pillow on top of the blankets, and I then place one textbook on my pillow and another towards the middle of my “bed” (i.e. my spot on the floor). I’ve kept a bunch of clothes and several other items on my real bed, excluding blankets, to the same effects.

If I had some sort of office I would definitely go in there during the night to reduce the temptation to sleep even more, but so far that temptation has been at zero, so I think I’ll be okay. In general, it seems wisest to put up as many blocks to unscheduled sleep as possible, insofar as the effort doesn’t drive you nutty.

I’ll also mention that on my phone I can save multiple alarms for different times of the day and I can leave them all on at once. So far this has been helpful psychologically in that I already know an alarm will go off at certain times each day, so I might as well wait to sleep until around then.


Good So Far

Perhaps most importantly, at no point have I felt exhausted out of my mind, ready to pass out, or about to cry. I’ve been fine for the most part, really. My typing has been slower and sometimes less coherent (e.g. I’ll forget to insert certain words) but I have a sense that I could control it consciously—it would just take a little more effort than usual is all. I have written 7800 words in the last 10 and a half hours amidst 100 minutes of sleep (8 hours 50 minutes awake), so maybe I could do with some credit. My memory also hasn’t been as quick but I don’t think this will last.

This seems to defy the awfulness that is usually associated with the adaptation period, but maybe I just haven’t reached that point yet. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

I’d like to think that choosing to take extra naps of the same length was a good idea. I think I’ll be able to steadily reduce the number of naps until I reach 6 naps per day. I am a little concerned about promoting inefficiency but it’s already far better than it was two days ago.

If I sleep at 1 PM, 5 PM, and 9 PM today I will have slept for a total of 160 minutes, or 2 hours and 40 minutes, across 8 naps. If I wanted to maintain this pattern I don’t think that would be much of a problem at all—as long as those 3 hour and 40 minute gaps don’t feel too long to me, which they indeed can.

If I feel desperate I’ll allow myself to sleep at some combination of 11 AM, 3 PM, 7 PM, and 11 PM, but I don’t think I’ll need more than one of those (11 PM would be most likely). 12 naps would bring me to a total of 240 minutes, or 4 hours. This certainly seems like a very comfortable schedule, though also one that is highly inconvenient. If I don’t have to sleep for a whole 20 minutes for each nap then I won’t. I wouldn’t mind working down from 12 naps to 6 if it what will guarantee success, but again, I don’t think I’ll have to take more than 9.

At this point I don’t want to allow very much doubt to come in, so I think I will largely avoid reading about polyphasic sleep for the next several days unless I absolutely feel it could be beneficial to me. Once I become more alert and more experienced I will be able to read more critically, rather than with hope or fear.

I’m wondering if my general pace during the night usually be slower during the day regardless of how well-adapted I am. A volunteer at the last ultramarathon I ran told me that the previous year she paced (ran with) a man who had a very rough night during which he threw up frequently. His ability to finish seemed uncertain. But, when the sun rose he was “like a new man” and he completed the 100 mile run. I chickened out right around sunrise so I can’t attest quite as well to this, but I suspect this applies to most people not just in running but in general. Again, this will become clearer with more experience.

Anyway, it’s 9:30 AM so it may be a little early to post this but, well, I want to. If anything else of significance comes up I’ll put it in a later post, perhaps tomorrow or even tonight.

Until then, sleep soundly my friends—and efficiently. J

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