Sleep Depravation. Do you have it?
I was going to wait another month or so before I brought this up in public, but I think if I put my thoughts down and articulate what I'm doing I might get better results. Have you heard of polyphasic sleep? Neither had I until a couple years ago. Don't worry, I'll tell you more about it in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, this is what Polyphasic sleep is defined as by the venerable Wikipedia:
Polyphasic sleep, a term coined by early 20th century psychologist J.S. Szymanski, refers to the practice of sleeping multiple times in a 24-hour periodâ€”usually more than two, in contrast to biphasic sleepâ€”and does not imply any particular sleep schedule. The circadian rhythm disorder known as irregular sleep-wake pattern is an example. The term polyphasic sleep is also used by an online community which experiments with ultra-short napping to achieve more time awake each day.
photo credit: Michelle Jones UK
What does this have to do with anything?
I've never been one to have a regular sleep pattern, I often stay up late and wake up super early without affecting much of my day effectively sleeping about 4 to 5 hours. Two to four or even five times a year I'll stay up all night, sometimes past 36 or even 40 hours. I did that just less than 2 months ago. I'm not sure of the reason why I'm able to do it, but I think its just motivation. I tend to get into things and kick up the intensity up to %120 and in this last case I just mentioned, I literally forgot to go to bed. When I was finished with the tasks at hand I said to myself, time to go to bed, that's when I realized I had to be at work in less than 45 minutes.
If I sleep the normal 8 to 9 hours of sleep I don't usually feel refreshed or alert; at least not anymore than I do when I sleep 4 to 5. With these circumstances I thought, why not take full advantage of my ability to stay awake longer than the average person and see if I can become more productive. The answer was of course polyphasic sleep which if done properly and rigorously may reduce sleeping time to 2 - 3 hours per 24 hour period.
Failure came first
When I first read about this in late 07 or early 08, I got excited (remember my note about 120% above?) and I read a couple of blogposts, got the details and jumped on it right away. Needless to say I failed miserably and had to quit less than 2 days later. I couldn't hang and I hadn't really read all the gotchas.
Preparation is Key
This time around I'm getting prepared. I started about 2 weeks ago with a couple napping exercises. I need to be able to fall asleep quickly since I only get 30 minutes at a time. Normally I take 5 - 6 minutes to fall asleep. I've been training my body to quickly fall asleep when I want to; so far it seems to be improving, I think I'm down to a couple of minutes. Another key preparation is diet. I don't have a lot of problems there because I already watch what I eat and try to minimize salt and fat intake while keeping a balanced diet. I juice a lot, I eat pretty healthy, not over the top but I am watching my food intake a little bit closer now. Besides food, I've also minimized intake of different stimulants such as alcohol, beer, wine and coffee; their effects can be devastating to the focused and compartmentalized sleep pattern. In fact, I'm on my 9th day of no coffee; I feel great.
Learning and Logging
I'm learning a lot, I've read a couple of research papers as well as tons of blogs and personal experiences. I have also been keeping a small quick log of what's going on and things I've done, tried or thought about this whole process. I will be presenting that log here somewhere in the upcoming weeks. The title of this post is related because the adjustment phase, which is supposed to last 7 to 10 days puts your body in a sort of sleep depravation mode. We'll see how that goes.
Haven't actually started...
I was going to start this on Monday this week, however I've been battling a cold for a week or so and I needed solid recovery rest so I had to postpone the start of the experiment. I hope to make the experiment last at least six months but I might have to break away from it for about a month or so after August. That might be a challenge, as I've read that adjusting into and out of the program takes some time and effort. I'll be getting married (again) and so the chaos that comes with that will certainly interfere with the 6 hours on, 30 minutes off pattern.
Who else is out there?
In parallel with preparing and planning this out, I've begun looking for other people that have had this experience or are in the middle of it. I'll be connecting with them and learning from them as well. Please feel free to reach out if you're one of these people and we can share tips and experiences to make the entire process much better, not only for ourselves, but for other people willing to experiment with this. After all who wouldn't want to gain four to six hours of waking time?