Polyphasic Sleeping

Poly Who What?

I’ve begun a polyphasic sleeping routine known as the Everyman. There is a ton of information available via Google; and Dustin Curtis offers a great article with good visuals. The gist is this, we cycle in and out of REM sleep throughout the time we are sleeping. REM is the good quality sleep we need. So, the standard eight hours of sleep is very wasteful. Napping every few hours is far more efficient and will teach your body to get “just” REM sleep instead of wasting time drifting in/out of REM.

Why

I’ve been without enough time for too many years. I’ve given up too many things that I want to do for the sake of others, be they professional or personal obligations or just my nature to put others ahead of myself. I’ve missed reading the most.

So, a few months ago, when I learned about polyphasic sleeping (via @maczter in #AWTWX), I was intrigued. I wanted to try it, but I’ve never been a very good napper. I wake up with a nap “hangover” that is far worse than going without sleep. (The only advice I’ve ever had on this is that I nap for too long. Since I don’t like napping, it has never been intentional. Thus, I didn’t have an alarm.) Anyway, I wanted to try it, but felt I needed a accountability/support buddy, so I put out a call on Twitter. No takers. Twice. 🙁

How

During that time I gained confidence. I thought about all the people who use this method of sleeping: military personnel, medical staff, shift workers. When you think about it, there are lot of them. No wonder Wal-Mart can be busy at 3am (so I hear). Well if all those people can do it, I can, too! After all, I had already reduced my caffeine by a lot.

Over the next few weeks, I kept thinking I wanted to try this. At a #AWTWX blogging session, it came up again. I said I needed a buddy and just as @maczter was declining the opportunity to be on the phone with another man’s wife at 3am, I realized that a buddy is ideal, but terribly unrealistic. They’d have to want/need the exact same schedule as me. So, while @maczter and @jeremya started that very day, I designed my schedule and then waited a couple of days for my schedule to settle around the key nap times.

The advice is to go cold turkey rather than phasing in. It supposedly takes most people about a week to adjust. The good news for me is that I already fall asleep quickly and soundly and enter REM almost immediately.

I picked 2am-6am for my sleep time. I know I can stay up until 2am pretty easily, but 3am seemed too much of a challenge on a daily basis. Ditto on the other end. I’ve had to get up at 6am on a regular basis before. While it’s terribly difficult, I can do it. I know myself, though. I know that if my wake up time was 5am that I’d end up snoozing (a giant no-no of polyphasic sleeping) and then would ruin my plan.

Spinning off a pattern that @maczter selected, I picked nap times at 10am, 4pm, and, 10pm.  10am is a tad early, but it gives me time to have an early morning appointment and then nap and gives me time to nap and then go to one of my many 11am-ish meetings. 4pm is the same thing, but on the other end. I can have afternoon appointments and then have my nap before Emil gets home from work. 10pm is in the middle of the rest of the time I’m awake for the “day”.

6:00 AM wake
7:00 AM
8:00 AM
9:00 AM
10:00 AM nap
11:00 AM
12:00 PM
1:00 PM
2:00 PM
3:00 PM
4:00 PM nap
5:00 PM
6:00 PM
7:00 PM
8:00 PM
9:00 PM
10:00 PM nap
11:00 PM
12:00 AM
1:00 AM
2:00 AM sleep
3:00 AM sleep
4:00 AM sleep
5:00 AM sleep

When

Day 1

I planned on beginning this on Friday night, but then Thursday night, I was up until 2am working on some bridal images. By that time, I knew I could adjust Friday to fit, so I took advantage. I went to be at 2am and then got up at 7am when Emil’s alarm went off. It’s not quite cold turkey, but was far better than 6am for an impromptu start. At 10am, I wasn’t yet sleepy, but forced myself to nap. I actually entered REM.

Friday is always a very busy day for me. Between #roundrockjelly and an afternoon portrait session in downtown Austin, my day was full. It kept me busy and I didn’t feel sleepy at all. Even when my 4pm nap rolled around, I was awake for the whole thing.

We met Hilarie for happy hour. A little bit of alcohol was a little sleep-inducing, but I had no problem making it to my 10pm nap. And, for one of the only times in my life, I awoke from that nap refreshed.

1am was a different story. I was getting a little fuzzy brained and didn’t want to do any real work for fear of messing something up. I watched a movie (Analyze This) and was dozing briefly near the end. Emil was so supportive. He had texted me at 4pm to wish me a good nap, and he stayed up with me until 2am to make sure I didn’t fall asleep.

Day 2

I awoke at 5:20am today. I wasn’t bright-eyed and busy-tailed, so I went back to sleep. I regret that. I should have gotten up ahead of the alarm. Instead, 6am caught me in the middle of REM (I think) and made it much harder to awaken.

This first hour+ while I’ve written this post has been hard. I could easily go back to bed. But, it’s not much harder for me than being at work at 7 or 8am used to be. And, it’s only downhill from here.

Now, I have to go out and get moving. I think I’ll take care of laundry and groceries.