My tryst with polyphasic sleeping

Polyphasic Sleep Day 370

A little over a year ago began a journey that became a masked attempt at self-discovery through the desire to tame one of the most eluding human activities: sleep. I may not have achieved my goal yet but what I have achieved is a lot more awake time and more importantly, a deeper understanding of something we spend almost a third of our life doing.

Me napping at noon in Abingdon

When I began polyphasic sleeping though, my sole objective was to achieve more awake time. I was one of those I-cannot-deal-with-less-than-8-hours-of-sleep person. With an impending viva a few months away and a lot of lab work, I had to force myself to find this extra time that I needed. Throughout this year long journey, I have overcome many challenges and I’ll highlight a few in this post.

The initial adjustment to polyphasic sleeping has been one of the biggest challenges that I have faced. But a strong desire to discipline my sleeping habits went a long way in helping me settle into the polyphasic schedule. I began thinking that I will be able to achieve the dymaxion schedule but quickly understood how inflexible it can get. Since then, I have managed myself on an everyman schedule. In this schedule, I get 3 naps a day and sleep 4-5 hours on most days.

While trying to adjust to a polyphasic sleep schedule I developed some sort of sleep deprivation which proved to be a big hurdle. I say ‘some sort’ because it was nothing like the sleep deprivation that one develops after staying awake straight for 36 hours. I found that the only way I could to overcome it was by having a continuous desire to do something. But that means there was a constant need to find something that I was motivated enough to keep doing. It proved to be a challenge in itself. But funnily enough, my desire to find an eternal source of motivation led me to a solution not so far away. Let me explain.

I was quite skeptical of achieving this feat and never thought it would be a good idea to share the experiment with friends. But inadvertently it became a topic of conversation more often than not. I soon realised the power of what Alex kept saying about making public pledges. Quite simply, once people knew what I was doing this, I had more will power to keep doing it. Another source of motivation that came from discussing polyphasic sleep was the realisation that sleep is a problem for almost everyone. Everyone seemed to have a very unique perspective on sleep and it hardly ever worked to their advantage. Polyphasic sleeping was my way of making my perspective on sleep work to my advantage.

Three weeks into the schedule and I had started reaping the fruits of my labour. Adding to my motivation tank what followed was my first lucid dream which I remember till date and since then I’ve had a few of these. Another motivator was that polyphasic sleep kept me in a positive mind frame and pleasantly so.

Enough about challenges and motivation for now though. Let’s see what are things that I have learnt: Continue reading “My tryst with polyphasic sleeping”

Polyphasic Sleep

Physicists have not yet found a way to alter the Earth’s speed of rotation to give us a thirty-hour day, but sleep researchers may have found a way to get an eight-hour sleep in just two hours—letting you cram in six more wakeful hours a day.

Power naps, polyphasic style – The Cherwell, 21 January 2010