Polyphasic Sleep Log – Day 2

October 22nd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

So far, so good. I’ve continued getting all my scheduled naps on time without oversleeping. This day was much harder than the previous one though.

My best cycle of all was the 5-9pm one yesterday. I was in a state of relaxed consciousness, but with virtually no mental chatter. Perhaps my brain was too tired to think… even to think about being tired. But I felt conscious and alert even in the perceived absence of thought. The only thing I could focus on was the present moment.

I cooked two interesting dishes last night: sweet potato curry and coconut curry veggies. I found the cooking a good way to pass the time when everyone else was asleep. Trying to read last night was very difficult — it quickly made me drowsy.

The 1am – 5am cycle was once again the toughest, but I managed somehow. I’ve previously conditioned myself to get up with an alarm, so this conditioning is still working nicely. I may need some better strategies for making it through the 1am – 5am cycle though, since drowsiness peaks during this period, and physical energy is low as well. If it gets worse, I’ll be at risk of nodding off. I’m wondering whether it would be helpful to add an extra nap in the middle of this cycle to break it up a bit. I wouldn’t be getting REM sleep as happens with oversleeping, but the extra NREM sleep might help pass the time and combat drowsiness.

In fact, I’m wondering if the adjustment period would be easier as a whole with more frequent naps, but of the same duration, like eight naps spaced every three hours instead of six naps spaced every four hours. Would this be just as effective at conditioning the body to adapt to getting REM sleep in shorter sleep cycles? I don’t know. But if I feel I’m about to drop from fatigue or drowsiness, I may try inserting an extra 20-minute nap here and there. Naps aren’t totally restorative, but they do help. I don’t think this would delay the desired adaptation effect like a 3-hour sleep would. Of the experiences I’ve read from others, virtually everyone had a problem oversleeping at times, even sleeping through alarm clocks. But so far I haven’t heard of anyone trying to increase the frequency of the naps when sleepiness was overwhelming.

I experienced some decreased appetite this morning with a mild feeling of nausea. The thought of eating had little appeal to me. It was a bit of a struggle to make it to the 9am nap. I slept soundly but woke up groggy. Afterwards I had a light breakfast. But I still had only a minimal appetite throughout the day. Around noon my stomach was growling so loudly my wife was commenting about it, but I just didn’t care enough to eat. My thinking was, “Let my stomach deal with its own problems for a while and quit nagging the brain about its trifling complaints.” That seemed to make pretty good sense at the time… and in fact still does.

I should mention that I’m doing this experiment with no caffeine. Some caffeine here and there might make things easier in the short term, but it would likely prolong the adaptation period, especially since it’s known to interfere with REM sleep, which is what I crave most of all. My normal diet is naturally free of all animal products (vegan), but I have no idea what effect diet will have on this experiment. I have noticed that eating right after a nap is better than eating just before a nap, as the digestion makes it harder to fall asleep quickly.

Concentrating is difficult, even just to type this update. I felt very zombie-like this morning, and it was all downhill from there. Getting back to regular zombie would require an upgrade from my current state of being an armless, legless zombie. Mentally I don’t think I made it past a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 all day. At one time I spent about 90 minutes lying on the couch staring off into space as various family members drifted by. Some of them tried to engage me, but I can’t recall much of what happened. That was actually semi-peaceful, as I was so tired that my mind felt switched off, absent of thought. I vaguely recall hearing someone utter the phrase, “Ok, Egon’s gone bye-bye.” In some ways it was like a meditation. I was aware without thinking. It reminded me of a Three Stooges episode where Curly gets bonked on the head and says, “Look at the grouse,” as he stares blankly off into space.



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