I just finished my first week on polyphasic sleep. It’s been over 175 hours since my last full night of sleep.
Everything is continuing to go well. Today was even better than yesterday. No more brain fog. No more reduced reflexes. I drove the car today for the first time in the past week with no trouble at all. This is pretty amazing considering that I slept less than 20 hours the entire past week and never more than 30 minutes at a time. I certainly don’t feel sleep deprived… quite the contrary.
I’m still taking that 7th nap at 3am when drowsiness strikes, but it’s beginning to feel less necessary each time, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll be able to wean myself off of it soon.
Today I began setting my nap countdown timer for 25 minutes instead of 30 minutes. That seems to work better. 30 minutes was too long; I’m often past REM or have already woken up by the time the alarm goes off.
I’m going to give this another full week before I start figuring out what this means long-term. In the meantime I’ll continue posting the sleep logs for a while whenever I have something new to add, although I won’t be doing them daily anymore. They’ll be archived in the sleep category as usual.
My wife and I have been poking fun at each other since this experiment began. She calls my sleep habits “polynapping,” and I refer to her nightly sleep routine as hibernation. When I tuck her in at night, I say, “See you in the Spring.”
One reader emailed me a link to an article in the UK Guardian today which connects sleeping patterns with diet in animals. Of particular relevance to my experiment is the last paragraph:
Jerome Siegel of University of California, Los Angeles, in a paper in Nature today, describes how diet and lifestyle have a huge effect on how much sleep an animal gets. Carnivores spend most of the day dozing, omnivores sleep a moderate amount, and herbivores nap when they can. “These conclusions explain why some animals can survive and reproduce optimally with only a few waking hours, whereas others need to eat all day and must have reduced sleep time,” he told Nature.
Interesting. Since I’m an herbivore (i.e. vegan), perhaps that gave me an edge in adapting to polyphasic sleep. As compared to others’ reported experiences, I seemed to have an easier time making the transition. I definitely noticed that when I first went vegetarian in 1993, I needed less sleep to feel rested — that was during the time I was taking a massive courseload to graduate college in three semesters. I don’t recall a change in my sleeping habits when I went from vegetarian to vegan in 1997 though, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility — I simply may not have noticed it. Some people found it very important to eat as healthfully as possible in order to adapt to polyphasic sleep. I didn’t change my diet at all for this adaptation though, nor did I experience strange cravings as others reported. I wonder if there is a strong connection between success with polyphasic sleep and eating a mostly plant-based diet. All the cravings I read that others experienced were for certain plant foods like grapes. My family normally buys grapes every week, so that’s already a common food in my diet.
I can certainly see how heavier meals that include animal products might sabotage the transition to polyphasic sleep. First you have a slower and more energetically burdensome digestive process to deal with, and secondly you have hormones like rBGH interfering with your endocrine system. To me that seems likely to mess with your attempts to get proper REM sleep.
I mentioned in previous blog posts that I’ve been experimenting with the intention-manifestation model of goal achievement. I’ve started easing up on the cause-and-effect model of getting things done and began playing around with setting some goals that I would have thought impossible or extremely unlikely. But instead of worrying about the means through which they’d occur, I just focused on the intention and decided to allow the universe to handle the details. A few days later, it look liked I got sidetracked by the idea of undertaking this polyphasic sleep experiment. But as the experiment seems to have succeeded in a big way, I now look back and see just how perfectly this polyphasic sleep experiment may be part of the manifestation of those new intentions.
This is freakishly strange. Can you imagine writing down, “Become a polyphasic sleeper,” as one of the stepping stones in your written plan to achieve some goal? Such a thing would be inconceivable if you’re strictly using a cause-and-effect model of getting things done. You might as well have a step that says, “Magic happens here.” But by allowing the universe to handle the details instead of trying to control the process of manifesting these goals myself, it opened me up to receiving a solution far beyond anything I could have planned. Switching over to polyphasic sleep gives me an absolute abundance of usable time, and it also creates other cascading side effects that move those intentions from impossible to possible.
As part of these intentions, I included the phrase, “… for the greatest good of all,” meaning that I didn’t want the intention to manifest unless it could be done in a manner that would be in service to the greater good. Certainly becoming a polyphasic sleeper fits that intention. It gives me even more time to work on my purpose, to contribute, and even to share the details of this experiment publicly, which others may find helpful.
Was this a result manifested by my subconscious, or was there a superconscious element to it (as mentioned in podcast #5)? Or was it simply a coincidence? I find that the more I believe in the superconscious element, the better it seems to work.
So now that I’m a vegan, polynapping, left-handed, colorblind, lucid dreaming, philosophizing, highly motivated blogger-writer-speaker-podcaster-programmer-enterpreneur, what part of normalcy should I attempt to screw up next?
Maybe I should try something financial, like seeing how quickly I can earn a million extra dollars, maybe starting with an experimental bankroll of $1000 or less. That might be fun, especially if I attempt it via the intention-manifestion model. Plus I could post log updates to create a written record with all the details. Perhaps give a nice chunk to good causes along the way. I’m sure my wife will be very supportive of an experiment like that.
I’ll chew on this for a while — I’m definitely going to need some bigger challenges with all this extra time.