April 02, 2004

Polyphasic Sleep

A while back, several friends and I started blogging about an experiment we did regarding our sleep. We attempted something called polyphasic sleep, or "Uberman Sleep" as its known on the net. You can read my blog about it from the link labeled "Polyphasic Sleep".

Its been a while since I updated that blog, so I'll use this one to post any new developments. One question that I get frequently is if I am still on it. The short answer is "not really."

Why? Read on.

After about 100 days of living a polyphasic lifestyle, I decided to quit. While I did find that it was a useful tool to get extra waking hours in the day, it was too much of an effort. Being polyphasic in a predominantly monophasic world is hard. Not physically hard, as your body adjusts after a while. It was psychologically hard, in the sense that I do not live in a social vacuum and fitting in with other people's lives takes a certain amount of compromise. Slipping off to take my naps was novel at first, but towards the end, it was too much of a chore to maintain and make excuses at the same time every day. And for polyphasic sleep to work, you have to stick to a rigid schedule. For some people, it might work great, but for me, it was just too hard to stick to as my life is not completely predictable.

But you can see, I did not answer with a stright, "No." That is because I do go back to polyphasic patterns now and then when my life is overdemanding of my time. For instance, right now I am back in school 8 hours a week with 3 hours of lab and about 10 hours of homework. Add to that a full time programming job and I've got very little time to pursue other things.

So right now I average about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and I supplement that with a nap in the afternoons. Its what I would call the very lightest of polyphasic sleep schedules. If my sleep drops to less than that, I will start a regular nap schedule to compensate. But right now, a single nap around 3pm when I am the most tired seems to do the trick. Since its a single nap, I can sneak it in at random times sometime during the afternoon. There is no rigid schedule to stick to and its not so akward.

But if there is no pressing need to be polyphasic, I will switch back to a monophasic sleep schedule just because its easier and fits in better with the schedules most other people have.

For stories and examples of a more extreme polyphasic schedule, see my other blog.

Posted by xeeban at April 2, 2004 09:51 PM