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Polyphasic Sleep Schedule - Week 1

Published on Fri, 28 January 2011

A week ago I started a polyphasic sleep schedule. Its been a tough week, I feel like I’m am adapting but I’m still very tired part of the time. I tweaked my schedule early on to shift all the naps later by half an hour so as to better fit them in with work and my hour long train trips to and from work. The revised schedule looks like:

Core Sleep11pm – 2am
Nap 17:30am
Nap 212:30pm
Nap 35:30pm

The three hardest parts of the day are the 2am wakeup and the train trips. I’ve managed to get up right on 2am only 3 out of the 7 days. I now have three alarms for that time: 1:59, 2:00 and 2:01. Its still necessary to force myself out of bed when they go off and any delay results in sleeping in. Fortunately I don’t sleep in for all that long, with the extra time ranging from 20 minutes to 90 minutes.

The train trips are hard because they are both at the tail end of a 5 hour awake period and sitting down initiates almost uncontrollable nodding off. I tried taking the naps on the train on two occasions. Whilst it would fit my schedule well to take the naps at this time they weren’t of good enough quality. Plus there’s the possibility of interruptions from the conductor checking tickets and I got a sore neck.

I’m adapting to the naps in general though. Initially I felt I wasn’t really sleeping during them whereas now I feel like I’m asleep for about 15 minutes out 20. The naps themselves feel extremely long. For the first few days I would keep waking up around the 15 minute mark thinking that I’d overslept. At this point I get tired about and hour and half before each nap and feel quite rejuvenated afterwards.

The first day was very difficult. I think I was already tired when I started. During the day I felt dizzy, light-headed and “sqinty”. In the afternoon I ended up quite uncomfortable as I was dealing with the urge to fall asleep, a headache and the feeling I was going to be sick. Fortunately the nausea passed around 5pm and that made me feel a lot better.

I have tried not to change my day-to-day activities to cope with the tiredness. As a result I’m still riding my bike to and from the station each day, mowed the laws on Saturday, took Ruby for a long walk on Wednesday and attended a Australia Day get together.

Appetite

Being awake more has certainly increased my appetite and not just during the time I wouldn’t normally be awake. Across the whole day I feel I’m eating more and getting hungry more often. I have also switched to decaf for my morning coffee.

What I’m Doing With the Time

One of the questions that people ask me when I tell them about the schedule is, “what do you do with the time?”. This is a question that didn’t even cross my mind when considering starting the plan. To me its just obvious that having more time means more time to work on all the things that I don’t have enough time to do. Some of the things I’ve done so far:

The 2am – 6am stint has been my most productive. Once I shake off the tiredness after waking, which takes 15 – 45 minutes I’m able to remain focussed and busy until about 6. Although on week days I have to stop around 5 to get ready for work.

Socialising

I’ve only attended one social event in the past week, which was a birthday/Australia Day catchup with friends at a pub. I took my midday nap 30 minutes early and then the afternoon one in the car when we left at 5, prior to driving home. For this particular event the naps fitted in pretty well.

Today I have a 30th birthday to attend. It starts with dinner and will likely kick on after that. I’ll be taking my 5:30 nap at work and then plan to take naps about every 4 hours after that until I’m home and can resume the normal schedule. Its not ideal that I have to mess with the schedule during the adaptation phase but this is the reality of the situation.

The Coming Week

For the coming week I want to focus on awaking on time at 2am and making the train trips more bearable. I’m going to try having a small amount of chocolate on the train as that has seemed to help shake off the nodding off feeling a couple of other times. Hopefully the naps continue to become more refreshing and the tiredness between them decreases.

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