I've been up since 2:20. And in fact I overslept. What?!
Yes I'm now on Day 7 on a polyphasic sleeping schedule called the Everyman 3. My oversleeping was due to the fact that I didn't manage to get to bed by 23:00 but rather 23:20 so it was on purpose fortunately.
No I'm actually not crazy
The picture above displays what the Everyman 3 (E3) sleep schedule looks like. On the E3 you get a 3hour core sleep (typically at night) and then 3x20min naps spaced out across the day.
Polyphasic sleep is - as opposed to monophasic sleep - a sleep schedule where you sleep multiple times during the day. Most of us adhere to the monophasic sleep schedule simply because it fits our job better. But what if there was a different way?
Polyphasic sleep haven't been studied that much but there's quite a few individuals who have blogged about it and there experiences with it. The only research study made about polyphasic sleep was made by a Dr. Cladio Stampi who published a book about it in 1992. So it's time for me to try.
I think most of us wants to get more out of life. I have hunger for doing more and more stuff (startups, hobby projects (the drone and photography), playing music, getting better at something (right now web programming)). How can I make time for all of this while still having a fulltime job?
But what lured me into polyphasic sleep was that I could get 4 hours extra pr. day. That's one more day of having fun every week, 5 more days pr. month, it's 2 entire months more pr. year! I'm now 31 years old. According to this will die at 78. This means that I'll get almost 8 more years to live!
What's not to like about that prize?
Obviously, it all depends on:
- Is this actually dangerous health-wise?
- During those 8 years will my mental state be at the same level as on monophasic sleep?
So how does it work? The idea is not to sleep less - just more efficiently. When a monophasic sleeper is sleeping he goes through a 90-120 minute cycle called Basic Rest Activity Cycle (BRAC). The BRAC is what takes him from being awake, to being light a sleep, to sleeping, to deep sleep and back up again. This repeats once every 90-120 minutes.
The two most important stages during sleep is REM sleep - associated with learning - and SWS (slow-wave sleep) - associated with "cleaning" the brain in short (not fully understood yet as I understand it).
REM occurs during the lighter phases of the sleep and SWS during the deeper.
Sleep deprivation on the other hand has the effect that individuals who are sleep deprived will much faster go into REM and then SWS than people who are not sleep deprived. This means that someone who's sleep deprived sleeps more efficiently.
In fact the monophasic sleeper are only getting about 2hours of REM and about 1.5hours of SWS every night (calculated from BRAC in which you're supposed to spend 20 minutes in SWS). See the figure below for a typical monophasic sleeper. Based on that you might even say that 4 hours efficient sleep plenty!
The human body is an amazing machine always adapting to circumstances and learning. So what if you could teach your body to sleep more efficiently?
This is what polyphasic sleep is all about.
Sleep deprivation is also why all polyphasic sleep schedules have an adaptation period - yes there are more schedules than just the E3.
It turns out that the Everyman is actually one of the milder ones (except that the adaptation period should be longer). The hardest one is the Dymaxion in which you only sleep 4x30 mins spaced exactly equally over the day. Another more wellknown maybe is the Uberman in which you sleep 6x20mins also spaced exactly equally throughout the day.
It is said that one can adapt to the Uberman over the course of week or so but it should be excruciating. E3 has a much slower adaptation (said to be 1.5-2months) but is generally easier because you're not that sleep deprived.
The schedule I'm following looks like this:
- Core sleep: 23:00-2:00
- Nap #1: 7:00-7:20
- Nap #2: 12:00-12:20
- Nap #3: 17:30-17:50
This the first version of the schedule. It's built upon the idea that there should be a little more than a multiple of a BRAC between each nap. This is because for non-adapted person the REM and SWS doesn't start until the later half of the BRAC. So that's what I've been trying to do with this.
As an engineer and a lean startup practitioner I need metrics to know how I'm doing. The way I'm doing it is that I'm doing a Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), which is (almost) just a fancy way of say of measuring reaction time and failure to react on visual stimuli. Apart from the PVT I'm taking 4 tests on Lumosity.com (a site where you can train your brain). One in attention, one in memory, one in data processing and one in speed and memory. During the last week I've beaten my scores from before I started this experiment multiple times. However it is going up and down. Today for instance I slept horribly during my core - simply because I wasn't tired at all when I went to sleep last night. Yesterday on the other hand I broke two personal records - one of them with almost 2x more points. I was so awake yesterday after my core that I couldn't even sleep during my naps. Apart from the mental measuring I'm also measuring my sleep, so far using the app Sleep Cycle, and in fact I bought the Sense device from Hello at their kickstarter which is a sleep tracker you hook onto your pillow and I'm planning to buy a Fitbit or Jawbone (can't decide) to measure my sleep (and to wake me silently so my girlfriend won't notice - I've should probably have started by saying that she's travelling right now :)).
This brings me to where I am today. Tonight a week ago was the last time I slept monophasically. As mentioned this is day 7 I just slept my 7th core and about to take my nap #1 at 7:00. Normally I sleep 8hours every day this week I've gotten 4 hours each day this means that I've slept 28 hours compared to 56 hours (on monophasic) during the week. During the week I've been doing a lot of programming, playing music (not at night though) and I've unpacked a big part of our new apartment.
Things are going great! Yesterday I was totally really really awake. Today not so much. I also drank coffee and a beer yesterday. Maybe I'm more sensitive to this stuff with the new schedule. Also I didn't sleep that well during core, so I'm hoping that my nap now will work. Already by thursday last week I was feeling the effects of the naps quite a lot. In fact apart from today I'm not feeling any sleep dep symptoms at all. It will be interesting when they occur. According to a lot the different blogs people are already feeling them by day 3! I'm not feeling anything. One of my friends suggested that it may be because I'm just always tired - hehe. Maybe so - but that should make the adaptation period easier.
In fact I'm feeling soo relaxed. This morning I already managed to fix a problem with one of the apps I'm working on and I've even gotten some time to read.
Time for a nap!