I have now made it through the first full day and night cycle of my polyphasic sleep experiment. It is now 40 hours since I last woke up from sleeping more than 20 minutes.

The problems I mentioned yesterday with falling asleep have disappeared completely. My 4 AM nap was problematic last night, but that  may be partially due to the conditions in the room or not having gotten into the flow of things. Later during the day, I had several occasions of thinking “I will never be able to fall asleep through this” and then I immediately fell asleep (including one time where one of our neighbors were using a loud power tool).

I have started going to bed approximately 10 minutes before my nap time, and reading a few pages. This helps my body slow down a bit, and makes it very easy to fall asleep. This far, I have had absolutely no problem at all getting up when the alarm goes off.

I am using dual alarm clocks — a first “pillow-shaker” alarm clock which you place under the pillow and it vibrates when it is time to get up (and then eventually beeps as well). I use my cell phone as a backup, placed well out of reach, set to two minutes later. This far I have switched the backup alarm off before it went off every time.

The naps feel somewhat weird — I don’t really remember falling asleep and I have no sense of time passing. Its a combination of feeling like suddenly, some time has passed and a confusion regarding whether or not I actually noticed that time passing. As expected, I have no recollection of dreams.

The sleep deprivation symptoms seem to come and go. My guess this far is that it is connected to the circadian rythm my body is on — last night was tough, most of the day was pretty okay. If that is true, tonight will be a lot worse. Even when I don’t feel tired, I notice that I am performing below my 100% level.

When the worst tiredness set in, playing video games seemed to be a good way to keep going — the new PS3 is turning out quite useful, and I have a range of Wii games to complete still (which should be even better, considering they force you to flail around as well). I found a new web comic that I read through a whole lot of as well. This made me more sleepy than other activities, however.

Overall, things are better than I expected, but the worst periods are worse than I expected.

Perspective and practicality

My perspective on time has changed dramatically. It is getting hard to relate to the concept of days, and I have to think a bit extra when talking to someone and telling them when events happened. For instance, I had to consider for a bit how my own time related to the rest of the world when telling my mother about when I had started the experiment. I am fully aware that a night has passed, but my internal feelings say that it is all just one long day.

Some practical issues have also popped up, mostly related to things I am used to doing as I go to bed or wake up. I had to consciously remind myself to brush my teeth before my midnight nap, and then brushed them again at noon. The normal “morning and evening” schedule makes no sense any more.

Another thing causing some trouble is my contact lenses. I am used to pretty much putting them on in the morning and removing them when I come home from work. Now it is a bit hard to figure out when I want to put them on, and for how long. My idea this far is to use them during the day, since this lets me wear shades if I go outside. At night I can wear glasses.

When to do things like taking a shower or changing clothes also becomes much less rigid. I ended up changing clothes twice as much during one day as I normally would, which is probably something I don’t want to do too often, considering how much laundry work that would produce.

To summarize: so far, so good. New update coming tomorrow.