As you may have noticed, I missed writing an update yesterday. The very simple reason for this is that I had an incredibly tough night, and just could not find the energy and focus it takes to write an article about it. Rather than writing down something incoherent and rambling, I simply left it for today.

Polyphasic sleep is now working as well as monophasic sleep was for me during the daytimes. During my old monophasic waking hours, I have no problem at all getting up from naps and feel no signs of sleep deprivation at all any more. I have started having dreams fairly often, and when I can properly time in the nap time with my falling asleep to wake me up at a good moment, I feel completely rested. The only remaining symptom I have during the daytime is that i sometimes feel a bit light-headed.

My perception of time has also changed again. When I dream, the naps appear to me to take much longer. Waking up after my 8 AM nap today felt like I woke up after a full night of monophasic sleep (a result of the combination of morning time and the dreaming I assume).

Night-time troubles

Nights are a different beast however. I still have problems waking up, and ended up in Zombie mode for one and a half hours again the other night. Going through those nights is requiring all I have in terms of self discipline, and the only reason I can keep going now is that my days rock now.

There are several things which are different during the nights: there is no daylight, it is colder and I sleep in a temporary bed in the living room not to disturb my girlfriend. Of those factors, my gut feeling is that the light does not have much to do with it. Even during my daytime naps, I have slept with the blinds down, and as I live fairly far to the north, some of my night-time naps occur after sunrise. Still, it was worth trying to change, so I tried a few naps last night with the lights on completely. It did not seem to help, but then again the light is fairly weak from the normal indoor lights.

I will try using my Philips Wake-up Light (see my first article about sleep, How to Stop Being Tired and Start Living with Energy, for more information on gadgets that can help you wake up) to get some brighter light and see if that helps — that thing is bright as daylight, and should give me a nice combination of falling asleep in the dark but waking up to bright light.

As for the other factors, the chill might affect me — but usually, the effects of being tired are felt more when you get warm, rather than cold. Still, I wont pretend I know exactly how those things work, so it might be a good idea to try to close the windows a bit earlier. Last night I was really shivering when I went to bed for my midnight nap.

Finally, there is the temporary bed. This would be my prime target for what is wrong. It is little more than a matress on the floor really, and I get the feeling I end up in weird positions when I sleep in it. I have talked to my girlfriend, and she told me to come sleep in the bed with her, at least for this week when she’s on her vacation as well. This is nice, as it may help that situation, but it also produces the new situation where oversleeping becomes a more real risk.

I guess my backup alarms will save me if that happens (they work really well by the way, saved me at least once). The problem is I will be putting her through a lot more noise. A worse problem is that is it turns out to be the problem, it’s much harder to solve it long-term. We are looking at getting a new sofa which I could properly sleep on though, so that might help.

Physical activity and polyphasic sleep

After debating for quite a while with myself, having heard that most people stay away from physical activity during their adaptation, I decided to try it and went with my friends to play football yesterday. We played for roughly one and a half hour.

There are two interesting things I wanted to find out: How my body performed while in the process of adapting to polyphasic sleep, and how the physical activity affected my sleep. I injoured my shoulder a while back trying out a new weight lifting program, so the result of that is that I haven’t exercised much lately. Considering that and the bad nights I am still having, I was completely surprised to find that my body responded more alertly than ever, and my stamina held for much longer than I thought it would be. I also felt less completely exhausted afterward than I normally do.

On the second issue, we actually played at an inconvenient time for me, causing a rather large shift in one of my nap times. This meant I was somewhat tired the next waking period, but nowhere near the catastrophic failure most people talk about when shifting naps around on an uberman schedule.

In general, these last two days have been quite active for me, and while I have not felt like the sleep schedule has been severely impacted, I can’t know for sure that it has not been keeping me from feeling refreshed at night.

Experiment cutoff

As I mentioned back when I started this, one week was my final safety cutoff date, which will be tomorrow. The point of having the cutoff dates was to avoid hurting myself being too sleep deprived to know when to stop. With the way I feel during the days now, I feel completely confident in passing this cutoff date.

If I can’t find a way to adapt properly to the nights, I will eventually have to call it off and go back to monophasic… not because it will hurt me, but simply because there would be no point in continuing. I would rather waste my nights by sleeping than wasting my nights feeling groggy and fighting to keep my eyes open.

Achieving perfect adaptation was always likely to take more than one week, and there are still plenty of  things I want to explore in the context of this experiment. It has already taught me a whole range of things… but I think I will leave that for another time, in order to have a more cohesive post on all the things I have learned.