Here’s a quick followup on my last update on polyphasic sleep. I mentioned that I would try again quickly. I did, and as I started out I changed a few things.

First of all, the most successful adaptation I have heard about was done by not being very strict — in fact, by adding more naps. The reasoning behind this move is that what you are trying to do is condition the brain to sleeping quickly in bursts, not the actual amount of sleep per day. Six naps per day is fine once you are adjusted to it, but there is no point in being that restrictive while trying to adjust.

This focuses the effort: you are definitely getting enough sleep that way, but not of the right kind. It also gives you a way back from the REM sleep deprivation that you will suffer — once you are adapted, the extra naps will help your body claw its REM back from the sleep debt.

In fact, one of the points I was considering this time around was that there is no reason the adaptation period needs to look the same as the post-adaptation period. This also meant I took longer naps, and was planning on reducing the length of naps as I went along.

In a way, this attempt felt a lot better, but I am not sure if that is because of the changes or simply because my body was more well rested as I started out this time around. The first few days went by with no problem at all. Anyway, I was incredibly short on time — I needed a perfect adaptation or this would interfere heavily with my going back to work on Monday — so I accepted only one setback. I made the deal with myself to quit the attempt if I overslept more than once.

Remember that the point of this attempt was to test the new ideas I had on how to avoid oversleeping. They worked to a point, but weren’t enough. Today I had my second oversleep, and thus ended the experiment. I am still at a loss on how to measure up against having a friend to help you along. What you are trying to do is emulate having a 24/7 surveillance that ensures you do as you should — this is incredibly hard.

This failure leaves me in a position where I will be incredibly starved for time going forward. The upside of this is that after my last article, a good friend of mine offered to try converting to uberman with me — though his schedule didn’t fit mine this time around. So if we can manage to sync our schedules around some free time, we should have an interesting experience to look forwards to.

The only other option is to try to adapt the slow way (that I mentioned all the way back at Day 1). I don’t know of anyone who has done an attempt at that and documented it publicly, so that could be an interesting experience as well. First of all, I am going to rest and get back to work though — any decisions on which way to go will have to follow when I am well rested.

I am disappointed that these attempts failed, but as experiments go I am pretty happy with them. I learned a whole lot — both about polyphasic sleep and about myself — and that was the point of the experiment in the first place.