Sleep Gadgets: Wake up Rested Using Technology

Since I wrote about how to stop being tired and start living with energy, I’ve had the chance to learn about (and use) a few new sleep gadgets. I’ve has an extremely limited amount of time I can dedicate to this blog lately and haven’t had time to write any full new articles. However, here is an update on the gadgets I’ve used to wake up feeling better in the morning:

Sunrise emulators — wake up lights

My trusty Philips HF3480 Wake-up Light — I use the sunrise function of this every morning to get off to a good start.

wake_up_light

It will slowly fade up the intensity of a natural light lamp, causing your body to adapt to it as if there was a sunrise, even if you have your blinds down or, as it is for me, you live far north and the sun doesn’t rise until late.

While waking up can still be just as brutal even in a light room, I find that getting out of bed is considerably easier with this than in a dark room and a normal alarm clock.

I’ve switched the alarm clock sound off though, because of the gadgets mentioned below.

Sleep tracking wrist watches

I’ve mentioned the SleepTracker Pro Sleep Monitoring Watch before as well. It uses your movement to determine what part of the sleep cycle you’re in, and wake you up feeling as refreshed as possible. It often works, and when it works it’s like magic — rather than waking me up, I’d feel like the alarm went off after I was already awake.

sleeptracker

I used this for a long time, until the wristband on it broke, and I figured that was t he perfect opportunity to try something new! Warmly recommended though, especially if the below options aren’t possible for you.

“There’s an app for that”

The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock iPhone app actually does the same thing the sleep tracker does, using the builtin accelerometers in the phone. You place it face-down on your bed when you go to bed, and it measures your sleep cycles using your movements, waking you up at a good point.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock instruction

Sounds too good to be true at that price, but it works, producing nifty graphs of your sleep cycles as an added bonus! If you’ve got an iPhone, this is a no-brainer. I’ve been using this lately as a replacement for the sleep tracker and it’s worked beyond my expectations. Here’s one of my graphs from a one night this week:

sleepgraph

The real deal

Here’s one I am planning on testing shortly, but haven’t had the time to yet… the Zeo personal sleep coach actually uses a wireless headband to measure your brain activity, constructing an accurate graph of your sleep cycles and waking you up at a good point.

Zeo

I doubt this is worth the hefty price tag if all you want is to wake up refreshed, but for me I’d like to map out and understand as much as possible about sleep (especially in combination with my polyphasic sleep experiments, which I’m planning a new one of soon).

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    A Bed Time Story For the Wicked

    I have had something of a writers block recently. I have written a whole lot, but find myself unable to complete new articles for the blog. The drafts folder contain four or five nearly finished articles, but I am finding it incredibly hard to put the finishing touches to them and get them to where I would be happy posting them.

    So I figured I would try something different, thanks to a request from Protector1 on twitter. I am reviving an old tradition of mine, back from a Swedish community, where I used to write accounts of some of my weirder dreams in my online diary, under the title “A Bed Time Story for the Wicked” (and variations thereof).

    Some people think dreams mean something special, or tell you something about the future. Personally, I am convinced that dreams are simply a way to process things that occupy our brains at the moment, things we have experienced recently and opportunities otherwise unexplored. Sometimes this happens in weird ways that are hard to understand for our conscious minds, but that does not detract from the usefulness of dreaming.

    I try not to analyze my dreams much. Sometimes I can identify the origin of certain elements in the dreams, which I note but rarely dwell on. The benefit of dreams, to me, lies not in understanding them but in experiencing them.

    So, without further delay, here is a description of an incredibly long and weird dream I had last night, in as much detail as I can remember. I will make it as understandable as possible — but it does not fully make sense to me either.

    Dreamscape

    It starts out hazy, like dreams generally do. I never really remember the beginning of any dream, but the first part I do remember is that me, Lethania and someone else whom I can’t recall are walking down a forest trail. It’s dark and damp, middle of the night — I can’t remember why we were there, but we were following the trail. I think we were arguing, about who’s fault it was we had ended up there or something similar.

    In the hazy way of dreams changing shape, the next thing I know, we are chasing someone down a busy market street in a foreign country, something very middle-eastern-looking. This feels pretty much like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. We’re jumping across stalls in our chase, knocking over things, people are shouting.

    The guy we are chasing has done something to us, I have no idea what, but we are desperate to catch him. We eventually do catch up to him in a square. He unsheathes a knife and takes a stab at me. Worth noting is that at this point I know I am fighting some girl’s (who I can’t remember how she was involved) ex-boyfriend. This knowledge seems to somehow evaporate during the rest of the dream.

    We circle ominously for a long while, he is making threatening moves with the knife, I am keeping my distance. He misses by fractions of an inch several times. Then suddenly when he jabs I lunge at him, smack his hand with a force sending the knife tumbling. The attack sends him stumbling to the ground, and as he attempts to stagger away I grab him.

    … so suddenly we are in this mansion (you know how dreams are), at a feast to celebrate the catching of this criminal we were chasing, who was apparently one of the most sought-after men in the land. We get cheered at for having done the capture. There is some food involved, and some speeches, but mainly what I remember is me and Lethania getting tired of it and sneaking away from the feast and exploring the mansion.

    I can not remember how, but for some reason we are eventually looking for some place to have sex. We find some good spots, but people come walking. Then we sneak into one of many bedrooms, which seems good. As we hit the bed, however, we notice that there is a window out to the corridor. We pull down the curtains and get back to the bed.

    However, directly above the end of the bed, there is another large window, leading directly into a large kitchen. In the window is a chef, skin all red and wrinkled to the point of almost looking alien. He is holding a big meat carver and has just stopped chopping up some meat. Now he is simply staring at us with red eyes. We pull down the blinds and are about to get back into the groove (again) when we notice that fully half of the rooms far walls are full-height windows.

    Outside the windows there is a staircase, and down the staircase Lethania’s sister and three or four others come walking.  We get up and join them, walking past some pools back to the feast.

    There, one of the big leading men of the country we are in tells us the man we caught will be punished on a small tropical island on the other side of the world. He will be sent there without guards on a tourist plane. I am aghast at the situation, and feel the need to act guard myself.

    The last thing I remember is us getting on board the plane.

    … so what does that mean?

    I have no idea of exactly what that all means, or what my brain is trying to sort out here. I recognize parts of it, like the walking through the mansion being a reflection of the fact that we are currently looking for a new house. Other parts are beyond my comprehension.

    If you feel like you have an interpretation, feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing what others have to say about the mysterious things that pop up in dreams.

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    Polyphasic Sleep Revisited

    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.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: The Adaptation Process

    I have been rather silent about this lately, thinking about what to do. Keeping up the diary-like updates wasn’t really worth it, since I got stuck in a place where it would basically have been more of the same. I also felt somewhat overworked, and decided to take a break from all the blogging and projects to just rest. Regardless of how much I enjoy all the things I do, making space for a relaxing vacation was important.

    People feel lazy when they spend a week of their vacation in the sofa watching TV and doing nothing. Never let that feeling get to you — this is just your system recharging itself (that is, if done temporarily — if you regularly live like this, you need to activate yourself).

    Last time, I wrote about how I was not fully adapting. I have spent a considerable amount of effort to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, and I believe I am now on my way to having sorted it out. The whole process gave me some nice insights into how and why the whole adaptation process is such a problem to many people, which I haven’t really seen shared anywhere before.

    Pure Doxyk lists many of the things you can do to help “solve” these problems in the Ubersleep book, but she neglects to mention why they are so important… this is what threw me off, and probably what throws many other off as well. I will try to tell that story in a way so that it is easy to follow. Understanding why these things are cruicial will definitely help you pull through.

    Statistics

    Now these statistics could be some one’s imagination — I haven’t found out the source for them. Essentially, they say that 98% of everyone who tries to adapt to the uberman pattern give up within a week. It sounds like it is too high to me, but it could be true. Most blogs I have seen about polyphasic sleep attempts have run for more than a week. Also, nearly all have had very similar problems as mine with oversleeping so it would not surprise me if the statistic actually refers to the amount of people who have failed in one way or another within a week.

    Also, oversleeping significantly is said to set the adaptation process back by 60%. Again, I don’t know where these numbers come from, but this one seems very likely.

    It is with those numbers as a background we need to view the process of adapting.

    Risk vs reward

    The main problem with adapting to polyphasic sleep is that it runs counter to how our bodies are constructed to work. As humans, we have no mechanism for long-term planning other than our conscious thoughts. This does not just make polyphasic sleep hard to adapt to, it causes many of the problems we have in our modern societies like obesity (when  your body says “I want more food” it is incredibly hard to not eat, even if it is better for you long-term, and even if you know it).

    We operate on an immediate risk vs reward basis, and with most things we only do them if the rewards is significant enough to make it worth the risk.

    There are a lot of simple errors you could make while adapting to polyphasic sleep. They all set you back quite a bit (regardless of whether or not you believe the 60% number, you can bet it is significant). This all means that even if you learn to deal with one problem at a time, you are going to slowly wear your body down.

    The internal battle

    The one thing that has surprised me the most about trying to adapt to polyphasic sleep is just how absolutely emotional the process has been. Clearly, I have felt amazed at some of the results like having dreams in so short spaces, but mostly what I did not expect was the emotional attachment I have felt to the process itself. I have felt pride when I made it through a particularly difficult time period.

    The same thing makes it extra hard though, since it is so easy to put yourself down and feeling disappointed with yourself when you make a mistake and oversleep, setting yourself back. I think this is the one thing which has been the most difficult for me to handle — the absolute feelings of disappointment in myself at times. It is hard not to feel like a complete failure when this repeatedly happens, even if you know the reasons for it.

    It is not strange to see where the feeling comes from though. Adapting is painful, and oversleeping sets your adaptation back, which basically means that you have just caused yourself a whole lot of extra pain. As you wake up from oversleeping, it is hard to not let that get to you. At the same time, your self confidence is your number one asset in getting through this — so wearing it down is a real problem.

    The two parts of adapting

    Adapting to polyphasic sleep has two basic hurdles. Mostly, people talk about how painful it can be to be sleep deprived, and how you will be tempted to go to bed. Self discipline is heralded as the key to getting through. In a way, this is true — if you lack self discipline, you are unlikely to pull through. I have seen bloggers ruin an adaptation attempt that was going a whole lot better than mine by consciously choosing to sleep for several hours — this is what you need self discipline to avoid.

    There is a more important aspect to it, however, which is also a reason that people who go polyphasic together with a friend seem to have a much higher success rate than people who do it alone: you need to control how you act when you are not awake.

    In a state of sleep deprivation, you will be fully controlled by your subconscious as you wake up from naps. Your subconscious will be out to fix this problem of not getting enough sleep, so it will try to take you back to sleep. This is the reason people tell you to get lots of alarm clocks. Sleeping through an alarm is a possible risk, but not the main one. The big risk at hand is that you get up, still half asleep, turn off your alarm and go back to bed. At that point in time, you are not really awake, so there is nothing you can do about it.

    Most people who try polyphasic sleep seem to not reflect further on this. In fact, learning how to beat your own subconscious at this game of cat and mouse is the key to adapting.

    So how do you get around it? The way to go is to do very detailed planning, and that is where the alarm clocks come into the picture. What you need to do is set up so many things that you will be forced to deal with that your conscious self has time to wake up and take over.

    Having a friend is an incredible asset here, since our brains are conditioned that talking to someone means you should be conscious — phone calls or being in the same room both have a hugely beneficial effect. Also, the risk that you will both fail your “consciousness checks” at the same time are much smaller than the risk of one person doing so.

    So are you lost if you are on your own then? No. I was doing this alone, and know of several others that did too. Here’s where your alarm clock extravaganza that is advised. I used 3 alarm clocks.

    It was nowhere near enough.

    Yes, I am serious. Three alarm clocks are reasonably quick to switch off. I used one  just at my bed, one on a desk on the other side of the room, and once in the next room. Having at least 5 more alarms would have been beneficial… and especially having one or two in really tricky positions or that are a proper pain to switch off. Throwing one under the sofa where I slept at night might have been a good idea. Pure doxyk mentioned her “behind the fridge alarm” — that might be useful too.

    This seems extreme, and it is. The more sleep deprivation you endure, the more your subconscious will be taking you over. The only way to combat this is to have done more and more extreme things beforehand.

    Planning and preparing

    The key to even getting your adaptation to the point where your self discipline will be needed is to be properly prepared and to have plans. When you get sleep deprived, one of the things which fails is initiative. When things are the hardest, you will need a rigid schedule to guide yourself along.

    I understood this after a while, and as nights were my hardest part, I scheduled my night-time hours (midnight to 8 AM) to 100%. This helped me know that there was something I had to do just after getting up from that nap, which also helped shift my brain into conscious mode.

    Preparing can also mean making up a number of rules. At the end of my learning experience, I had a rule that said never get close to the bed unless it is nap time, a rule to never sit down on anything soft during night-time, and a rule that forbade me from sitting down at all during night-time if I was feeling sleepy. These kinds of extreme rules help you keep from falling asleep when you should not.

    It all seems very extreme, but there will be points where your body is just wanting to give up. If you sit down in that situation, chances are you will fall asleep sitting.

    Another kind of preparation I also had was alarms set on my cell phone for when to get up, five minutes later and ten minutes later. This meant that I had extra alarms from there as a fallback if I fell back asleep after turning the alarm off. Another good thing I did was to set up an alarm pulse during the night (which was my most difficult period). I had alarms ever 30 minutes, which gave me another chance to get going if I actually did fall asleep, and limited the amount of oversleep.

    It may seem you’re being incredibly mean yourself here, but really what you are trying to accomplish is to get through the adaptation as quickly as possible. If you oversleep or fall asleep when you should not, what you are doing is lengthening the adaptation period, causing yourself more of the pain.

    Keeping busy

    The one thing to do when you are feeling tired is to keep busy and stay active. Reading a book or watching TV when you are tired makes it easy to nod off.

    There are several levels of active, however. I found that doing things that were mentally engaging kept me active when I was tired. Playing video games was one such activity that would make me forget about being tired for a while. Finding such mentally engaging activities is important, since they allow you to stay awake easily without exhausting your body.

    Sometimes, that just wont be enough. There are times where the only thing you can do is keep physically active. I took long walks and exercised during the nights when I felt the worst. This allowed me to feel good instead, since activating the body makes the brain cut away the layer of tiredness it otherwise imposes to make you go sleep.

    Be careful about this however. Don’t overdo the exercise thing, since you can easily end up feeling exhausted and sore from it. Some people advocate not exercising at all during the adaptation period. I recommend doing it as much as needed, since it is an excellent way of ensuring that you get through the difficult periods.

    My current situation

    My attempt at polyphasic sleep taught me lots of things. I tried applying the things I learned, and then I tried switching to an everyman schedule. I kept oversleeping, which was not very strange considering how tired my body was at that point after a long period of half-adaptation. A successful adaptation really does need to start out being rested and needs to be quite successful all the way through, I figure.

    So after oversleeping twice on the uberman schedule, I decided to switch to Everyman, and then immediately overslept my core sleep on that as well. At that point I took the decision to go back to monophasic sleep.

    I simply thought I would give up and go back to monophasic sleep for the time being when I took that decision. Later the same day, however, when we were shopping for groceries I realized how much that would cost me — some of the groceries I would never need if I did not have the extra time from sleeping polyphasically. Even thought nights have been hard to pull through, I have done so many things that I would now have to quit: I have started practicing playing guitars again for the first time in years, I have started exercising properly again, and I have had loads of time over to play games, which I normally do not, I even had time to do some baking. And that is all without even being properly adapted!

    So, as a result, I’m gearing up for a new attempt by allowing my body to rest and get back into monophasic sleep. I will probably let it go for another day or two until I feel entirely rested again, and then I will be ready to apply all the things I have learned. Sadly, I will likely have to do it alone, again (take that as an open invitation), but at least I have a much higher chance of success this time around.

    Well, at least after I have bought more alarm clocks.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Days 10 and 11

    These two days have been difficult ones. After the oversleep on day 9, I kept going ok-ish through day 10. The night to day 11 was hard, but doable, and day 11 sucked. I spent most of the day really tired, and after having to move one of my naps early and then being out on town for some shopping I was basically exhausted and dying to sleep before my 8 PM nap. After that one, I felt better, but after midnight I felt terrible again.

    For the past few nights I have slept in bed with my girlfriend during night-time naps (she wanted me to do that since the temporary bed I had really was not working out). I decided to add in an extra nap at 2 AM to counter some of the extreme drowsiness I was feeling, and went to bed in the couch in order not to bother her even more than she had already agreed to. I failed to set a double alarm, and failed to set my alarm out of reach.

    It ended in a 3 hour oversleep, which seems to be settling in as a familiar pattern now. I am basically failing once my sleep deprivation builds up to a certain point. This simply means I am repeatedly going through all of this pain for no good reason.

    Not adapting

    I have basically taken a step backwards towards non-adaptation. It is pretty clear that this is because of my oversleeps, which has happened once more since (like my body is trying to put a core sleep in there). At this point, I figure I am pretty much out of options — this has to work, and it has to work now.

    I have rigged my phone to be a complete annoyance the 15 minutes following each nap, which should be a good guarantee to keep me from falling back asleep (which has been the problem two of the times). I have also imposed a strict regime that if I am tired enough that I could fall asleep, I am not allowed to sit or lay down at all — I have to stand, do some exercises, go for a walk or take a shower.

    With my subconscious finding ways to add in sleep cycles, my body doesn’t have to adapt, and thus it doesn’t… continuing in this state would be stupid, since it basically means dragging out sleep deprivation — this is what I had the cutoff dates for back at the beginning, so since things are going this poorly now I am essentially giving myself this once chance.

    If it fails, I have the options of quitting back to monophasic  or adding in a core sleep and switching to an Everyman schedule to save the experiment at all. That really throws off my plans and would feel like a complete failure, though, not to mention the fact that there is no real reason why I would cope with the longer-term sleep deprivation of an Everyman adaption any better.

    Adapting: what you are up against

    At a first glance, it could seem like adapting means combating your  bodys physical sleep deprivation. This is actually not true — your body is getting enough sleep, it is your mind which is not. What you are actually fighting is your mind’s sleep deprivation, and it is not as much about pain as it is about your subconscious deviousness.

    Your subconscious will want to sleep, so there will be points where it uses gaps in your consciousness (usually around the naps) to simply tell your body to sleep. No amount of self discipline will fix this at that point, since your consciousness is not really there, the only way to get around it is to be one step ahead all the time and to plan for it. This is the aspect of adaptation I wasn’t ready for, which is causing my failure.

    This also explains why having a friend to adapt together with must be such a blessing — in case you make a mistake in this game, your partner will wake you up and not much harm done. I am alone in this experiment, which means my mistakes cause much greater consequences.

    My solution to this is to try to use my phone as a  substitute. I can set multiple alarms, so I am setting a multitude of alarms to go off after each and every nap. I am going to write a pre-nap checklist of setting at least one alarm clock out of reach.

    I am going to move my naps out into the couch during the nights in order to be able to have alarms beeping all over the place and to be able to add extra naps without bothering my girlfriend extra much. You could say that my oversleep last night was caused by sleeping in the couch, so why am I doing it regularly now? The problem wasn’t so much sleeping in the couch as it was not sleeping where I was supposed to sleep. Going back to a consistent place is good, and the couch actually worked much better as a sleeping place than the matress on the floor I had previously set up as a temporary bed.

    Time to punch through and come out the other side now.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Day 9

    Like I mentioned yesterday, I started experimenting with my nap times to see if I could reduce drowsiness. I started with the theory that increasing my nap times to 30 minutes and possibly waking up before the alarm would do the trick. It did not — but it did give a very valuable hint: I woke up from that just as horribly drowsy as I usually wake up from my night-time naps.

    So that got me thinking… these naps are all about sleep phases, so maybe the problem was the opposite: sleeping so long I ended up in a different sleep phase and thus had problems waking up. So the next few naps I went the other way instead, and set the alarm clocks for just above 20 minutes. I may have been sleeping longer during the nights due to other circumstances, so maybe that was the problem.

    This worked a whole lot better — I woke up feeling more refreshed and not very drowsy at all. This may seem counter-intuitive to some people, but always remember that sleep is a complex process — more sleep is not necessarily more of the same sleep. Still, I need to try this more, especially with night-time naps.

    The rest of the day was a disaster. Both my naps between noon and midnight were interrupted by different things after 10 minutes or less, so I was extremely tired in the evening. I tried inserting an extra nap at 10 PM to counter this, but that nap was also interrupted, this time by the cats fighting near my bed. Argh!

    The whole thing ended predictably in me oversleeping after the midnight nap. The exact details are somewhat fuzzy (as they tend to be), but I am guessing I slept for a total of 4.5 hours.

    With things being what they were I am simply going to accept this and go on with things. It is not strange at all that my body simply crashed and grabbed rest when I was already feeling tired from not having found my optimal napping conditions and then adding several low quality naps onto that. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on getting back into the schedule.

    My main focus now will be trying slightly different nap times, starting out with the 20 minutes I had yesterday. This is not all that easy, since you have to account for the time it takes to fall asleep as well, which varies a bit. Still, trying changes for 3-4 naps should give me a good feeling for how well it works.

    Overall results

    On the experiment overall this far, I would say I seem to be in the middle of the pack somewhere. I know of people who haven’t adjusted at all for weeks and weeks, but I also know of people who have adjusted in 5 days or less.

    I am feeling slightly worried about not being able to get 100% adapted. I am doing a whole lot better than people who are not adapting at all, that’s for sure. I don’t usually feel bad effects of sleep deprivation at all anymore. However, I also do not come close to being 100% rested very often (though it does happen).

    I feel somewhat that I have been stuck at this point in the process for a fair while now, so at this point, I am really hoping the nap time experimentation can teach me something on how to move forwards.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Day 8

    Quick update today… I feel like I have too much to write about this to fit into single articles like this and that isn’t really related to my progress on any given day, so maybe I will try to write something more comprehensive at some point. Anyway, a quick update on my progress.

    The tiredness remains, especially during night time — yet, this night was definitely my best night this far. It does not feel quite as bad as it did a few days back, and while it seems to be steadily improving the speed of improvement is in no way acceptable to me. Something is not 100% right with my adaptation, so I want to fix that.

    After thinking about it for quite a while, and doing even more research on it, I am now pretty much convinced that the key to overcoming this is to get my nap times right. Experimenting with adding more naps in hasn’t really fixed the problem at all — possibly making it worse, since I feel the most tired right after getting up. It does seem to affect other naps though. After taking an extra nap tonight, I noticed that I woke up after only 15 minutes of sleep the subsequent nap. At this point, I think I will drop the extra naps and go for fixing durations instead.

    I have noticed that when I dream, I nearly always wake up in the middle of dreams, which is a good indication that I am cutting those naps a bit too short. My current plan is to set my alarms for half an hour (which should serve as a good upper limit), and see how that feels.

    Hopefully, I should be able to find a good place where I can have my alarm set for 30 minutes, but normally get up earlier than that by myself. Waking up without the help of an alarm clock is more comfortable after all, so it’s a good goal to have. And still, being able to allow your body a few extra minutes of sleep every now and then could be good.

    I have high hopes that this will substantially improve my waking hours now, since I have heard of a guy who completely failed to adapt to polyphasic sleep for weeks, but then changed his nap duration by only 2 minutes and adapted instantly during the next day.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Days 6 and 7

    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.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Day 5

    Good and bad experiences today. For starters, my midnight sleep left me in zombie mode for a while. I sat watching TV (bad choice) and figured out an hour in that I was not really watching — the show had changed 15 minutes ago without me noticing to something I really dislike. I think part of my brain was really asleep there, without telling the rest of my brain. I need to become better at recognizing that kind of state and going out for a walk or something similar.

    The first really good thing came the next nap though. I implemented the 2-3-2 scheme I mentioned yesterday, which meant my next nap was 3 AM. I woke up from this nap in the middle of a dream, marking the first time I dream since the start of the experiment. I felt quite rested after that nap, even though this was during what is otherwise my most difficult part of the day. The 5 AM nap was also better than the night before, even though I was still drowsy through that period.

    After my 8 AM nap, I left with my mother to check out her new country-side house. The drive there was 3 hours and 15 minutes, so it was a close call. I took another nap in a hastily erected temporary bed once we arrived, which worked better than it might, considering the stressed situation. We proceeded to check for any unknown flaws in every corner of the (huge) house, which was quite taxing considering it involved climbing around the attic and such. When we were done, I took my 4 PM nap 30 minutes early, and we headed off home.

    We stopped for some food on the way home, which meant that once we arrived home, it was already time for my 8 PM nap. The combination early nap + exhausted + food + sit idle in car had me incredibly tired, so I hit the sack for my  nap almost immediately upon arriving home. My cell phone (which is usually my backup alarm) had stopped working during the trip, so I didn’t set a backup alarm, and my girlfriend (who usually wakes me up if I miss my time) didn’t notice the time when I went to bed. The result of this was me oversleeping by an hour before she finally managed to shake me to life, a minute before the alarm clock went off.

    I think I may have reset the alarm time for an hour ahead in my sleep, or I may have just failed to set the alarm correctly in the first place. Either way, the lesson is that I will run my full complement of back alarms from now on, which means my “pillow shaker” alarm clock under my pillow and two other alarm clocks placed well away from the bed in different corners of the room.

    I feel like after the setbacks yesterday and today, I need to become more strict. It is time to take this experiment to a conclusion. The successes I have had are encouraging — I really feel like I am getting better rest out of the naps and it should be possible to fully adapt if I stop making these mistakes. A full complement of backup alarms and a ban for doing anything passive when I get up from night-time naps should do it. Also, my girlfriend has the coming week off, which means she will be able to keep me on track. I have given her full mandate to do whatever it takes to get me up.

    The mess-ups have probably put me behind schedule though, so I have been considering extending the second cut-off date some. Research I have done shows that it may have been somewhat optimistic to think one week would cover it. In the best possible scenario, it probably would have, but planning for the best possible scenario wont get you anywhere. This hinges on my ability to stop screwing up, though.

    I will take a decision on the cut-off tomorrow, depending on how the day works and let you know how it turns out.

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    Polyphasic Sleep: Day 4

    Last night I hit my first (and this far, only) real setback. The night was terribly hard to pull through, and after my 4 AM nap, my brain simply refused to work. I was stuck in some sort of subconscious mode where I couldn’t really think. Somehow, I made the decision after 5 minutes awake to go back for another nap. I do not even know how it happened, I am sure I was not fully conscious.

    I have been thinking about what to do to ensure that I do not fall to the same problem again. Alarm clocks are not going to help, since I actually got up, switched all the alarms around, was “awake” for 5 minutes and went back to bed without making a conscious choice to. I think the conclusion is that I will implement the extra nap I was talking about way back on day 1.

    The nights are definitely the toughest, so I will be replacing my 4-4-naps at midnight, 4 AM, 8 AM with a 3-2-3 scheme: midnight, 3 AM, 5 AM and 8 AM. This makes the schedule sync up properly at eight in the morning, while increasing the density of naps in the most difficult period.

    The rest of the day has swung back and forth. Sometimes I feel slightly better, but after most naps it takes me a whole lot of time to get going properly again (I would say about an hour or so before I feel reasonably good). It is fairly clear at this point that getting going after the naps is definitely my potential breaking point, so I will be focusing on trying to get started better.

    I am not entirely sure how to achieve that, but a big glass of orange juice is at least one idea that might work so I bought a large can today. I have also started experimenting a bit with the alarm clock timers. A few minutes shift back or forth could mean a change of sleep phase that gets interrupted, which could make a lot of difference for how I feel.

    Other than that, my body seems to be getting rest properly, whereas my brain is not. I do not feel sleep deprived as I would after an all-nighter (which I have done before and know how it feels), but rather my problem is that my brain seems to be partially off even after I get up. I haven’t had any nap that was as good as the restful one yesterday, but it does feel like some of them are better than others.

    Waking up is also my only problem. Once I am awake,  I have no problem staying awake. I can easily lay down and read for half an hour before a nap without risking falling asleep too early.

    Tomorrow will be an interesting day, as I have a trip planned to a house my mother just bought, which will take all day. I will have places and time to nap, but it wont be in my bed and might be in a less comfortable and more stressful environment. Should be interesting to see how I cope.

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