Polyphasic and Sickness

Tuesday morning, I slowly developed a cold. It’s always only a matter of time, but eventually you’ll have to deal with sickness on polyphasic. There’s two ways to do that, muscle through or go monophasic until it blows over. During acclimation, this is compounded by a lack of habit and a lack of flexibility. I opted for the latter and slept monophasic for three days. It was an easy switch back, which is a sign that I’m still not acclimated. I’m back on the wagon tonight, but I worry that I’ll be going through the hellish first three days again. Every time gets easier, right?

On the bright side, the cold may have been just allergies, or was short lived. I don’t like playing around with sickness, so I think monophasic was the right choice, either way. I’ve started watching The Wire. It’s an interesting show–a bit more realistic than the cop shows I’m used to. I guess watching every episode of Castle will make The Wire seem pretty unfamiliar.

Polyphasic week 3

Things have started to solidify now; I’ve been having dreams, including one rare nightmare, waking up without my alarm, and feeling great during the day. The only real problem I’m facing is my 4:30 am nap. I have trouble waking up from it and I have trouble staying awake after. I find myself bobbing my head, drifting off, even in the middle of a battle of DiablO III. Travesty, I know.

I don’t know how to handle the lack of acclimation I’m feeling. Usually by now, I’m on cloud 9 and way too wired to worry about any of this. The surroundings are really different, the company is different, the job is different, I guess it’s not too much of a stretch to think that my acclimation might be different, too.

I wonder how much of this is stress-related, though. I’ve been feeling a lot of stress lately from various facets of my life and I could easiy point the problems I’ve been having at that. In the past, polyphasic has helped alleviate my stress and I fee, some of that now, but not to the same degree, I feel less in control of my life in general, so maybe the effects are stifled. Im still on track with about 3.5 hours of sleep a day on average, so regardless of difficulty, I’m still doing very well considering.

My wife’s recommended the compromise of the everyman schedule and I think she may have a good point. I’m going to research it tomorrow and see what that schedule should look like and whether I could easily fit it into the work schedule that had been working so well for me so far.

Polyphasic Week 2

Acclimation has started pretty well so far. I’m feeling more alert, more capable, and more flexible in the fastness I stay to the pattern. This is both a good and a bad thing, considering that I’m not fully habitualized yet. If I don’t keep it up, I risk losing the last 2 weeks of effort and I need to keep my eye on the prize of this becoming a life decision, not a passing fancy. I’ve got more reasons than ever to make this work and I will keep sticking to it. My wife has been a huge help with this as well.

I’ve missed a nap or two and have slept some extra as I felt I needed it. This morning being a bad exception when I slept almost 2 hours more than intended. The bright side is that I’ve begun to awaken on my own after about 20 minutes, fully alert and refreshed. When this becomes the norm and not the exception, I’ll truly feel acclimated and then I’ll worry less about pushing myself toward uberman.

I’ve found myself embarrassed or inconvenienced by the pattern more and more lately. I’m a decently active person and with a wife and roommates, I find myself out and about more often than in previous acclimations. When I’m out and about, I feel like I’m missing out on what’s going on by sleeping in the midst, or I Feel like I’m annoying them by asking them to chill out for 20 minutes while I take a nap. Almost all of this is mental, since they all seem to support me, and I know if the roles were reversed I’d do the same. I just need to keep this in mind as time goes on. As the pattern becomes more and more the norm and people get more and more used to it, It’ll be much easier to ask for and have people expect this kind of thing. I’m an ambassador for a new life option. Don’t judge me because I sleep differently than you. I have a dream that one day my children will be judged not on the amount that they sleep but on the content of their character. Or something like that.

# days polyphasic: 15
Average time spent awake per day: 20:52 (3:08 asleep)
Average Nap length: 0:31
Naps attempted: 90
Naps Failed: 2

Polyphasic Week 1 – Retrospective

What a roller coaster ride it’s been. Experience counts for something when it comes to Polyphasic, but it’s always different. I’ve been humbled by my own brains and their irrational desire to sleep for whatever reason. I’ve got my theories on why we sleep, but I think the truest reason is because if we don’t, we’re wired to go a little crazier and crazier until we do. I know polyphasic is a loophole, but it’s a tight squeeze there between “okay” and “look at the unicorn.”

What I do remember that still works is that every night is another chance for re-acclimation. Discomfort due to sleeping is temporary. I’ve seen so many people give up after they get to this point and I’ve always wondered why. There’s plenty of people out there who’ll tell you that you have to adapt perfectly, but I’ve always found that if you fail at uberman, you end up landing in everyman and then, as you acclimate, you can go closer and closer as needed.

The feeling I get is that if you had enough to do in your spare time and enough love for doing it, you’d be uninterested in sleep anyway. Learn something new — this is why so many polyphasers are also coders, the process of coding is addictive and hard-won. At the end of the night, when you’ve forced yourself to take your naps instead of continuing your hobby, you’re doing well.

Find what you love and do an extra 6 hours of it daily. I’ve been playing Diablo III, programming, watching bad TV, reading, cooking, and cleaning.

Polyphasic Day 8 – Routine

Today was normal as far as acclimation goes. Naps were uneventful, my evening was mild, I woke up without event. I feel good today, and I’m expecting that if I don’t do anything rash and just stick to the plan that tonight will again be uneventful and hopefully, more productive. So, with that in mind, I think it’s time to make a list of the things I’d like to accomplish while I’m not sleeping.

Up until now I’ve had the staples: watch TV that I’ve been meaning to watch, read the news, write more, do minor things when I get around to it. The next couple weeks will still be difficult, so I’m not going to be doing anything crazy. Take er’ easy, I think that’s plenty.

I’ve got a website that needs a new gallery
I’d like to combine my wedding website, my travel blog, and my personal blog into the same website
There’s a new project I’ve been thinking about working on.
I need to port a project from Air to Android
I need to work on a thank you video
I need to write thank you cards
I need to finish and oil a piece of woodwork I’ve been building

Polyphasic Day 7 – Missing Naps

Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you planned. I’m not giving up polyphasic, oh no, I mean the whirlwind, last-minute road trip to LA that left me missing two naps in a row on Sunday. That was definitely not planned and reminded me the grave situation that polyphaic puts you in.

I’ve experienced missing naps before. When I was fully acclimated, I could skip a nap here or there without too much downside. In fact, I found that if I skipped a nap, I could just sleep that night for about 2 hours and not notice much difference. This was something that had to be done sparingly, but was sustainable. Missing two naps in a row, though, was like a death sentence.

Missing a nap is like staying up all night. You get that excited pump of your brain being overworked, but you can deal with it. You can function, but if you relax you fall asleep. Going two days without sleep can cause hallucinations, physical problems, or worse. That’s where I was last night after the road trip.

Take this as both a learning experience and a warning. You’re never more than 8 hours from being legally insane, and you’re a slave to your nap times. If you don’t sleep during your nap, you didn’t nap. That’s the meat of it. I laid down in bad places, with too much noise, without precaution and I paid the price.

That said, the 7 hours I slept last night were sufficient to put me back on track and I expect a difficult but doable evening. Laundry night, here I come!

Polyphasic Day 5

I'm on vacation
Yesterday was busy. Trying to fit a nap in with chores and errands was difficult. My wife and I spent most of the night driving, and I think it was a little premature. I took an extra nap between my 12:30 and 4:30 naps because I didn’t trust myself on the road. It was too early, and I’d like to stress this a little more. Take your time. The reason for driving was important, and we felt the risk was worth it, but in hindsight, it was probably reckless.

I overslept once this afternoon. All of my oversleeps this far have been in a bed, not a chair. I really need to be better about that and ask for help if I crash in a bed or just really focus on the chair. I’ve got 2 more nights and days to make sure acclimation is close enough that I’ll be useful at work. I know I can do it, I just need to kick up the urgency a bit. I’ve been approaching this acclimation with a lackadaisical attitude and I think that’s hurt. Sure, it’s old hat, it’s been done 4 times before, but it’s still tough, and I shouldn’t be so cocky. My brain doesn’t want to change, it’s sheer willpower that motivates me, and I need to remember that.

Night before last, I managed to get some programming in during the wee hours. It’s nice to know that my brains still seem to function well at 4:00 am, even with a little sleep dep in there.

I’ve been on the Four-Hour Body diet for over a month now and I feel it’s pretty sustainable, even with polyphasic. I know Ferris has a chapter on polyphasic and whether it works with the diet, but I don’t know if he’s addressed my big question, “If I have 22 hours awake in the day, when does my ‘cheat day’ begin and end?” I opted for midnight to midnight, but I doubt he really has a recommendation for this. I’ll post here if I find anything.

Polyphasic Day 4

Raddie Award
SayMedia Raddie Award

A minor oversleep here and there has caused the last few naps to be tough to wake up from. I find my mind whispering to me, “what’s another 5 minutes?” and me almost agreeing. Thoughts like this are usually interconnected with other problems, so I’ve been making sure everything else is taken care of. I’m well-fed, I exercised a bit, I’ve got stimulating work to do, and I’ve got good TV to watch. With luck, tonight and tomorrow will be the first days I really feel the pattern is sustainable.

Today was the first day that I got a taste of the euphoria that comes with polyphasic. I don’t know what in particular makes it happen, whether it’s the sheer volume of self control one has to exert that causes you to feel capable of almost anything, or whether the lack of pressure to complete tasks in the daytime because you have so much available time at night plays a role.

I have noticed, however, that I get less done now that I have other people sleeping in the same apartment as me when I’m awake at night. Dishes make clicking noises as you wash them, so I find myself doing them in the early morning. It’s a shame I’m not living on a ranch somewhere, I’d consider doing more woodworking when I’m fully acclimated.

NOTE: Don’t drive, use knives, or use power tools until your naps are easy. Sleep deprivation is a huge problem when it comes to manual capability and it’s extremely devious when it comes to the amount of delirium. You might feel fine, but take it easy. There’s plenty of time later, don’t do something stupid like drive tonight. No court is going to believe that your sleep schedule wasn’t the cause of the car crash.

I’ve been up for 64 out of the last 72 hours, and I feel pretty good.

Polyphasic Day 3

None of that, now
Here we are, in the thick of it. I’ve started hitting the wall for sleepiness and the real potential for oversleeping will be tonight. I’m dedicated to it, and I know that if I make it through tonight, everything will be fine, but convincing myself of that at 3 in the morning when my eyes don’t want to stay open is the hardest part of the whole thing.

I’ve had a couple of 10 minute oversleeps so far, but nothing really detrimental. All in all, I feel pretty good. I haven’t be overly productive so far, I’ve watched a lot of Mad Men, done a little bit of the dishes, and programmed a little, but all in all, I’m hoping that the rest of the productivity will come after acclimation. One thing at a time, that’s the ticket.

I’d like to share with you my personal favorite alarm clock system. I take the attached file, 5 Minutes Silence.mp3 and load it up in a playlist 5 times followed by another song. Ensure shuffle’s off, ensure that the song will play, and put your headphones on. If you desperately need a “snooze” button, play the song before. The reason I like this so much is that you never have to worry about AM or PM, never have to set an alarm properly, you always know that your song will play 25 minutes after you start. I’ve had success with this even during extreme zombie mode when I can barely conceive of time, let alone set my clock. It also lends itself to ipads, ipods, phones, computers, etc., most of which are readily available to us these days.

5 Minutes of Silence – Right-click and Save File As…

Polyphasic Day 2

Action Comics #1 1988 Reprint

Today was pretty good! Aside from the sleepiness I felt during a particularly listen-oriented meeting at work, I felt productive, focused, and capable the entire day. It’s been about 40 hours since I last slept monophasically, and I’m getting a few of the physical signs of sleep deprivation–tired eyes, sore muscles, general fatigue, but my mind feels pretty sharp. I wonder if there’s a good set of metrics for determining mental capacity.

On recommendation from someone on the polyphasic Google group, I’ve started an account at Lumosity.com to track my mental abilities in a meaningful way. They claim with practice, you can get better at mental exercises, and I believe them. It’s an interesting program, I like the variety they have. My wife has been practicing adding numbers in her head, and she’s gotten a lot better with practice. When I have some meaningful data, I’ll post it here, one day’s nowhere near enough.