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.

Polyphasic Day 1

Knitted by my mother
Blanket care of Gale Leach
The first day is always one of the easiest. I’ve been through my first six naps, and I still feel coherent. Whether this is a factor of experience, pre-planning, or just remnants of my monophasic self doing okay on no sleep for a day, I don’t know, but I am hopeful that it’s a combination of all of these things that’s making it easier.

One of the things I’ve forgotten about polyphasic is that it gets lonely at 3am. My life is fairly different now than it has been in the past. I have a wife, roommates, a job. I’m rarely alone, and I’ve gotten pretty used to that. It’s a nice problem to have, I guess, considering how much I used to value my alone time. I get to do much more reflection, keep up with things I used to miss, and play more games. I’m considering grabbing a copy of Mass Effect 3, a game I’ve been eager to play, but haven’t had the time.

What do I hope to accomplish doing polyphasic? I know this is one of the big questions most people try to answer before they begin acclimation, but I find myself without much direction. I’ve always found that my reasons for doing it are very temporal–once I finish the series of small things I’ve been interested in doing (often acclimation itself is a goal), I run out of steam and desire to keep going. The last time I went through this, I stuck to it for a month, then gave it up when I went on vacation mostly out of embarrassment and a lack of desire to explain my strange habits to new people.

Instead, this time, I’m planning to focus on the why do I do polyphasic instead. I’ve always loved the way I feel when I’m acclimated. I feel I was born to sleep this way, and I remember vividly saying to my future wife, “This is the happiest day of my life” right at the end of my last acclimation. The calm that’s produced by knowing I have extra time, the knowledge that I’m the master of my body and mind, and the increase in productivity I get, coupled with the ability to legitimately nap at work all add up to one happy self.

Polyphasic Month 2012

Another month, another resolution. In the spirit of prepping for Burning Man, I figured what better what to mix things up than to go polyphasic again? This will be the fifth time I’ve attempted übermann style and I hope the trend that the more you do it, the easier it gets holds true. This will be the first time that I try it in a relationship, and I’ve got the full blessing and support of my wife. I’m pretty excited to have someone else looking out for me in this process, I relish the idea of not going through adaptation alone.

I’ve set aside five days for the initial deprivation and expect the next three weeks to be all I need for acclimation. I’ve taken as many precautions as possible, with all of the usual tricks in place. I’ve spent today (two days before actual acclimation) napping on time and have picked times that match with my schedule. I’ll be sleeping at 4:30, 8:30, and 12:30. My job had to go though this with me two years ago, so they know the drill. I’ve been offered an office to nap in with a comfy chair, so I don’t expect any problems there.

The only steps I have left are to decide when I want to stop, write my list of things to do while polyphasic, and then remember to eat enough to power the extra brain power I’ll be using.

I’ll be tracking my naps as closely as possible on my twitter account @morganengel and I will be keeping a running dialog here, so feel free to ask questions. Once more unto the breach.

Paleo Meatloaf and Gravy

I made this last night and was pretty pleased with the result!

For the meatloaf:

  • 3 lbs organic beef
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

for the gravy:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • pan drippings

Meatloaf Process:
Saut the onion in the olive oil with salt and pepper until translucent
Combine the sautéed onion, beef, eggs, almond meal, and tapioca flour in a bowl and mix well
Divide the meat in two and place in two oiled or buttered bread pans.
cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Gravy process:
Combine the tapioca flour with 1 tbsp cold water to form a slurry
Drain the fat from the meatloaf into a saucepan
add 1 cup chicken stock
bring to a gentle boil
while stirring constantly, add the tapioca slurry to the pan
remove from heat, continue stirring — gravy will thicken rapidly.

Makes 10 servings

How Monthly Resolutions Might Have Saved My Life

I remember vividly the first time I heard the word Coumadin. I was at Burning Man with my good friend Jeff, who’d had a heart valve replaced. They put you on blood thinners to ensure your heart keeps going, but it makes it so you can’t clot properly if you injure yourself. Jeff had split his finger open while unloading his motorized couch (only at burning man, right?), and we were taking said couch to the med tent to get help. When we arrived, one of the first things Jeff said was “I’m on Coumadin,” and the response was instantaneous. Few things will make a health care professional move more quickly than a bleeding man on blood thinners. That said, I didn’t think I’d be on them till quite a while later in my life.

February was Fearless month, part of which meant I had to face things that made me uncomfortable, like going to the doctor. It had been about a year since my last checkup and I was due. I don’t typically make time for things that are uncomfortable, but it seemed like the perfect example of the excuses I make when I don’t want to do something. I went, I was fine, I went home. On the surface, nothing about that visit was particularly interesting, but I think one of the big points to make is that by going to the doctor when you don’t have to, you increase your likelihood to go when you do.

As a man, I know I’m susceptible to the “not going to the doctor” thing. I tend to think I’m fine unless my bones are poking out of my skin or I’ve lost more than one of my senses. When Sunday night rolled around and I had sharp muscle pains in my calf, I assumed I needed to stretch more, maybe even needed a deep tissue massage. When it was twice as bad the next day, I figured, rub a little dirt on it, go to crossfit, stop worrying so much. Be happy it’s not both your knees. When it was twice as bad the next day, I went to the doctor. Turns out it was for good reason.

My Doctor ordered an ultrasound as a precaution. Turns out that I have deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in my leg. This is a potentially fatal thing and if I hadn’t gone to the doctor, I could have suffered a pulmonary embolism, something fairly uncommon for a 31 year old programmer who does crossfit to have. What made me go to the doctor? I can’t say for sure, but I’ve always had the belief that if something doesn’t go away after a week or gets twice as bad as it was, you go to the doctor. Even when that happens, sometimes, I still find reasons not to go. Monthly resolutions are an excellent way to remind myself of the things I should do in my life and to help me find the drive and time to do them.

The Only Pancake Recipe

Before you begin gathering your ingredients, put your pan on medium heat and let it warm up. A cold pan is the reason your first pancake isn’t perfect.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
2. Pour or scoop the batter onto a lightly-oiled griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

How to tell if your pancake is done? Look at the edges. When the edges look done halfway through, flip the cake.

An Entire Month of Good Mornings

Fearless month has proved to be one of the most difficult to stick to. The entire notion that I face my fears seems simple enough, but where do fears have a purpose and where do they have a detriment. This morning, I’ve faced one of my major social phobias. I used to live in a much smaller place with little to no crime and much friendlier people than San Francisco. I have the luxury of a one hour commute in the mornings, 30 minutes of which is a walk through Oakland and SOMA, SF.

People in these cities have abandoned the small town feel a long time ago, and yet, I find that I haven’t. I want to be able to say good morning to people, smile at them, talk to them about random things, and in general be the pleasant person I like to be, but something often stops me. I’m often afraid that with the walls that society has created, I’m actually being rude for knocking them down. I see a woman with her kids out for a walk, if I say good morning to her, will she think I’m a pedophile out to attack her kids? If I say good morning to a homeless person, will they just beg me for money I won’t give, yell at me, or worse?

Ultimately, these thoughts are all ridiculous and yet play themselves out in my mind over and over again every day on my way to work. Today, I tried it. I said good morning to people, smiled at them, and treated San Francisco as though it had the small town feel I wish it had, and the results were overwhelming. People are wired to be nice to you when you’re nice to them. You say good morning, you smile at them, and before they can even snap out of their haze of morning walking with no interruptions, they’ve smiled and said good morning back. It’s almost funny how little they expect it, and how much it affects them.

One woman didn’t even know how to respond, and she had to stop and turn around to make sure I had said something. I just smiled and waved and she was off with her morning. Fearless month isn’t just about trying things that scare you, it’s about being something that scares you too, and I’m that crazy guy who smiles and says good morning, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Here’s my challenge to you: Try being extra nice to people today. Just for today. I’ve chosen to do so on my walk, you could do it while you’re driving, or on your bike. Take an extra step to make sure someone else is having a good day. It surprises me how good it feels.