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Polyphasic sleep: Day Three, plus thoughts


Yup, this is still going on. About…lessee…60 hours into this thing, and I just woke from a 17-minute nap (total, including going-to-sleep time). I feel pretty good. I’m still waiting for this to get truly hard. So far it’s striking me as sort of natural-like, though heretofore unknown. At least to me. But…hey, most animals are polyphasic sleepers. Maybe we can be too? Or not. We’ll see!

I’ve had one issue so far, and it was pretty minor. Last night I may or may not have gone to sleep during my 9:30PM nap. I remember my alarms surprised me when they went off, but did they also wake me up? I wasn’t sure. Anyway, that (or something else?) made last night a bit more difficult, so this morning I snuck in an extra nap at 7:30. I was still a little sleepy afterward, but I’ve felt considerably better since finishing my 9:30AM nap. Almost human. Definitely my best day yet.

So I think I’ll keep the “extra nap” option handy, only I’ll reach for it a bit sooner next time I have some sort of issue. Which is a reasonable segue to some questions:

  • Is the timing of the naps actually critical? I’ve read that it is, and that trying to build in too much flexibility can derail “adaptation.” Thing is…a regular schedule is probably useful for trying to incorporate any new behavior or activity. Even if it’s true that the people who manage this successfully tend to at least start out with very strict schedules–and are clearly so identified as the ones most likely to succeed–that doesn’t necessarily convince me that the difference (if any) in success rates has any sort of biological basis. But I’ll stick with the schedule for now–it still strikes me as a good idea.
  • Some of the folks out there who’ve done this offer self-congratulatory comments on the “best” types of motivation, diet, and so forth. Are any of them “right”? I’m again unconvinced. These sorts of things can have emotional significance, sure, but how do you separate all the threads and reasonably conclude much that’s useful about why a particular individual did or did not achieve success…especially as judged by other people?
  • Does this “adaptation” process ever really get hard? Well…here I ask: hard for whom? It may be easier if you’ve done at least a few moderately difficult things in the past. It may be easier if you’re already a champion napper. Here, as above, I think individual variation will be too great and pulling in too many directions to form a reasonable conclusion. However, so far this has been fairly easy for me–though it’s true I’m expecting very little from myself other than “stick to the schedule” this first week. It’s kind of nice to have a good excuse to do fun stuff that keeps me interested, and nothing else!
  • Of what does this “adaptation” consist? Beats me! I’ve read various conflicting theories and reports about sleep phases and their rearrangement (or “repartitioning”), but given that the current state of knowledge about normal sleep seems so incomplete…well. I basically believe no theories at this point. Though I do suspect it’ll get easier as I go along, if this is indeed a learnable skill.
  • What’s the ideal nap length? No idea! I started setting my alarms to give me 30 minutes, figuring I’d probably take at least five minutes to fall asleep. Well…during the first couple of “naps” I didn’t go to sleep at all. During one nap I really don’t know whether I dropped off or not. Just now I got up after setting my timer for 25 minutes, but I woke up and felt relatively clear-headed with more than eight minutes left. So…maybe there’s an answer. But I don’t know what it is. I’ve read that, paradoxically, shortening a nap can make it more refreshing and easier to wake up from. It may be true. So I’ll see how I do after my recent early awakening, and go from there.
  • What about long-term consequences? Beats me no idea can’t tell I’m not even gonna guess! Sure, you can find opinions online. And there may be some issues that arise for those who do this for extended periods. On the other hand, since nobody knows, it’s also possible that it’ll have some sort of long-term benefit. I read various diatribes on this subject and was reminded of the “debates” around low-carb dieting. The results of that are almost uniformly positive in my experience. Some people claim that too will lead to long-term damage, but have little evidence to back up the claim. If in fact they’re right, throwing in a few fasting days ought to fix the potentially harmful theoretical mechanisms I’ve run across in my reading. So is there a fasting-equivalent for nappers? Uh…hmm. No idea. So is all this theorizing, basically, a bowl of cornflakes? Yup! Because I say so. And I don’t eat grains. So…I’m not going to worry about it. Much.

Basically: so far, so good. I’ll keep ya posted.

Have good dreams out there!

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