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Polyphasic sleep: Declaration of success. Also, Day Four.


I got a bit sleepy after my 1:30AM nap last night, and fixed it with another 7:30AM extra. Is this fascinating, or what? Because other than that I have no new info about my adaptation process. Something over 80 hours into it, I feel pretty good.

I do have a few more things to say about polyphasic sleeping, and I’ll probably get to them eventually. But it’s already clear to me–low day-count notwithstanding–that this stuff works. So I’ll hold off for a while with the updates. Think about clever stuff to say. Maybe add a pun or two. And learn what I can as I go along.

A few thoughts before I (temporarily) drop the subject:

First, beware those who tell you anything at all about sleep schedules. For instance, the Polyphasic Society would have you believe that “No one has EVER adapted to Uberman without the help of others, often in the form of a human alarm system.” Um, I’ve seen many claims to the contrary. And then there’s me. It’s only been a few days, and I still get sleepy at times, but I’m sufficiently convinced it’s working that I’m ready to quit thinking about it and move on to the next project-thing, or at least consider candidates. Whilst napping every four hours or so. And next week I have some ambitious writing plans. Stuff goin’ on here!

Second. This has been ridiculously easy to do…so far. And of course I don’t know what factors have made it work out that way for me. But I’ll include my guesses, in case they’re helpful to anyone considering similar ridiculosities:

  1. I’m 45 years old. I’ve done lots of things before, and some of them were hard. I remember how difficult it used to be to do without food for even a few hours when I was a kid–and I might as well be considered an entirely different person by now. Who does three 36-hour fasts a week, and enjoys them. This is just my latest experiment-toy. It may or may not be a good choice for you, if it’s your first.
  2. I spent years being sleep-deprived after my daughter was born. And I’m a very light sleeper–my brother used to put one foot into my bedroom, on carpet, to wake me up just for fun. And laugh at me. So sleeping in larger chunks? Not really my thing. Never has been. I just never tried spacing out my shorter chunks instead of getting them all at once.
  3. I quit consuming caffeine about a week and a half before trying out a polyphasic schedule. It made naps possible. Even easy! Which was a heck of a revelation in itself. I used to basically count an entire day lost if something woke me at an inconvenient time–it was very hard for me to get back to sleep. Which is why I didn’t take naps. They just didn’t work. Turns out, if I’d just stayed sleepy and avoided caffeine, then tried again in an hour or three? I probably could have salvaged the larger part of my days. Good to know.
  4. The “light sleeper” thing means I don’t need to worry about sleeping through alarm clocks. It’s just never going to happen, unless I’m actually dead. Which, in this context, is quite handy.
  5. I’m in Alaska, and it’s summertime. Going outside into the non-darkness seems to invigorate me quite well. If I were trying this in December? It might be harder.
  6. I’ve been able to be by myself, with little chance of interruption, for the vast majority of my naps thus far. That may change this weekend, and if it leads to trouble I’ll eventually mention it–unless it leads to major trouble, in which case I’ll probably blog about it sooner.
  7. I started off in a very well-slept and healthy state, which I credit to my diet/exercise plan. But if that’s not your starting point…it may make a difference. Though what do I know? It may even help you. Ignorance may or may not be bliss, but it’s where I live.

I guess that’s it for now. Let me know if you’d like to try polyphasic sleeping yourself, or know someone who is? I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

Either way–have fun out there!

Published inPersonalPolyphasic Sleep


  1. Oran

    I’m amazed how well you’re doing so far! I think you’re right about the advantages of maturity and having a track record of successfully tackling hard things. And Steve Pavlina’s experience correlates with your observations about diet.

    I’m planning to switch to Everyman3 once I start actually sleeping during the naps I’ve been taking for the past few weeks. I realized I first need to train myself to sleep on my back, so have been going through some minor sleep dep the past few days adjusting. This will be useful for reliably napping in the car at work.

    I’ve been maintaining essentially my ideal Everyman3 schedule, but with two naps instead of three. When I switch, I’ll just cut my core from 8 down to 3, keeping the starting time the same, and then add a 20-minute nap where the end of my 8-hour core was.

    But first, I need to be able to sleep semi-reliably during my naps. Once I learn that skill I think the adaptation should go relatively smoothly.

    • David

      You’re on this here bandwagon? Cool! Maybe we can compare notes later this month, if you’ll be in Anchorage. I’d kinda wondered whether the Rat had mentioned this to you, and if so how you’d reacted. Now I’m curious ’bout which way the info-flow flew, ’cause it’s his fault I even heard of this stuff.

      I think E3 would work pretty well for me. So would biphasic sleeping, probably, except for weekends when hibernating for a big chunk of time sounds problematic. It’s family time after all.

      Mostly I just wanted to stay married and live with my family but nevertheless wake up and get alone-time, ’cause that’s a very productive zone for me. I only settled on Uberman to start out because I thought it’d force me to learn to nap reliably, after which I thought I might go to E3 or try something similar. But it turns out I really love my night-time pacing/reading, and expect to love the writing too, so I’ll probably try to stay Ubery. The extra hours are fantastic.

      But it’d be a lot harder if I had an employer to worry about, and coworkers, and all that noise. Just…ick.

      Pavlina partially credits his diet for his Uberman-success, but he’s Vegan and I…well, I make pork-liver jerky to ensure I get my vitamins even though I strongly suspect the little buggers are mostly unnecessary. We’re in very different camps. But there may still be something there. Dunno. It’s an interesting notion.

      As far as back-sleeping goes, I guess that could be important for napping in strange places. But “back” before I quit eating wheat I had 20+ years’ worth of acid reflux issues, and pretty much had to sleep on my back. Or sitting up, some nights. My bed is propped up by books on one end even though I don’t seem to need it anymore, just ’cause it’s become comfortable. And the luxury of being able to lie on my stomach or side when I want to is still kind of a thrill for me.

      So I’ve slept in my Bug a time or two on road trips, and actually last week we did a round-trip ferry visit to Haines–I’d just quit caffeine, and took a nap sitting up in the Malaspina’s forward lounge. To nap, lately, I just seem to need to be sleepy and somewhat comfortable. It’s nice.

      Though I’m not recommending my method of learning to sleep on my back–but I guess I am suggesting Uberman as a way to learn to nap reliably. Maybe you could do it on a 3-day weekend or something?

      • Oran

        Seems like the email notifications aren’t working for me.

        Yep, I’m responsible for infecting the Rat with this crazy idea. I may have also idly wondered if it was something you might do. 🙂

        Yes, I’m beginning to suspect I’ll need to try Uberman to really kick my napping into gear. I’ve seen a number of folks saying that’s their preferred transition to Everyman. I still like my theory of a simpler transition, but you know what they say about the difference between theory and practice.

        Yesterday the family and I took a day trip to Nome. I was able to get my morning nap on the plane, but the afternoon nap didn’t seem like it was going to happen until Krista dared me to sleep in the restaurant we were in, and that worked great! Afterward the Korean staff smiled and asked if I had a good nap. I’m hoping napping is more culturally acceptable for them like it is in Japan.

        It would be cool to compare notes when you’re in Anchorage. Looking forward to your next updates!

        • David

          This is where I’m not ranting about the issues certain companies place in the way of mail from individually-owned and -run mail servers.

          I told Mary Anne you might be the hidden architect of my current doom. She simply sharpened a knife and smiled. And muttered something about “two of them now.” Incidentally, she’ll be in Anchorage this week. Say hi if you see her!

          Sounds like your naps are coming along. I haven’t tried taking any outside the house yet, though I came close today. But we split up the shopping & avoided the issue.

          I have most of another post written. Should be up sometime tomorrow. Parts of it are supposed to be funny. No promises, though.

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