My Journey Into Polyphasic Sleep | Multiple Sleep Cycles & Daily Efficiency

It has been really difficult to get on a regular sleep schedule since going full time with my home business around 5 years ago. Whereas a 9-5 job forces you into a regular pattern, whether it’s healthy or not (e.g. you miss an hour of sleep – too bad), running a home business there is no real need to be on any regular schedule.

Why then would I care about getting on a regular schedule? For a couple reasons. First, wild fluctuations in my sleep schedule cause degraded sleep quality. Working late nights results in sleep deprivation. Fluctuating sleep patterns also move around your eating schedule, further messing up the homeostasis of your system as well as further messing up your sleep cycles.

The other reason is because my sleep schedules when unwatched tend to give me a few hours of daylight and then be up until early morning, only to sleep into the afternoon. It is still a standard 8 hours of sleep, but when it is patterned so, it causes a few problems: stores close, missed shopping. Customers want help, you are asleep (although this one is rare).

store-closed-at-night

The good part of an opposite sleep schedule is that you are on the schedule of international contacts and international customers. This means you can network better with international people and you can service international customers faster.

The bad side is that it means less hours of daylight, less things are open during your waking hours, harder to network with domestic business in North America (since they close at 5 usually), harder to run errands since there is only a couple hours each day with things open, and harder to service domestic clients in a timely fashion.

The latter is not a big deal, however, except in rare cases. This is because rarely is there anything truly urgent, and as long as you get back to them in 24 hours it is still considered great customer service. In fact, some people say you should not respond to any emails except once a day, and if it is urgent they will call or text. This is because regularly monitoring emails is a huge time waster. However, I won’t get into that here.

So I have been trying hard for the past 3 years to get back on a normal schedule. I have succeeded a few times but it only lasts a couple days before swapping back to the reverse. I just tell people “afternoon is best” because my sleep schedule is reversed.

binge-tv-watcher

I have contemplated the reasons why perhaps this occurs. I have nailed down multiple factors. First, watching TV before sleep is a primary cause of ruining your sleep schedule. Often it results in binge watching which also robs you of up to half your waking hours. TV is chemically addicting in the brain. Once you turn it on, it isn’t a matter of willpower anymore.

Second, it is very possible that my body simply does not work well with the monophasic straight 8 hours that our culture has promoted over the last few centuries. Sure, I sleep a good 8 hours and feel good in the morning. However, sometimes I do not sleep well, and when so it is disastrous.

Additionally, I have noticed that when I stay up for a straight 16+ hours as is standard on a monophasic sleep schedule (24 hours – 8 sleep = 16 hours awake), my performance tends to degrade as the day goes on. Granted, I have done some of my best work at night. However, was this really the best work I could do or was it the best work I could do while drained at the end of the night? In other words, could I have done a lot better if I was not up for 12+ hours straight before performing the work?

sports tired not enough sleep

Another thing that I noticed is that when it comes to critical work like server maintenance, I have learned that, on my monophasic schedule anyway, I should absolutely not do any critical server or website updates after 12pm. I have realized that the most disastrous server errors were things that I could have avoided, if not working late into the night.

Now, consider I woke up between 2pm and 4pm on my schedule, this means that after 8 to 10 hours, by experience, there has been a clear and significant degradation in performance – so much so that I can’t do any critical work after this time or else risk screwing something up.

So over the past year I have read a lot about polyphasic sleep. And this week, finally fed up with ridiculous sleep as schedule and low time to get things done, and no energy, I have decided to embark on the journey into polyphasic sleep.

Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar, with polyphasic sleep, there are a lot of schedules, including the Uberman schedule and the even more extreme Tesla schedule. Uberman is 20 minute naps throughout the day, and that’s all. Tesla is 10 minute maps throughout the day. However, there are a couple reasons why that won’t work for me.

Check out this crazy chart of polyphasic schedules (click to open full size):

polyphasic-sleep-schedules-chart

First, such a rigorous schedule such as the Uberman or Tesla doesn’t agree with me. I am a free type of person and I don’t like to be bound to such a rigorous schedule.

Second, I lift weights. 10 or 20 minute naps will not allow the body to enter the recovery phases needed for HGH production and skeletal muscle recovery. In short, the absence of any full sleep cycle will have a severe detrimental effect on muscle gains, and without being able to recover from intense workouts, it could create health issues.

10 or 20 minute schedules are only good if you never do any real strenuous workouts or activity like sports. If you do weightlifting, sports, or other strenuous activity, you should have minimum sleep sessions of 1.5 hours, which is the full sleep cycle.

So as it is, I decided that sets of 1.5 hours sleep cycles are best for me, because it allows for HGH production and deeper cellular repair. I noticed that when I am more in shape, people literally treat me differently than when I am skinny. I know this because I’ve fluctuated up and down a lot of the years during periods of intense weightlifting and periods of none. You don’t have to be huge, but if you are fit, people subconsciously treat you with more respect than when you are skinny. It is a very serious thing and it really affects your life. I don’t think it is intentional, I think it is just human nature.

cool-fitness-girl

girl who is well-rested doing a cool stunt

For example, you would treat a giant differently then you would treat a mouse. I think with humans of different sizes it is the same thing, just more subtle because it incorporates intersocial dynamics. So that is one reason for me that I want to stay in shape and work out regularly. But that’s not all. When I am weightlifting, I find I have more energy, I can think more clearly, I feel better about myself, and I am more successful. It is very important to stay in shape.

Anyway, so the past few days I have begun experimenting with what works for me. I made my own schedule instead of following an existing one, so I could personalize it to my needs.

I have come up with several schedules that I have tried. The first two may be good for some people, but I do not think they are good for me. I think the final schedule I developed may be the one, after a few days of reading my body to see how I react. Who knows, after I get more used to it, maybe I can go into a more extreme polyphasic schedule to free up even more time.


Schedule A:

6am awake
6 hours awake
12pm sleep
1:30 awake
6 hours awake
7:30 sleep
9pm awake
6 hours awake
3am sleep
6am awake

 
Basically, this schedule works like this:
3 hours sleep
6 hours awake
1.5 hours sleep
6 hours awake
1.5 hours sleep
6 hours awake

total sleep: 6 hours


I tried this, but I quickly learned that 3 hours of sleep isn’t cutting it. So the next night I tried 4.5 hours on the long part, basically the same but an extra 1.5 hours of sleep.

Schedule B:

6am awake
6 hours awake
12pm sleep
1:30 awake
6 hours awake
7:30 sleep
9pm awake
6 hours awake
1:30am sleep
6am awake

 
It’s the same as Schedule A just an extra 1.5 hours at night.

total sleep: 7.5 hours


Now, I think I can do 7.5 hours, but 4.5 hours straight doesn’t work for me. Not immediately anyway. So I have created a third schedule that I think will take the cake, at least until I get more used to polyphasic sleep.

Schedule C:

6am awake
8 hours awake
2pm sleep
3:30 awake
8.5 hours awake
12am sleep
6am awake

 
This schedule works like this:
6 hours sleep
8 hours awake
1.5 hours sleep
8.5 hours awake

total sleep: 7.5 hours

Technically, this is called “biphasic” sleep, which there are two sleep sessions. However, if I add in short power naps which I might do, then it is polyphasic.

I think the problem with schedules A and B for me is that since I’m not used to just falling asleep, so I did not get enough real sleep during the 1.5 hour sessions, nor the 3 or 4.5 hour session. So as I get better at falling asleep, my needs might change.

As I get more practice falling asleep quickly for a shorter time, I may be able to move into a more serious polyphasic sleep, but I might not do that. I might just keep this schedule forever, if it works, or maybe adjust it as I see how my body reacts to it.

getting-good-sleep

I think there is a few reasons why Schedule C might be good for me:

  • Whenever I get married, Schedule C is less likely to cause problems with the wife than A or B
  • It is a more standard schedule so would work better with our society
  • Since there is only one sleep time during the day, it’s easier to fit in than 2 or more.

For example, what if you need to go out somewhere? If you can’t get every one of your sleep sessions in, you will suffer. But with just one midday sleep schedule, it would be possible to miss it if needed and sleep in for a longer night before resuming the regular schedule the next day.

In conclusion, I think that polyphasic sleep might be just what I needed. I also think that adjusting my schedule dramatically may help me kick the TV habit for good. I already haven’t watch TV all week. It doesn’t mean no TV, but once I am on a regular schedule I am less likely to binge watch TV after turning it on.

Moreover, I think that this polyphasic sleep may be the answer I need. Since I know now that after 8 to 10 hours I experience performance degradation to the degree that I can’t do any critical work, then by putting a 1.5 hour sleep cycle after 8 hours, I think this could really be the solution to energy all day! By reviving fo rthe full sleep schedule in midday, it is kind of like having two days all wrapped up into one, and not feeling drained. Now how is that for efficiency!

This could be the real solution to the problem “there is not enough time in a day”. I have learned that it is not that there isn’t enough time in the day, but rather there is not enough energy in the day! If you could have double energy by having full energy all day long, then you could get twice as much done in one day. After all, I already discovered that halfway into a 16 hour waking day I no longer have the energy to do serious work, so this is evidence of that theory.

everythings-a-copy-of-a-copy

In fact, actually I learned that some countries have a cultural rule where no contact by phone or email between 2pm and 5pm because it is sleep time. Yes, in the middle of the day for the second sleep. Also, the ancient Romans actually saw an afternoon sleep as a necessity, not a luxury. So I really think I am on to something here.

Also, there is a good chance I may add in 10 to 20 minute power naps into the day. Upon experimenting, I may even discover that I can lessen the full 6 hours sleep after I got good at a strong 1.5 hours and a couple power naps in between. Stay tuned and over time I will upgrade with my progress.

I will also add in my charts that I designed here for your personal use, so stay tuned! Let’s see where this adventure takes me. I am already getting a lot more done and have more energy during the day, now I just have to find my equilibrium. Your schedule may be different so find which polyphasic cycle works for you.

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