Monday, January 04, 2010

Polyphasic sleep

One of the benefits of working from home - and, from past experience, being unemployed - is that I get to make my own schedule.  A consequence of this is that my sleeping patterns tend to get severely warped.  As much effort as I put into having a healthy sleeping pattern, my aversion to having eight to ten wasted hours per day and my general enjoyment of the various activities with which I occupy myself, I usually end up with my circadian rhythms having me go to sleep at five or six in the morning.

With my sleeping patterns having yet again reached a nadir in productivity, and with the benefit of still technically being on holiday, I've decided finally to give polyphasic sleep a try.  A lot more has been written about it than I could, so I'll try not to rehash too much other than to explain that the system of polyphasic sleep I'll be attempting to adopt involves sleeping six times per day, for twenty to thirty minutes at a time.

Allegedly it takes about a week to adjust to the system, and fortunately my plate for the next week or two is rather manageable - even in the throes of sleep deprivation.  My naps will occur at 02:00, 06:00, 10:00, 14:00, 18:00, and 22:00.  This is quite convenient, as the naps will occur at the same hours on either side of noon.  In total, I'll get roughly three hours of sleep per "day" (my concept of what constitutes a day or a night will need re-evaluation.).  Reportedly this is as much as the human body requires under this system, and most people who have successfully switched - I admit, there aren't many - report feeling more alert, healthy and productive than they ever have before.  With this in mind, it certainly can't hurt to try! (don't quote me on that if I die)  A potential pitfall lies in missing a nap; while delaying a nap for up to an hour in a pinch is acceptable, missing just one scheduled nap can derail the entire system and require a great deal of time and effort for recovery.  Self-discipline and a strict schedule are the order of the day.

If SEALS can make it through Hell Week, then I can make it through a week of sleep deprivation until my body adjusts.

Another  potential problem with polyphasic sleep is that a person eats more - after all, you're awake for longer.  The fact that my diet already consists of six small and carefully planned meals per day meshes well with my new endeavour, so that's the least of my concerns.

Ultimately, there's very little science to back this up and long-term studies on its effects and efficacy are non-existent, so I'm not optimistic of success.  Let's just call it a temporary hobby until my holiday officially ends.

So my question is: What would you do with 30 to 40 extra hours per week?


Anonymous said...

Sleep? :)

Let me know how it goes...

Leigh said...

I know this was a while ago, but I'm always excited to see people who aren't afraid to skirt convention in the pursuit of something awesome.

I'm a polyphasic sleeper myself and after you run out of items on your to-do list, you learn to slow down your life significantly. In the wee hours of the night, when I was doing chores and trying not to wake anyone, I'd try to do them as slowly as possible: brush my teeth for the full two minutes, floss thoroughly, mouthwash, rinse out the sink.

Now it's not so much about getting things done for me as it is about not rushing the things I'm doing, if that makes any sense. Anyway, great blog and hope it works out for you!