Introduction to My Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

Published 19 Jun 2012 16:05

Published 18 Jun 2012

Hello! My name is Chase Hamilton. I’m 18, skinny and tall. I’ve never really been bothered by health or sleep problems (in fact, I consider myself to be more healthy than many), so this coming polyphasic sleep experiment should be fairly indicative of the importance of sleep and the adaptability of the human body.

While most people sleep for around 8 hours in a single block (monophasic), I’ve decided to begin sleeping in 3 separate blocks (triphasic) for 90 minutes apiece. This would result in being asleep for about 4.5 hours a day, rather than the suggested 8. My goal is to force myself to stay on this schedule indefinitely, and eventually to make my circadian rhythm adapt to what I do. If all goes well, I’ll be just as energized, awake, and aware as my monophasic brethren, but with more time on my hands.

There are many types of polyphasic sleep schedules, including the Everyman (containing a 4 hour “core-sleep” and three 20 minute naps throughout the day) and the Uberman (which consists of six 20 minute naps throughout the day), and most have been proven to be viable to some people, or for certain durations.

Here’s my planned sleep schedule:

5:00 AM – 6:30 AM
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
10:30 PM – 12:00 AM

If you’re interested in polyphasic sleep, then here’s the method behind the madness of choosing this particular schedule:

First of all, I know I want to sleep in 90 minute intervals, which is the average length of a sleep cycle (Through stages 1-4 which contain sleep spindles, “deep sleep” and more, then into REM). Humans naturally are subject to wake immediately after REM, before delving back in and starting another cycle (anyone else often wake up around 3:30 AM before going back to sleep?). Waking during the middle of a sleep cycle tends to leave you groggy and fatigued, whereas waking as soon as you emerge from REM helps to overcome such “sleep inertia” and increases your energy throughout the entire day. 90 minute naps not only ensure full cycles of sleep (containing every stage), but they also make waking up easy and grant you more energy. Shorter naps such as those in the Uberman don’t seem to give the body enough of any particular stage of sleep, nor do they make waking easy.

[Protip – set your alarm for the closest 90-minute increment to when you wish to wake up to help avoid sleep inertia. Instead of sleeping for 8 hours, sleep for 7.5 – it’s amazing how getting less sleep can make you more awake if you time it right!]

How about the timing of the naps? It’s designed to work well with our natural body-clock. The body’s circadian rhythm controls your urge to sleep. When the body thinks you should be sleeping, it releases a hormone called “melatonin”, which makes you sleepy. This chemical is triggered by visual darkness. In the light, however, your body tends to produce serotonin, along with adrenaline and cortisol, which boost wakefulness and energy.

Throughout the course of a day, the body varies its production of each chemical. When you wake up to sunrise, you immediately begin producing the wakeful chemicals. Around mid-day (1-3 PM), your metabolism peaks, and the body drops in its production of cortisol, resulting in a noticeable lack of energy. After a bit, the body picks back up in its production of the wakeful brew, until the sunset triggers the release of melatonin.

My hope is that my schedule goes well with the natural urges of the body, which reduces the awkward adaptation period (usually 10 days) – almost always extremely tiring. My 1:30 nap coincides well with the afternoon lethargy, the evening nap takes advantage of the onset of darkness which makes us naturally tired, and the morning nap fools the body by going to sleep in the dark, and awaking in the light, which helps it to produce the chemicals needed to make it through the day.

Comments (1)

Add a New Comment
or Sign in as Wikidot user
(will not be published)
- +
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License