It’s been one 24-hour period since I began my polyphasic-sleep experiment.
Since I woke up from my normal 7-8 hour sleep schedule yesterday morning at 6am, I decided to skip the 7am nap and began the ‘Everyman’ sleep schedule with the noon nap. Luckily, I started this on a Friday so hopefully I’ll be well on my way to adapting to this schedule by the end of this weekend — interfering as little as possible with my job which begins on Monday again.
This may be a bold statement considering most people that I’ve heard of who’ve adapted to this schedule say it takes at least a week and typically two-full weeks to adapt completely. But at least I’m hoping that the major sleep deprivation that I’ll be feeling will be significantly less by Monday.
Anyways, since I was at work yesterday, the noon nap in my car was anything less than optimal. I had a hard time falling asleep, probably due to my full night of sleep the night before. The real action happened from my core 3-hour sleep last night and throughout the rest of the night into early morning.
Waking up after only 3 hours of sleep (11pm to 2am), I felt surprisingly rested and did not feel groggy at all. I was able to jump right out of bed without any problems and start the early morning with a clear head.
This supports the notion that we do not sleep in 4-hour cycles but rather in 1.5 hour cycles. Studies have shown that we go through a complete sleep cycle in 1.5 hours. Read the following from the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies (http://centacs.com):
“Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain- wave patterns. For our purposes, it suffices to say that one sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM (rapid eye movement), sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep. The REM sleep phases are shorter during earlier cycles (less than 20 minutes) and longer during later ones (more than 20 minutes). If we were to sleep completely naturally, with no alarm clocks or other sleep disturbances, we would wake up, on the average, after a multiple of 90 minutes–for example, after 4 1/2 hours, 6 hours, 7 1/2 hours, or 9 hours, but not after 7 or 8 hours, which are not multiples of 90 minutes. In the period between cycles we are not actually sleeping: it is a sort of twilight zone from which, if we are not disturbed (by light, cold, a full bladder, noise), we move into another 90-minute cycle. A person who sleeps only four cycles (6 hours) will feel more rested than someone who has slept for 8 to 10 hours but who has not been allowed to complete any one cycle because of being awakened before it was completed…. ”
This explains why after 8-hours of sleep I feel pretty groggy. It seems if you sleep in multiples of 1.5 hours, you’ll feel more refreshed because you’re not waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
Back to last night, I started feeling a bit tired after about an hour of waking up from my 3-hour core nap. Since I knew that my next 20-min nap wasn’t until 7am, I couldn’t do any reading or work on the computer for fear that I’d dose off. Instead, I spent the night working on manual-labor type projects that I had to get done around the house.
Once the time came for my 7am nap, I was surprised at how restorative it was. It was a little difficult getting up but not so that it required a tremendous amount of will. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes…