Monday, May 11, 2009

Polyphasic Self-Experimentation: Day Four

OK, so it's day four of my "official" polyphasic sleep schedule, though I've been napping throughout the day and getting small amounts of sleep at night for months already (not unlike the "Everyman" pattern, just not as regular). All I've really done differently, now that I think about it, is to cut out the core sleep and schedule my naps more rigidly.

I've been napping polyphasically for four days now, with one brief backslide two days ago where I slept for about three hours because I made the mistake of thinking I could just lay down for half an hour in bed. Turns out, I can't really do that thing, because it turns into another thing while I can't control my actions (translation: I sleep through my alarms). I seem to have adjusted rather swiftly, though - I'm getting REM sleep during each nap now, and falling asleep is becoming progressively easier as the days go by.

One interesting thing I've noticed is that I'm zoning out more often, which may be this "microsleep" thing I keep hearing about (probably not, though, as microsleep is only supposed to last for a few seconds and these space-outs last for minutes at a stretch). It's nice at work, because most of the tasks I do are repetitive, but I'm able to maintain my focus whenever I'm doing something new or different. It is very disorienting, however, to lose a stretch of time and snap back into reality to find that a bunch of crap got done. I also have a feeling that it could be dangerous on my bicycle - the other day, I set out from work and lit a cigarette, then came to as I was crossing a four-lane street with the cigarette nearly gone. I vaguely remembered doing all the things that got me there, it just felt like I didn't actually experience the events first-hand. Weird.

From an entirely subjective standpoint, I feel like I'm less tired throughout the day than when I slept monophasically. I'm extremely tired after getting up from my naps, so it looks like I have some adjusting to do yet on the back end of my REM cycles. I still feel like I've slept for at least a couple hours, though, and within another ten to fifteen minutes or so, I'm alert and focused again.

My eating habits are also starting to change. It's kind of hard to eat "regular" meals when my day simply doesn't fit that pattern - I'm either famished in a couple hours, or I find that I've overeaten and I get a stomach-ache. Between my roommate and myself, though, we've got a bunch of vitamin and mineral supplements lying about the house, which has proven convenient: I've started taking the supplements to make sure I'm not depriving myself of any key nutrients, and eating small amounts of food whenever I'm hungry. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, that's my update so far - I'll keep posting any interesting developments. In the meantime, I'm going to continue turning myself into a zombie. I should probably also read those submissions for the Humanist Symposium before they start to pile up.


Zach L said...

I wonder how difficult it would be to convince my boss to let me try something like this out -- to work from home on a polyphasic cycle for, like, a month, and see how productive I can be.

Keep up the posts! As always, it's a pleasure reading your writing, and this is a pretty fascinating experiment.

D said...

Hey, thanks for the vote of confidence! It's always great to hear back from the waking world.

I don't know how difficult it would be to convince your boss that you should be allowed to do that, but I have several ideas as to how you can find out! (HINT: They all cluster around empirical verification.)