Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

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Rippy
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Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rippy » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

I'm somewhat surprised that I couldn't dig up more threads here on sleep experiments. Assuming I do not fail at searching, the 28-hour day is all I came up with.

So anyway, feel free to discuss any experiments/experiences of your own, relevant medical studies, etc.

I've just started on a biphasic sleep schedule now that I don't work a second job (which meant the occasional 14-hour work day). It helps too that most of my friends are away and my parents are gone all week, so there's very little going on. What I'm trying, subject to modification as appropriate, is a 1.5/4.5 split, which is to say a nap at around 8:00PM of an hour and a half, and a longer "core" sleep of 4 1/2 hours at 2AM. This works out to 6 hours a night (Some people do 3 hours of core sleep, giving 4.5 hours a night total, but I doubt I can function on that little raw sleep time). The idea apparently is that since a sleep cycle is about 90 minutes, sleeping multiples of 90 minutes has you waking up when you're naturally in the most shallow sleep, and so you don't get morning grogginess.

I'm on day 2 now (one night of biphasic down), and it feels surprisingly normal. I napped on the couch (I eventually want to learn to nap just about anywhere, in case I need to do it away from home), and slept a little lightly but it wasn't too bad. Then I woke up and gamed with buddies til they went to bed. Waking up after 4.5 hours was no more difficult, and at no point have I felt more tired than I did going in (I had semi-deliberately underslept a little so I'd be able to nap at 8PM). I assume it's going to get worse before it gets better, but my hope is that this system will be normal enough to keep permanently, and still give me another couple hours a day without affecting my alertness.

I'll try to post here once in a while just to be sure I'm staying honest. I don't want to convince myself I'm feeling alert when I'm really not getting enough sleep.

I'll post some links later too when I've got more time. It's interesting reading, though you have to be skeptical about a lot of people's claims.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby frezik » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:57 pm UTC

I tried a polyphasic schedule for a while. I think it was a half hour nap at noon, 1.5 hours at 6:00pm, then 3 hours at midnight.

A vacation with friends threw my schedule off and I never went back. It's a hard thing to do without getting the rest of the world to do it with you.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby You, sir, name? » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:01 pm UTC

I've had reasonable success with 28 hour day. But then, I think my internal clock is probably closer to 25 hours than it is 24, so ymmv.

Though I've never seen any verifiable evidence of anyone ever doing multi-phasic sleep successfully for extended periods of time (and by successfully, I mean not shuffling around like the living dead.)
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Aardvarki » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:32 am UTC

A very good friend of mine has been on the Uberman/Everyman sleep schedule for about six months now. He is doing just fine on it. His reasoning for switching to it, that he gave me was because information you learn within a couple hours of going to sleep stays in your long-term memory better; Thus, if you sleep six times a day, there is a greater percentage of the day that falls "within a couple hours of going to sleep". He did say that between the start of week 2 and the start of week 4, he was a complete zombie, but he got used to it and has been doing rather well since then.

The uberman is 6 half-hour naps per day, one every four hours. He does this about half of the time.
The everyman is one 3 hour main sleep, and 4 half-hour naps, if I'm not mistaken. He does this the other half of the time.

Apparently, sometimes he just really feels like he needs to sleep for longer than half an hour. He may also occasionally throw in a full night's sleep in there, but I don't really know. It's amusing because while hanging out with him for a long period of time, he'll have to run off every now and then to take a nap on my couch. He works a full-time job, and apparently naps on his lunch break, and just before and just after work.

He also picked up a handful of new hobbies to entertain himself during the wee hours of the night, when most of us mortals are sleeping.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby ++$_ » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:46 am UTC

My understanding of this is that after some time on a polyphasic sleep schedule, it is possible to be fully alert for about 20 hours a day, in the sense that one does not lapse into "microsleeps". This was confirmed by an actual study -- on Italians if I recall correctly -- but I don't remember the study.

However, it is not clear that one's performance on mental tasks is as good as it would be on a full 6-8 hours of sleep. It is also not clear what effect the reduced amount of sleep has on the immune system or endocrine systems. Drowsiness is not the only side effect of sleep deprivation, but it's the only one that is readily identified by the sleep-deprived individual. Therefore, I would suggest taking any first-person account of polyphasic sleep with a grain of salt (the person involved is unlikely to recognize it if he/she is impairing his/her mental performance or immunity). Furthermore, many people are habitually sleep-deprived and don't have a reliable baseline for comparison.

Dement, at the Stanford sleep lab, also did an experiment with some poor undergraduate who was asked to sleep for a total of 8 hours divided into 12 chunks of 40 minutes each. (I don't know how her schedule worked out!) Apparently she did just fine -- but keep in mind that it was a total of 8 hours.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rippy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:53 am UTC

Yeah I'm pretty sure humans have about a 25-hour cycle in the absence of cues like sunlight, but that those natural cues keep us adjusted to 24 hours.

I am a bit more tired now on day 3. It's not at the "unpleasant tiredness" level yet, but it was definitely harder to wake up this morning. If it stayed like this, I would reluctantly switch back, but I'm giving myself a full week to adjust before I judge it.

Though I have decided, independent of whatever sleep schedule I settle into, I want to teach myself to nap/sleep anywhere. It just seems like a good skill to have :P

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:58 pm UTC

I think it's related to how far up north I live. In the summer, it's more or less bright as day as night long; and in December, there's like five hours when the sun -barely- creeps over the horizon, and then it's dark as night the rest of the day. Both serving to disassociate visual cues with the internal clock.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rippy » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

I'm 6 days in and I must say, it's feeling pretty decent. Around days 3 and 4 I was a bit more tired than I'd like to be, but now I feel pretty much back to how I was before.

I did sleep through my watch alarm last nap though, and slept 3 1/2 hours instead of 1 1/2. I took a 3 hour core sleep later in the night, figuring I'd allow myself the same total amount of sleep (not so much because I refuse to sleep more, but more so to make sure I can fall asleep for my nap tonight). I'm gonna start using my phone as an alarm I think, because I can make it really loud and set it down somewhere where I will not muffle it like I do the watch.

It feels odd, because the "nap" is deep enough that it feels like you've slept way longer, so I still get that momentary confusion as I wake up and realize "oh right, I have 4 more hours to do crap". I like it, though, it fits great with my routine. Wake up at 6:30, go to work til 16:30 or 17:00, relax for a bit then go for a run and/or work out til 18:30-ish, eat, read a book til 19:45, then nap. And I wake up at prime video game hour if I want to play TF2 with friends, otherwise the 4 1/2 hours are just a block of free time.

Taking fall-asleep time into account, I'm only gaining maybe 1 or 1 1/2 hours per night, but it feels significant. Admittedly it could be a novelty that wears off, but right now I'm enjoying it.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby hintss » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:30 pm UTC

I'm planning to try uberman as soon as I get back to california. I was actually planning this for like 2 months. Heres my plan: if you practice variability of a schedule enough, you can have one nap on the way to school (assuming you get a ride), one during the second half of lunch, and I had 2 planned in the afternoon: they fit perfectly around the 2 possible times I might have taekwondo class*. lastly, 2 during night.

anyway, added benefit, no jetlag!

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby hintss » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:07 am UTC

can someone give me a *nix project to work on while I am transitioning? I don't have a TV tuner card, so I can't set up MythTV :D. I read that you need something to work on to keep from falling off to sleep.

oh, and I'll try to start Sunday, or just maybe, monday.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Concept13 » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:38 pm UTC

I'm contemplating a polyphasis sleep cycle. Planned to have a 20 min nap every 4 hours, with a couple of hours of solid sleep thrown in at some point (will probably have to start it first, and see where in the day it would be best placed).

I absolutely love the night time and am also hoping it will it will lead to some progress in another interest of mine - lucid dreaming. Having both read, and noticed experientially that a sleep cycle spaced out with lots of waking time can lead to greater levels of lucidity, it might be right down my street.
Now, my main concerns are that, one, it's too inconvenient on a social level and two, that whilst I'm generally good at napping (siestas have pretty much become the norm), 20 mins is categorically a different thing and pretty damn short.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby hintss » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:21 pm UTC

you mean uberman+core?

anyway, its monday!

oh, and can someone give me an explanation of why I woke up at 4AM, when I fell asleep at midnight, and hadn't slept for 28 hours before that?

as in:
28 hours awake
4 hours sleep
awake naturally?

proabably jetlag.
anyway, starting attempt...

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rippy » Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

I'm just about a month into biphasic now and, well, I don't feel super impressed, but at the same time I don't want to give it up.

I really like extra hour or so gained per night. And the scheduling inconvenience is mostly outbalanced by flexible naptimes (I can handle anything from about 4PM to 9PM, and have occasionally just had to sleep a regular night). Walking the dog at midnight is great, no one is around and it's fun to practice my night vision in the forest.

I'm not super thrilled though, because I don't feel super well-slept like a lot of people claim to be on this schedule. I've been assessing my daytime/evening tirednesses, and on my scale (0 = unconscious, 2 = struggle to stay awake, 4 = noticeable tiredness, 6 = periods of drowsiness, 8 = normal alertness, 10 = heightened alertness) I've been averaging about a 6.5/7. I didn't have the foresight to assess my tiredness on a normal sleep schedule beforehand, since I know I wasn't an 8 on my regular schedule, but by gut feeling I'd say normally I'd averaged a 7 or so.

But on the other hand, you get what you pay for, and on my "normal" schedule I'd sleep about 7.5 hrs on weekdays and get 8 or 9 hrs to catch up on weekends. I've taken to doing something similar biphasically, doing a 1.5/6 split (7.5 hrs total) on a weekend. This catches me up nicely, but it's sort of a catch-22 because the following day I'm not tired by naptime and have a lower-quality nap.

I like the schedule, and I'm only slightly more tired so I'm gonna at least keep it up until I'm back in school and can't experiment with my alertness. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.


By the way, I highly recommend keeping track of your nap times, tiredness, and comments on a daily basis. Here's the spreadsheet I use if anyone wants a template:
sleepLogTemplate.xls
For those paranoid of attachments: Contains columns for Date, Daytime tiredness, Nap start, Nap end, Evening tiredness, Core sleep start, Core sleep end, Average tiredness, Total sleep (floored to nearest 1:30 increment), Time between nap/core sleeps, Comments
(14 KiB) Downloaded 70 times


Edit: So I think I'm done. Not out of tiredness (I was pretty much just as alert as before), not out of inconvenience (it was actually pretty flexible and convenient), but mostly because *always* relying on an alarm doesn't really sit right with me. I mis-set my alarm again on my nap, and woke up at 4:30 A.M. (7 1/2 hours of sleep). If my body hasn't adapted after a month, then I'd rather not keep going. So it's back to normal sleeping for me, but I have learned the power of the 1 1/2 nap (should be useful come exam time...)

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rasmus » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:24 pm UTC

Well, I *am* actually on a polyphasic schedule since, I think, late March or so, I average around 2 1/2 hours of sleep a day. I take 20 minute naps whenever I feel the need to do so, which costs me just a little bit more waking time than Uberman does, but is much, much more flexible. I have no problem going without a nap for an extended period of time like 8 hours if I have to, as long as I can recover by taking 2-3 naps afterwards.. I feel fine, alert, actually more alert than when I was still hibernating every night, no health complains, just some boredom now and then- it's harder than it sounds to fill 21 1/2 hours every single day.

So, if you have any questions, I'd be open to answering them.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Woopate » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:13 am UTC

What's the hardest part? Aside from boredom if that is the most difficult part (If I were to assume a polyphasic schedule, I already have a lot of things on the plate that would see my attention). Also, have you slipped up in the schedule? What are the consequences of missing a nap or oversleeping? What is your overall exhaustion level? How does it influence excercise?

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rasmus » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:39 pm UTC

Woopate wrote:What's the hardest part? Aside from boredom if that is the most difficult part (If I were to assume a polyphasic schedule, I already have a lot of things on the plate that would see my attention). Also, have you slipped up in the schedule? What are the consequences of missing a nap or oversleeping? What is your overall exhaustion level? How does it influence excercise?

The hardest part is the adaption, because the first couple of weeks (how many depends on how much you slip up and oversleep in that time period) you feel like shit, but that gradually goes away starting after about 1-2 weeks. I haven't slipped up in the schedule, except for a short stunt 2 months or so ago where I went absolutely insane and tried to adapt to 4 minute naps only, which didn't work well- I guess 4-minute naps fail to provide some component of sleep that our brain needs, because while I wasn't too tired, I was just burnt out after 12 days on these. But I went flawlessly back to my schedule, so I can say that in the last 6 months I've maybe 2 or 3 times slept more than 20 minutes at a time, and never more than 3 1/2 hours a day.

On Uberman, which is the usual schedule, with a 20 minute nap every 4 hours, missing a nap or oversleeping sets you back quite severely, no matter if you're adapted or not, the former makes you feel shitty for 8-10 hours, the latter for potentially a few days.
On my schedule, where you just take a 20 minute nap whenever you want (with at least 30-40 minutes 'cooldown time' in between naps) you can't really miss a nap because you don't have a schedule, but going for long periods of time (>8 hours) without a nap will force you to nap 2-3 times during the next two hours or so, then you'll feel good again. Basically you trade off a bit waking time for a lot of flexibility.

Oversleeping would most likely still be a problem, but it usually doesn't happen because you can go nap when you want, so you're never that tired when you go to sleep, and oversleeps happen mostly when you're sleep deprived- then you sleep through the alarm, are too tired to set the alarm correctly (AM vs. PM or whatever)... if you're not as sleep deprived, you don't oversleep, usually.

My exhaustion level is zero. Once polyphasers are through adaption+ a bit of time to recover from adaption, they aren't sleep deprived, so they aren't exhausted either. I'd even say that I feel better than I do on monophasic, alert, awake, and no afternoon slumps.

I don't do that much exercize except from jogging etc., but a couple of people who are on the same schedule as I do weightlifting and report no negative influence on that. Except for the fact that you shouldn't overwork during the first 2-3 weeks of adaption, then some more light exercize is due.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Josephine » Sun Sep 19, 2010 11:50 pm UTC

So, is the 8 hour solid wake time possible to do regularly? Because if I could work it around school, I'd love to do this.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Woopate » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:38 am UTC

Seems like he's saying that so long as you have 30-40 minutes between each nap minimum, you are good to go. Unfortunately I work 12 hour shifts so all of this goes into my memory banks for future usage.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby crickets » Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:56 am UTC

I don't know if you've ever researched the whole circadian rythym thing, but it could be pertinent to your interests.

They stuck a researcher underground once with no time of day cues and she was eventually awake for something like two days at a time, and would sleep for 18+ hours. Light cues and clocks have a lot to do with sleep patterns.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rasmus » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:25 am UTC

nbonaparte: Yeah, after adaption it would be possible to get that worked out, if you adapt in some holidays. After that, just nap before school, maybe twice with the minimum break in between, and the same afterwards.

Woopate: Yeah, 12 hours shifts are a bit too much for every polyphasic schedule. Don't you have some lunch break where you could fit a 20-minute nap in?

crickets: I've read about that. It's interesting in so far that it suggests that the circadian rhythm can be bent very much. In our time with basically 24-hours of electric light and clocks being available whenever you need them, I think that the 24-hour day may just be a relict of earlier times, but our social conventions make it kinda hard to get out of it.

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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Josephine » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:07 am UTC

Can you clarify what you mean by 'in between' and 'afterwards'? what times would those be, approximately?

Rasmus wrote:crickets: I've read about that. It's interesting in so far that it suggests that the circadian rhythm can be bent very much. In our time with basically 24-hours of electric light and clocks being available whenever you need them, I think that the 24-hour day may just be a relict of earlier times, but our social conventions make it kinda hard to get out of it.

You could probably look at information on sleep cycles aboard the ISS to see what happens when it's not possible to sleep within the natural cycle.
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Re: Biphasic / Polyphasic sleep

Postby Rasmus » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:35 am UTC

Approximately 30 minutes in between naps. That's needed because if you don't get that 'cool-down' time you'll just fall back into the same sleep cycle that you just woke up from, and you want to enter a new 20-minute cycle instead of getting into a 90-minute one. With afterwards I mean nap as soon as you get the chance after that 8-hour period, say, when you get home from school.


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