I have a particular affinity toward moleskins, Nietzsche, and fountain pens. I also enjoy cappuccinos, The Economist, dancing, B&W photography, Kafka, electronic music, philosophy, kickbox, Paulo Coelho, black (color), and politics. And of course, blogging. That's where BohemianTranscendence comes in: this blog is not only the recount of personal experiences, emotions, and thoughts, but also an exploration of the passion hidden behind our desire for life.

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Polyphasic updates: from June up to now

Posted by on August 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm under catogories [Polyphasic sleep] and tags. 2 Comments.

Days like today have a strange effect on my mind. On the one hand, I’m crossing out one item after another on my to-do list as if I had a clone. On the other hand, I still have about half a dozen of tasks (including writing this post) to get done by the end of the day. Mid-July, I would have been mostly preoccupied with that second bit. But, today, I’m really just focusing on the positive aspect – the fact that I’m running full speed, and I’m feeling elevated.

The reason? Polyphasic sleep.

At least,… kinda.
Lemme explain.

It’s been a (very long) while since my last polyphasic sleep update. There are undoubtedly many, many things to talk about, however, I’ll stick to the essential of what has been going on in the period between June and now.

To begin, June was rather hectic: with two trips, one of which abroad and filled up nonstop meetings throughout the day, I was on and off polyphasic sleep, mostly following a biphasic schedule whenever I could. The rest of the time, in San Francisco, I kept my usual polyphasic sleep: 2x20min naps + 4.5 hours core sleep.

Then, on June 28th, there were some major changes to my schedule as you must have noticed from my other posts: I started my intensive language classes which, of course, coincided with my naps. For four weeks, I was off the polyphasic track and onto the monophasic one with a core of six hours: from about 10 p.m. / 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. / 4:30 a.m..

You’ll probably notice that this particular change cost me only fifty extra minutes – a price that might seem reasonable in order to avoid the disadvantages of a polyphasic schedule. Don’t be misled. In reality, this switch cost me much more. Eliminating my naps significantly decreased my energy and productivity: in class, I was focused, but, as soon as I got out of class, my will and ability to do anything else plummeted within two more hours. Around six-seven at night, any work I attempted took more time and efforts.

I hadn’t experienced such uneven energy distribution throughout the day since before I adopted the polyphasic lifestyle. To continue on monophasic sleep would mean to either increase my core by another hour or two, or to accept that I couldn’t be as efficient as I’d like during my waking hours.

Note: I don’t want my words to leave you with the wrong impression either. Being on monophasic sleep didn’t render me into a complete zombie. It is simply that, once you get to enjoy the bliss that it is to have constant, controlled energy with no slumps, it is difficult and irritating to “downgrade”.
Note 2:
In case you were wondering… I don’t think that my months on polyphasic sleep have had any negative influence on my ability to follow a monophasic one.

Fortunately, after those four weeks, my program became once more flexible and, very naturally and on its own, my body requested its naps again. The Sunday after my language classes ended, I started taking a daily 20-30 min afternoon nap as soon as I felt a decline in concentration. And just that naturally, I would wake up on my own, before my alarm clock had a chance to ring.

It is true that for the past fortnight I’ve technically been on a biphasic schedule rather than a polyphasic one, but, this small modification has already had a great impact on how I feel. Right now for instance, I should really be half-asleep, sighing over a cup of coffee or yerba mate. Instead, my mind is as fresh as it was this morning. Elevated, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It is really amazing to feel this way when the afternoon is actually about to end, and you’ve been up and productive for over thirteen hours.

When and will I return back to my old polyphasic schedule? I haven’t decided yet. Partially because of more obligations and trips coming up. And partially because I want to check whether a single nap will turn out to be enough. My current plan is: 11 p.m. – 4:30 a.m. core + 20 min nap in early afternoon (anytime between noon and two).

Whatever happens: you can be sure I’ll keep you regularly updated.

  • http://www.sebzar.com Seb Zar

    Thanks again for sharing your experience. I've recently played a lot with different rhythms, trying to find what suits my lifestyle best. Whichis quite an adventure considering my extremely irregular schedule. From your experience, do you think that setting core and nap(s) at the same exact time each day is key to success? So far I am approaching this in an organic way, closing eyes for nap or core whenever my energy decreass. My core sleep is always at night but I can start it at 11pm one day and 4 or 5am on other days. So very variable therefore I keep track of my total amount of sleep. In short: do you think I would improve my energy by Introducing a very regular core sleep (exact sleeping/waking up times each day)? Nap would remain irregular with a rule: taking a np as soon as my energy decreases.
    Being an artist makes it necessary to be able to adapt: when inspiration occurs, I have to create no matter the time of the day :)
    Cheers from France!

    • http://www.bohemiantranscendence.com/ Claudie

      Hey Seb :) My first instinct is to say that a regular core (and even nap) schedule is crucial, especially in the beginning, but obviously, I understand that if there are people who truly do not fit the 9-5 schedule and who need as much flexibility as possible, that is people who must follow their inspiration like you :)
      I know that for myself, having the core at the same time (+/- 30min) was quite essential. But then, I also made sure to have the naps scheduled too — although, as I became "more experienced" with polyphasic sleep, I could move my naps around by 2-3 hours without that causing a disturbance. Therefore, I would advise to try and create some kind of (semi-) regular schedule to follow — if your energy levels are not as high as you want them to, I think it will definitely help because the body adapts and learns when to rest and recover and when to be fully awake.
      If you don't manage to do that though, I think that taking a nap as soon as you need it — as you currently do — is the next best thing. Just make sure to carefully select which naps are actually good and which are not: some don't help at all. (For me, a bad time is around 7-8 p.m. — taking a nap around then guarantees that I'll wake up exhausted and sleepy.)
      Cheers!

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