An attack on polyphasic sleep

So, yesterday afternoon, in the midst of resisting the urge to pull my brain out through my nose to get out of the next month of abominable homework, I found this article, by a Ph.D. no less, which is essentially Every Bad Thing You Could Ever Say About Polyphasic Sleep.

It’s huge, and not badly written in terms of organizationally and whatnot, and most of the facts about REM times and sleep cycles are in line with other things I’ve read, and it sounds like this fellow generally knows his stuff … which is why it’s funny that, with the help of just a few (really) bad facts and a deliberate ignorance of most of the positive evidence, he manages to conclude that I and the many others like me either don’t exist or are lying to cover up the fact that we’re exhaused all the time (because, apparently, we’re addicted to our cultish followings. Heh. I should show him my traffic logs. ;)

Some of the bad facts are pretty funny, some are not. Here’s a short sample:

* There are no women doing polyphasic sleep. Which makes myself, my friend who first did Uberman with me, and my hero Heidi who’s gone more than a year-and-a-half on Uberman by now the most attractive, clean guys in HISTORY! Mind you, he doesn’t just state this silliness, but uses it as EVIDENCE for the fact that polyphasic sleep can’t work (because women’s “hormones” don’t allow it somehow). Yeah, ROFLcopter.
* Because most people don’t adapt, adapting is impossible. Yeah, I hear that a lot. And it’s true — adapting is impossible if you don’t stick to the schedule like glue for at least a few weeks. I think that’s true of adapting to just about anything that’s a major shift from how you’ve done it most of your life, eh? And sure, it can be hard. Ninety percent or more of the people who try, oversleep, and then when it doesn’t get easier, they give up. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of people out there who DID adapt and who are no longer sleep-deprived. Some of them even tried, failed, kept trying and then succeeded.  “Impossible” would seem to contradict this, yes?  And I’m not sure if it’s because we’re different people or writing at different times or what have you, but while Dr. Wozniak seems to be completely unable to find blogs of successful polyphasers (see below), I have no trouble finding several.
* Because polyphasers tend to need an alarm, it’s not a viable schedule. Interesting idea; I wonder what it says about the millions of monophasic people who need alarms? In any case, I forgot to set my alarm tonight and woke up after exactly three hours, wham. Anybody trying to adjust to a new sleep schedule would need an alarm for some months to stay on track; that by itself doesn’t mean you’re constantly sleep-deprived. In fact, the only times in my life that I didn’t need an alarm, I was polyphasic!
* I quit Uberman the first time “because it was incompatible with my schedule and goals”. Um, hello? My Everything2 writeup wasn’t Nobel material, but it wasn’t THAT unclear and I do resent having it so flagrantly misquoted, I have to admit. It says quite clearly that I quit because I was forced to take a 9-5 job that wouldn’t let me keep it. ….But even if I DID give up the schedule because I chose a lifestyle that was better suited to monophase or something else, what does that prove? That Uberman is picky about lifestyles; we knew that. Picky != impossible, and that fact about Uberman doesn’t say anything about other polyphasic schedules.
* The “only known healthy” sleep schedules are 6-8 hours monophasic or 5-7 hours biphasic with a 15-90 minute siesta. In the next sentence, he says that “those numbers differ substantially across the population and there is no single recommended dose of sleep for everyone”. He then goes on in the next paragraph to explain how those nap-times can be shifted and changed by making deliberate adjustments. So in other words, he knows what’s best (without having tried any of the alternatives, of course), but he doesn’t know exactly what it is. Part of me is resisting SO many “typical professor” jokes right now… ;)
* Everyman is “inherently unstable and can be maintained only with a never-ending degree of sleep deprivation”. Well gee, you’d think after all this time that I’d know what sleep dep felt like, wouldn’t you? Apparently I don’t, however. Apparently the fact that my performance is unimpacted by three (now almost four) months of Everyman is simply because I have the world’s most invisible sleep-dep. Maybe he includes “none” in his definition of “some degree”. …To be fair, though, I suspected this myself about non-equiphasic schedules, not because they were polyphasic but simply because they were non-equiphasic; I wasn’t sure the body could get used to long-short-short-short. I think I’ve taken a much more direct route towards testing that hypothesis than he has, and my answer is quite the opposite: It seems to work great!
* Everybody who needs an alarm to wake up is “seriously sleep deprived”. No really, he says that outright. I feel bad for my parents — apparently they’ve never been well-rested in their entire lives. Of course, while I’m sure it’s a better sign if you don’t need an alarm at all (like I didn’t when I had Uberman down pat?), this guy is completely ignoring the known fact that people will sleep extra if they can, just like they’ll have a second helping of pie if you let them. The existence of a second piece of pie on your plate is hardly an indicator that you’re starving!
* While polyphasic schedules are all impossible to maintain without constant sleep-dep, biphasic schedules are actually preferable to monophasic ones. I’m not in disagreement about biphasic schedules being good and workable for many people, but how we go from “biphasic works” to “polyphasic doesn’t” is a little fuzzy. Okay, a lot fuzzy. He makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims about how no amount of short naps will “do the work of night-time sleep”, and then skips back to saying that a daytime nap on a biphasic schedule can do exactly that. The science is there in this paper, but it’s applied in a way Jackson Pollock would be proud of.

The “Conclusions” are the best part, mostly because the paper goes through all the trouble of invoking so much science and then pulls these obviously-biased statements completely out of the air. My favorites are #2, “Whoever claims to be on a perpetual polyphasic schedule must either be suffering from a sleep disorder, or be a liar, a mutant, or a person with a mulishly stubborn iron-will that lets him plod through the daily torture of sleep deprivation,” and #3, “All the hype surrounding polyphasic sleep can be delegated to the same lunatic basket as miracle diets, scientology (?!), homeopathy (??), water magnetizers, creation science, electrolytic detoxifiers, or Sylvia Browne.” How very intellectual of you to conclude those things, sir. Surely I should be able to immediately sense the deductive validity of your arguments!

Mind you, Conclusion #1 is simply that polyphasic sleep can’t work without constant sleep-dep, which he did everything but prove, and conclusions #4 and #5 aren’t even conclusions, but an invite to contact him if you disagree (I haven’t decided yet; I think I want to do more of my own research first) and an advocation for free-running sleep (which is the only schedule I’ve ever run across that would be more impossible than polyphasic to incorporate into any known modern lifestyle). As to Scientology (which is an insane for-profit fake religion) and homeopathy (which gets some results due, at least, to the placebo effect — is that what he thinks polyphasic sleep does?), I dunno, man. This guy seems smart, but he’s obviously on the weird side.

Such a strange article. It’s rare to see someone take (mostly) good facts and wring such a backwards conclusion out of them. And of course, all of the testimonal evidence from hundreds of successful polyphasers means absolutely nothing, though he quotes heavily from the blogs of failed attempts at polyphasic sleeping. In his view, it “can’t work”, so it doesn’t, period, and anybody who happens to be sleeping 5 or less hours a day and feeling great because of it is just delusional. Heh, remember when you were a kid and you used to roll your eyes at adults who said things like that? “This can’t happen, so it isn’t happening!!”. Still funny after all these years. ;)

…And I don’t want to analyze the whole article here, but needless to say it’s a fascinating read for anybody interested in “the other view” of polyphasic sleep. This is quite a find; I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to read it over again (after some Dramamine). Perhaps there’s also a lesson here, about how “the numbers” aren’t worth much on their own, or paired with bad assumptions. My dad used to tell me, “If you go into a scientific endeavor knowing what you want to prove, you’ll almost certainly be able to prove it”. Of course, proving that anything is “impossible” is pretty much always a bad bet in my book — it pits you against probability, and what are the chances that you could win? (Get it? Hee.)

-PD

About puredoxyk

Word addict, kungfu/taiji nut, and life-partner to polyphasic sleep. Rabid fan of as many hobbies as the world will let me pry into its piddly fourth dimension (it helps to have knocked out the fourth wall).
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30 Responses to An attack on polyphasic sleep

  1. Manuel says:

    Ehm, if you sleep not so much, usually you put on weigth more easily. Right now is what is happening to me. Am I doing bad, cause you said you should lose weight, or is just normal?

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hi Manuel,

      It’s normal for some people to lose weight and some people to gain it — it has a lot more to do with what you’re doing with your awake-time (are you eating more? or running around more?) than how much you sleep, in my experience. I’ve had situations where I’ve both gained and lost weight by converting to polyphasic sleep. If you want to not gain weight, my best advice is to make sure you schedule your awake-time to be as full of (non-eating) activities as possible — or alternatively, use some of that time to make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, and ban yourself from junk-food during the hours you’d normally be asleep. Best of luck!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am so glad that someone pointed all that out, from the time I spotted this paper it was so irritating. You should send him an email with the lick to this URL. I would love that.
    I'm a university student currently adapting to the Everyman schedule, taking a 3 hour core and three 20min naps throughout the day. I don't have a lot to say about my successes at this time though.

  3. future dymaxion says:

    I’ve been really researching polyphasic through online blogs and other first hand accounts for almost a month now. I have not yet tried it but plan to when I move in a few months (as right now my living situation allows me no opportunity to busy myself, a necessity for the transition from what I read). I will definitely keep everyone updated once I start.
    In all my research I’ve been a bit miffed by the naysayers. None of the naysayers have ‘tried’ it longer than a month, which is barely within adaptation, and most didn’t stick to schedules during their trials- and admitted so- so in response I feel “what do they know?!”. Until it is studied, blind and with a control base, we will NEVER know, so they should stop with the adamant naysaying! I am more than willing to hook myself up to an eeg machine if any sleep scientist would cooperate, both now in my current monophasic lifestyle and during my transition and afterward after I adapt. I have pitched this to a few local universities and sleep centers- I have had NO takes on this offer.
    My biggest peeve by naysayers is a small article mentioning that one cannot process deep thought or learn well on polyphasic. This is what I aim to prove wrong. My reason for transitioning is to have MORE time for learning, and I will show that both logical standard activities such as mathematics as well as theory and profound sciences such as high level physics, can and will be understood and processed AND remembered on a polyphasic schedule. I even plan to study a few other languages and further develope within the ones I know, a feat one article said was impossible. From my experience with sleep dep alone I highly doubt my creativity will be LESS than now, as some have alleged. Polyphasic IS my chance to have time to learn things I *want* to learn, not just things I am required to for school or work. I will definitely post on here once I do transition, and especially if any sleep scientists contact me back for the chance to study a mono-to-poly transition and all the in-between.

    • puredoxyk says:

      I TOTALLY feel your pain, Future — I tried contacting sleep scientists and volunteering to have my adaptation(s) studied too, and no takers here either. And it does drive me NUTS when people say it can’t be done based on having DONE IT WRONG and having it not work! I mean, if I try to fly a plane the wrong way and it doesn’t get off the ground, do I then get to say flying is impossible?? Other people have done it! Other people have even done it IN REAL SCIENTIFIC STUDIES — not enough to have “proof” of the details, but Stampi proved that it can work and that it doesn’t cause brain damage or anything. Between him and myself and Bucky Fuller and Steve Pavlina, I think anybody who wants to say it just doesn’t or can’t work is fulla you-know what. ;)

  4. Aximilation says:

    I’m not too fond of places people are around, I find that I [subconsciously] am aware people are around and never are quite as asleep as I would like, but then again I’m the sort of person who doesn’t like to sit with his back to the door in a restaurant, not paranoid, just conscious of my surroundings. I do like the car, I’m 5’4″ and short able to lay down in the back seat of my car (01 civic) with my knees bent and a small pillow, it works out fairly well. Other than that, I like nooks and crannies. At one place I used to work I found an out of sight place under the stairs that went down to the basement and had a little bed (2 old blankets) set up and regularly used it during lunch and after work. While effective, I probably wouldn’t reccomend making a “homeless man’s” bed somewhere you don’t have permission…

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hehe, I’m with you; except in situations where I know the people and they’re literally right by me (i.e. I can sleep in the same room as friends who are playing video games or something), I never sleep soundly enough if I feel like I’m not alone, or might be interrupted. My brain is very good at ignoring almost all noises — I sleep like the dead, most times — but anything that sounds like people are coming, doors opening, or a phone ringing will have me on my feet and totally awake before I know what happened. Very annoying.

      How long have you been going now? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Congrats in advance!

  5. Aaron says:

    I am on day eight of trying to convert to the uberman schedule and I had been having a few slip ups when I read this guys article. It almost disheartened me enough to quit altogether on the spot. Thankfully I decided to look around for more information and found this page with people who have succeeded in my intended goal. I have decided to forge ahead and see for myself what the later effects of this sleep schedule are. So far I have had the luxury of taking all my naps at home, but soon I am going to have to start taking naps in between my classes at my college. Are there any tips someone might have about napping in public? My only idea right no is to go into my schools massive library and try to find a quiet spot. Any help would be appreciated.

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hi, Aaron — I had a lot of luck with libraries myself; especially if the people working there understand that you won’t be there long, that you’ll be quiet and not mess things up, they’re often okay with it too. Other than that, I like parks (it’s surprisingly easy to nap under a tree on a warm day) or my car. If you find any other good places, you should let us know! Good luck!

  6. jerry says:

    Reading the good doctor’s polemic made me angry enough to write him a scathing e-mail. I posited to him an ethical question: if someone can be intellectually dishonest while writing about polyphasic sleep, is he also being dishonest about the merits of his product? There’s a credibility issue at stake.

    Oddly enough, even though at least one of his assertions has been hilariously been blown out of the water (i.e. no polyphasic sleepers are women), he continues to post his article online, exposing himself to ridicule.

    I guess it “takes all kinds”…

  7. Manuel says:

    Hi,
    can someone tell me about loss of creativity with the Uberman?

    Is it true what Dr Piotr Wozniak write: “All the above findings inevitably lead to a conclusion that it is not possible to maintain a polyphasic sleep schedule and retain high alertness and/or creativity! As it will be shown later, practice is no less lenient in judging the impracticability of polyphasic sleep for creative individuals. ”

    I want to know from whom really use this sleep schedule!

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hi Manuel,

      I’ve never experienced anything like a loss of creativity while on a polyphasic schedule, and no-one’s ever complained to me of one. During the first few weeks, while you’re adapting to the schedule, you’re sleep-deprived and don’t really *feel* like doing anything creative, but once that passes and you adjust to the new rhythm, things go back to normal — or even better, since you have more time to be creative in!

      I wrote a sort of answer to Dr. Wozniak’s piece — head to the Polyphasic Information Portal page if you want to read it.

      Peace!
      PD

  8. Nigel says:

    Hello,

    I’m interested in acclimating myself to Uberman, and I think it’s fantastic that you have kept with a polyphasic schedule (continuously?) for this many years.

    I feel like I’ve been making great strides in my ability to nap frequently and delay fatigue…it has taken me a very long time (on/off for several years) to find out what works for me, generally.

    I believe I read that while you were on Uberman, you didn’t need an alarm clock after a week or so. I assume that while you were adapting you still set one, just in case. If so, did you always wake up before the alarm?

    Thanks!

  9. Name says:

    What do you do to fall asleep/wake up? I am on my fourth day trying to get into polyphasic sleeping, but whenever I manage to fall asleep I stay asleep for 6-8 hours.

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hi Name,
      No brush-off intended, but that’s a LOT of information for me to try to give you, that’s already on the site and elsewhere. I’d suggest reading the posts referenced on the Polyphasic Portal Page (there’s a link to it right on my front page, at puredoxyk.com), and if you really want to go nuts reading about what people do to fall asleep/wake up during the difficult adaptation phase, consider joining the Google “Polyphasic” group — they talk about it all the time!

      Best of luck!

  10. Aximilation says:

    I also ran across this article recently attacking polyphasic sleep:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/why-you-cant-hack-sleep_b_52047.html
    …and wrote the following rebuttal against it:
    http://blog.aximilation.com/blog.php?title=polyphasic-sleep-bash&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Today I saw the article you were writing about on twitter as “facts and myths about…” and linked to your post here, funny how stuff like that pops up now and again, hopefully people out there will read your follow up. :-D

  11. Claudiu says:

    Ah allright. TBH I didn’t know what the ratio was at all. If he was trying to discredit women, that’s pretty moronic. If he was trying to discredit polyphasic sleep, that’s fine, as it is a strange phenomenon and really should be studied more. I don’t think he was doing the former at all. I think that the blogs he read were mostly from males, and he made an assumption that turned out to be incorrect. Perhaps males are just more likely to publish something themselves?

    I agree, the conclusions at the end were completely off from the rest of the article. It was strange indeed.

    About him not mentioning that people oversleep if they can – I think he does mention it, but he just says that people with healthy schedules will never oversleep on purpose. Their bodies will just wake themselves up and they’ll feel no need to stay in bed. I think in general he has a different definition of “sleep deprivation” than us, based on his piece about alarm clocks.

    So anyway, I’m on day 7 of my transition to Uberman, and I’m trying to make sense of which side is right. It’s come down to him saying: Scientifically, all this is impossible and these people are sleep deprived, and you (along with 2-3 others that I’ve read) saying: No we’re not, and this is great!

    One thing all sides seem to agree on is this: If you have only 2 hours to sleep a day, then polyphasic sleep is the best way to spread them out to maximize your alertness. I think this is what Claudio Stampi said too. Now, Dr. Wozniak claims that this is worse than having mono/biphasic sleep, and is just sleep deprivation, while you + the others claim it is better.

    I think the only way to settle this for myself is to try it. From the way my first week went, I can see how it’s just sleep deprivation. I stay up 22 hours, but I’m tired for certain parts of them, and not fully functional during the others. Now according to the pro-polyphasics, this should change soon. I managed to follow my first week perfectly, except for an unplanned 40min nap yesterday, so I’ll do the same for two more weeks and see what my mileage is. Today I woke up for the first time before my alarm, so I have high hopes =).

    Oh and – what effect do you think that extra nap has had on my adaptation? I didn’t miss any naps after it…

  12. Claudiu says:

    I think you misunderstood his point about women and hormones. He didn’t say that because of “women hormones”, women can’t adapt to polyphasic sleep. I think he said that testosterone and other male hormones just lead to the type of personality which would want to attempt polyphasic sleeping. So if there are, say, 300 polyphasic sleeping blogs, 95% will be men, because they’re the ones that’ll try it. Obviously there are exceptions such as you and your friend =).

    • puredoxyk says:

      Claudiu — Eh, if that’s the case then it takes his statement from “outrageous and stupid” to simply “unsupported and pointless”. Not only is there no real evidence that testosterone has anything to do with wanting to experiment with sleep, but even without counting I can assure you that polyphasers aren’t 95% male, or anything close to it. Based on the ones who contact me, they’re about what you’d expect in a sampling of the general population.

      But even if that’s not the case, by making this point he’s trying to discredit either polyphasic sleep or women, and the fact that it fails either way doesn’t make it any less icky and moronic that he tried, does it?

  13. Zak says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply!

  14. puredoxyk says:

    Thanks for an excellent comment, Zak!

    It might be better for my reputation as a modest, down-to-earth not-pain-in-the-ass to keep my academic history quiet, but what the hell, you asked. ;) The school I went to when I was doing Uberman has been called (to me, by unrelated professors) “the hardest and best philosophy college in the country”. Our workload was a mandatory 21.5 credit-hours every semester, and our dropout rate was over 80% in the first semester. I lasted two years before I couldn’t stand the town anymore (Santa Fe is great in many ways, but not if you’re into technology and night-time activities) and missed my home and quit.

    Now I go half-time to an all-honors online philosophy program (well, only for a few more semesters, and then I’m done — I can’t wait to see how this works in law school!). I’m pulling a three-point-nine-something and have been since I started. I’ve also spoken, at the program director’s request, at a conference (which actually took place about a month after I started Everyman), and am having a paper published. On the side, I’m on a theology kick right now, and reading up on characterization in preparation for picking my novel back up again after I move and have my own office. I’ve got the usual handful of poetry books, old scifi, and various nonfiction laying around; none of that has changed since I’ve been polyphasic, except that I cycle through books a little faster. (Just a little, though; mostly I read more books at once than I used to, and I do more reading-a-little-bit-here-and-there and less marathon reading. This may be related to the fact that my current apartment lacks a comfortable place to read, however.)

    I’ve been a nerd all my life, and I love to read and study, so my brain working well is VERY important to me! If I was noticing any decline in my abilities that way, you have my solemn word that I’d be commenting on it. Now, I won’t say that my performance didn’t decrease during adaptation (oh yeah) or that there aren’t times of the day when I study best (I think that’s true of everyone), but overall, I can say without hesitation that this last year, and the half-year I was on Uberman, I’ve been performing right up there near my top level most of the time. When I miss naps or otherwise hork my schedule, I find myself having to take extra measures to stay alert during long periods of study, but it’s no worse than your normal “late-nighter” feeling and I don’t see the quality of my work suffering, unless you count the fact that I enjoy it a bit less when I’m tired.

    In case it helps you to know this too, I do my studying in the early evening, after my 8:30 – 9:00 nap. I wake up from that nap a little groggy usually (I’ve often been awake 6+ hours beforehand, and the afternoons can be physically grueling), so I try to do some quick exercise, pour a cup of half-caff, and maybe step outside if fresh air will help; but within ten minutes I’m studying, and usually do so until 11-12 at night. Then I take some downtime to read or watch TV before my core nap. If necessary, I can also study in the morning before work — the 4-6 a.m. slot — but I much prefer to use that to do a little housework, artwork or play video games. Getting some non-computer activity in the morning makes going to work feel a little less onerous. ;)

    Thanks and please let me know if I missed anything!
    PD

  15. Zak says:

    I’ve recently been getting more and more enthusiastic about trying polyphasic sleep after reading a lot of postings on it by you and Steve Pavlina. (I’ll probably try Everyman in about a week.) I’ve also been a fan of Dr. Wozniak’s research into efficient memorisation for a while – in fact, I’m in the process of writing a software tool that employs one of his algorithms – so I’ve read quite a few of his numerous background articles on sleep, memory, creativity and learning.

    A passionate disagreement between interesting people deserves some attention, so I skimmed his tirade and read your rebuttal. (For what it’s worth, I largely agree with you.) I might have missed something, but it seems that neither of you mentioned what could possibly be his biggest bone of contention: learning. In your original Everything2 posting you said:

    “Everbody wondered how I had so much time to screw around in college–they didn’t know that I did all my studying at Denny’s between my 4a.m. and 8a.m. naps.” [*]

    He says:

    “Due to my interest in the role of sleep in memory and learning, it did not take long for the meme to hit my Inbox.”

    Curiously, he doesn’t really seem to cover the sleep-learning relationship in his article except to suggest that learning is soporific, which isn’t quite what the disagreement is about – but in “Good Sleep, Good Learning, Good Life” (http://www.supermemo.com/articles/sleep.htm ), he says:

    “It has been known since the 1920s that sleep improves recall in learning.”

    “… the demand for sleep should be somewhat proportional to the amount of new learning received on preceding days”

    “You cannot learn effectively if your sleep gets cut short in the morning. Or if it gets interrupted during the night. Even if you try to sleep 15 hours per day in short pieces of interrupted sleep, your learning results will be dismal! (see: the cruel myth of polyphasic sleep)”

    “It is not clear if learning affects REM demand directly or via NREM demand; however, it is more than clear that heavy learners should be heavy sleepers!”

    I don’t really have a conclusion. Perhaps he found your experience that bit more difficult to believe because of the contrast with his own “Good Sleep…” article. Perhaps he overlooked it, and would be even less likely (if that’s possible) to believe your account of Uberman had he noticed.

    Lastly, you may not feel like sharing your academic achievements as freely as you do your sleeping habits, but maybe a few words would make this rebuttal more complete (and if positive, reassure some would-be polyphasic students out there). I’d certainly be interested to hear any thoughts you had on the topic, especially as I plan to use some of my extra free time for casual learning.

  16. Kaspian says:

    You’re welcome to use my comments, though at the moment, there’s nothing to link to.

  17. puredoxyk says:

    Wow, that’s fantastic. THANK YOU so much for sharing your story! It’s totally made my day(s) to know that there’s a couple out there so successfully doing this — I think that’s a big hurdle to it being really workable for many people, whether it can be done by both units of a couple simultaneously. Wow.

    Hey, if I give you credit (and the link of your choice, if you’d like one), can I quote your comments in the book? I think it would really help educate and encourage people to know about you guys.

    -Puredoxyk

  18. Kaspian says:

    My husband and I are both self-employed, so we work at home most of the time and generally have a lot of control over our schedules. We generally sleep at different times in different rooms. Occasionally we’ve decided to nap together when we’re tired at the same time, and it almost always results in both of us turning off the alarms/timers, rolling over to cuddle more, and falling back to sleep. Instead we choose to spend time together when we’re not sleepy.

    He decided to try polyphasic sleep in late April, and by mid-June I knew I wanted to switch. We both started by aiming for 30-minute naps every 4 hours. During his adjustment period, he was quite strict about not over sleeping; I was a bit more relaxed. My adjustment period was a day or two longer than his, but it was still less than 10 days. From the beginning, I’ve had 4-7 nights per week with a core sleep, meaning I get a purely Uberman 24-hour period 0-3 times per week. Most weeks are 5/2. As far as I can tell, my husband is also taking a core nap during the dark hours.

    Early on, we decided that each of us was completely responsible for waking ourselves up. We didn’t want the other person to become “the one who makes me wake up when I’m tired and only want sleep.” I think it’s important for me to know that I only have to answer to myself for my successes and failures. (Same for him.)

    I have found that whether I have a core sleep or not, I almost always feel extremely tired if I try to stay awake for 5-6 hours, and I usually crash for 4+hours afterward. (When I say “extremely tired,” I’m saying I start falling asleep while standing.) One night I was able to avoid the crash by taking a 10-minute nap as soon as I got home, a 20-minute nap ~2 hours later, and a 30-minute nap 2 hours after that. Based on my experiences, I have a really hard time imagining people on Dymaxion feeling good with naps every 6 hours. (I tried doing 20-minute naps instead of half-hour naps, and was crazy sleepy after less than a day, even in the middle of the afternoon.)

    Since there are a couple times each week when I have something scheduled during a nap, I sleep more frequently to dodge the conflict. Example: I teach a group horn lesson at a middle school at 7:45am on Fridays. Before the lesson, I sleep at 12am, 3am, and 6am. Then I teach the lesson, nap in the car at 9am, teach another lesson, nap at 12pm, and I’m back on schedule. This seems to work *WAY* better for me than trying to stay awake an extra hour or so.

    My husband is more super-human, and he is better able to stay awake for long periods, though he’ll still usually have a 2-3 hour nap after pushing the limits. (His regular schedule is 30-minute naps at 3am/pm, 7am/pm, and 11am/pm.) I have no idea why he’s able to be more flexible and I’m not. Really, it doesn’t matter that much; I do what works for me, he does what works for him, and we both enjoy late nights, early mornings, and extra hours.

  19. puredoxyk says:

    Hehe, great point about his article! “When researching, make sure you only include the sources that support your claim.” It was refreshingly illogical, after all the crap I’ve been going through with my latest philosophy paper.

    Sounds like you are *very* successful! Dymaxion with an occasional core, eh? Did you start by adjusting to Dymaxion and add a core, then?

    You and your husband are the first polyphasic couple I’ve heard of, congratulations! What kind of schedule is he on? How does that work, having both of you doing it?

    Speaking of Dymaxion, didn’t you love how Dr. Piotr dismisses all of Bucky’s research and his nearly-unheard-of amount of records because “Bucky’s friends all said that he just napped at odd times”? People who know me and you would probably say that too, duh.

    I know what you mean about rolling with the slight variations, too. Even though I haven’t deliberately reduced my three-hour core, it’s sometimes 2.5 or 4, and while I do set an alarm, I don’t fight it as long as I feel okay. (I’ll actually feel woozy and like I slept too much if I sleep for longer than 4 hours, heh.)

    Hmm, and you can stay awake 5-6 hours. Pure Ubermen tend to wilt right at 4 or 4.5 (as did I), and now I don’t start getting really tired until 6.5. Seems like the length of the core has something to do with the length of time one can go between naps, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for speaking up and telling me your schedule! It’s great to know there are so many successful polyphasers out there, curmudgeons splattering us with bad logic or no. I so can’t wait to write this book that I’ve actually considered taking one less class next semester to give me the chance!

    -PD

  20. Kaspian says:

    Clearly, I don’t count as a polyphasic-sleeping woman either!

    Quote:
    “A few blogs even scream great success. I won’t quote or link to these as I found them quite disingenuous, and transparently carrying a hidden agenda. These would dilute the truth and hype a potentially hazardous habits.” (The grammatical error is his.)

    Instead of including evidence that doesn’t support his hypothesis, he claims it’s false evidence. Yeah, that’s scientific!! I could write him a blunt and detailed email about my polyphasic sleep success (and my husband’s), but why make that effort when he’ll probably dismiss me as sleep deprived and delusional?!?! /sarcasm off

    I nap 30 minutes at 4am/pm, 8am/pm, and 12am/pm. If I’m tired at 2am, I often choose to sleep. Sometimes the extra nap is 30 minutes, occasionally it’s 5-10 minutes, and often it’s 2.5 hours. I don’t see this as failure, and as long as I don’t try to stay awake for 5-6 hours at a time, I feel alert, awake, refreshed, and energetic. My work (teaching private music lessons) is going better than ever, and I’ve had some great new insights in the last month or so. This sure feels like polyphasic sleep success!

  21. Austin says:

    I couldn’t find the website that this was written on. Whats is it?

    looks like a good reply though.

  22. Placebo says:

    Thanks for the analysis, you have a lot of good points ;)

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