10 reasons you should NOT be polyphasic

Ahem. I’ve long said it’s not for everybody; now, even though it’s 5 a.m. and I’ve been up chilling and writing and smiling for an hour, I shall elucidate when and whom it’s not for.

If more than one of these are true, polyphasic sleep is definitely not for you (sayeth the rhyming oracle…):

  1. You have dependents, such as kids or elderly people, who might need you at any time (and nobody to cover for you);
  2. Your job is rigid / inflexible in terms of how you spend every minute of your time;
  3. You are often out and about, and can’t regularly get near a place to sleep;
  4. You do not have very much self-control / discipline;
  5. You are notoriously not-punctual;
  6. You regularly do things that last longer than four hours and can’t be interrupted (i.e. perform surgery, engage in gun-fights, conduct interventions);
  7. You are not okay with most people thinking that you’re half-cracked;
  8. You don’t have enough to do to occupy more than 20 hours of time per day. In my experience that means full-time work, part-time serious activity (like school; or full-time school and part-time work), at least one structured activity (like my tai chi), plus at least two hobbies that you’re cool with working on every day;
  9. You don’t have access to a place where you can do stuff while other people are sleeping without waking them up;
  10. You are not willing to spend a greater percentage of your time alone than you normally do.

…Now, in all honesty, probably the majority of polyphasers violate one of those (I violate #9 myself), but even if you do and decide to go ahead anyway, it’s good to know which one of those “rules” you’re breaking, because that’s going to be the tough spot for you. If you violate #5, then getting your naps on time will be a problem, and so forth.

I was going to add “You love sleep and don’t want to sleep less” as an item too, but as many polyphasers will tell you, on a poly schedule you often feel like you’re sleeping more, not less. It seems like every time you turn around, you’re going to bed! So just because you love sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean polyphasic sleep is a bad idea. The rest of them, though, as far as I know, are pretty solid contraindications.

-pd

P.S. Drop me a line if there’s other lists or simple polyphasic info you want posted…I’m trying to clear out my cache, so to speak. ;)

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).
This entry was posted in lists, polyphasic sleep. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to 10 reasons you should NOT be polyphasic

  1. TJ says:

    I first read about polyphasic sleep a few months ago and thought it would be an interesting experiment to try. I will turn 18 in a couple of months and I have about 3 weeks before college (homeschooled/concurrent student) starts up again and I am going to try this. I guess being 17 I want to try everything (legally) ha. I’ve asked several people what they think and I’ve read a lot and I really think the biggest problem I will have is not ‘killing’ myself if I run out of things to do. I’m going to ask everyone who stays in close contact with me to tell me if they think it’s severely hindering or damaging me, but other than that it seems fine. I’m going to try the USS and see what happens, thanks for everything you’ve posted!

  2. MattieUK says:

    what about for weightlifters? i know that other phases of sleep control growth and repair so i was wondering if you reckon that would change anything?

    • puredoxyk says:

      MattieUK, that’s a tough question since I’m not a weightlifter and I don’t know any. I think weightlifting probably falls into the category of “sports that are extreme enough to require a doctor’s supervision before trying anything weird”, so if I were a weightlifter and I wanted to try polyphasic sleep, I think I would find a sports medicine expert whom I could confer with and who would give me regular checkups to see if anything detrimental was going on. I would expect that your healing/growth and abilities would be decreased during the adaptation period, but if it’s like all the other sports and activities I know about, you should regain normal ability once you adjust. Luck! -PD

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  5. Troy says:

    I was excited when I went through and realized that nothing on that list applies to me…I am currently on my first week of Polyphasic Sleep =]

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  8. Oleg says:

    In response to a comment above about lucid dreaming. From what I understand (and please correct me if I’m wrong) polyphasic sleep naps send you right into the REM state of sleep (which is the deep sleep phase). This is the phase where you get vivid dreams and thus, lucid dreams.

    Since a person only naps for 30 min (1 hour?) per nap, thats roughly 25 minutes of REM sleep and you go right into it… so this is perfect for MILD & WBTB (except its just a straight to bed) inductions.

    Now, my question. How fast does it usually take you usually fall asleep? Did it start off taking a while then progressively your body adapted and sent you to sleep right away?

    I am considering trying out polyphasic sleep but want to clear up a few things on my mind first.

    Thanks,
    Oleg

    • puredoxyk says:

      Hi Oleg,
      It was a popular myth for a while that polyphasic naps involved going “right into” REM sleep, but based on the best knowledge we have now, this isn’t true. (Not that nearly enough research has been done, to my knowledge.) That said, it can take quite a while to fall asleep while you’re still learning to nap, but once you learn, it’s usually less than a minute. If my schedule is not messed up, I will pass out seconds after closing my eyes — it’s neat. ;)

  9. puredoxyk says:

    Hey hugh — If it’s a *regular* five hours, i.e. it’s the same all the time, then it shouldn’t cause you too much trouble, though it’s not inconceivable that you may be tired around that nap for a while; sometimes adjusting to an off-kilter nap takes a bit longer. if you can manage to keep the rest of a schedule “right”, then I’d say go for it, and just be careful to keep your daily sleep schedule as regular as possible.

    Luck!
    PD

  10. hugh says:

    Hi I have a 3 hour lecture in the morning at 10 which finished at 1. I will have to nap then leave for the lecture, go to the lecture and get back before my next nap. i am currently trying to find an apartment close enough to my college to do this, but being in central london , this is not easy. Is 5 hours too long a break between naps? Can i be a polyphasic sleeper?

  11. puredoxyk says:

    Hey retro:

    Unfortunately, that tends to happen until you “get the hang of” napping. It’s not uncommon for people to not “get the hang of” it until they get REALLY REALLY TIRED from having no sleep. But if you keep laying down for your naps, and not falling asleep any other time that’s not on your schedule, trust me, eventually you’ll sleep! ;)

  12. puredoxyk says:

    Hi Nikki,

    I gave you a longer answer by email, but just so this is “officially” on the site: Yeah, polyphasic sleep is weird and new and relatively extreme, and I don’t recommend it for anybody under 18, because you just can’t know what the effect on your brain’s growth will be. (Also, I could get in trouble if I encouraged anyone under 18 to try it and for some reason they got hurt.)

    Now is a great time to work on other aspects of efficiency and “life-hacking”, though, including developing good sleep habits, which will help a LOT if/when you decide to try polyphase later!

    Thanks,
    PD

  13. Nikki says:

    Hey! [:

    I have almost the same question as Eleasah. I’ve also read that trying Uberman is dangerous if you’re under 18. But what do you think about trying Everyman if you’re under 18?
    I figured that since you get that core sleep period to rest up a little more, it would be healthier. But I think you would know more about this than I do, haha. (:

    If if helps any, I’m 15. According to my doctor I’m done growing, but I’m pretty sure she meant physically, not my brain, too.

    Thank you,
    Nikki

  14. Hello!

    I came across your blog from the adventures in polyphasic sleeping article by Jorel. I really love this list! I am very new to the polyphasic world and to be honest i probably break about 2 of those rules. Got any tips on how to fall asleep quicker. During my naps i find myself just laying there meditating. Thanks so much!

    -Retrospect416

  15. Eleasah says:

    Hello puredoxyk,

    Thanks for all the advice and info you’ve posted about polyphasing. I’m very interested in trying this, but I do have a question. I think I read on everything2.com that the Uberman shouldn’t be tried by anyone under 18. Well, I’m 17… do you think I should wait? Or at this point is it pretty safe? I’d love to start this as soon as possible, but hopefully without causing mental development problems. :)

    Thanks,
    Eleasah

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  17. puredoxyk says:

    Hehe, I love rude questions.

    I’ll tell you what I know: I read Steve’s whole polyphasic section a while ago, which means none of it is fresh in my memory to comment on here. BUT, at the time, I didn’t see anything that I thought was inaccurate or wrong, I know that. From reading Steve’s other stuff, he seems like a straight shooter…on the other hand, he is also something of a hippy flake I gather, so maybe he could be (probably unintentionally) exaggerating on that account. He also wrote his experiences as they happened, and I wrote mine much later, so perhaps the effects are much stronger when you’re immersed in them than in retrospect.

    Something else you may want to consider — I deliberately understated the consciousness-altering effects I did experience, for two reasons. One, I had a lot else going on at the time that may have caused those things. My life was a wild, wild ride that year, and while I wasn’t on any drugs, I was totally out of my head on depression and philosophy. Whereas, Steve seems to have been pretty settled in his life when he adopted Uberman, so his effects are more likely to be directly related to the schedule. I also didn’t want to sound like a flake, as I was / have been / am aiming for a more scientific attitude about polyphasic sleep, which isn’t helped, unfortunately, by too much focus on the non-material coolness of it.

    That there are such effects does make perfect sense to me, though. For one thing, they only happen with Uberman. And isn’t Uberman just the sleep analog of certain types of fasts, journeys, and other challenges used by other cultures to bring about spiritual experiences? In fact, considering how much of a challenge it is and how life-changing it was for me to succeed at it, I would have been more surprised if there were *no* spiritual effects.

    As to what exactly they are, yeah, I’ll bet they’re somewhat different for everyone. But if you’re seeking a spiritual experience, getting in the ring against your own mind/body is absolutely a proven way to bring one about.

    Good luck!

  18. kasper says:

    hi Puredoxyk,
    I’m seriously considering going on a polyphasic shedule because of both your and Steve Pavilnas experieces. What caught my attention was mostly the changes in consciousness described by almost all people who have tried sleeping like a true uberman:) but one thing I have noticed is the spiritual changes Steve describes seem seem to be a bit (alot) more extreme than the changes you describe so I guess my question is, asuming that you have read his blog on polysleep, is he in your opinion exagerating to make the story more interesting to increase the site traffic? And yes, I’m fully aware how rude a fucking question that is. I know that experiences will be diffrent for all people but the differences are very very diffrent.
    thanks in advance,
    -kasper

  19. Mark says:

    Just to back up #8, I decided to start adapting to polyphasic last month in between fall and spring semesters. There was definitely fatigue for the first few days, but it was bearable. After about a week I started oversleeping, not from fatigue, but from boredom in the night hours. It killed my motivation to force myself out of bed. My advice is to make sure you set up something reasonably stimulating to do when you’re just starting out. My adaptation got delayed and is still in progress even though my classes started today. Boredom is no longer an issue, but I wish I got over the initial fatigue before having to be focused again.

    As for #3, true I’m out on campus most of the day, and in case there isn’t anywhere to sleep, I set up a cozy spot in my car’s backseat. It might be too uncomfortable when warmer weather comes around, but for now it’s a solid backup plan….even though I’m sure it emphasizes #7 to uninformed witnesses. It helps to park so the sun won’t be in your face and to use a visor.

  20. Brian says:

    Hi Puredoxyk,

    I was just directed to your website from reading a wikipedia article and I’m fascinated. I really want to try this but I’m only a senior in high school, so my schedule doesn’t leave room for 20 minute naps. I’d be missing out on those 20 minutes of sleep. Do you have any suggestions? Or should I just wait until I go to college where I can try your method?
    Thanks

  21. peter says:

    Hi i was thinking of sleeping like this because it gives you more time to do things. But im not sure if it will give me enough rest and somewhere it said that if you are 18 or younger its not good. (I am 14). Usually I get 6 hours from 12 – 6 or I get too much sleep the next day and feel lazy the whole day. Only a few days out of the past months have I been able to feel alive, when i feel happy and feel like I have energy. and this was a few days when I exercised and was able to sleep whenever I wanted to during summer. But now I have to get up early for school and it sucks being this tired because I really want to go to a gym again. They only time I got enough rest during school was 1 day and just because I got lucky because after I got 6 hours I would have to time it so I would get like 10 hours and even then I felt a little bit tired.

  22. Has anybody experimented with lucid dreaming in combination with polyphasic sleep? Just wondering…

  23. Renegade says:

    I believe if you are in poor health, are a senior citizen or a child younger than 18, that Polyphasic sleep isn’t for you.

    Polyphasic sleep, is controversial on the risks it poses for health.
    Little research has been made to the effects of Polyphasic sleep on people of any age, and a child or senior citizen is more likely to suffer in the case that it is bad for them.

    Although I myself am a teenager, I dread having to wait a few more years before switching to polyphasic.

    Of course, I also believe polyphasic sleep is safe, but of course, i also have schedule problems

    Anyways, nice site

  24. Renegade says:

    I believe if you are in poor health, are a senior citizen or a child younger than 18, that Polyphasic sleep isn’t for you.

    Polyphasic sleep, is controversial on the risks it poses for health.
    Little research has been made to the effects of Polyphasic sleep on people of any age, and a child or senior citizen is more likely to suffer in the case that it is bad for them.

    Although I myself am a teenager, I dread having to wait a few more years before switching to polyphasic.

  25. puredoxyk says:

    Hi Ross,
    From what I know personally, yeah, 8 hours is too much. I’ve seen a few people try to eek out eight hours straight on several different schedules, and none of them have succeeded. Usually seven is the maximum that can be done even occasionally without wonking up your schedule. *However*, the king authority that I know of when it comes to different types of schedules is the Google “Polyphasic” group, so you may want to ask there.

    Luck!
    PD

  26. Ross says:

    I have a question about #2. I have a 8 hour straight shift I have to do almost daily. If I set my rest times up like this: 3:30-7:00AM, 11:20-11:40AM, 8:10-8:30PM, 1:00-1:20AM every day, would this possibly work, or is the 8 and a half hour stretch too much?

  27. puredoxyk says:

    Hi Nicholas — No, thank *you* for reading. Your site is quite the smack upside the head with the Frozen Salmon of Infinity; I like it.

    I’m sorry about the menu trouble — here’s a link you can follow to see a list of all the posts in the “polyphasic” category: Polyphasic Posts. I try to keep things running well, but — this will sound silly, I suppose — I often don’t have enough time to do site-maintenance and testing, so…. ;)

    I absolutely feel more “Here” (to give a hardcore summary of what you stated above) on this schedule, yes. However, I’m not willing to say that’s because This Is The Way and other sleep patterns or lifestyles aren’t. There are a billion different ways of doing things in this world for a reason, I think; and all conditions are sufficient for Enlightenment, but none are necessary.

    That polyphasic sleep can be a help for those of us whose lifestyles fit well with it (and I’m thrilled to hear how well it’s gone for you — mind telling me what schedule you’re on, just “for the record”?) is truly a blessing. And to think, if it weren’t for the curse of a horrible bout of sleep-disorders, I’d have never discovered it. The way of the Cross indeed. ;)

  28. Hello there,

    Great noble work your doing here indeed :)

    I have been a polyphasic sleeper for almost 120 days so far and it changed my life but not in the way I thought it would. My main focus was to see how it would effect my consciousness and state of mind, awareness and beingness. Something very unusual happened that cause a chain of events that lead me to living me passion. I believe what you focus on is what you get indeed.

    I believe this sleep pattern is a natural way to sleep, as you know babies are born with this pattern of sleeping. Where did the idea that we should sleep 8 hours a night even come into effect? I must say that through my experience I continue to feel more awake, adjusted, aware, alive, vibrant, and energized then I have ever felt in my life through an eight-hour sleep cycle. My imagination, creative level, and subconscious mind seem to stay focused, heightened and strengthened still. My ability to solve problems, remember, think clearer, and being more aware are still lively then ever.

    My idea is that this monophasic sleep cycle (normal 8 hours a night) was never meant to happen, my resent research suggests it was designed to control the population. If your interesting you can read my blogs at http://www.worldwidenlightenment.com But my main question for you is if you have experienced the same thing as I stated above?

    I tried to read all your blogs on your discoveries with this sleeping pattern but there was an error with the pull-down menu. It could be my computer.

    Thank you for your time in reading this post.

    ~Nicholas Powell (owner of World-Wide-Enlightenment)

  29. puredoxyk says:

    You’re in the right place! (or one of them, anyway.) If you want to see only the polyphasic articles, use the drop-down box to sort for just the “polyphasic” category (push the button that says “Sift the Wreckage”). You may also want to check out the Google Group called “polyphasic”; they’re very helpful.

    Welcome and hi!

  30. Jarod says:

    Hey I was hoping for some info on polyphasic sleep. I think it’s right for me, but I want to get a better understanding of how it works and some sample schedules before I try it. I want to get it right as soon as I can.

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