This may be the coolest alarm clock for polyphasers ever. Maybe I’ll get one to celebrate!
It’s so strange to think that in a few more days (the 23rd), it’ll be One Year on Everyman. Being polyphasic has really become part of my lifestyle now; as recent events have sharply shown, it would be a serious effort now to try and go back to sleeping "at night". My schedule’s become less regular over the last six months as opposed to the first, when I was focused on keeping things strict so that I could adapt — now it’s more like my monophasic schedule used to be, where I kept to a general schedule, but the details could vary by day.
That’s a strange development in itself, because it feels so normal to be polyphasic now. I mean, it doesn’t feel special anymore, like it did when I did Uberman for six months, or during the first six months or so of Everyman. Is it just the first six months that feels "new" or strange? Can, as my grandma used to say, a body really get used to anything, even hanging?
Well, far be it from me to argue with my grandma (who, at the age of eighty-something, has told me before that she sleeps more like me than like a "normal" adult, with just a few hours at night and several short naps). Yay grandma!
I still want to experiment more, too. I want to go from Everyman to Uberman and see if the transition is any easier than flopping straight into hardcore-napland from scratch. I think I’ve got a good handle on the exhangeability of naps and core-sleep — for instance, I missed a nap yesterday because of work, and I felt okay for the most part, but by later in the evening I told my husband, "Dammit, I’m going to have to sleep four hours tonight." I could just feel it, and I was right. (That’s not to say that a missed nap *always* translates into an extra hour’s sleep — other factors are important, like stress-level, amount of work versus play going on, and whether the other naps were good and timely or not. If all else is fine, then I can usually miss a nap with no penalty except a few yawns about an hour after I should have napped. But sometimes missing a nap will make me crushingly tired an hour before I normally sleep, and experience has taught me to just go to bed a little early.)
I also want to do more looking into the best ways to organize a polyphasic life. There’s a lot of subtle things to it that didn’t really become apparent to me until I’d gotten over the getting-used-to-it phase. Caffeine was relatively easy to figure out — I don’t feel it’s effects too much anyway, and my 1-3 cups a day never bother me as long as I quit about an hour before I need to sleep. But food is trickier. It’s easy to see that eating right before a nap isn’t a good plan — you wake up really groggy — but I haven’t yet worked out when is the best time to eat, and when, for instance, it’s best to put your "big meal(s)" versus snacks. (I usually have 1 bigger meal, 1 or 2 small ones, and 1 or 2 snacks, if you were curious. When I was on Uberman, though, I ate more than I do now, which isn’t really surprising.)
I also want to do some controlled experiments with light — natural and artificial and none — because I can sense that I feel different when I get more/less sunlight and when I sleep with lights on versus off, but I don’t really know exactly how that’s working yet.
However, all of those experiments will have to wait for a better environment. I’m still rather amazed that I pulled off this schedule at all, given my living situation in a tiny one-bedroom basement apartment with two other people and no kitchen to speak of. (That was actually probably the biggest challenge I faced, and it gave me new respect for just how important a controlled living space was for making this sort of thing work!) However, it does look likely that I’ll have a room to myself soon, and that it’ll be above-ground and give me some room to do things without having to constantly tiptoe around in the dark when I’m awake at night, and sleep in my car because other people can’t be quiet enough during my naps. (Not their fault, really. One of them is four!)
Of course, another of my goals is to finish the Ubersleep book, which I sense is still needed, even though a few articles about polyphasic sleep are finally beginning to surface. An article simply can’t answer all the questions people have, and that’s if you ignore that the quality and thoroughness of the articles I’ve seen so far hasn’t been that great. (No offence to anyone personally.) I would like there to be a cheap book available to people who want to know more, and not only so they can stop emailing me with gigantic lists of questions. ;) Maybe, I keep thinking, once I move, I can switch over to Uberman and use the extra couple hours to work on that.
Yes, there’s an important lesson I should mention: Your activities do expand to fill your time. Rather automatically, once you adapt and keep a schedule like this long enough. My 20-hour-day feels almost as "barely enough" as my 15-16 hour day did before, and I still can’t tell exactly where in the process all that time got used up! It feels like it’s always been this way, now! And that’s all good, but it leads me to advocate, tentatively at least, for prior planning and a good idea of how one wants to spend one’s time beforehand, at least if you don’t want it to fill up with "more of the same" like mine did. (For my part, I don’t mind it, really; I needed more time to fit in what I was already doing. But I do wish I had more writing time, and if I had my own space to do it in — right now I not only share a room, but also a computer desk! — then I think I could pull that off.)
So that’s where I’m at after almost a year polyphasic. My health is good (much better than I normally would have expected considering my lifestyle — everyone agrees that I work too godsdarned much, often to the detriment of diet and exercise), I’m still loving my schedule and wouldn’t give it up for anything, and the world around me seems to have adjusted to my quirky ways with minimal fuss. (My boss / family now routinely reminds me if they think it’s my naptime, and friends and acquaintances who aren’t as familiar with it seem to see it as more interesting and amusing than outright freakish. This may be somewhat due to my suit-wearin’, all-respectable-like job, though.)
And of course, lest I forget, big huge thanks to everyone who questioned me, taught me, cheered me on (or jeered at me, which is another way of giving someone strength), and generally did their part to make this little piece of weirdness happen. Hoorah for you!!