Fantastic Advice for Troubled Polyphasers

Here’s an excellent list of things to do/change/look at if you’re having trouble keeping to your sleep schedule.  They were originally written in response to my difficulties due to high stress, but they could be used to answer a number of related problems too, since most of them are just generally good advice!

Remember, sleep is an integral part of your lifestyle and your lifestyle is integral to your sleep.  If the schedule you want isn’t working for you, it may be because of diet, exercise, or poor organizational skills.  (If that last item sounds a little weird, remember that the task of adapting to a new schedule is absolutely an organizational task.)

These are from Kaspian, who graciously allowed me to reprint them.  I agree completely with them all, and do most of them, and should do the ones I don’t. 

Behold the wisdom!

1 – Sleep on time & sleep when tired. You’ll be much more able to handle all the things that need to get done if you’re not wasted. Something that might take you 30 minutes rested might take over an hour if you’re fried.  [Ed. note: "on time and when tired" may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not, especially once you’re adapted and your schedule tends to vary.  I may have a nap scheduled between 2-3 p.m., and get tired at 2:15, but put my nap off until 3.  Kaspian’s saying I should have slept at 2:15, and she’d be right.]

2 – Find ways to quiet your busy mind when it’s time to sleep. One trick I’ve used is to visualize putting each thought/idea in a box and setting it on a shelf, saying, “I can come back to this after I have slept if it’s important.” Another one I like is visualizing myself in an empty room, and as thoughts of a particular person pop up, I gently, but firmly invite him/her to leave, as if I’m saying good night to a late-night party guest. Sometimes I’ll go through all the people I’ve had contact with recently, but once I’m done, falling asleep is easy.

3 – Exercise is your friend. Even a brisk 20-minute walk can make you feel a lot better.

4 – Work with focus, and unwind fully when it’s time. Spend some of your work time working without distractions—no phone, no email, no internet browsing, etc. If you can keep coworkers from interrupting you for a stretch, even better. When you need a break, really take that break. Take a quick walk, go get a drink of water, do something completely non-work, or whatever. (Take a nap!)

5- Write stuff down. Trying to keep track of a dozen things by memory just occupies mental space and energy you could be using to work more effectively & efficiently.  [Another Ed. note:  I’ve been saying this for years!  ;) ]

5b – Make a list of the things that need to get done. Break larger tasks into smaller chunks. For example, “Plant an apple tree in the front yard” might break down to: weed the spot where the tree will go, till the soil, add compost, go to the store & buy a tree, dig a hole, plant the tree. Today I weed, tomorrow I till & add compost, and the next day, I buy the tree, dig the hole, and plant it. The whole task might feel overwhelming, but each part is relatively small, reasonable, and doable.

6 – Take 10 minutes early in the day to prioritize and organize. From your list of things to do: • Which task is most important and urgent? Make sure significant chunks of it get done today. • Which task is important, but not urgent? Schedule a time to do it soon. • Which tasks are urgent, but not important? Can they be done in less than 20 minutes? If not, can you delegate or skip them? • Choose a time, and do all of your phone calls and email reading/responding in that hour/half-hour. If phone and email are a bigger part of your job, pick two time slots, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

6b – If many or most of your tasks feel urgent and important, than rank them in order of importance. Do the most important one first.

6c – If there are urgent and important tasks that you can make significant progress on in less than 20 minutes, do those early. That way they won’t be weighing on your mind all day.

These suggestions might not solve the problem of having ten billion things that need to get done right now, but they will probably make you more effective at plowing through the list and help you feel less stressed about the workload.

…And in case I failed to stress it enough, these are really all great ideas.  I could have left a little note next to all of them saying, [Ed. note:  YES! YES! YES!] but I thought ya’ll might find that annoying.   ;)

Thanks again to Kaspian!

Nap on! 

(I’ve decided that’s my new social affirmation.  You know, like people use "Rock on!" and "Word up!" and "Hell Yeah!" and the rest of them?  I’m adopting Nap on!  What it lacks in leathercoated oomph, it makes up for in class, I think.  ;) 

(That, and I’ve been re-listening to Sailing The Seas Of Cheese lately, which always gets "Fish on!" in my head…er.  Yeah.)

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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11 Responses to Fantastic Advice for Troubled Polyphasers

  1. nemogbr says:

    Hi Claudiu:

    I have found it better to have a nap before my workout and my Late nap afterwards. I have more energy working out and I’m not yawning throughout.

    My reasons for having four naps in total, rather than the usual three.

  2. Claudiu says:

    From what I’ve seen from this person’s experiences – http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/polyphasic-sleep-response-to-reader-feedback/ – you can do weight training just fine under polyphasic. your muscles will feel more sore, because yoou will be awake for the entire time that they are sore, but they seem to regenerate just fine. he seems to have set it up so that he has a nap right after his workout – not sure if that matters.

  3. nemogbr says:

    To warptaco:

    Are you keeping a journal with transition into everyman?

    I would be interested in how it impacts upon your training.

    Regards,
    Obi

  4. nemogbr says:

    Still researching what I can do. I’ve had to cut back on the training whilst I am going through transition.

  5. warptaco says:

    I wonder about running, particularly distance running, as well. Maybe emulate the rabbit and take a snooze half way through the marathon?

  6. warptaco says:

    I’m in a similar spot; I want to try a everyman type schedule, because I don’t think I get 8 hours benefit from my 8 hours of sleep each night. Napping seems like a better solution. But, I worry about being zonked out from running. I run 5 miles a day, sometimes 10, and I would like to get back into marathon running (which requires 20+ mile training runs) I am going to get adapted to the sleeping schedule before doing something wild like that!

    Carbs, rather than protein shakes, seem to be a better way to rebuild energy after long workout sessions for me. But I haven’t found a particular food choice that makes me less tired. Caffeine makes me nervous and jumpy, rather than waking me up.

  7. nemogbr says:

    Has anyone come across people who do heavy training (regualr weight training/running and engage in polyphasic sleep?

    I’m attempting to get back into both training and sleeping less.

    The problem is that I always feel tired and the protein shakes don’t seem to help.

  8. puredoxyk says:

    I agree with your first point about eating, with the exception that, for me and several others, eating BEFORE a nap is NOT a good idea. You wake up groggy and feel like you have no energy, because you spent your nap digesting. (Plus, laying down with a full stomach can be uncomfortable.) What works great for me is to wake up and immediately prepare a small meal or snack — it gets me moving, and the act of eating is nice and energizing and grounding. That way, too, my digesting is all done by the next time I nap, leading to a natural period of low energy in which to fall asleep easily.

    Your second theory has been tried by many, but with the exception of a long core-nap, everyone who did so came to the conclusion that equal naps are best. Longer naps at night just keep your body/brain trained to sleep at night and not during the day, which makes fully adapting to polyphasic sleep almost impossible.

    Thanks for the comments!

  9. LainIwakura says:

    I believe,
    it would also be more helpful for the polyphasers, to eat like they sleep.
    It would help energy levels, since that is a bit of what polyphasic sleep is all about.

    There is a definite amount of food eatin everyday, and before each sleep, so, during the sleep, the body has a chance to process the food, and turn it into energy for the next waking period

    that, and it will help polyphasers to fall asleep

    _

    Theory for success, number 2, would be, at night time, the polyphaser has longer naps , while, during the daytime, shorter naps

  10. puredoxyk says:

    I suppose time is like money — you gotta spend some to make some! ;)

  11. Kate says:

    Cool, getting back to basics is important. But how many of us find the time?

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