My Week of Monophasic Hell


I hate it.

I hate sleeping “normally”!  Why do people do this?  Seriously, it’s taken me almost two weeks to write the “I’m going monophasic” post I was going to write on Day 3–because I have no time for anything.

Ha!  I’ve always said polyphasic sleep’s been great for me, and makes a neat alternative some experimental types may want to maybe, perhaps, kinda look at; but I think this experience changed my mind.  Most people ought to at least consider polyphasic sleep!  There are SO many benefits.  So many I didn’t realize until they were gone — this week has been hell!

So yeah, I’m an evangelist now!  Hallelujah, praise the nap! ;)

Okay, back up, slow down; you want details and I badly need to organize them.  I’ve been monophasic for a week solid, after a week’s transition by way of Everyman 6. In actuality I’ve been monophasic “for the most part” for a week and a half.

I hate it; we’ve established that.  My husband hates it too, and once he figured out what was really up, he flat demanded that I change it back.  (Mr. Laid-Back here is not prone to making demands.)  But I trust him for a reason — he knows me very well, and is one of the few people on this planet twisted enough to really understand me, and as we talked, he confirmed my suspicion that he was demanding my polyphasic schedule be reinstated because it fits me better, makes me happier, and has drastically increased the quality of my life over the last three years.

It was work, and my capitulations to work, that knocked me so horribly off-schedule; but work also needs me, so when I relayed my love’s demands, they folded immediately and gracefully.  So I shall be having my naps at work back, and nobody will f$cking bother me unless the building is on fire, and that’s that.  Though, lest you think I have too cushy a deal, note that I do not take a lunch break unless I need to attend a meeting that’s happening at a restaurant…which is less than fun now thanks to the (successfulsofar!) diet.  But my nap is enough of a break, and I usually have enough privacy to eat at my desk.

Anyway, I slept 6 hours at night for a week, with the intent of taking naps in the afternoon, but that didn’t happen (work) and I exhausted myself.  Slept in all over that weekend, and as a result, when I tried to take afternoon or p.m. naps, I couldn’t fall asleep for them.  Then I tried the 6h thing again, but when I didn’t get a nap Monday I knew it wouldn’t work, so I slept 8 hours the next night — it was surprisingly easy; I was so tired I conked out right away and didn’t wake up or dream all night.

Since then I’ve gotten between 6-8 hours nightly, 8-9 on the weekend, and no naps. My old schedule.  It feels completely familiar and totally shitty, like an old burlap shirt.  ;)

IT IS WORTH NOTING that I ended up monophasic as a result of attempting to live on the Everyman 6 schedule, and failing.  I’ve used E6 quite a lot as a stop-gap measure for when I don’t get some of my naps as usual, but I’ve never tried to live on it before.  Perhaps that can’t be done — or perhaps it requires timing that I couldn’t pull off.

So.  There’s that:  A short but painful experiment.  I’ll be ending it next Monday (re-transitioning to “Everyman 3” starting Sunday night; I’ll keep you posted how that goes).  I’ll have been monophasic for a little over 2 weeks by that point, and to be honest, if that’s all the monophasic sleep I get for the rest of my life, I think I’ll be just fine with that.

I thought that if I just went ahead and slept at night while work did its crazy stuff, then when the dust settled I would know what schedule I was going to need.  Now I think that work will just have to conform to my needs, as I am intolerably miserable and inefficient as a monophaser.

Let’s lay out the ways in which monophasic sleep has sucked, shall we?

1.  PAIN. Headaches, neck pain, stiffness, aches, popping joints…not in “ow ow doctor help” ways, but I’ve had to take OTC drugs more often, and been generally far more uncomfortable.  My workout routine is the same, which means I stretch and do taiji daily (in addition to other stuff), but it only seems to help so much.

Plus, every day I wake up feeling like I’m crawling out of the ground, clawing and stumbling and making zombie-noises, uuUUUUuuuggghh.

And it’s a familiar feeling.

I’m not sick or injured; heck, with the diet and the kungfu I should be in amazing health–this is just what it’s like to sleep all night.   (Even with a good mattress and a chiropractic pillow, which I have.)  I had forgotten how awful it feels to crawl out of that inertia.  Everything settles and stiffens and gums up and gets sore from being in the same position so long.  It’s too much, eight hours straight of that!  Maybe that’s less a fact about human beings than about me or people like me, but at least for me/us, the body isn’t meant to lie still so long.

2.  TIME. Can I just collapse crying here, and will that explain it clearly enough?

No?  Okay, fine.  Take your day and lop four hours off of it.  Go ahead.  See if you don’t just collapse crying about it too, smartypants.  –Don’t get me wrong, everything is getting done, as long as by “everything” you don’t mean to include “the things I did purely because I enjoyed them”.  Which, you know, is not a group I’m happy having given up.  I enjoy other things, but I also think being alive is a lot more awesome when you do things just because.  Remember doing it as a kid?  You had time, so you explored the world, messed with things, experienced things.  Maybe the things I now officially Only Have Time For On Weekends (If That) weren’t important, but they made a huge difference in how I perceived my life and my freedom.  I resent the work I don’t like now, because I’m not getting the time I want to set aside for the work (and play) I do like.

Plus, I’ve always liked nights, and I’ve grown to really like mornings.  And guess what?  I can’t have them both anymore!  Actually, I’m lucky if I can even have one…in order to wake up at 6, I have to be in bed by 11 at the latest, and that only gives me 2 hours to work after the Spawn goes to bed, and 1 hour before I have to leave for work in the morning!  HECK. NO.

3.  QUALITY OF WAKING-TIME. In addition to having time for less Purely Awesome Stuff, the time I do have is less fun.  For one thing, I yawn a lot and generally feel tired a lot.  This is because I don’t sleep as well (see 4.) and because I don’t get enough sleep every night.  Like most modern Western adults, I have more on my plate normally that can fit into a sixteen-hour day.  Work and the commute is ten, leaving six to write, parent, eat, practice, and take care of myself and my home.  So like most people, I end up shorted on sleep by an hour or two most weekdays, and oversleeping on weekends to make up for it.

I forgot how much I hate feeling tired, though through most of my 20’s that’s how I felt pretty much all the time.  For the last three years, though, I’ve had no tiredness most days except for the period right before a nap, or if I missed a nap, or maybe a little in the morning (after my 3-hour core nap).  I didn’t need to sleep in on weekends, though sometimes I did anyway, just because it felt nice.  But even a bad morning waking up from my 1-4 nap was nothing compared to how groggy I am, and for how long I stay groggy, waking up from 8 hours. On top of which I’m in more pain and more stressed-out from feeling rushed.  A whole day of commute-work-commute with no break followed by a kungfu class followed by parenting and writing through the evening, and I feel totally dead and drained.  Then I crash all night and wake up feeling like a half-decomposed train-wreck.  EW.

4.  QUALITY OF SLEEP. Yeah, all that and the nice fat chunk of sleep I traded it for isn’t even good.  I haven’t had any evidence of actual sleep disorders, but I definitely don’t enjoy sleep like I did when I was napping.  It’s hard to explain how, but it doesn’t feel refreshing and calm anymore.  Instead of resting, I feel like I’m temporarily dying–dramatic, I know, but that’s really what it feels like!–and I hate how I feel when I wake up so much that I dread it, and I’m so groggy and icky when I first crack my eyes that I hit snooze a thousand times if I can get away with it (which just makes me even more sore & groggy).

It’s only been a few weeks since I last patted someone on the digital head and told them “Ah yes, I remember what it was like to hate sleep”, as if they’ll grow out of it naturally.  But I didn’t grow out of it naturally.  And now that I’m back to monophasing again, I totally remember why I hated sleep before.  I’m back to hating it again!

Even when I try to wind down before sleep (something that used to be easy, but which now means cutting another half-hour off my productive waking-time), I still sleep (comparatively) fitfully and wake up like Garfield on a Monday.  I can tell I’m sleeping deeper (my husband confirms that I can’t be woken *at all* during the night), but I’m not getting anywhere near the rest out of it that I used to.  It’s like eating a huuuuge meal that stuffs you to uncomfortableness, but contains no protein.

On top of that, quitting the regular-napping routine has ruined naps for me, too!  Every single day, I’ve yawned multiple times and wished for a nap at least once.  But when I can get a nap now, I can’t sleep for it — something about that big honking “meal” of sleep at night puts me off getting any rest during the day, even when I’m obviously tired.

Okay, so the bad things about monophasic sleep for me?  Are apparently Legion.

There are some not-so-bad things.  I will admit that.  My overall mood, metabolism, exercise, and intellectual “landscapes” seem to have remained pretty much the same. (Other than being pissy about having less time, and being crankier about waking up in the morning, I should say.)  Work, kungfu, writing, parenting, all get done nearly as competently as before, and I don’t notice a huge difference in my brain- or body-skills per se. But obviously the overall dislike I have for my new schedule affects a lot of minutiae that I probably couldn’t describe fully here if I tried.

So that’s The Suck, in a nutshell.  There were some interesting artifacts to the transition — for instance, during the first week I got tired precisely at naptime every day, like clockwork.  (Even though if I laid down for a nap then, I couldn’t sleep.)   And there’ve been a few upsides here and there.  I’ve always found my evening nap annoying — not having to slow down for that is nice, as is being able to have unlimited coffee during the day without worrying about messing up a nap (though needing this much coffee during a day is not nice).

But even though a week ago I was thinking, “Is this it?  Am I going to be monophasic again now?”, I can already say with certainty that this is NOT it, and eff monophasic sleep right to heck. I don’t want to have my “hard days” of transitioning be over a weekend — work makes it much easier to get up on time after my core — so I’m waiting until Sunday/Monday to switch back to Everyman 3.

I’m spending the next few days preparing.  (Yes, even I, the Polyphasic Master General Priestess Sifu Poobah, prepare for an adaptation.  Because I want it to work!)  I’m getting back into the habit of laying down for naps again asap, at least in the afternoon.  (No sense letting work think I’m not serious!)  I’ve also got a new Big Fat List made (if you like, I’ll post it) and am grocery-shopping for a TON of healthy snacks this weekend.

I’m also going to use the re-adjustment opportunity to clean up some of my sleep behaviors and other habits that were helping knock me off-schedule in the first place (like not having a firm time to always take my p.m. nap at if possible, changing into jammies too soon–we martial-artists like jammies, you know–and skipping my evening nap if I felt like it, since I could replace it with a 4.5-hour core).

I’ll keep ya’ll posted.  And THANK YOU for being here, and being interested.  It looks like I’m a lifer now (barring some insanely powerful interference by the Sleep Police), so I’ll try to stay interesting enough to be worth it.



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 wall).
This entry was posted in better thinking, polyphasic sleep. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to My Week of Monophasic Hell

  1. Joseph says:

    Interesting to see others that have had considerable trouble transitioning back into a monophasic shedule.
    I did uberman for 2 months and experienced difficulties getting back into monophasic sleeping, primarily due to extreme fatigue and headaches etc that were no occuring while I was napping.
    Not too long ago I adopted the Tesla pattern and adapted sucessfully for a month but had to discontinue due to inflexibility and once again I was plagued by many issues getting back to an 8hr block of sleep.
    I am sleeping monophasically now and said issues have died down but the first 3 weeks or so after retiring from polyphasic is quite hellish for me atleast.
    Thanks for sharing as always PD. :P

    • puredoxyk says:

      You’re welcome, Joseph! I do rather live in fear of having to be monophasic, now…I guess that’s a downside to polyphasic sleep that isn’t mentioned clearly very often: You might get addicted!

  2. muflax says:

    Haha, great to see that even masters of polyphasic sleep have the same kind of trouble that I have. I’d really like to hear about your experience of re-adapting, especially with being a master and all. If you have trouble, maybe I won’t feel so bad about The Adaptation That Never Ends. ;)

  3. Nicky says:

    This is an excellent article, hands down. Usually when a polyphasic sleeper goes back to monophasic you never hear from them again so it’s great to hear the comparison.

    And I too would love a peak at the BFTDL. (Better than my Shit To Do, STDs)


  4. Mako says:

    My god, you have summed up the way I feel. Sadly I missed the first weekend of classes and things are starting to pick up, so I am not sure that I could sneak into a sleep pattern. I am notorious for sleeping through my alarms and then letting my subconscious wake me up about 15 minutes before classes.


  5. sonya says:

    I would love to see Big Fat ToDo List ™. If you could post it, i would be insanely grateful.


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