Ah, the occasional utter borking of the schedule.
Do I, either as-me or as-a-polyphaser, do this more often than most people? I've no idea. But I definitely do it sometimes. And the takeaway I usually get from it is that wow, even when totally stick-blendered, polyphasic schedules are a lot easier to recover.
Yesterday I had a pretty normal 2-nap day, and slept for 4.5 hours last night. (Actually, my E4 core nap is turning out to be mostly closer to 4h 45m — which doesn't surprise me, since when I sleep for 3 hours, it's actually 3:15. Is this related to the fact that when I sleep for 8 hour nights, I actually need closer to 9 to feel rested? Worth wondering.)
Also worth noting, especially as a YMMV: I know these times because I don't use alarms anymore, unless it's to be certain I wake up at a certain time for an important thing, and even then I usually don't need them. I know how long I'll sleep based on how many naps I got and when, and I wake up on my own pretty predictably.
Until I do shit like today, that is. ;)
Today I headed off to a taiji class in the morning (after a normal morning consisting of the normal 2 cups of coffee-with-butter — yup, still doing that, and I still love it as a form of breakfast; not every single day but usually). I stopped for tea / second breakfast, because fun fact: when you eat (or drink) breakfast at 5am or thereabouts, you're hungry again by ten or eleven — and then went straight to the climbing gym. I grabbed a nap (it was close to noon; I'd last slept at 7 and normally would have napped about one, but it didn't surprise me that I was tired early after a pretty intense martial-arts class, and anyway I wanted to sleep before I got to climbing) and didn't sleep for very long (note: I don't know how long, because I don't bother with alarms for 20-minute naps at all anymore, because here's a weird one: even if I don't sleep for some or even most of it, I will still almost always stand up after 20 minutes, or a little sooner; my internal alarm is getting pretty hilarious!) — probably I didn't sleep much due to some combination of sleeping early, being excited to go climb, and sleeping on a hard surface in a new place with lots of ambient noise. But I did feel refreshed after, and then I:
– Climbed for about two hours
– Stopped for a light lunch
– Climbed for another four hours
– Walked about 2 miles
– Ate a pretty huge meal (for me)
– Walked another 2-ish miles home
In other words, I had a great day that ended with my getting home about 9:30pm, having skipped my evening nap and cycled through at least a thousand calories in extra exercise and food.
So of course I came home, luxuriated in blankets and a book for a few minutes, and passed out deliciously cold, probably about 10pm. I woke up about 3 hours later, at a few minutes before 1am.
(Another fun fact: If I sleep at an odd time because I'm worn out from exercise, I almost always sleep 3 hours. Occasionally 1.5, but much more often three — 3 hours seems to be my "recovery sleep" time.)
And I felt great — well, a bit sore in the hands and shoulders, but duh, marathon of climbing. I could have gone back to sleep if I wanted, but overall I felt quite rested, so I got up, showered, read my email, watched some videos, and, well, wrote this — it's now about 3:30 am. I suspect I'll get tired again around four or five and grab an "extra" nap before my regular morning one at 7-ish.
So with only a bit of effort, my schedule will be easy to get back on track tomorrow, even though what I did to it today could easily be described with the "o.O" emoticon. That's definitely one of the benefits of being polyphasic, especially when you're prone to having crazy high-energy days sometimes; instead of sleeping a stupid ton to recover and then finding myself in the middle of an uncomfortable re-adjustment, I just shift a core, add a nap, and wham. And it's not as complex to do as it is to explain: I know this part might be due to my being really used to polyphasic sleep by now, but all I'm really doing is sleeping when I'm tired, and doing so for the durations I know work for me (20 minutes and 3 hours, basically).
One last thing: I've been getting tired of defending polyphasic sleep lately, because there's been a lot of discussion filtering through my inbox and my RSS feeds, and a lot of it is either completely unrelated to the kind of thing *I* mean by polyphasic sleep, or just attacking straw-men by showing that sleep dep is bad (which it is, but I maintain that in the modern world, at least as I experience it, being monophasic is more likely to involve sleep-dep than being polyphasic). Anyway, the temptation is there to just shrug and go about doing my thing, but I do see how that's not the best thing for everybody, especially if due to my circumstances as a long-term polyphaser, I have information that could be useful to others who are trying to fix sleep problems or find a schedule that's better suited to their lifestyle. So please pardon me if I lapse into silence about it sometimes — it does get draining, after a while — I promise I'll pick it back up and keep going.
Also, I have been working on some major changes to this site, which will hopefully make finding the droids you're looking for easier. Stay tuned!