Polyphasic Sleep and Better Thinking
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Category — polyphasic sleep

Submitted with comment

…My comment being, yes Randall of xkcd agrees with me.  And not even because I told him to.  ;)

March 21, 2014   No Comments


Hey, napping world, and other awesome people!  Just letting you know that I will be at the awesometastic Penguicon again this year — it's the first weekend of May — and wow am I doing a ton of stuff this time!

The polyphasic presentations last year were standing-room-only, so they'll be back — and improved! — this year.  One's a more focused presentation on napping, which I hope will be useful to both poly- and mono- folks.  The other is a "Birds of a Feather" meeting for polyphasers and people interested in it:  There was so much great discussion last year, I figured we could just devote a whole event to it.  ;)

I'm also doing some non-polyphasic stuff, because, well, I find it all very interesting and I suggested the panels and the organizers for some reason agreed, yay!  I love to blather about this stuff, so I'm sure I'll have fun, and I hope everyone else does too.  Here are the official descriptions so you can judge for yourself!

  • Advanced Napping: In Public, At Work, Even Instead of Sleep (1 hour):  "The science is pretty unanimous: Naps help improve concentration, energy, mood, and may be linked to other health and lifestyle benefits too. But how, in the real world, can you really get the naps you want? Long-term polyphasic sleeper and author PureDoxyk will give tips and answer questions about napping in public, negotiating naptime at work, prioritizing naps, and teaching yourself to fall asleep quickly and wake rested."


  • Polyphasic Sleep BoF (2 hours): "Have you ever tried, or wanted to try, polyphasic (nap-based) sleeping? Come to this open discussion and talk to other people — including some long-term polyphasers and the author of the book _Ubersleep_ — about your experiences, your curiosity, or your doubts."


  • Taiji! (1 hour): "Ever wanted to study the traditional Chinese internal martial art of Taiji (Tai Chi)? Get a taste of it here, and sample the health benefits while you're at it! This session, led by a longtime student, will cover basic movements and body alignment based on the awesome Chen and Wudang styles. Wear loose clothing and know your body, fitness & limitations — there will be opportunities for more advanced practice for those who want it."


  • What's the Deal with "Internal" Martial Arts? (1 hour): "You see it all the time in movies (think Kung Fu Hustle): The martial artist whose style is soft and flowy, but who somehow mysteriously is ten times more powerful than the Chuck Norris guys. What's the deal with the "internal"-power styles, like Taiji and Bagua? What's really the difference between an internal and an external martial-art, and which is really more powerful? What's the secret to the One-Inch Punch? What characters in movies, anime, and scifi are doing which styles, and how accurately? Come get your questions answered!"


  • How To Hold Your Breath Until People Give You What You Want (1 hour): "Fun fact: There's a simple trick you can do to double your breath-hold almost immediately. Apnea is a fascinating study from a psychological, physical and meditative perspective — come learn about it, including trying that trick out! Marie is a licensed freediver and an underwater hockey player."

‚Äč…So, yeah, that should be fun; and !@#% I have a lot of work to do!  ;)

March 8, 2014   2 Comments

Four since two: A sleep update

Hey, world! Four a.m. polyphasic update again — it's been a while, since I type most of the day now and have been avoiding the computer during my morning chunk of time.

I'm two weeks (back) into full-time out-of-the-house work. Sleep's been going ok: Work is actually pretty good for napping; it's hard to slow down as usual, and it's not the absolute best napping location — it's right in the middle of everything, and not very quiet; but it is warm and comfortable (there's a couch!) and they don't object, which is 99% of what I need.

I'm still adjusting to a lot, so I'm feeling my way along my schedule each day — NOT something I recommend for people who aren't already used to being polyphasic! If it weren't for my (kind of hilariously) well-ingrained napping habits and my body's tendency to wake up (or at least feel wakeful) automatically after 3, 4.5 or 6 hours depending on the naps I've gotten, I'm pretty sure maintaining my schedule through all this other change would be impossible.  This falls under my previous / book advice: "Don't change too much at once". In my case a lot of lifestyle things have changed, but my sleep schedule is largely the same as it has been for [some number of] years, thank goodness.

One weird thing that's been happening for a few days now is that my preferred core has shifted to earlier — a couple times now, I've passed out near ten or eleven p.m. and woken up at two or three — after about four hours, having on those occasions gotten two naps that day.  Today, for example, I missed my evening nap, but by ten I was wiped, so I laid down to read and woke up (feeling great) at two a.m.  It's four-thirty now and I suspect I'll have no trouble staying awake until my regular seven-a.m. nap.  So that could be a thing that happens sometimes now, I guess?

Everyone at work — there aren't many; it's a small company — seems curious and dubious about my sleep-practices, but not hostile, and I haven't gotten any complaints about it being disruptive, so yay.  Most of them stop working to eat at some point (I don't; I prefer to eat at my desk and not break my stride for it), and one takes smoke-breaks, so loss of time hasn't come up.

My athletic schedule has been a little reduced lately, partly because of the ungodly winter we're having; but I still have three kungfu sessions a week and one or two hockey/swimming sessions, plus the little things like walking several miles and learning to do pull-ups (I'm up to four!) at home.  All this seems fine, though it isn't quite enough from the perspective of how much kinetic energy I need to off-gas in order to stay happy and balanced.  I'm planning to add regular visits to the climbing-gym once things settle in a bit more, and we'll see how that affects things.

Aaaand that's pretty much the update.  My eyes have kind of had it again — extra computer-time having that effect — so I'm going to log off for a bit and do some much-needed stretching.

Peace out, everyone!

February 20, 2014   3 Comments

Naps & Work Volume 5: Semi-electronic generative-algorithm bugaloo

More polyphasic sleep updates for ya'll.  I'm starting a new job soon, and unlike my last one, this one requires full-time presence in an office.



So here you go, Internet:  the fun bits.

  • While physical, this is a very small company.  It's stable, not very new, but also not very big; i.e. my first interview was with the owners.
  • For the first time ever, I put napping on the table *during my first interview* as something that I would want.  I was pretty nervous about that possibly costing me the gig; but thankfully, it didn't.
  • One reason it didn't is that this gig pays significantly less than I can go for based on my resume.  It's worth the cut for many reasons, but unless I fill in some of my time with other work, the cut will be unpalatable.  I can afford to live, not save, on what I'll be making now; so more is needed.
  • I have a plan for making said extra income.  It takes about 2-3 hours, not every day but most days, of work.  It'll also be slow to pay off, but gradually make more, and the income should become more residual and less work-based, which is also a thing I want.
  • Therefore, I NEED my naps — at minimum one before and after work, and one at lunchtime.  I'll be spending my mornings — that nice quiet time between four and seven — working on this side-project.  (Note:  It's not a new project; I've been on it for the last couple months, so it's got momentum; though I haven't been devoting mornings to it regular.)
  • There currently ISN'T a place to nap at the new job — I'll have to find one and make everybody comfortable with it.  I also don't have a car to nap in, so it has to work in the office.
  • The climbing gym I plan to spend my evenings in has a good spot for napping — or at least it has, the few times I've been there.  I napped there once and it was fine.  Maybe the evenings are more crowded and thus less nappable?  We'll see; I can nap in quite a crowd anymore.  ;)

So an average day (unmodified by taiji or hockey) is going to look like:  4am up, early breakfast (usually buttered coffee), project work; 7am nap, 7:30 shower, make lunch & snack, etc., 8:30am leave for work (get to work before 9, HECK YES no commute!); lunchtime nap; 6pm walk to climbing gym, maybe blow off some steam before napping, then burn myself out like I need to.  I'll skip the gym Monday & Thursday for hockey.  Two days will have taiji in the mornings, so work will start later and run later.  Evenings can go to whatever project or no project; I might schedule them more specifically later, but I want to try the bones of this first.  I'm keeping my usual sleep-schedule of "1am bedtime if I got my 7:30pm nap; if there's hockey or something and I had to miss it, 11:30 bedtime".  I may want to improve that — heck, I see a possible future where I might have a shot at Uberman again! — but for now, the E3/E4.5 swing will work well enough.  Also, I'm really going to have to muster my shopping and cooking skills to make this work; there's neither time nor money in this schedule to eat on-the-fly.  Back to bento boxes and bulk cooking! 

That's a lot of change at once:  New job, new budget, new daily schedule, new evening hang-out place, new food requirements — pretty much everything but my sleep-schedule is changing.  And I know I've said numerous times that making multiple changes at once can be way harder, and it certainly can; but there's a special case where, when some big things are going to change, they can pull along smaller changes with them, by helping set the defaults the right way.  (A good example of this is how getting new friends and time-spending habits can help someone quit a drug.)  

Anyway, I'll update on how sleeping-at-work is going in the next few weeks.  Wish me luck!

February 2, 2014   No Comments

“When Should I Give Up” on my Polyphasic Adaptation?

Tossing this question onto the front page since I've been getting it in relatively high proportions in email.  The question is,

"I'm on day X of my adaptation.  I just overslept Y time(s) for Z duration!  Should I give up now or keep going?"

This is related to discipline, which in the book I spend more time mentioning than explaining.  But for practical purposes, it can be explained with pretty simple advice — two pieces of them.

1.  When you decide to adapt, SET A DEADLINE BEFORE WHICH YOU WILL NOT QUIT.  Then don't quit before it — plain and simple.  Don't.  If it's before your deadline and you're asking (yourself or me or anyone else) if you should quit becuase blah blah whatever, the answer is "NO".


2.  If you possibly can, appoint someone as your Kill Switch.  This should be someone you see often, whom you can trust to a) understand your reasons for wanting to become polyphasic, and root for your success as much as you do, and b) keep a balanced view of your health and safety vs. your wishes.  THE INSISTENCE OF YOUR KILLSWITCH IS THE ONLY THING that can make you quit before your deadline.  

So that's my "official" advice on that.  Of course I must add that YMMV, and that this is just what worked for me — but I was successful, and I've known other people who took similar steps who were successful too.  It's simply true that while you're hella sleep-deprived, you're not going to have the best ability to make the decisions non-sleep-deprived you would want you to make:  So (says my theory) you pre-set your discipline, you code in a default behavior that cannot be overwritten until you're past the worst, at least, of the sleep-dep.

Of course, oversleeping still screws you up:  By making your adaptation period longer, you run the risk of either extending it past your own endurance for Suck, and/or pushing it beyond your Deadline.  DON'T OVERSLEEP.  And don't even entertain thoughts of giving up until one of the things you pre-selected as something that could make you give up happens.  Use my two pre-selected things above (a Deadline and a Killswitch), or roll your own — but don't doubt your adaptation while you're in the middle of it.

Never doubt a thing when you're in the middle of it, actually.  By then the time for doubt is over.


January 29, 2014   1 Comment

My Reddit “Ask Me Anything” is Live!

Hey everyone!  You, your moms, your friends, your childhood bullies, and everyone who's ever read bad fanfic can harrass me on Reddit for the next few hours by following this link!

(You can also use the link later on to read the questions and responses.)

Thanks in advance; talk to you all soon!


January 17, 2014   No Comments

Awwww yeah: Science says napping significantly helps memory.

A fun, triumphant read.  ;)

A Science-Backed Mind Hack To Work Faster And Smarter (While Getting Some Much-Needed Rest) | Riskology.com.

P.S. The Reddit AMA is on!  I'll start at 4pm on Friday, January 17.

January 11, 2014   3 Comments

Reporting for Deontology, Sir!

Happy New Year and Post-Holiday Recovery, everyone!  

How about this year we all resolve to sleep better and think better, by whatever actions take us in the right direction?


Here's my one year report, cap'ns!  (Actually, this is just a report of the things that I accomplished or am building upon from last year to this.  There were plenty of failures to, but you know who has two thumbs and doesn't give a shit about past failures?  THIS GAL.  ;)

I started a new writing project that is Sooper Secret And Therefore Exciting!  Maaaaybe I'll talk more about that eventually, but possibly not; suffice it to say that I'm really geeked to have a new Personal Dare on my plate.

I did a lot of polyphasic-advancement stuff in 2013, I suppose — publishing the Second Edition, plus a pretty good handful of interviews, plus hooking up with a few really fascinating persons who are advancing knowledge in different ways related to and surrounding polyphasic sleep.  In 2014 I hope to finish brushing up this site, will probably do a few more interviews (there are actually two on my plate right now!), and maybe actually do something proactive to spread good information.  [I KNOW RIGHT?  I'm considering kicking off that task by doing an AMA on Reddit, as a polyphaser who's actually been at it for years, not just a couple months.  Would love to hear your thoughts on that!]

I kicked butt in kungfu!  Learned a bunch of applications (i.e. rillyfighting) and also more of the internal-arts thing than I'd ever thought possible; plus I made mad progress on my flexibility.  (Yes, if you were wondering, it is a little weird — and a little marvelous — to be coming into middle-age and to be more fit and flexibile than you ever were as a teen. ;)  And probably got much better in hockey, too, though most days it still feels like I SUCK; *but* this may be because of the seriously high quality of the people I play with, and that's a win too.  Oh yes, and I tried climbing for the first time in 2013, and while I only did a bit of it, I did get up to v3 in gym bouldering, and I went sport-climbing and even set my own leads once.  Will definitely do that more too, when I can.  And sailing!  I almost forgot; this was the year I first tried sailing, and two races and a bunch of classes later, I'm still ridiculously in love with it.  OH RIGHT AND I SHOT A FISH:  My first catch with a speargun was a nice-sized blackfish, perfect shot, on breathhold under 50ish feet of water.  THAT was an incredible feeling, and well worth the two years of effort I've put into swimming and diving.

There's other stuff, probably, but I'm sick of typing…having a Real Writing Project sucks the bloggage right out of me, but to be honest?  That's kinda fine.


I hope you all had a billowing wad of accomplishments too, and may you a) have great plans for the future and b) not get too attached to them, because we all know how plans work, don't we?  ;)

January 7, 2014   3 Comments

On Intro- and Extroversion: Labels Are Dangerous

(I owe the polyphasic community like six hundred updates — sorry guys!  My productivity has been miserable lately, for reasons that have nothing to do with sleep.  Actually, that's one of the posts I need to write:  How being polyphasic is different from "just" a productivity hack.  But first I need to fix my shit so that I actually have time to write again!

ANYWAY.  This one feels pressing, so I'm using it for motivation to Sit In The Chair And Press The Keys, which has been unreasonably difficult lately.)

Introversion has been "a thing" lately, and I think that's good overall, since as many of us know by now, people who are introverted socially are/were often mis-labeled as being unsociable, unfriendly, antisocial, or just not pleasant to be around — and that certainly isn't fair.  Having different needs isn't a crime, and we should all be more understanding of each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Good lesson.

But as with many fad ideas, I think this one risks going too far.  If I'm reading my feeds right, approximately half of all Internet-connected humanity thinks it's an introvert now; and we know for a fact that that isn't true.  (Neither are half of them suffering from some mild form of Asperger's, I might add as a corollary.)  

I point to myself as an early example:  I was called antisocial and treated just the way introverts hate being, for a long time.  Then I was more politely labeled an introvert and, well, pretty much treated the same way, though as the idea gained traction in the nerd community, it became easier to explain my loner-hood in a single word, I guess.  I behaved like an introvert, as I think many people (especially Gen-X/Y-ers) in the "nerd subculture" do:  I avoided parties, crowds and people I didn't know, preferred the company of just one person if any, and spent a whole lot of time with my face in a book or a screen, shutting out the world.

But I wasn't an introvert.  And I wasn't "antisocial" either, whatever that means:  I was, in fact, an extrovert with a crippling case of social anxiety disorder, and a whopping history of childhood bullying and isolation that had left me unable to identify, express, and meet my own social needs.  What the early well-meaning people identified as being "socially miswired" and the later people identified as "introversion" both missed the question:  Was I *happy* that way?  Because while I think we can all agree that it's cruel and stupid to look at a young person and say, "Fuck 'em, they're antisocial", is it really more helpful to label someone (or yourself, I might add, because this is an easy cop-out rather than dealing with it) "introverted", if the end result is still ignoring a problem?

A truly introverted person spends a lot of time alone, or with one or very few companions, and is happy that way.  Their social needs — and we are humans with social needs, and not getting them met is no healthier than malnutrition — are being adequately met by their circumstances.  You could compare them (sloppily, but adequately) with people who only need three or four hours of sleep:  That's rare, and it is unhealthy and mean to force someone like that to lie in bed all night because "that's normal and normal is what we do" — but it's just as bad to ignore the sleep-deprivation of a friend who's only able to sleep three hours a night but is miserable that way.

I guess what I'm saying is, labels are dangerous.  If we really want to be compassionate to each other and understanding of our differences, we need to empathize, to see each other as individuals, and to care whether whatever someone's doing is working for them or making them happy, rather than what box it fits into.  The "introverted" label made it possible for me to continue to starve myself of social contact I actually needed — and more pertinently, the application of that label made it easy for people, even people who loved me, to ignore that I was miserable and needed to fix some things about my social life.  

What happened, finally?  I went to a very good therapist and after a few sessions I casually mentioned that I was an introvert, whereupon she actually snorted before saying, "You are one of the most extroverted people I've ever talked to!"  From there it became gradually clear that I wanted and needed social contact that I wasn't getting because I'd been taught to fear or avoid it — but because I'd been taught to fear and avoid it, and then further taught that it was just "how I was" (i.e. "my" label), I didn't actually know that that was the problem:  I only knew that I felt a lot of negative shit pretty much all the time, that I usually felt like an alien and had a hard time connecting to anyone, and that I wasn't very able to be happy either alone or in company; and that while having one safe-feeling companion seemed like a fix for that, it was often landing me in very dependent and unhealthy relationships.

And while my issues may have been pretty serious on the scale of things, I don't think it's at all uncommon for people to be misaligned with, unaware of, or not automatically able to meet their social needs.  

In fact, I think "not aware of or able to get what you need for some reason" is a LOT more common a situation than "introverted".  The difference is, the former shouldn't be written off or ignored:  it's not a stable state, a comfortable label that's fine as it is.  If you are intro (or extro) and fine, then great, awesome.  You probably know what you need, then, and are capable of going out (or not) and getting it; and therefore there's not much reason to worry — the most discomfort you face is explaining your needs to others, which come on, isn't really that bad.  (And if it is, well, stop hanging out with those particular others; they suck.)  

But if you feel lonely, cut off, anxious, unsafe, unheard, or like you hate yourself or your life…that's not a label, not a thing, and not okay.  Neither you nor the people around you should be ignoring it:  You should be fixing it.  And fixing it starts with believing that a fix is necessary and possible…something those neat handy labels can sometimes really get in the way of.  

May you find peace, whether or not you find the "right" word for it.  ;)

November 10, 2013   2 Comments

Someone Shares My Fears

In Ubersleep, I alluded to a scary possibility:  That corporations would encroach on our sleep-time to the extent that they do anything related to growth:  Maximally, without regard to the consequences.

Looks like someone wrote a (non-fiction) book about it.  I haven't read it, and I'm not entirely sure that I want to (sounds depressing, right?) but it's certainly exploring a point that people — especially those who control how companies treat people and shape society — would do well to be vigilant about.

November 9, 2013   No Comments