Polyphasic Sleep Hacking

Boost energy and productivity while sleeping less

My Polyphasic Sleep Journey

Transitioning to polyphasic sleep isn’t easy. It takes a lot of self-control, drive, and willingness to suffer now to benefit later.

The difficulties range from physical to emotional to social. I’m sharing my daily sleep logs, experiences and thoughts while going through adaptation to hopefully help! I’m currently on my second round of adaptation to Everyman in order to test out some strategies in search of the best adaptation methods. I started this second adaptation on Day 85 where my schedule is detailed out.

You’ll notice that my sleep logs are far from my first ideal schedule and second ideal schedule. I oversleep at times and I push through a ton of different types of struggles.

 

Day 1 | Feeling Good about the Plan

Today is the day!

After a long weekend of celebrating I’m exhausted. I don’t have a particularly hard work week ahead of me and now is the time.

I successfully convinced my very understanding fiance that I’m not crazy and she’s supportive of the experiment. The plan is to give the Everyman Polyphasic sleep cycle on month and make a decision to keep going with Everyman, try another polyphasic schedule, or go back to monophasic at that time.

My Sleep Schedule

Thankfully I have a really flexible (although demanding) job that lets me basically sleep whenever I want and work whenever I want as long as everything gets done and the needle moves up and to the right. However, my job and life are also pretty variable from day-to-day and week-to-week which will make it more difficult to stick to a consistent schedule.

Here is my starting target Everyman polyphasic sleep schedule:

Core | 10:30 PM – 2:00 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:20 AM

Nap 2 | 9:00 AM – 9:20 AM

Nap 3 | 4:00 PM – 4:20 PM

This is an experiment. This ideal schedule may change slightly in the next month and I guarantee I won’t hit it as many days as I’ll miss – but it’s a good starting point. The total amount of sleep per day on this schedule is 4.5 hours. That’s about three hours less than I typically sleep now!

Optimistic

After my first day on the cycle I feel damn optimistic! My naps seemed to come at the right times of the day for the most part and I’m excited about getting started.

Nap 1 consisted of laying in bed wishing I could sleep with my mind racing a mile a minute with work thoughts after spending a few hours being super productive in the middle of the night. I also didn’t drink any caffeine today – caffeine minimization should help me sleep much better. Instead of my normal tea I drank plain hot water.

Questions

I had no clue what to eat and when. Do I eat bacon and eggs at 2 AM or do I eat that leftover Thai in the fridge at 9 AM when it sounds delicious?

I also really struggled with what day it was everytime I woke up from a nap. I’m not used to napping and it was really odd. When my fiance got home from work it seemed like a few days had passed since she left.

Typically, I’m an active person. I do Muay Thai, run, or circuit train 5 or 6 days a week. I wonder if exercising would get my body going to much to be able to nap? I don’t have to worry about that for a couple days as I’m resting a nagging abdominal injury at the moment.

 

Day 2 | Physically Tired

Core | 11:00 PM – 2:30 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:20 AM

Nap 2 | 9:00 AM – 9:20 AM

Nap 3 | 5:00 PM – 5:20 PM

First Exercise

The good news is that I successfully exercised and it felt great. Once I got moving, the workout went really well. I felt mentally and physically sharp. Afterward, I felt the same exercise afterglow with lots of positive energy.

A New Kind of Tired

This isn’t the same type of tired. Typically, when I get sleep deprived I get irritable and ’emotionally tired.’ That’s how I know I need to play sleep catch up.

I felt something totally different. I’m emotionally sharp but noticed physical effects today. For example, I missed light switches when walking into/out of rooms in the house way more than typical. I also literally fell over putting my jeans on after a shower. You know, the classic leg gets stuck tip over move. That happens to me about once every 3 years and it happened today…


My concept of time and days again were completely off today – that’s a weird feeling. It effected what sounded good to eat and also when and how much to eat. I also had some tea mid day to get through some mental grogginess and accomplish some required work.

Day 3 | Messing Up the Schedule

Core | 12:30 AM – 4:00 AM

Nap 1 | 5:30 AM – 7:00 AM

Nap 2 | Missed

Nap 3 | 7:00 PM – 7:20 PM

I already fell off the consistent schedule wagon. A (super helpful!) all-day conference left me with few options. I also had an emergency at work that kept me up late working, which didn’t help.

Schedule Adjustments

Instead of letting my late night eat into my core time, I shifted my entire core back. It was really easy to fall asleep for my core (exhausted) but getting up at 4 AM was extremely difficult. Due to my conference schedule I had no time for a second nap. In order to prepare, I took a 1.5 hour first nap. Both these adjustments worked out fairly well I think though this was certainly my toughest day so far.


I needed lots of caffeine mid-morning and early afternoon to make it through the conference with any sort of mental sharpness. I know that I need to stop this trend of increasing caffeine intake to make it through the day, but I haven’t had a choice yet.

One seemingly successful note from the day is that I ate many small meals which helped my hunger level and energy steadiness.

 

Day 4 | Peak Caffeine Consumption

Core | 11:30 PM – 3:00 AM

Nap 1 | 5:30 AM – 5:55 AM

Nap 2 | 7:15 AM – 7:40 AM

Nap 3 | 9:40 PM – 10:00 PM

Day 2 of the conference was the most exhausted I’ve been in a long while! I struggled to stay awake at all during about half of the talks. Bobbing for apples at a big, important conference isn’t a good look. Oops.

Tea City

In order to stay awake and maintain a sliver of mental sharpness, I drank a lot of caffeine for me. I had three cups of strong tea mid-day. Including a back-to-back tea dose in the early afternoon. The caffeine really boosted my alertness to get me through, but I was still struggling. If I keep this up it will really effect the quality of my sleep. I must stop with caffeine!

Intense Workout

I had my first hard core workout on the polyphasic everyman sleep schedule… It felt great! I trained Muay Thai for 1.5 hours, got my ass kicked, and felt sharp during and after.

Then, I accidentally fell asleep on the ground right before bedtime. My last ‘nap’ at 9:40 PM was completely accidental. I don’t think that’s good.

 

Day 5 | Social Life Conflict

Core | 11:0 AM – 2:30 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:25 AM

Nap 2 | 9:30 AM – 9:50 AM

Nap 3 | Missed

Today was my first day not feeling worse than the previous day!

I was able to align more accurately with my ideal schedule and I had good energy level and mental sharpness. I also completely cut caffeine today – we’ll see how long that lasts.

Social Life Gets in the Way

The day was going great until my social life got in the way of a nap… My good friend and work teammate visited for a long afternoon meeting and stayed into the evening which is fairly common. We worked, bullshitted and then went out to a late dinner with a few more friends.

I couldn’t get myself to take a nap and leave him sitting on my couch for 20+ minutes. So, I did what I typically do and suffered instead of facing a difficult social situation. I did not feel well at dinner or into the evening – I was exhausted.

What I should have done…

I am going to have to get used to social conflicts with my new schedule and I need to either prepare by shifting sleep around or take the more socially difficult way out and take a nap at an inconvenient time for others. It seems this will be one of my biggest struggles.

Day 6 | Everyman Sleep Road Trip Style

Core | 11:30 PM – 3:00 AM

Nap 1 | 5:30 AM – 5:55 AM

Nap 2 | 9:30 AM – 9:40 AM

Nap 3 | 4:00 PM – 4:25 PM

Today I drove for about 9 hours on our way out to a ski vacation in Mammoth, CA (Go there!). My first nap was in the truck with the seat leaned back in a parking lot while waiting for Amanda to run an errand. My second nap was with Amanda driving in remote Nevada. Thankfully she is supportive and doesn’t get mad at me for napping on our road trip :)

Road Trip Differences

It wasn’t a normal day… My sleep quality was certainly lower napping in the truck with more time required to fall asleep and a couple interruptions in each nap. While driving I also had that sleepy driving feeling pretty much the entire day having to focus extra hard on the road to drive decently (not sure that’s safe, but we made it fine!)

Overall, I felt good throughout the day. We drank some beer in the evening and then went straight to sleep when my head hit the pillow.

Day 7 | First Natural Wake Up!

Core | 11:00 PM – 2:20 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:30 AM

Nap 2 | 7:00 AM – 7:30 AM

Nap 3 | 5:40 PM – 6:00 PM

I woke up without an alarm at 2:20 AM (and I wasn’t about to pee my pants!)

We went skiing today, which required a solid chunk of the day without a nap. It helped that the powder was amazing and all I wanted to do was ski – not nap!

Good Schedule Adjustment

This schedule adjustment when a longer daytime period without a nap is required went really well. It felt much better than when I did a similar adjustment with a 1.5 hour first nap. I was completely awake and alert until I sat down to watch a 49ers game at about 4 PM (AKA nap time). I pushed through this fine and had an amazing day.

This crazy sleep strategy might just work! I feel super rested when waking up from only a 20 minute nap.

Day 8 | Consistent REM Naps

Core | 11:00 PM – 2:20 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:30 AM

Nap 2 | 7:00 AM – 7:30 AM

Nap 3 | 5:40 PM – 6:00 PM

I’m consistently falling to sleep quickly for naps, dreaming, and feeling rested when waking up – I’m hitting REM quickly! That means my naps are efficient in revitalizing my body and are almost immediately diving into much needed REM. My body is starting to adjust to the stress I’m putting it through to help me cope long term.

Another long day required and this sleep schedule felt good again! I went snowshoeing which I’m positive helped maintain sharpness as it was quite a workout in the freezing cold. I drank two cups of tea today, though it wasn’t as bad as my mega caffeine day. I had an important work meeting in the afternoon that fell right at my normal 4 PM nap time. I stayed mentally sharp and creative via caffeine.

Awesome day, felt good overall.

Day 9 | Oversleep happens

Core | 10:30 PM – 3:00 AM

Nap 1 | 5:00 AM – 5:20 AM

Nap 2 | 7:00 AM – 7:20 AM

Nap 3 | 5:00 PM – 5:25 PM

I overslept. NO!! I knew this would happen eventually, but I’m still bummed. The most important wake up is the one in the middle of the night. Oversleeping by 20 minutes in a nap isn’t a big deal, but oversleeping your core is bad. It certainly wasn’t a conscious decision for me to oversleep. Actually, when I got up I thought it was 2:30 when my alarm was scheduled for until I sat down at my computer. I lost an hour somehow and I’m pretty sure it was an inadvertent snooze after clicking my alarm off.

Don’t Oversleep Your Core

The reasons oversleeping your core is bad:

1) You miss the window to wake up after one sleep cycle and waking up mid second sleep cycle will make you feel groggy

2) A longer core is what we’re adapting from – so it’s reverting back to old ways which hurts adaptation to Everyman

My morning was rough. I had to pace to stay awake, got almost nothing done and really didn’t want to wake up from my 7 AM nap to hit the slopes again (but I’m so glad I did – 12 inches of fresh powder!)

Premature Wake Up

Last night I got up at 11:30 – after 1 hour of sleeping. I got up and started to get dressed thinking it was 2:30 and time to rock-and-roll. I figured it out soon enough and went back to bed. I wonder if this has anything to do with me oversleeping by an hour…

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