Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Update: Polyphasic, Night #5

So, tonight begins my 5th night following the polyphasic sleep pattern I'd mapped out. Staying awake between naps during the overnight hours is definitely proving to be the hardest part. My brain is in enough of a fog during those hours that I come really close to dozing off, thinking "it's perfectly normal to doze off when I feel this sleepy"... i.e. I'm forgetting about my experiment! To help combat this, I decided to make a list in the middle of the day of tasks for my night time... that way I have some clear focus to guide me during the night fog. First on tonight's list -- blog a status update :-P

I've been able to stick to my planned nap schedule fairly well, with only a couple of instances where my nap start time came late due to other circumstances around me, such as starting my 5:30p nap at 6:00p due to family dinner. My initial naps over the weekend generally were such that I did fall asleep even if I didn't dream, but during the last two days I'm finding it more difficult to fall asleep during my daytime naps. When I start a nap, it seems like I'm not going to reach sleep at all, like I'm sitting with my eyes closed for 15 minutes thinking "I'm not asleep yet"... then suddenly the timer goes off, and I realize I did finally fall asleep, though I did not reach dream sleep. The night time naps are different, in that I do fall asleep fast, but still no dreams. The only exception was today's 12:15p lunchtime nap, where I fell asleep fairly quickly and woke up exactly 20 minutes into it. Also exceptional about this nap was that I was not groggy or foggy at all after waking, and was more clear-headed through the afternoon than I have been since I started this last Friday. I had thought perhaps I'd moved closer to the sleep transition, but then my 5:30p and 9:30p naps were dreamless and I slept up to the timer alarm. I'm fairly groggy while writing this, though focusing on this is helping clear the fog... although, it's still difficult to keep my burning eyes open to read what I'm writing.

One alteration to my original plan that I started this morning was to set my timer to 40 minutes, whereas it was originally 30 minutes. I had thought that perhaps another 10 minutes of sleep time might allow me to reach dream sleep, especially since lately it seemed like it's taken longer for me to initially fall asleep. I plan to continue this, especially after today's lunchtime nap showed me that I'll most likely wake up myself after around 20 minutes of good sleep, timer or no timer.

Regarding my peripheral changes I'd mentioned making in order to help my chance of success, I easily made the switch to the herbal coffee. I'd brewed a 75/25 coffee/herbal mix on Friday after dinner, just to see what difference in taste I could perceive with only 1/4 herbal, and the taste was fine... I could taste some difference, but it certainly still tasted like coffee. So, on Saturday morning, I brewed pure herbal. The Java blend that I got tastes to me like other semi-flavored coffees I've tried before, so the "this ain't coffee" reaction that I'd feared did not occur. I brewed pure herbal again Sunday and Monday, and didn't feel any need for coffee at all today. I did have a hint of a headache on Saturday afternoon, which I could almost attribute to caffeine withdrawal, but since I've not had one since, I'm not sure that's the case... it might have just been due to the initial sleep deprivation that my body was first having to deal with on Saturday.

I've done so-so on the fruit diet. I didn't have much fruit available already at home over the weekend, so my typical diet prevailed. I don't think it had any problematic effects though. I got back to the fruit on Monday, purchasing apples and bananas on the way to the office. I added strawberries and grapes to the batch today. This fruit-all-day approach is starting to leave me craving other foods during the day, so I'm considering adding my plain-turkey-on-whole-wheat sandwich back, which has always been my stable lunch item for a long time now.

Assuming no big breakthoughs, I'll wait until probably Sunday to post my next update. A big thanks to all my PHP buds that have been checking in on my progress and encouraging me... it definitely helps!


Anonymous said...

Be careful sleeping too much. Based on the research I've done, you might need to restrict the sleep more to force your body into the REM cycle quicker.

Good job making it this far though!

The Nazg said...

The reading I've done on the various schedules show a range of 20-40 minutes per nap, but you do highlight a point I'd let myself forget -- it's the sleep deprivation itself that's supposed to force my body to adjust. If I'm not falling asleep fast enough during my 30min nap, I probably have some more deprivation to invest. I'll fall back to the 30min timer.

Incidentally, today is the second day of a perfect lunchtime nap -- fell asleep quickly, dreamed, woke up in 20 minutes before the timer went off, and feeling fairly refreshed. Now if only the other five naps would cooperate in such a manner :-P