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September, 2010:

Experiment’s End

I’ve decided to stop my experiment for now. The main reason for this is that I felt like I was adjusting quite a bit the first weekend but only to about half of where I wanted to be. I expected to adjust at least a little more the second weekend, but this did not go as expected. If anything the second weekend felt like I wasn’t further adjusting at all, I continued to be overcome by drowsiness when I was supposed to be awake. If anything, I’d say it was more difficult to stay awake a week down the line.

I am not, by any means, saying that this means that this sort of sleep schedule is impossible. I think that with a little more discipline, this could work. In fact, although I’ve stopped this experiment. I am already thinking about trying it again, probably this time with some slight modifications based on my experience for this past experiment.
Reaction Time:
9/14/10 9:52 am 273.2 ms

Day 8-9

After oversleeping, the day went pretty well, through the night I was able to stay awake fairly easily, probably due to the extra sleep although during the day there were a few times where I nodded off for a few seconds. One thing that I find particularly interesting about the entire thing is that my drowsiness level fluctuates drastically during the day but doesn’t seem to depend on anything in particular. Sometimes I’ll be drowsy right before a nap other times I’ll be drowsy right after a nap. Most commonly, however, I’m drowsy in the early morning. In some cases this drowsiness is extreme and threatens to induce an unscheduled nap, the rest of the time its just a general feeling.

Some other blogger mentioned that he took some extra naps during especially tired times and I’m tempted to try it. The main problem with being drowsy is that if I do fall asleep, I do so without having an alarm set. If I instead decided to take an extra nap, I might be able to avoid this.
Reaction Time:
9/11/10 12:31 pm 253.8 ms

Day 7

Overslept last night for 5 hours when I accidentally fell asleep after waking from my 2:30 am nap as my 5:30 am nap approached. I think it could have been avoided if I had gotten up and gone for a walk or did something engaging instead of sitting around staring at my computer screen. The main thing is that on certain nights at around this time my body gets so tired that resisting the drag to bed is really quite difficult.

The first sign is just a feeling of lazyness that precludes things to keep myself awake such as walks or demanding activities. This feeling sets in more and more until I can barely keep my eyes open.

I did some additional research today on polyphasic sleep, I found one set of articles that were extremely skeptical of the entire thing claiming that it gathers its strength from the attention it gets on the Internet and that it has not been proven in any labs.

The best research in the area seems to be done by Dr. Claudio Stampi, a sleep researcher specializing in this area. There is a good video about a study of his featuring the Uberman sleep schedule. The video seems to be quite guarded in its analysis. Although the conclusion seems to be that the body can learn to function under a polyphasic sleep schedule, it is not without duress. The research mentioned that mental performance was inhibited during the maintenance of this schedule although the subject’s self-report seemed fairly positive for most of the experiment.

The tradeoff seems to be, as with most things quantity versus quality. A full nights sleep will keep you at full capacity but a polyphasic cycle will grant you a large amount of extra time at a lower mental capacity.

In the sidebar there were another set of videos by a girl who vlogs about her polyphasic sleeping and claims to enjoy her schedule very much. Her user page can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/aeia

I do rather enjoy staying up all night, even if I’m not fully alert the entire time. I have high hopes for the day that I become fully adjusted to this schedule.

Reaction Time
9/6/10 4:17 am 275.6 ms

Day 6

Today has been relatively unremarkable, although I was a little tired especially during the middle of the afternoon, I made all my naps on time and slept for their full duration. I suspect the feeling of tiredness has to do with the fact that I overslept the previous night. The effect that this oversleeping had on my naps resulted in me being a lot less rested.

I most certainly look forward to the point that I can feel fully rested after every nap and less drowsy during my waking hours, but for the time being I’m glad that I can function fairly well during my waking hours which are much more plentiful now.

Reaction Time:
9/9/10 2:30 am 271.8 ms

Day 5

Unfortunately I overslept again, still working on engineering a louder alarm clock. The reason this time is basically that the alarms that I’m using are timers set to 20 minutes. Unfortunately the guy who wrote the first alarm clock didn’t think that timer alarms needed any form of persistence (eg snooze). Because of this, my alarms will go off for a few minutes and then eventually assume that I’ve woken up even if I haven’t so much as touched them.

Anyway whatever the case, at work today I was wide awake due to this drastic oversleeping, although I’m fairly convinced that I would have been fine anyway.

At the suggestion of my scientist dad, I’ve decided to record my reaction time over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, I missed my chance to get a baseline for this but I’ll be interesting to see if there are any patterns emerging.

The tool I used is here: http://getyourwebsitehere.com/jswb/rttest01.html

My first recording..
9/7/10 11:30pm 275ms

This is low compared to the median and average, I’m a little surprised but I’ll blame it on being sleepy right now as it is right before my nap time.

Day 4

Today went very well, I was awake, alert and my naps were all at the correct time for the right duration. The evening went well too until about 2:30 this morning. I got extremely sleepy and eventually took a 1-2 hour nap. I think the primary reason for this is that I was sitting in a dark room watching movies.

Staying awake during the day has been a lot easier than staying awake at night. I’ve been constantly snacking to try to keep myself awake. I think that watching movies was probably a bad idea, I should have picked something a little bit more active. I think that with a decent snack food, a bright room, and an mentally engaging activity, night time adjustment might be quite a bit easier.

Except for these minor setbacks, I’m feeling pretty good most of the time. Mostly awake and functional although I wouldn’t say that I’ve gotten full alertness back yet.

Day 3

Oops, not only did I oversleep once, I overslept TWICE today. This morning, I overslept my 2:30 am nap until 7:30, very unfortunate. I didn’t feel tired today, probably as a direct result of actually sleeping.. It messed up my nap schedule a bit and I ended up oversleeping another nap in the afternoon for two hours. This morning, I managed to oversleep because my phone’s battery died. I guess it was foolish of me to assume that 20% battery life would last for 20 minutes.. This afternoon I overslept because I only set one alarm and it didn’t wake me. In the future I plan on being extra diligent in setting multiple alarms.

Despite having overslept a few times, I’m not as worried about my adjustment as I was originally. After I overslept this morning I had a nap that I woke up in the middle of remembering a dream. It wasn’t particularly vivid and by now I’m second guessing whether I actually had it. At any rate, I think that my naps will be getting better from here on out.

Its a bit past midnight now, I’m apprehensive about my next two naps which I’ll have to be sure to wake from without any help from my girlfriend. Today I’ve been rather off on my schedule for naps, but today I plan on trying to adhere very closely to my set nap times.

Night 2

Today went pretty well overall. This morning I had a breakfast, something for which I haven’t really had time the past few weeks. I napped before leaving for work and was able to stay very productive during the first half of the day until about lunch time. I began to feel very sleepy and even after lunch, the sensation only intensified. However, about an hour after lunch (and my after lunch nap) I suddenly felt fully alert again having adequately absorbed my lunch. The rest of the day passed just as productively.

After my afternoon nap, I went out to dinner. Driving feels a bit more difficult under the sleep deprivation, I have been making extra sure to keep very alert and remain undivided in my attention so as to minimize the hazard.

All in all, the adjustment has been going relatively uneventfully. I still don’t think that I have had a REM cycle during my naps, although I’ve woken from my naps feeling neither groggy nor alert. If anything, my state of alertness seems more correlated to my recent meals than anything else. I normally find myself waking from the naps quickly and easily feeling not too much different from when I went to sleep originally.

I’ve found it more and more easy to fall asleep quickly and I wake from my naps with the distinct feeling that time has passed, although often it feels as if the time passing exceeds the actual 20 minutes that I’m setting my alarm for. I have been pleasantly surprised at how little trouble I am having waking up to my alarms. When originally contemplating this experiment,  I had planned on getting an alarm clock and even a watch to set redundant alarms. I have yet to feel the need for anything further to prevent oversleeping.

If anything the most palpable threat has been that of falling asleep again after disabling my alarm while laying in bed for a few moments collecting myself. To combat this, I make an effort to hop out of bed and immediately make myself active.

Night 1

Its the morning of my first night of no monophasic sleep. The night almost seemed like a teaser for whats to come. I got all the waking hours that I would under a night of polyphasic sleep, but none of the rest. I didn’t manage to fall asleep for the first few naps, mostly tossing and turning for 20 minutes instead. However the last few had me tired enough that I fell asleep for a moment before being rudely awakened by my alarm clock.

So far my alarm clock seems to be working fine for waking me up, I’m a little worried it wont continue to work as I get more and more sleep deprived. If I feel like there’s any risk of oversleeping, I’ll set an additional alarm. Feeling a bit sleepy still, but I think this will fade away with a shower and some breakfast.

The worst is yet to come, I am certain. Tonight will be much more difficult as I’ll be running on half as much sleep!

The last night of sleep

Tonight will be the last time sleeping normally for as long as this experiment continues. I must say, I’m pretty excited to start this, I’m quite curious to see how well my body adapts to such a sudden and drastic change in sleep schedule. The good news is that my sore throat that has been residual for a few weeks is continuing to subside. I was a little worried about how it might be affected by the sleep deprivation.

My girlfriend has expressed minor disappointment at the prospect that I’ll be a zombie all weekend including the holiday on Monday. Although I do suspect that I’ll be tired, I plan on being as active as possible not only to help me keep myself awake, but also to try to convince my body that it needs to adjust quickly.

This particular weekend has been chosen especially because of the holiday, the objective being to minimize the zombie effect during working hours. I expect to function well enough Friday as I’ll have only missed one night of sleep. Saturday will probably be the worst followed by Sunday which could be just as bad contingent on how quickly I adjust to the point that I get my first REM cycle during a nap.

If all goes well, by working hours on Tuesday I’ll be adjusted enough to function at reasonable capacity. From reference materials and other blogs that I’ve read regarding this transition, I can expect to mostly adapt to the new schedule in  four to eight days.