I've once seen a quote (can't find it on google right now) from a doctor who said something like "Trying to 'adapt' to polyphasic sleep is like trying to teach your bowel to excrete in portions of exactly 25 grams. It doesn't work that way.".
Alarm clocks are designed to scare our brains, as if we were in danger, to forcefully wake us up. I can't imagine that sort of punishment, multiple times a day, over long term.
Researching the subject, I have found the following link. Note that the Supermemo software is from the author, so there is some bias there towards using (and purchasing) the software. Other then that, the articles are interesting. http://www.supermemo.com/articles/polyphasic2010.htm
After a while of doing this (adaptation), you will get most or all of the sleep you need, just from naps, and you will no longer feel sleep deprivation.
Check out the book "Ubersleep" written by Pure Doxyk, someone who has successfully done long-term polyphasic sleep, for details on this model of sleep.
Polyphasic is perfect for the person who doesn't have any other life commitments and wants to be super productive every day. (Weekend mornings get super boring, btw. So I replayed every Xbox game I own. And then that got boring.)
One interesting fact is that people attempting to hack their sleep never talk about it, and from the perspective of sporty people, the reason is obvious.
Overall though, it was the negatives on the social side of things, rather than the physical, that caused me to stop.
I think I did 3 hours core, 3x20 naps, then switched to 4.5+2x20.
The adaptation period was almost exactly three weeks, iirc. After that it wasn't too bad.
So far I'm not seeing any concrete evidence that the general idea of polyphasic sleep is anything but wishful thinking. I recognize that anecdotes are not data, but after a while the complete lack of even anecdotes of success, after the number of people trying it publicly, is itself evidence of a sort.
"Biphasic", or "afternoon naps", by comparison, are indeed quite natural, though I'm not sure I've seen that much convincing evidence that night sleep+naps is universally better or worse than just night sleep. Individual differences are probably swamping any attempt to make sweeping declarations. Personally I do a lot of "just listen to my body" here and over the years and various growth and health stages I've swung all around on what I seem to need.
Polyphasic sleep for a month means exactly nothing. I've been sleep deprived for periods longer than that, sleeping less than six hours a day. Doesn't mean that "sleep deprivation works", or that it is healthy, or that it can be sustained.
Not to say that polyphasic is healthy or anything, but despite the slightly weird feeling, I feel much more functional when polyphasic than when sleep deprived.
Maybe a mixed solution would work, biphasic sleep during the week when you're maximising productivity, monophasic when it's less important (holidays etc) to get around the constraints. Not sure, I might experiment with it.
There are no research results on these numbers yet and it could be only 4 times faster, 10 times faster or accelerate by one time faster every month, however the reason for accelerated aging process is the fact that with Polyphasic sleep you only hit the REM phases of sleep, which regenerates your mind.
So you can give your mind a break and it will be back to speed again, however you never hit deep sleep phases which is where the cell regeneration happens.
So as long as you're doing Polyphasic Sleep, you are essentially going without cell regeneration, thus the accelerated aging process.
So you have to be aware of the trade off between increased productivity to accelerated aging. However, Polyphasic Sleep for 2 weeks in a crucial time in your life (finals, startup just getting traction etc.) it can definitely be an attractive option, because it can improve your life dramatically and it doesn't really matter if your lose a couple of weeks of life span, since you can get it back when your can harvest your fruits of work. :)
I'm highly doubtful of polyphasic sleep but the phrase "you age several times faster during that time, approximately around 5 times faster" is at the same time vague and yet oddly specific.
The way I see it, if you're able to successfully adapt to Uberman, you get an additional ~6 hours a day. Any negative effects you would experience from being on Uberman need to be collectively greater than getting 6 hours of additional life per day, in order for it to not be worth it.
6 hours per day is really awesome. It's not just additional productivity. It's additional life. And it's not additional life at the end of your life, it's additional life now, when the value is likely to be very high.
A useful test for these sorts of things is to ask yourself whether you would make the same trade if it were to be reversed. If you had grown up on polyphasic sleep, would you give up 6 hours of your life per day in order to feel mildly more productive on average, and to gain some additional flexibility in your schedule?
It led to some very interesting conversations with managers at work who weren't completely happy with me sleeping at work twice a day.
Even after I stopped, I was suddenly able to nap more or less whenever I wanted which was a nice benefit.
In retrospect, I'm not sure if my dreams were actually more vivid (or if the lucid ones occurred with actually greater frequency), or if they just felt that way because I moved so quickly between sleep and wake, so the dreams weren't cleared from my working memory. (If I had to wager, I'd say it's more a matter of recall bias than actual improvement in dream quality.)
Perhaps it takes a long, long time to adjust to a polyphasic sleep regimen. Perhaps some of us just can't do it, due to the idiosyncrasies of our physiologies.
An interesting article by a fellow HN commenter, who did an extensive self-study on sleep quality (including thoughts on the costs vs. benefits of polyphasic sleep):
- I gave up caffeine the month before the trial. I had pretty significant withdrawal effects (migraines) for that month.
- I was pretty much completely non-functional for about half an hour before the scheduled nap times
- I didn't think I was impacted very much, but friends commented after that I definitely seemed less bright than normal. I hope that it was for the half an hour mentioned above, but if you want to try it you should definitely try and get some objective measurement of performance.
- I still notice effects to this day. I can nap pretty much wherever & whenever I want, and fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Before the trial, it used to take me hours to fall asleep.
- The first 14 days are really difficult because the system must adapt and causes a severe lack of sleep. During this period, I would not trust myself to drive a car.
- Do not drink coffee and alcohol because it completely destabilizes the system.
- The vivid/lucid dreams where an incredible experience.
- Not sleeping at the same hours as my girlfriend.
- Time... so much time! It is also often the reason that people fail to polyphasic sleeping. Some people don't find anything to do and fall asleep watching television.
Overall a very pleasant experience!
I find my concentration improves tremendously after I've been awake for 20-24 hours, and I can continue being more productive than usual for up to about 40 hours, at which point the negative effects start to outweigh the positives.
Anyone experienced anything similar? I should note that I've not done this repeatedly/for extended periods and I only allow myself to do it if I'm sufficiently well-rested. (Otherwise I just figure it really isn't going to be worth it and I'm better getting myself to bed and getting an early start.)
I'm afraid I have no data to support my claims. In the absence of data I do have an anecdote though(!) - I remember when I was maybe 8-12 years old travelling long-haul and had been up for 45+ hours absolutely SMASHING a puzzle game (slide the blocks type thing) on my Gameboy - previously I'd struggled to get past the initial few levels. I'd not thought about it much until recently when I noticed this effect (end of Master's degree... you know the score).
This is nit-picking if I'm right but potentially enlightening if I'm wrong (so apologies if it's the former): wouldn't /insomnia/ be the symptom of mania, and sleep deprivation be the consequence?
Also, I always thought of mania as being either very 'up' or very 'down' - is that my ignorance? I feel neither happy nor sad during these periods, just a lot more focussed.
Productivity was great. I felt rested after my small naps and the dreaming felt very real. Almost to real for certain types of dreams.
I am in the middle of writing a video game and was talking with my wife yesterday about trying this again to get through the last crunch.
There are the more obvious obstacles: your friends, family, and co-workers don't follow the same schedule. It's lonely for anyone who values social connection. Unless you work on your own, the workplace is a bad environment for sleep.
There are also potential health concerns for certain polyphasic sleep schedules. Most polyphasic sleepers don't sleep a full ~8.5 hours in a day. Your body uses sleep to refresh your body and keep the body (particularly the circulatory system) running strong. On my schedule, I started by sleeping about 5 hours. I was monitoring my blood pressure, and while it remained within a healthy range (I was in my mid twenties) the variance was much greater than it was on 8.5 hours. When I went to sleep late at night, my BP was quite low.
The long-term health effects aren't well known - there aren't many people to study, and a clinical trial would be all but impossible (people would likely not adhere to it). We can make some guesses, though. For one thing, you're altering the way melatonin and cortisol work in your system. Messing with your body's chemical and hormonal balance usually doesn't turn out well for health.
We have one group to compare with: people who work night shifts. Studies have shown they're at increased risks for heart problems, ulcers, obesity, depression, some cancer, other gastrointestinal diseases, and possibly more. (Just Google it or use Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=night+shift+worker...) I certainly experienced depression.
There are other things that are just annoying. As someone else stated, coffee is a bad idea, and so is alcohol, and I enjoy both. Most people will have to decide between holding to a schedule or attending others' events. You'll probably either eat worse at night or have to cook more. Nothing is open when you're awake. The list goes on.
I don't recommend it, but if you DO think you want to try it, still, here are some suggestions:
-You must have a completely dark room to sleep in during the daytime.
-Avoid coffee and alcohol. In fact, cut coffee and alcohol out before you change your sleep schedule. Doing both (especially if you rely on coffee) will be quite a shock.
-To adhere to the schedule, you'll have to think of what you're going to do when no one you know is awake. You need to schedule things.
-Don't forget to schedule social things. I tried to be wake up before 7 PM when many social things seem to start.