My Polyphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 1

Still Alive So Far

As of 10am yesterday, I put myself on a polyphasic sleep schedule, starting with a 30 minute nap at noon, with subsequent naps every 4 hours. The drill goes like this: every 4 hours, I go to bed and set a nap alarm for 30 minutes. I go to sleep, and wake up 30 minutes later when the alarm goes off.

This is great in theory, but in practice, it’s hard to fall asleep on command. The best I could manage was a brief sort of quasi-consciousness, verging momentarily on a dreamlike state, before coming starkly awake again, usually before my alarm went off.

Regardless, I wasn’t very tired until 8am this morning, which is understandable, as by then I had gone almost 22 hours without any substantial sleep. My alarm woke me up at 8:30, just as I was drifting off. My body felt like it was made of concrete, and I could barely stand up or keep my eyes open. I decided to give myself another 30 minutes. At 9am, I didn’t feel any better, and in the end, I continued napping in chunks until 11am, when I felt better.

I’m back on the schedule now, and my 4pm nap is coming up shortly. I may have screwed things up this morning, and I’ll have to come up with a way of pushing through that exhaustion, at least for these first few days.

Physically, I’ve noticed some minor muscle aches, and interestingly, my legs are not nearly as sore from my run as they would usually be; I’m attributing this to the fact that I didn’t spend any large chunk of time lying still, letting the lactic acid soak in. Instead of that painful shock when I get up, I have felt my muscles get progressively more sore and tight, and have been able to work and stretch them accordingly.

It was neat being awake from 4:30am to 8am this morning; I was watching an episode of the Colbert Report, and at the beginning it was black outside, but by the end it was complete daylight. Most of us are used to sundown, but unfamiliar with the sunrise. It feels kind of like when you come out of a matinee movie, and it’s still light out: a disquieting excess of time.


  1. #1 by Anonymous - August 21st, 2006 at 15:31

    Sleeping mask. After a while, your brain should learn to fall asleep with the uniform darkness.

  2. #2 by yoursinwriting - August 21st, 2006 at 15:37

    This thought crossed my mind during those first naps– thanks for the reinforcement. I will go pick one up today.

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