Three weeks ago I came down with virus-like symptoms that could have been the result of a virus or tick-bite fever. Either way, I endured a week of sporadic cold-sweats, aching and weak body, and pounding headaches – whoohoo. During that time I set my alarm for the usual offensive 00:30 or 01:30 (depending on if I went to bed at 21 or 22:00) but only managed to find the strength to get out of bed on three of those seven trying days. Such unavoidable (in)action did not exactly bode well for the polyphasic sleep pattern I had worked so hard to develop during the six weeks prior to the onset of the condition.
Let it be said that I was listening to my body. The last thing I wanted to do was stay in bed and jeopardise a very useful schedule that only works well when all chunks of sleep are taken in their required doses, i.e. three or three-and-a-half hours plus three 20 minute naps at scheduled times during the day. The unavoidable lapse back into monophasic sleep for those four days of that week was what my body needed for recovery; it felt like I needed to be rendered unconscious for that time because that was how my immune system could best cope with the fever.
Of the three ‘usual’ polysleep days, only one was mildly reminiscent of the zombie-mode that accompanies adjustment to the sleeping routine. That said, I was quite ill, so my sorry state could simply have been due to the condition rather than due to a mini-readaptation. The other two days of polysleep were challenging, but doable; I really forced myself to stick to the schedule because it seemed like more days sleeping monophasically would derail the good habit entirely.
There was, however, a consequence to the mixed up week of part-poly part-mono sleeping that lasted for at least a week. The more I think about it, the more I must associate this consequence with the onset of much colder weather here in Port Elizabeth. The consequence amounts to remaining in bed after nap one, which I usually take at 04.10 or 05:10 depending on what time I go to sleep. Now more than ever the bed feels super-snuggly. As documented in this blog, my permaculture homestead is, well, rather rustic, and my tiny house (3.6 by 3.6 metres) is an uninsulated wooden box! An uninsulated tiny wooden box that I happen to love and proudly call my home, but it is cold!
I would retrieve the alarm on the other side of the room (I put it as far away as possible so that I am forced to get out bed), but then I would get straight back into bed. Initially I told myself that I would remain awake and just ‘amp’ myself for the cold, but inevitably I dozed into and out of consciousness. The upside of this was the intensely vivid dreams I kept having, but the downside was that my naps later in the day were less likely to hit the necessary REM state due to it being messed with after nap one. Come to think of it, I did start drinking a cup of coffee a day since the onset of the fever – it helped take my headache away! (No, seriously, it did!). Maybe the reintroduction of caffeine into my diet played a part here too.
The above consequence lasted for about a week. I attribute its onset partly to post-recovery, and partly to a weird re-adaptation that I was not really consciously aware was occurring and I was therefore not consciously equipped to deal with – and maybe the reintroduction of coffee into my diet didn’t help! A week ago, however, I broke that habit, but on two of the previous seven mornings I must have switched my alarm off at 00:30 or 01:30 and climbed back into bed without realising that I was doing so. I did have a social occasion last Thursday that required me to begin the past week by re-organising my core nap to 16:00 in order to stay awake for as long as possible thereafter, which did really mess with my sleep the following day, and which likely has something to do with one of the mornings in question. Certainly yesterday morning, which saw me do my sleepwalking alarm disarming trick, was because I had two glasses of wine the night before; I have had hardly any alcohol in three months, so it is not hard to see what happened here.
At least I have managed to get up and start typing this morning in celebration of an official nine weeks of Everyman 3 polyphasic sleeping. I am going to try to keep at it, but I have learnt not to get too worried or disappointed when I cannot stick to the schedule – I have yet to revert to full-on zombie-mode when my schedule has been disrupted, and I have only myself to berate me for a ‘lack of discipline’, which is quite a pathological psychological response to such disruption, so it’s better just to go with the flow. I have been left with a strong sense that alcohol, however, is quite incompatible with the kind of lifestyle (of which poly-sleeping is an important part) that I am generally finding is best for me. I have my suspicions that coffee, even one cup a day, is also not entirely good in this regard, but I do not want to accept this just yet; let’s see what happens…