It’s 02:55 on a Sunday morning and quite frankly I’m amazed I’m typing these words; amazed that I managed not to smash the alarm half an hour ago, and not get back into bed; amazed that I can keep my eyes open. Yes, I’m groggy at this very moment, probably the groggiest I’ve been during the polyphasic sleeping experiment – all because of my own doing, mind you. Nevertheless, I did somehow get up and get typing after a 3hr30minute core sleep, which I would have battled to do after my old monophasic 7-8 hours’ sleep . How can this be?
Mostly my ‘Everyman’ sleeping schedule has been: 22:00 to 01:15, followed by 20 minute naps at 05:10, 09:10, and 15:40. There have been mornings when I awake from my core feeling great, but mostly I’m still battling to overcome early morning fatigue; this is an expected aspect of the adaptation period. But I’m not making things easy for myself because I have not been able to stick to the set core and nap times.
Yesterday (Saturday) I went to a wedding and returned home at 22:45, and went to sleep at 23:00. I had 3 alcoholic drinks (punch, champagne, wine) at the reception (in the 3 weeks prior I had 1 drink in total) , and too much pudding (I hardly had in sugar in the 3 weeks prior); oh yes – I also had 1 cup of coffee earlier during the day to see what happens. On Friday night I only got into bed at 00:00, after a seriously long and busy day in the baking sun digging trenches and threading cables through piping for an internet cable to ‘the shack’ – worth it, but shattering. In contrast, on Wednesday I was asleep at 21:00 and awake at 00:30 and shifted my naps around my part-time university lecturing job requirements (I slept on the tea room floor there at 08:10, and on an office couch at 14:40).
So since Wednesday the times at which I took my core sleeps were 21:00, 22:00; 00:00, and 23:00 – this is wild variation of schedule and is not recommended in the literature I have read on polyphasic sleeping. And yesterday was massively indulgent for me. After yesterday’s 10:00 coffee, I next napped for 15 minutes at 15:15 and woke up 10 minutes before the alarm – I usually set the alarm for 25 minutes per nap, allowing 5 minutes’ fall-asleep time. I awoke feeling good, but by 21:00 I was crashing hard. It’s not surprising I am paying this morning.
What is surprising is the fact that I had the motivation to get out of bed this morning. Indeed, getting up mostly at 01:15 for the past 11 days seems like something I would never have been able to do in the past. Quite strangely, I am really inspired by this process. Not just to get up, but during the day too; and not just when it comes to taking the naps, but more generally when it comes to the ‘chores’ of daily life. I’m sure the minimum of 1 hour’s meditation per day for over the past month plays a big part in the process, but I’ve been even more motivated since starting to sleep polyphasically.
There is a lot to be said for having 3 to 4 hours’ extra time in a day. Despite my early morning grogginess, I manage to get at least 2 hours’ academic work done on the computer before the first nap of the day at 5:10. I managed to write a few blog entries alongside the academic work on a few of the mornings. During other mornings, as well as doing the academic work, I successfully did some exercise. And there has been a successful meditation ‘sit’ along the way – though I do not recommend trying to meditate as most often I give up due to drowsiness, and instead I prefer to ‘sit’ before the 09:10 nap with incomparably better concentration.
All of the above early-morning activities are ones that I would have liked to fit into my old monophasic sleep schedule, but this would have been impossible due to the time- and energy- consuming aspects of ‘life on the plot’. Being logistically-minded (a characteristic I’m happily seeing fade away), it is a real blessing to have all of the listed activities ‘out of the way’, because I don’t start stressing at e.g. 16:30 when all I have managed to do in the day are half the plot-chores and half the required quantity of academic work. Everyday used to feel too short, and there would always be things left undone, whereas now I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot before sunrise.
That’s another big deal – seeing the sun rise every morning. I have always loved sunrises and sunsets, but in Port Elizabeth the morning weather tends to be much calmer than in the evenings. So it’s a really serene time of the day to be up and about – I have taken to watering parts of the garden from sunrise, which leads into other chores being done outside, all before 07:30 a.m.!
This productivity positive far outweighs the groggy negative. I’m hoping that the latter will begin to become less and less of an issue as the adaptation period continues. Indeed, 11 days is a short period of time, so I’m interested to see how I respond to the 1:15 alarm towards the 30 days mark. Judging by the positive results in the short time period I’ve been sleeping polyphasically so far, I expect continued positive results.
A side-note in closing: during the Vipassana meditation course I went on that ended exactly a month ago, I drank no alcohol or coffee for 10 days, which was quite a change to my previous habits. By not taking these drugs, and due to the heavy meditation schedule, I experienced a profound state of mental clarity and sharpness. It’s no surprise that I started sleeping less and less while on the course. Upon returning home, I decided to stick to a predominantly alcohol and coffee free diet (I know green tea contains caffeine, but it has no noticeable impact on me, while I easily get addicted to coffee and often get the shakes from it). The idea was to have a cup of coffee and one drink on the odd occasion and see what happens. Yesterday’s indulgences in this regard were quite telling, in that the effect was a distinct blurriness this morning to add to the usual grogginess. So this, in a sense, is a public statement of my decision to ditch the alcohol and coffee for good – bye bye bitches!