What is Polyphasic sleep?
- Steve Pavlina– Probably the most famous one. His experiment lasted for 4 months which is very impressive considering that most people give up after a couple days.
- The origins of SPAMAYL– This is the polyphasic pattern that I will be using. You can view the first 5 pages of the forum using WayBackMachine.
- /r/polyphasic– A subreddit of people who sleep polyphasically.
- Search Google for “polyphasic sleep diary” if you want to read more. I don’t want to make this list of links too long. 🙂
What is SPAMAYL?
SPAMAYL or Sleep Polyphasically As Much As You Like is a variant of polyphasic sleep that is exactly what it sounds like. You don’t stick to a definite schedule. You just take a 20 minute nap whenever you start feeling even a tiny bit tired. You can read about the origins of SPAMAYL using the WayBackMachine and it’s cool to see that the original creator of it stayed with it for nearly a year. I’m a college student so SPAMAYL is the best option for me because I can “front-load” my sleep during the night and only take a couple naps during the day. I don’t have to carve out 1.5-3 hour time periods during the day for naps. I can just do it whenever I want to. Here’s how the creator of SPAMAYL described it:
You nap in blocks of 20 minutes, just like with Uberman. The difference is that you have neither a fixed amount of naps, nor a fixed time for naps. You’re napping, basically, as much and when you like. There’s just one limitation: There needs to be a 20-minutes waking period in between naps. And you need to stand or sit during that period, don’t simply stay in bed/on the couch/at your sleeping place.
And what about the adaptation? Most people take 1-3 weeks to completely adapt to the Uberman and the other polyphasic cycles, but here’s what the creator of SPAMAYL had to say about it:
For me, it took just a few days (maybe 4-5) to feel functional with the schedule. It took then another 2-3 weeks for the nap times to stabilize, as hatten puts it. In the first few weeks I usually had something like 5 naps on one day and then 10 on the next day- think of it like a car out of control- you steer left, get in danger of leaving the road on the left side, steer right to counter that, and so on and so on- it took a bit of time to get the car moving smoothly in the middle of the road.
Why am I trying this out?
- Curiosity. I want to know whether this is actually possible or if everyone talking about it on the internet has a genetic mutation or is a liar.
- Productivity. As a college student there are never enough hours in my day, and since I need between 8-10 hours of monophasic sleep to be at my best, SPAMAYL would give me 4-6 hours of awake time which would make life much easier.
- Helping others decide if this is for them. If polyphasic sleep is as awesome as people say, then this is the way of the future. However, I don’t want to talk about it before trying it out first so here I am.
My plan and DAY 0 LOG
The sleeping pattern that I plan to use is on the right. Awesome, right? This is what I will be starting out with, and eventually I might decrease the number of naps during the day and the number of naps during the night in order to get more awake time. I actually took my first 10:00 nap today, but I didn’t want to count that as Day 1 so I called it Day 0. I couldn’t fall asleep, but just laying there was relaxing.
The first day wasn’t too bad, but it also wasn’t great. I didn’t sleep at all during the night, and it was almost as if my brain decided to sleep deprive me even further in order to help me adjust quicker. I’m not sure if it actually helped or not, but during the day I slept during nearly all of my naps.
Sleep attempted: 383 minutes/15 cycles Sleep achieved: 138-150 ish. 5/6 cycles I attempted to sleep for about 6 hours in 20 minute increments, but only ended up sleeping for 3.5 hours. Currently I feel better than if I only slept 3.5 hours monophasically, but I feel worse than if I slept for 6 hours monophasically. I know that eventually I should be able to fall asleep for 80-90% of my naps, but for now I’m okay with a 50% success rate. If I slept during the night I’d probably sleep less during the day, but I felt tired so I took a nap. It’s as simple as that! Right now I have a small headache, my stomach was having some issues earlier in the day, and I can feel my brain working slower than usually, but I have had no major issues so far. From what I’ve read adjusting to this can take anywhere between 2 days to 2 weeks so we’ll see how this goes for me. After almost every nap, I felt very sleepy and tired, but after waiting for 5-10 minutes I felt better and had enough energy to work for 1-1.5 hours. I might change my “break time” for my night-sleeps as 25 minutes awake isn’t nearly enough for me to get tired. I’ll probably do a 25/35 or 25/40 split.
|This is how I planned on sleeping:||And this is how I actually slept:|
Keep in mind that I only slept during 50% of the red bars, and I had only 1 school-related activity I had to go to. Ideally, I’d be able to front-load my sleep during the night and only take 2 naps during the day.
- I sleep with one of the lights on, but with a sleep mask.
- I have my earbuds in my ears to block out sound, and when the alarm goes off the music plays in my earbuds and from the phone.
- I sleep under a thin blanket and not under my main one because I don’t want to get too cozy.
|9:26-9:51 am||My first nap. I laid in bed, but didn’t fall asleep. I was really tired, but my body was still energized after going to the gym and I was also hungry.|
|12:02-12:27 am||Couldn’t fall asleep. My earbuds were uncomfortable and I didn’t use a sleeping mask which made it too bright. I did feel more rested after this nap even though I didn’t sleep.|
|12:50-1:15 am||No sleep once again. I was possibly afraid of oversleeping even though I had 3 alarms set for the nap and 2 in the morning. Maybe it was still the earbuds.|
|1:42-2:05 am||I think I got no sleep this time. I was close to falling asleep right before the alarm rang, or maybe I was in light sleep. I’m not quite sure.|
|2:35||I was planning on going to sleep here, but I wasn’t tired at all so I waited until I got more tired.|
|3:00-3:25 am||Almost slept. After this I increased my timer to 28 minutes so I’d have more time to fall asleep.|
|3:55-4:22 am||Almost slept again, but was super tired after “waking up.”|
|5:05-5:30am||No sleep once again. At this point it felt like my body was purposefully trying to tire me out to speed up the adjustment period.|
|6:40-7:05||I wasn’t sure if I slept or not. When I heard the alarm it felt as if I was waking up, but I never got close to falling asleep before so I’m not sure what happened. I felt super awake after a long shower, but went to a presentation and nearly fell asleep while sitting.|
|10:35-10:55 am||My first actual nap! It felt amazing, but I was too tired to get out of bed after so I just set another alarm and did back-to-back naps. (I’m technically not supposed to do this, but I felt better and not worse after the naps so hopefully it didn’t slow down my adaptation.)|
|10:55-11:23 am||Finished up the second nap. I felt more awake, but was planning on napping in 25 minutes. However, I sat there for 10 minutes and was awake enough to do calculus which surprised me.|
|12:20-12:50 pm||I got woken up halfway through the nap by my phone as I forgot to set it in vibrate. I just continued sleeping, but it would’ve been better if my phone didn’t wake me.|
|3:40-4:05 pm||I don’t think I actually slept here as I was still aware of what was happening around me, but I still felt better after.|
|7:02-7:30 pm||Feel asleep quickly and was tired after waking up. Even after 30 minutes of awake time I couldn’t get rid of the exhaustion so I took another nap.|
|8:00-8:30 pm||I was super tired right after the nap, but felt better 10 minutes later.|
|10:00-10:25 pm||I wasn’t sure if I fell asleep or not again. If I did, it was just light sleep. I had a bit of a headache before and after the nap which didn’t make sleeping any easier.|
Days 2 & 3
I ended up oversleeping both on day 2 and 3. I continued my “go to sleep when tired” schedule, but I realized that I need to change it to something different if I want to do this long-term.
Sleep attempted: 210 minutes/7 cycles Sleep achieved: 280-300 minutes/5 cycles It’s only the second day, but I already overslept! I went to sleep at 6:44 am and woke up at 9:30 am so my 30 minute nap turned into a 2.5 hour nap. I felt exhausted after that nap, so I waited for 25 minutes and took another short nap after. I was expecting the short nap to help, but I actually ended up feeling worse and not better after it. Something interesting also happened between 3:30-4:15 pm. I had an intense moment of clarity and brain power. I was working on math, and it seemed easy for the first time in nearly 6 months! I only had 5 hours of sleep up to that point, but I felt quite good. My right hamstring was tight, so I decided not to do any exercise, but mentally I felt better than when sleeping monophasically (at least for those 45 minutes.) If there is less exhaustion and more clarity moments post-polysleep adaptation, then polyphasic sleep is even better than I thought it would be!
Sleep attempted: 120 minutes/4 cycles Sleep achieved: 300 minutes/4 cycles As you can see I overslept again… I went to sleep at 5:06 and woke up a 8:50 to 5 turned off alarms and with my sleeping mask next to me. Apparently I had my first zombie mode during this experiment! I managed to take of my night mask, turn off all of the alarms, and go back to sleep all without remembering what I did. That’s kind of scary, but also quite cool! I also had an extremely vivid dream during one of my naps. (This means I was getting REM sleep in my nap already as that’s when you dream.)
I was in my dorm room trying to accomplish some endless list of tasks in 1-2 hours before I had to sleep. I walked to one side of the room, started walking back and collapsed on the mini-fridge because of exhaustion. I laid my head on the fridge sideways and could feel the immense pressure of sleep on top of me. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything physical, but I could think, so I thought to myself “I can’t go to sleep now! I have so much to do and if I sleep now without any alarms I’ll wake up in like 12 hours!” Once I said that, I snapped awake in my dream and also in real life. It was a weird merging of the two and I’m excited to experience this again. Random thoughts:
- Video games definitely help me with waking up, but they’re inconsistent. On day 2 playing Rocket League for 5-10 minutes after waking up boosted my alertness and woke me up, but it didn’t work as well during day 3.
- Zombie mode is extremely weird, but also extremely cool. Now I know how sleepwalkers feel!
- Polysleep might help out with lucid dreaming. Awesome!
|This is how I slept on day 2:||And this is day 3:|
As you can see I’m not really where I want to be, but I feel more rested than if I slept for 5.5 hours monophasically, so I’m still ahead right now! As you can see, the morning nap is the toughest one for me as that’s when I overslept both times.
After asking questions on reddit, (thank you GeneralNguyen!) and reading up on polyphasic sleep I realized that SPAMAYL isn’t the best choice for me. I plan on lifting heavy weights at least 3 times a week, and since muscle recovery happens during slow wave sleep, I’m going to need more of that. With SPAMAYL my body will recover very slowly, and there’s a high chance of oversleeping if I exercise. That’s why I decided to switch to the Everyman 2 schedule. Here’s what that looks like: It’s quite flexible as I can start my core-sleep any time between 10 pm – 1 am after adapting, and I can move around the naps a bit if I need to. According to what I’ve read, it’s also quite easy to adapt to, so since I pretty much already sleep-deprived myself and taught my body to get REM sleep during naps, I think the adaptation period for me will be quite short!
|1:02-1:30 am||Not sure if I actually fell asleep or not. If I did, I got 10 minutes of sleep or less.|
|2:50-3:20 am||Very hard to wake up and super tired after.|
|5:05-5:30 am||I’m not sure if I fell asleep or not.|
|6:44-9:30 am||Overslept by a ton and was super tired after waking up. Needed another nap to function after.|
|09:57-10:27 am||Was hoping this would get rid of my oversleep tiredness, but it didn’t work.|
|1:42-2:17 pm||Woke up somewhat tired, but was refreshed after moving around for 5 minutes.|
|5:54-6:26 pm||Tired before and after sleeping. However, after 5 minutes of being awake, I felt good!|
|12:00-12:30 am||Didn’t sleep for most of it. Probably only got light sleep, but still felt rested after.|
|5:06-8:50||Another oversleep. Exhausted and Rocket League didn’t wake me up. I turned off my alarm at 30 minutes during zombie mode.|
|9:35-10:02||I felt a bit better after the nap, but still exhausted. I wanted to stop this whole experiment right here, but somehow I plowed through.|
|4:20-4:45||Took a while to fall asleep, but had an extremely vivid dream that I woke myself up from. 100% rested after with no drowsiness.|
Day 4 – First Day of Everyman
Today was my first official day of everyman 2 and I think it went quite well. I definitely wasn’t 100% today, but I’m still adapting and I will change up my schedule depending on when my body gets tired during the day.
Sleep attempted: 350 minutes/4 cycles Sleep achieved: 320 minutes/4 cycles My first day didn’t go too bad, although I accidentally set the core sleep alarm for 5 hours after instead of 4.5. After almost every nap getting up was hard, and I felt exhausted, but after a couple minutes I felt better. I also napped outside of my room for the very first time since the start of the experiment. It didn’t feel as good as the bed, but I have to practice the skill of falling asleep in unfamiliar places if I want to succeed with it.
|This is how I planned on sleeping:||And this is how I actually slept:|
|11:30-4:30 am||Woke up and felt a bit groggy. The walk to the bathroom got me to clarity and I woke up during the first alarm!|
|10:20-10:45 pm||Napped outside of my room for the first time since the start of this experiment. I’m not sure if I fell asleep or not. Didn’t want to get up as always, but I managed to do it.|
|4:30-4:55 pm||Somewhat slept. Didn’t want to get up, but felt more awake overall.|
Days 5 – 8.5
While days 5-8 weren’t very similar to each other, they also weren’t very different. 5 and 6 were tough adaptation days, but 7 and 8 were easier, non-sleepy post-adaptation ones. All in all, I think I’m done adapting to Everyman 2, and I’m excited to see what I can do with the extra awake time.
I never overslept, so the sleep attempted and the sleep gotten should be very close to each other. Of course I had naps where I’m not sure if I fully slept for all of them, but overall I probably got 290-300 minutes of sleep out of 310 possible minutes in every 24 hour period. (I wanted to say night, but it’s not really a night.) My overall state is at pretty much 100% of my monophasic capacity. Days 5-6 I oscillated between 20% and 90%, but days 7 and 8 were a steady 85%-100%. I’ve been fighting off a cold, and many times I feel worse before sleeping, but wake up fully healthy so obviously my body recovers during my naps. I think I’m fully adapted, and I even did some heavy weightlifting on the morning of day 8, which I wouldn’t do if I didn’t feel great. Schedule wise the time between 4:30 am and 7 am is amazing. I’m not sure if I feel great because I’m awake when I know most people are sleeping or for a different reason, but I don’t care as long as it stays this way. The time between naps is enough for me to feel tired before them, but I think I can move them around a bit if I can’t sleep for whatever reason.
This shows how I planned on sleeping, and so far I’ve been following it pretty closely. I moved my core sleep to start at around 12:00-12:30 and shortened my naps to 20 minutes, but I’ve kept it consistent every day since then. I haven’t had any oversleeps yet, and I doubt that I will because I have at least 6 alarms set for each nap and core sleep, and I have to solve a math problem to turn off one of them. I switched from a 25 to a 20 minute nap based on GeneralNguyen’s recommendation on reddit and naps feel better now. It’s weird as I’m used to thinking longer sleep = better, but that’s not the case here.
|12:00-4:30 am||Woke up in the middle of it, went to the bathroom, and then went back to sleep. Ideally I wouldn’t wake up at all, but I should still continue the same sleep type after going to bed as 5 minutes isn’t enough to “reset” it.|
|11:20-11:45||The weird heavy-head feeling and dream awareness were back again. This time when I switched from the dream to the real world my head still felt heavy and I felt as if I was falling through and into my pillow.|
|4:25-4:50||Didn’t sleep too much, but I definitely fell asleep for a while. Doesn’t matter too much though because I feel well-rested either way!|
|12:05-4:35 am||Getting up was really hard, but felt good after 10 minutes of awake time.|
|5:35||It was near impossible to stay awake at this point. I was tired up until 8 and after that I was fine. I did Ninjutsu the day before which isn’t that much physical activity so I doubt that’s what affected me.|
|9:30-10:00||Had a weird near-lucid dream. I knew I was sleeping, but every time I tried to control the dream, the “scene” that I was in switched. Watch the video above to get a recap of my dream!|
|4:25-4:45||My first time shortening the nap to 20 minutes during Everyman. Felt sick and exhausted before, but felt awake and healthy after. If this is what all naps are supposed to feel like then I’m 100% sold on this!|
|1:13-5:43||I went to sleep late as I wanted to wait until I was actually tired. Also, before sleeping I wrote a non-sense phrase in the diary and I don’t remember writing it. I woke up at about 3 and went to the bathroom thinking that my time was up. I felt incredibly awake, sat down at my computer, realized that I still had 1.5 hours of sleep left and promptly went back to sleep. I wonder if my sleep cycle is around 1:47?|
|10:10-10:31||Amazing nap. I was in a public place, but still felt great!|
|4:45-5:06||Slept for about half of it, but still felt well-rested after.|
|1:15-4:45||It was hard to wake up, but not too bad overall. I woke up halfway through the night again feeling like I was done with my core.|
|10:20-10:41||Not sure if I fell asleep during the nap or not. I definitely feel more rested, but I was a bit sick before the nap and that didn’t change after it.|
|4:30-4:51||Not sure if I slept, but felt great after!|
Day 9 & 10
Isn’t it great when you think you’re fully adapted and then end up oversleeping 2 days in a row? I didn’t oversleep by THAT much which is good, but it’s still a setback. I’ll have to figure out what caused it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I also jumped off the bed and scratched the skin and bruised the ribs on my left side (there’s a 2 inch red scratch). It hurt a ton when it happened, and it still hurts to move in a certain way, but my body’s healing processes are surprisingly efficient for how sleep deprived I am. The scratch nearly fully healed in 2 days, and it was BIG.
I overslept my afternoon nap by 100 minutes on day 9, and somewhat overslept my morning nap on day 10. For the afternoon nap I woke up, turned off my alarm, and went back to bed for “one more minute with my eyes closed.” That didn’t really work too well. I need to get up when I turn off my alarm. For day 10 I woke up at the end of my nap at 10:00 (I shifted it almost an hour earlier) and then laid there in bed. I don’t think I fell asleep as I was talking to my girlfriend, but there might’ve been a couple of micronaps in there somewhere.
I haven’t been following my planned sleeping pattern as closely as I should’ve been and I paid the price for it. My core jumps around between 12:00-1:30, and my naps moved around by plus or minus 10 minutes every day, but on day 9 I took my nap nearly an hour too early. That’s not highly recommended even after you’re adjusted, so I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea at the time. I guess I was just tired and wanted to sleep. The 20 minute naps definitely feel better, but I won’t be able to fully adapt until I keep them consistent for at least a couple weeks.
|12:20-4:50 am||Went to bed feeling sick, but woke up quickly and didn’t feel sick at all.|
|10:10-10:31 am||Didn’t sleep too bad, but it wasn’t great either. Not as rested as I was yesterday or the day before.|
|4:20-6:00 pm||Overslept by 80 minutes. This isn’t too terrible as it was pretty much an additional short core and not a 5 hour “nap.” Still a setback though.|
|1:00-5:30 am||Fairly easy to wake up and I was very awake after. My girlfriend woke up and went to the bathroom right before though so that could’ve primed me to wake up.|
|9:40-10:00||Slept for 20 minutes, but didn’t want to wake up after at all so I stayed in bed and talked to my girlfriend. I didn’t fall asleep again, but there could’ve been a couple micronaps here and there.|
|3:30-3:51||Felt rejuvenated after the nap, but didn’t sleep that well during it.|
Getting back into it after oversleeping even for a bit was surprisingly hard. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t terrible, but I thought it would be easier since I only overslept by 80 or so minutes. Of course the fact that I was moving around naps and my core sleep around daily doesn’t help, but I still thought it wouldn’t be that bad. I’m going to stick to today’s schedule for at least 1-2 weeks and see how I feel.
I overslept on days 9-10, so now I’m paying back for that. Today wasn’t too bad overall, but it was definitely a step back from how I felt on days 7 and 8. I felt better than I had on monophasic sleep, so I thought I was already adapted, but I was obviously wrong. I also bought the Ubersleep book by PureDoxyk. She’s been doing polyphasic sleeping for nearly 12 years at this point, and she’s the one that restarted the Ubersleep movement. (I think) Her book is full of useful info and I recommend reading it before you jump into any type of polyphasic sleep. It’s expensive at $10 for the eBook version, but it’s definitely worth it. Think about this: if you could pay $10 now to have an extra 1-2 hours of awake time per day, could you make that $10 back somehow? I think you could. Anyway, her book showed me what I was doing wrong and what I need to fix to successfully adapt. She also describes how you know whether or not you’re done with adaptation which is something I’ve been wondering for a while now. Basically the key is keeping all of the sleeping times the same for at least 2 weeks so your body can adjust, but ideally you’d keep them exactly the same for at least a month. After that you can start moving them around a bit if you’re doing Everyman. Uberman isn’t that flexible, which is exactly why I’m not doing it.
|12:20-4:50 am||Hard to wake up but I felt good after walking to the bathroom.|
|10:16-10:37||I slept, but I don’t think I was in REM. I could still hear noises in the background from time to time so I was probably in light sleep. Still felt rested after though!|
|4:30-4:51||I slept in a fairly loud place and I was missing one of my earbuds so I wasn’t as shielded from sound as usually. I think I still fell into light sleep as it didn’t feel like 20 minutes passed before I had to get up.|
The End of Polyphasic Sleep
After 22 days trying to do polyphasic sleep I have to stop. I’d like to apologize for the lack of text updates starting on day 11. I tracked my sleep, but I didn’t have time to publish the posts on the site. I ended up simply posting the videos on YouTube, and since I’m writing this nearly a month after the experiment ended, I feel that writing out the detailed posts now would not be a good idea. However, I can talk a bit about why I’m done with polyphasic sleep for now, and why I will try again later.
Why did I stop?
Days 20 and 21 were hell. I was exhausted, I wanted to sleep, and all of my previous “adaptation” seemed to flow out the window. Even going to sleep didn’t feel good as it felt as if my body forgot how to sleep. Since Everyman adaptation isn’t supposed to be this rough I decided to stop. I thought that my brain was working somewhat well during this adaptation period since I managed to get a good grade on my math exam, but once I got enough sleep I realized what I was missing. I was able to get math concepts nearly two times faster than when I was “adapting” to polyphasic sleep. However, I still think that polysleep might be a viable strategy that you can adapt to, but only if you do the adaptation correctly.
Why I will try again
While this experiment wasn’t successful, I’ve had some amazing naps that showed that there might be something to this whole polyphasic sleep idea. I want to try again later, but I’m going to take a less extreme and more scientific approach to it. I will establish a baseline for my quality of sleep and amount of REM, light sleep, and SWS using a couple of fancy sleep tracking gadgets. Then I will once again try adapting to Everyman 2 or the Biphasic sleep schedule, but this time I will do it right. I will pick a sleep schedule that works with my Circadian rhythm, and I will go to sleep at the same time every day for at least 2 weeks. During this time I will track as much of my sleep as possible using my sleep tracking devices, and I will see how the quality and amount of my sleep changes. I think this is something that shouldn’t be thrown out simply because it didn’t work once. The appeal of sleeping less and doing more is quite high, and I want a definitive answer before throwing this idea to the curb.