This is a day by day diary of my attempts at a polyphasic sleep schedule. To understand why I am doing and how it works, read my post outlining what I’d be doing here.
In short, it was tiring and confusing for my body, but I definitely see why Kobe and many other efficiency fanatics have implemented it to get the most out of their day. I also learned about how amazing coffee is and how much I missed it.
Day One (7/8/15)
Sleep 11:45p-5:35a (5 hr 50 min)
Groggily woke up and went to the gym. Zombied through my sets at the gym, came back and made a protein shake before heading to my weekly Mastermind meeting. I really didn’t feel like my brain was firing anywhere near max capacity until 8a or so. The idea of a nap already sounds great. I could probably fall asleep right now but I do not want to try until after 11:30a, otherwise I can’t really say I was all that productive.
Nap 1:30p-3:30p (2hr)
I was so tired that despite setting a 3p alarm, I slept right through until I was awoken by a call at 3:30. Hopefully, this gets easier because I was pretty unproductive from 11:30a-1p as I resisted the urge to start napping.
Day Two (7/9/15)
Sleep 11:50p-5:25a (5 hr 35 min)
I laid in bed for twenty minutes before getting up this morning. I set my alarm so I meditate for 10 minutes before heading to the gym. No luck, I feel ready to fall back asleep and its only 11am.
Nap 1:30p-2:45p (1 hr 15 min)
I was shocked to wake up only 1 hour and 15 min after laying down for my midday nap. I did even set an alarm because I was so tired and assumed I would catch 2-3 hours. The nap left me feeling refreshed and ready to get things done for the rest of the day.
Day Three (7/10/15)
Sleep 11:15p-5:30a (6 hr 15 min)
Planned to give myself a little more sleep today in preparation for a game against Detroit this evening and knowing that I will be traveling to NYC overnight on a bus. Woke up and hit the gym for a quick workout and felt energetic throughout the morning.
Nap 1:10p-2:25p (1 hr 15 min)
My body seems to really like naps that are just over an hour long. This is enough for one good REM cycle which feels refreshing.
Making this transition does not seem possible for those working a 9-5 type of job. Perhaps you could come home and nap 5:30p-7p then sleep 1a-7a, but that sounds pretty draining and leaves little time in the morning.
Day Four (7/11/15)
Sleep 2:30a-5:30a (3 hr)
Naps 2:30p-3:15p and 3:40p-4:50p (1 hr 55 min)
What a nightmare. The bus was freezing cold and my only sweater has underneath the bus in the cargo area. I got three (maybe) hours of fitful sleep and arrived in NYC tired and cranky. Unfortunately, I had a birthday party, for a five-year-old, to attend, so I gamely gulped down some coffee (RULE BROKEN) and headed to the waterpark. The coffee got me through the early afternoon before wearing off and leaving me mentally and physically exhausted.
Afterwards I fell asleep in the back of the van on the way home. After watching the gift opening, I fell back asleep unable to be social. It is going to be hard to get back into my sleep schedule while I am traveling.
Day Five (7/12/15)
Sleep 10:15p - 7:25a (9 hr 10 min)
I was completely thrown off by the previous day’s deprivation. My girlfriend and I had planned to go out in NYC last night, but after getting dressed I fell asleep on the couch. We nixed our plans (she was tired too) and went to bed to catch up.
Day Six (7/13/15)
Sleep 11:30p-7:15a (7 hr 45 min)
My responsibilities during the day, including recording a podcast in Brooklyn, would not allow me to nap so I took some extra time to sleep. I had two coffees to remain awake and focused through the day. I expect to be all caught up on sleep by tomorrow.
Day Seven (7/14/15)
Sleep 11:20p-605a (6hr 45min)
Nap 10:05a - 11:10a (1 hr 5 min)
I finally got back on schedule thanks to scheduling my return trip to Pittsburgh during the day. I fell asleep within an hour of getting on the bus and awoke at our first rest stop. I crushed a Starbucks and spent the remainder of the ride reading and writing, excited to get back to my polyphasic schedule..
Day Eight (7/15/15)
Sleep 12:30p-5:35a (5hr 5min)
Nap 11:00a - 1:25a (2 hr 25 min)
Five hours is pretty low for a core sleep time. I was exhausted by 10a and couldn’t really write or focus anymore, so I crashed after catching up on an episode of True Detective. Got back up and spent the rest of the afternoon being very productive.
Day Nine (7/16/15)
Sleep 11:45p-5:35a (5hr 50min)
Nap 11:05a - 1:10p (2 hr 5 min)
Read an interesting article about REM sleep and body temperature regulation. While warmth helps contribute to more sound/restful sleep, the body needs to cool down to a bit after intense physical activity before dozing off. Weeknights where I have practice tend to correspond with falling asleep later as I take time to cool off and settle my thoughts.
Day Ten (7/17/15)
Sleep 12:15p-5:30a (5hr 15min)
Nap 11:30a - 1:50p (2 hr 20 min)
Stayed up late recording a podcast with Bobby Fry downtown. By the time I got home it was already 11:30 and I immediately got ready for bed.
Day Eleven (7/18/15)
Sleep 11:45p-7:15a (8hr min)
Nap 1:25a - 2:00p (35 min)
Slept through my alarm and got 8 hours of sleep. I cannot tell if I am sleep deprived or if 23 years of conditioning makes reshaping my sleep patterns exceptionally difficult. I struggled to fall asleep for my afternoon nap and barely slept at all.
Day Twelve (7/19/15)
Sleep 11:20p-7:05a (7hr 45min)
Nap 4:05p - 5:10p (1 hr 5 min)
Slept in to recover from the previous night’s game. We beat Indianapolis for our season finale and I played well. Made it through the game without any cramping or overwhelming fatigue. Definitely credit workout regimen and diet, but the sleeping has left me feeling more energized. Spent Sunday golfing and with family.
Day Thirteen (7/20/15)
Sleep 11:30p-6:45a (7hr 15min)
Nap 1:05p - 1:30a (25 min)
Overslept to complete my recovery from the weekend’s workouts. Lifted in the afternoon after my nap. Felt REALLY good while I was lifting. It took me about 10 minutes to really wake up, but once I was there, it was great.
Day Fourteen (7/21/15)
Sleep 12:15p-5:50a (5hr 15min)
Nap 9:35p - 11:45a (2 hr 10 min)
My body just cannot run on five hours of sleep without coffee. I do not understand how some people do it. My mind feels foggy (maybe even worse than a hangover) and I have no energy to focus. In other news, I miss coffee.
Day Fifteen (7/22/15)
Sleep 11:20p-6:05a (6hr 45min)
Nap 3:05p - 3:45p (25 min)
Woke up early to record a podcast with Scott Rogerson and didn’t get back until the afternoon. Drank coffee to stay sharp. Rule broken again :(
Day Sixteen (7/23/15)
Sleep 11:50p-5:45a (5hr 55min)
Nap 1:15p - 2:40p (1hr 25 min)
Got a good morning workout in and was able to write before and after the nap. Felt in rhythm andsharp.
Day Seventeen (7/24/15)
Sleep 12:25a-5:45a (5hr 20min)
Nap 1:05p - 1:55p (50 min)
I don’t think six hours is enough to get me through a day. I don’t know if it is genetics or 23 years of ingrained habits, but I need at least 7 hours. I am still unsure if I can retrain myself to need less or if this is a reality I must accept.
Day Eighteen (7/25/15)
Sleep 11:10p-6:35a (7hr 25min)
Nap 12:50p - 1:35p (45 min)
I felt like a beast today. Edited and wrote all morning. The nap came at the perfect time as I had just started to feel some burnout from the morning’s productivity. I also think that this sleep schedule is contributing to less soreness from lifting, but that could be a placebo effect.
Day Nineteen (7/26/15)
Sleep 10:35p-5:45a (7hr 10min)
Nap 2:05p - 2:30a (25 min)
Gearing up for AUDL playoffs so I am making sure to get plenty of sleep so my body is sharp and strong this weekend. Easing up workouts (my lifting partner is out of town) has left so much time to focus on blogging and podcast stuff.
Day Twenty (7/27/15)
Sleep 12:15a-6:25a (6hr 10min)
Nap 1:15p - 1:50a (35 min)
Didn’t set an alarm for my nap but still awoke after just 35 minutes. This tells me that my body is pretty well rested. At the beginning of this experiment, I always needed an alarm to wake up. I would really like to get to a place where my sleep schedule relieves me from needing an alarm clock on a day-to-day basis.
Day Twenty-one (7/28/15)
Sleep 11:15p-5:35a (6hr 20min)
Nap 11:15a - 12:30p (1 hr 15 min)
My last day of this experiment coincides with leaving for AUDL playoffs this evening. I feel really sharp and well rested. Interestingly, this sleep schedule has also gotten me to eat more healthily. It is common, at least for me, to eat more healthy when I am training hard to maximize effort at the gym. However, the most common time to cheat on healthy eating habits is at the end of the day and my energy for discipline is drained. Mid-day naps have kept my mental energy up and allowed me to maintain greater discipline in my eating habits.
My takeaway; This is a great optimization strategy to maximize your time spent dedicated to sleep. I spent very little time, other than when traveling, trying to fall asleep. Much less lying in bed unable to sleep and never feeling like I needed much more than 7.5 or 8 hours.
My biggest priority will remain getting enough sleep. The arrangement of when I get those hours will come second but I will definitely be more mindful of this in the future. I do not think I will continue this schedule until my season is over. After that I plan to experiment with this again.
I also plan to have many more experiments in the coming months. Stay tuned.
I have accepted that I am extremely competitive. On a recent vacation, I worked myself into a frenzy over losing a game of rummy 500 and tried to kick a soccer ball through a glass door. I have worked on being more mindful, but I have no desire to eliminate it entirely. It is my heightened sense of competitiveness that has fueled my pursuit of mastery in multiple disciplines and eternal search for any advantage I can find. This quirk peaked upon reading an article about Kobe Bryant.
A specific line stuck with me and brought me back to the article an hour later. “Most people don’t realize he is on a polyphasic sleep schedule, just a part of his total body optimization. He does dual core 2x naps.” Upon further research, I found that he sleeps for two 2-hour stretches at night and takes two short naps during the day. This is called a Dual Core 2 sleep schedule. The Dual Core refers to the two extended sleeping periods Kobe has during the night. The 2 represents the number of 20 min naps he takes during the day. More research revealed that you can modify the length of your two core sleeping periods to give you up to 7 hours, or as low as 4 hours, of primary, recovery-focused sleep.
Polyphasic sleeping acolytes claim that monophasic sleeping (one 7-9 hour period of sleep) is an unnatural byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. Essentially, we have been raised to believe we need “a good eight hours” because that is the only reasonable options for adults with a 9-5 job and any other responsibilities. Returning to the behaviors of our prehistoric ancestors is similar to the argument against sitting for extended periods, for the paleo diet, and for non-monogamous relationships. That was enough to convince me to give it a shot. Here is the plan for modifying my sleep schedule from monophasic to polyphasic sleep schedule.
Goal; To limit my daily sleep to no more than 6.5 hours per night and increase my daily productivity. Achieve this without sacrificing performance (writing and physical activities).
Other behavior modifications to consider;
Be sure to check back in 3 weeks from today to read about my progress. I will be lifting and running regularly and eating as healthy as possible. More experiments are also in the works for the future, let me know if you think there is something I should try.
P.S. - If I fail, at least I know I wasn’t alone. Other bloggers have tried and failed to successfully convert to a polyphasic sleep schedule and still took away some valuable information.
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