For approximately 1 month I attempted to sleep for 2 hours per day 30 minutes at a time spaced out over the course of a day. The results became somewhat interesting:
The first week I was amazed at how much I could accomplish with all the extra time and noticed minimal drawbacks. This was the period I had the most doubts about, as I was told that the first week is a transition phase when your body will begin to switch to a 30 minute REM cycle.
The 2nd week I began to notice my mind felt foggy if I space out nap too long, and began to establish a pattern. I chose 5:30-6 and 1:30-2 am and pm as my nap times and continued to see very high gains. I began to meditate and do yoga multiple times per day often before and after a nap to increase the net rest. It was near day 11 that I began to dream during my nap times and noticed a boost in my overall energy for several days. This is also the time when I felt a shift in my brain, the area near my pineal gland (very forefront of your brain in between your eyes and above the brow) began to feel warmer drawing focus to my frontal lobe. My overall character began to shift including significantly more creative energy, trying new behaviors became a fun game. Oddly enough during this period my memory became sharper during the late morning and early afternoon, not a general shift though things I felt were important remain crystal clear to this day. I am unsure of how this related to the change in my frontal lobe though I feel there is a correlation.
During week 3 I began to get sloppy in taking my scheduled naps, and began to notice a decline in my mental clarity. While once my attention was engaged this was minimal, switching my focus involved a short delay, my overall awareness also began to decline, rather easy to ignore as the decline was quite minor though over time increasing steadily.
By week 4 my frontal lobe felt quite hot without end, my theory is that switching sleeping patterns as often as I was by not following my scheduled routine closely. During this time I was able to hallucinate at will, staring at any objects with texture my mind would form patterns until shapes emerged, if I held my attention the shapes would respond to my intent and seem to dance, flat objects seemed to have tremendous depth in these states.
This was accompanied with a noticeable delay in time required to shift my attention. I began to revert to a more introverted state spending more time writing code at a computer and less time with people. Part of this was due to the increased work load I had taken and partially because holding my focus still, seemed both easier and more efficient.
During week 5 I began to sleep longer periods during my afternoon nap, by this time I had all the classic signs of sleep deprivation. While I had not truly planned out how I would handle polyphasic sleep from the beginning I had considered it a short term method of accomplishing a greater work load without the need to sacrifice time with my family.
I chose to force myself to keep the shorter daylight naps and adopted what became a 2-5 hour sleep cycle in the early-mid morning. At this point I largely stopped using any type of alarm clock and felt my mental clarity return. After a few weeks of these longer periods of sleep my frontal lobe no longer felt significantly warmer though a tipping point was reached, and I now find access to greater creative output and adoption/implementation of new ideas.
Over time I have become significantly less structured in my sleeping patterns, though I do continue to take 2-4 short naps per day with a 2-5 hour sleep cycle at night/morning.
This post was inspired by a chat with another programmer I have been working rather grueling hours with for a couple of weeks now; having noticed that I regularly send out email at 3:30am with testing reports he asked:
jonathan: so, what exactly is your sleep schedule?
Alvin: I like to take lots of short naps and sleep a little in the early morning, a few hours anyway
jonathan: do you just have really short sleep cycles?
Alvin: not anymore, if I stopped having that longer rest period I would though that lead to burnout
more of a lieing down quiet meditation, often I’ll stretch or roll a ball/socket under my foot [reflexology reasons] for a few minutes before I lay down, the relaxation acts as a recharge
At this point I feel that my cycles are quite sustainable, I do not use an alarm clock though I do have a young daughter that occasionally acts as on. If I add it up I would say that I average 4-5 hours per 24 sleeping and find that significant enough to maintain a high level of mental clarity and physical alertness.
The greatest advantage I find to this style is the increased quiet time that I am alert. I work from home, having large blocks of time when I am the only one awake allows for blocks of intense concentration on a daily basis. For anyone who is a fan of GTD you likely recognize the power of having several blocks of uninterrupted time on a daily basis.
I will write more on this topic, came up with a title for a moment “Polyphasic Sleeping Raw Foodist Entrepreneur”. Say that 5 times fast.