Day 16 – REM for a clear mind


Today my 7:00 nap was intense, filled with dreams and helped me solve a riddle!  How did it do that?  … I’m not really sure, but I had an instant of clarity similar to mathematical insight.  I haven’t had them since studying physics at university.  Back then I had to ponder tough math problems for 3 to 6 days in a row.  And no matter what tools you used it seemed like something was missing.  More data, more insight, new equations … it was patently impossible!  And suddenly it would hit you … BAM!  Sometimes in the shower, sometimes waking up, or waking distractedly.   So what was the riddle? Well … no wait!  Before I answer do consider that for the last two weeks I’ve lost about 50h of sleep.  In only 10 days I used to get  70h – 80h of sleep.  But now I only do around 46h, naps included.

So my girlfriend has prepared a surprise for this weekend.  An experience birthday present (which I love, as I can’t take any more clutter, clothes, gadgets. Immaterial presents are the best!).  Anyway so we’ve been playing this game where I get a single yes/no question per day to try and guess what it is.  Here is the data I had (with questions obviously biased towards things I like):

  1. Camping? Survival Course?  Nope
  2. Traveling by car? Going to London? Nope
  3. Related to Dance, Theater? Nope
  4. Sleeping in a B&B? Hotel? Under a roof? Nein.
  5. On the Island? Nope (we live on a small island right next to the coast)
  6. Would other people be there? a course? Nope.

I also asked what the distance to the place was … but that’s not yes/no, is it?  In fact she told me casually that when she commented it with her colleagues they said “oh! if you tell him the distance, he’ll probably guess it”.  How could I?  Well, maybe with  google maps I could find major towns/attractions within a radius of “x”.  And there was another hint:  Where would I do my polyphasic sleeping?  She wasn’t quite sure.  Would there be a park? Dunno.  Should I carry a sleeping mat? maybe.  Sleeping bag? _ Perhaps. Can’t tell, won’t tell.

And that’s it.  Well, I can sincerely say that yesterday night I had no intention of solving the riddle.  I didn’t really think it was possible.  So this morning, after 3h30 of sleep I felt quite tired.  But after 1h I was back to  programing menus like a hog (web-page menus, not recipes).  I did a little design tweaking for this blog, some logo design, some emails.  And back to bed.

After 26mn of REM I woke up.  Very re-energized.  I took 10 steps out of bed and it struck me.  Why was the distance so important?  Train speeds vary, there are many places in a given radius.  There were two options.   Either the distance was almost zero (uninteresting), or the distance was large enough to be striking.  Aha!  Scotland?  Spain?  … a flight?  … I don’t think so.  We are leaving a bit late on Friday.  Not sleeping in a B&B … A BOAT!  We’re going for a weekend to France on a ferry!  (full disclosure:  this is something we casually spoke about doing 8 or 10 months ago).

So as soon when she woke up 2h later I said:  “I know it!  Can I have my last question?”

_ are we going to take a boat?

_ Yes.

_ I knew it! I figured it out.

_ Well, … yes, I mean.  We live on an island, we always have to take a boat to go to the mainland.

_ But are we taking another boat afterwards?

_ Sorry, only one question per day.  You missed your chance.

Anyway.  I was right.  All this to say that I’m programming, solving riddles, reading, learning new skills and techniques, blogging, working.  All with an estimated 50h of sleep deprivation since the beginning of the experiment.  In other words, in just two weeks I’ve gained an extra 3 working days (50/[24-8]) of time but my mind seems to be doing well.

The next steps are:

  • Finish adaptation and fine tune the everyman E3325 schedule so the naps are more consistent and the sleepy periods less intense
  • Plan the move to full Überman schedule.

I may not publish for a couple of days while I’m away.  But I’ll carry my sleeping lab with me to analyse the data later (see pics below).  Have a nice weekend.

zeo and fitbit sleeping and activity monitors

zeo and fitbit sleeping and activity monitors – Travel Sleep Lab
zeo and fitbit sleeping and activity monitors

zeo and fitbit sleeping and activity monitors - sleeping lab

diagram of naps with sleeping phases (REM, Deep, Light, Wake)

diagram of naps with sleeping phases (23 March 2012) - last nap is late due to boarding the boat.

Author: alvaro

A scientist, entrepreneur and wannabe polyphasic sleeper


  1. nice weekend in France, then ;-P

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