April 7, 2012
by alvaro

Days 30/31 – One month of polyphasic sleep

Dear readers, First of all apologies for the long delay in my posts.  I’m working very hard while carrying out this experiment, and I haven’t managed to automate the data processing yet.  This combined with some travelling means I take notes, save the data, and only update the blog quite a few days later. Another problem is preparing the data for the posts. Check out how slow this process is:

So I’m hoping to crack the android interface as explained in the last-post soon.  Anyway, here goes a quick overview. I’ll summarize the first month in the next post.

Day 30: As I had missed my afternoon nap and I just received 3 jabs of Polio, HepA and Typhoids, I chose to catch up on some sleep and give myself 5h for this night. My body dove into deep sleep 5mn after going to bed and stayed there for 1h straight. This may show a physiological need to recover physically from tiredness and boost the immune system.  The point of this experiment is to show that it’s possible to sleep much much less.  But I think it’s reasonable to manage sleep just like we do with a normal schedule.  Some occasions call for extra rest.  And I think injecting 3 families of dead or numb viruses in my body is such an occasion 🙂

(2012/04/06, (3:30,6),(3:50,7),(5:50,6.5) “eyes more irritated than yesterday”), (4:25,4.5,”very tired, sandy eyes”), (5:10,5,”more sleepy than normal. hard to keep eyes open”), (5:15,4,”nod off”), (5:25,5), (5:30,6,”standing in kitchen to stay awake”),(6:00,6.5),(7:30,6.5),(8:00,6),(9:00,7),(12:00,7.5),(19:30,7.5),(20:30,7),(21:00,6),(22:00,5),(22:30,4))

My 19:00 nap just wouldn’t happen.  I was too awake.  It’s surprising how missing a nap, or laying in bed without sleeping changes my mood. I become rather quiet, removed, thoughtful. Perhaps also because we have visitors at home and I feel the need to talk and converse even though my body is asking to go back to bed.  Anyway, I decided to catch up on that missing nap at 21:00 which worked quite well.

Day 31

polyphasic sleep everyman schedule

polyphasic sleep everyman schedule – April 7th 2012

(2012/04/07, (3:45,6),(3:50,7),(5:00,6.5),(6:00,6),(7:00,7),(10:20,6,”moody, physically tired”), (12:00,5),(13:00,7),(14:00,7.5, “unusual nervous energy. Between excited and nervous”),(18:00,7,”right eye tired”),(19:00,7,”can’t sleep. mind too busy”),(23:00,6))

A bit hard to wake up after 7am nap so I snoozed. Sleepy wake after the prolongued light sleep.

picture of me sleeping with zeo and fitbit sensors

April 5, 2012
by alvaro

Day 28/29 – Zeo Mobile Programming

Warning!  Geek post! If you’re not interested in the tech side of measuring sleep, just scroll to the bottom for todays sleep graphs.

It’s been very frustrating to find out that the very tool I bought to track my whole experiment didn’t have the option to track naps.  Instead it records naps and core sleep  but then “forgets” all the naps.  In particular the nap information stays on the phone but when all sleep episodes are uploaded to the myzeo site only the longest sleep in 24h is saved.

picture of me sleeping with zeo and fitbit sensors

sleeping with zeo and fitbit to track movement and brainwaves

So if I do Everyman today with 3h30 (core sleep) – 22m (nap) – 29mn (nap) -25mn (nap), synchronise with the mysleep.myzeo site, and look at the statistics online, it will only display the 3h30 sleep.  There’s an option to download the data as a CSV file, but when you look inside only the 3h30 episode appears.

Obviously this is pretty annoying, as the whole point of using ZEO-mobile to track polyphasic sleep is to study the structure of the naps.  To the company’s credit the bedside version allows one to track the naps after some tweaking (update the firmware, install some software, reset the SD card).  There’s even the option to access the raw data but it requires some hacking (update firmware, rewire serial cable, and use the ZeoRawData Library with a bunch of dependencies).  However the product I have (and I suspect a lot of people too) is the cheaper more convenient version:  The Zeo Mobile, with no serial cable, SD card or RawData Library.

The company does have a good track record of respecting privacy and being open (sharing code and specifications) … even if they are sometimes slow to reply on the forums or add features.  So I thought I’d try to hack the mobile to access and process my own data.  Here is the process I followed in my 1st attempt: Continue Reading →

sleep schedule on everyman-3 with 3 naps

April 3, 2012
by alvaro

Days 26/27 – Sleep deprivation and good citizenship

Day 26:  It was a difficult morning.  This was most likely due to yesterday’s strange naps (predominantly light sleep) which didn’t feel very re-energizing and left me tired through much of the day.

(2012/04/02, (3:21,5, “eyes feel more irritated than normal”), (3:25,4.5,”decaf tea”), (3:49,3,”more sleepy than normal. nodding”), (4:10,7,”back to normal”), (4:53,5), (4:58,4, “laying on the sofa. OK in kitchen”), (5:10,6, “doing chores”), (5:30,3,”nodding off, laying on sofa”), (5:53,4,”very sleepy”),(6:05,6,”chores”),(6:20,5,”hard to program and write”), (7:10,7,”reading”), (17:50,7,”tired eyes”), (22:00,6,”movie watching, tired eyes”)).

However the rest of the day was normal.  Good level of work with about 10h of computer and 1h of exercise, … with some cooking and talking sprinkled in for good measure.

sleeping schedule and sleep phases on everyman polyphasic sleep

sleep phases, core sleep and naps on April 2nd 2012

Day 27:  Oh Boy!  It happened again!  My last nap yesterday wasn’t ideal (see only 16mn above) and to make things worse, when I woke up at 2:45 it was in the middle of light sleep (which makes me groggy) … so I must have snoozed and totally overslept.  Of course by “overslept” I mean sleeping 5h55.  But surprisingly I felt wide awake after that.  I felt a little tired around 9am for 20mn but it was pretty much impossible to nap at mid-day, so I had to wait until 16:30.  I can definitely say that my body is starting to adapt in some form or another.   This can of course be seen as a failure to stick to the schedule, but I see the other side of the coin:  a few months ago, when I slept 6h at night I would feel tired, and would have a horrible time getting out of bed (I had to go to work without my 8h!!?).  Today, I sleep 5h55 … and I feel incredibly rested and awake.  So clearly, in spite of the mess of the past couple of days and in spite of this over-sleeping something is happening inside me.  But I’ll admit I’m not yet convinced about the possibility of fully adapting.

sleep schedule on everyman-3 with 3 naps

sleeping schedule with oversleeping, April 3rd 2012

Today I experienced a somewhat dramatic event.  And just to show that I still keep my mental functions in working order (well, as good or bad as they used to be anyway), I’ll relate it here.  After my afternoon nap I went for a 12km bike ride to exercise and get some chores done.  On the way back I saw quite a bit of smoke in a field and attributed it to agricultural waste burning.  That farmer is burning a lot of stuff _ I thought.  But the flames were unusually high.  It got me worried.  I stopped.  Was anyone supervising that fire?.  It was too far to see. And then … black smoke, … and what looked like the tire of a truck.  Hum … dodgy!  I stopped a runner:  “can you tell me this address?  Don’t you think it looks unusual?“.  That monophasic runner ignored my concerns and ran on with his ipod.  But something wasn’t right.  So I stopped another cyclist, urged him to give me the address and I phoned the fire brigade straight away.  A few minutes later I trespassed onto their field to wave, shout and try to alert them.  The fire was already out of control eating away at a tractor, a pile of grass and starting with a little woodland.

fire in a farm

fire in a nearby farm

Fortunately the fire brigade arrived at  this moment (picture) and were able to get the fire under control in 2h.

As a rough estimate, if I’ve been on Everyman for 24 days (the first 2 were 5h and 4h ), then I’ve lost 24*(8 – 4.5) = 84h of sleep.

Fortunately it seems 84h of sleep deprivation haven’t killed my empathy, emergency reaction time, and good citizenship!

Let’s now see how oversleeping (5h20mn total) affects me tomorrow.

April 1, 2012
by alvaro

Days 24/25 – Missed nap and wake test

Some of your comments and emails expressed concern about this experience being very hard.  Re-reading some posts I realize that there’s a bias towards the downsides and difficulties. But in reality it is quite easy most of the time.  I’ve been trying to describe the challenges but I also spend most of the day working (sprinkled with good times at home, cooking, meeting friends, doing sports and so on). However I don’t log most of it to spare your death-by-boredom.  The main challenge has to do with maintaining the schedule, having the discipline to measure/monitor, and recovering from the mishaps of missed naps or disturbed schedules.

Sleeping diagram for everyman polyphasic sleeping schedule

Sleeping diagram for everyman polyphasic sleeping schedule 31 March

Sleep Phases in my Everyman3 (actually Everyman2 today).

Day 24:  Today I had a nap at 12:00 in the car (forgot headband) but it only lasted about 10mn – 12mn. I felt groggy after the nap.  I have read that if it’s shorter than 15mn, the nap won’t be effective.  And this one certainly wasn’t.  It’s a shame I didn’t record the structure, but it may have been light sleep.  Even 1h after the nap it hadn’t helped me.  So I tried another nap 20mn … but ended up oversleeping for 1h and feeling tired for yet another hour on top.  It’s surprising how critical the timing (sleeping too much or too little) can be for the recovery value of the nap.

After getting up around 15:40 I decided to skip the 18h nap and go to the cinema with friends and family.  This stretched my day until midnight.  By that time I was truly tired with itchy eyes but the movie caught me and didn’t let me sleep through it.

Day 25:  Today check out this tiredness test:  http://www.wellcomecollection.org/tiredness/index.html  I’ve scored wide awake (9:24am, after been awake for 5h!). Now go and try it!

I would say it’s not just measuring reaction time but also deductive logic and intuition (as there are no instructions to be followed, and rather one has to guess what to do).  Obviously … once you’ve played once it’s just a question of reflexes or reaction time.

update:  Someone pointed out that the instructions are pretty clear at the link.  I guess I was more sleepy than I realized and I just jumped to the button  // lauch tiredness test //. 🙂

sleeping patterns and sleep phases on everyman polyphasic sleeping schedule

sleep phases on everyman polyphasic sleeping schedule - 1st of April 2012

— and my subjective awareness through the day:  (2012/04/1, (3:55,5), (4:05,6), (4:29,7), (20:00,7),(22:30,5)).

Good energy throughout the whole day. However 12h nap did not feel very re-energizing … and most naps were light sleep.  I don’t have a real explanation for that other than excitement with work, interruptions and perhaps trying to sleep at a particular hour instead at the time when I’m tired.  In any case I’m a bit concerned that those two light-sleep naps will make me tired tomorrow.  We’ll see.


March 30, 2012
by alvaro

Days 22/23 – On caving and chronobiology

Day 22: Things seem to be getting easier.  The morning hours are quite productive even if naps don’t always fall into place.

hypnogram diagram with sleeping phases

diagram with sleeping phases 29 March 2012

(2012/03/29, (3:30, 6, “just woke up”), (3:55, 7.5, “learning Object Oriented Programming“), (5:27, 6), (5:40,7), (6:20,5,”heavy eyes, sleepy”), (7:30,7),(21:00,7), (22:10,6),(22:30,5),(23:00,5),(23:20,4) )

  Unfortunately … back to a tired morning … probably due to the failed last nap on the 22nd.

(2012/03/30, (3:30, 6, “just woke up”), (3:55, 7.5, “coding”), (4:27, 6, “runny nose”),(5:00,5,”need to move”), (5:07,6,”coding, learning”),  (5:07,5.5,”sleepy, very tired body”), (7:00,7),(21:30,7),(22:00,5))

I leave you today with a little video to show that I’m not the only insane scientist doing this sort of experiment.  Already in the 1930s Chicago University scientists were experimenting with shifting sleeping patters: Continue Reading →

Diagram of sleep phases on an Everyman sleeping schedule 27 March 2012

March 28, 2012
by alvaro

Days 20/21 – When Words Coincide

Day 20:  Today I have felt amazing clarity and wakefullness.  Which is great as I had an important meeting with my friend and co-founder.  Have I readapted already?  I should adapt faster and faster when I oversleep now, so perhaps it is the case.Diagram of sleep phases on an Everyman sleeping schedule 27 March 2012

Diagram of sleep phases on March 27th 2012

(2012/03/27, (3:30, 7, “just woke up”), (3:55, 8, “learning, reading”), (5:05, 8, “focus”), (6:00,6,”tired but not sleepy”), (6:30,4,”time to nap but not even needed”), (7:10,7, “all REM nap”),(8:30,7.5), (11:30,7.5), (14:00,6,”some yawning”), (18:00,7,”rather awake”),(20:30,6), (22:00,5,”tired eyes”),(22:20,5,”physically very tired light headache”), (23:00,3,”must sleep”))

Day 21:  The naps from yesterday were not ideal (12:00 nervous and interrupted, 18:00 excited and distracted with 6mn REM, 6mn Light, 6mn Deep).  This usually has an impact on the “morning after” feeling around 4am.  On top of that due to home logistics, I need to work on the sofa for two weeks… which certainly is more conducive to sleepyness.  But I’m still able to read, concentrate and write. Continue Reading →

March 26, 2012
by alvaro

Day 19 – French uncles, M. Jouvet and mole physiology

As expected I was tired (after oversleeping yesterday) but managed to make it through the morning.  Here’s the quick diary:  (2012/03/26, (3:30, 6, “just woke up”), (3:55, 7.5, “learning, coding”), (5:05, 7, “itchy eyes”), (5:21,6,”yawn, sleepy”), (5:45,4,”nodding off”), (6:41,4, “woke up from light sleep nap”),(7:00,5.5),(7:03,7, “cortisol kick in? sudden wake”),(8:30,7.5),(10:20,5,”light headache, physically tired”),(11:30,7.5), (21:50,7), (22:20,5,”physically very tired light headache”), with the scale (0 to 10) available here.

sleeping phases in everyman sleeping schedule.  Trying to recover from oversleeping

sleeping phases in everyman sleeping schedule. Trying to recover from oversleeping

On another note, I just received this book in the post:

michel jouvet, pourquoi rêvons nous?

michel jouvet, pourquoi rêvons nous?

<<Pourquoi dormons-nous ? pourquoi rêvons-nous ? où, quand, comment ? Michel Jouvet>>
<<Why do we sleep? Why do we dream? where, when and how? Michel Jouvet>>

The author, Dr. Jouvet is a Neurobiologist (Medical doctor by training) who has contributed extensively to sleep research.  In fact he was the first person to describe and measure REM sleep (called paradoxical sleep back then).

I didn’t actually order it.  It was a surprise gift, sent from France with a note.  A note of encouragement, curiosity, scepticism and wonderment.  It was sent by my French uncle Pouch who has also been following this blog.  And it is quite probably thanks to him that this blog exists to begin with.  He is the culprit (and I’m thankful) for my scientific curiosity.  Throughout the years he never lost his sense of wonder for the mysteries of science and has gathered a broad scientific culture (particularly for the contributions of French scientists).  Every time he would visit us in Madrid, a fascinating book would accompany him.  And so I discovered great physics and math thinkers in my teens:  H. Poincaré, Laurent Nottale, W. Heisenberg, L. De Broglie, R. Penrose, Einstein.  A bit later, at university he also lent me great neuroscience by  J. P. Changeux, M. Jouvet, and J. Eccles and Popper among others.

This time he’s sent another one of Jouvet’s books, with lots of interesting facts that will be great to share in this blog.  Thank you!  And I, in turn, will be sharing little “Sleep Trivia” or “Sleep Facts” from the book like this one:

[fact_quote]If moles are blind, can they exhibit rapid eye movement or REM?  The term REM is somewhat unfortunate as blind animals (even without eyes) will also experience what is better named paradoxical sleep. The key is in the frequency of the brain waves, the breathing and the low muscle tone [ref-PDF].  It is paradoxical because the brain seems to be awake, but the body is completely relaxed. [/fact_quote]

March 25, 2012
by alvaro

Day 18 – Missing Sleep Data

After oversleeping in the ferry yesterday I felt quite rested.

I was physically tired after the 26,600 steps the day before and 10,000 today, but my mind and body felt rested.  I couldn’t sleep on the 19h nap … but really hope tomorrow I’ll be able to adapt.

For the record:

polyphasic sleeping log everyman

polyphasic sleeping log with missed night (out of battery)

as stated yesterday the battery of the Zeo ran out in the middle of the night.


March 25, 2012
by alvaro

Day 17 – Traveling and polyphasic sleep …

Today my schedule was shaken in a number of ways.

After boarding the ship, we went to bed a little late.  Perhaps the new environment and the rocking of the boat resulted in the first 25mn of light sleep.

The day before we had taken 13,600 steps (about double or triple of what I’ve been doing lately).  So I could definitely feel by legs much more tired. An hour of deep sleep followed the light sleep.  A slight congestion was setting in (perhaps due to a weak immune system or to the recirculating air of the inner ferry cabins).

So my tiredness, congestion and the prospect of a full day on Saturday made me wonder if it would be better to sleep in.  So I gave myself 4h and woke up.  Like a ghost in an abandoned ship, I would roam the empty shops, cafés and saloons. Occasionally some crew would appear, look in disbelief and disappear again.  Some passengers who couldn’t afford the cabins had managed to hide in the restaurant’s sofas for a better night sleep.  It was comforting to enjoy the boat and the sea (the waves hitting the port and starboard in the darkness) without the crowd of loud and drunk Brits.  This, however, made it harder to stay awake.  I sat and doodled ideas to process the sleeping data.

But that didn’t last long.  Continue Reading →

March 23, 2012
by alvaro

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): Continue Reading →