March 22, 2012
by alvaro

Day 15 – tricks to stay awake

A few of you have been sending me tricks to stay awake, recommending not to overdose on coffee, and sharing your experiences. The first clarification is that polyphasic sleep is impossible if you use stimulants and depressants.  It’s common in western societies to ride a sort of roller coaster through the day:  sleepy (↓), coffee (↑), tea (↑), wine (↓), cigarette (↑), beer (↓), chocolate (↑), coffee (↑) … and so on.  However polyphasic sleep (at least überman) tries to achieve a state of constant energy levels leading to high productivity without the highs & lows (except of course for the moment before going to bed when we feel tired).  In any case during the adaptation you do need to fight the sleeping sensation without resorting to stimulants … so here are some of the tricks you’ve sent: Continue Reading →

March 21, 2012
by alvaro

days 13/14 – pineal gland explosions

Hello again.

I’m still alive.  Unlike some of you have suggested (Sergio!) my pineal gland has not exploded, and I have not finally fallen asleep for 3 days :).  I was just a little busy, that’s all.  The processing of the sleep graphs is a lengthy and repetitive task which I’m still automating.  But until then it’s quite time consuming.   For now you can find all my sleep data on a public evernote notebook  .   The Elephant is the Evernote logo (as in elephant memory), and evernote is a very useful note-taking, web-clipping application.  I can push a button on my phone and upload my sleep charts to it, so pretty useful!  From those charts I create these overviews (by hand with image editor gimp):

Continue Reading →

March 19, 2012
by alvaro

day 12 – Zeo Troubles

If you don’t know about polyphasic sleeping read this first.  Today I slept very well.  I had REM on all naps, and two nice periods of REM in the core sleep (It may be true that doing 3:20 instead of 3:00 core sleep on Everyman has benefits.  One of the readers seems to think so).sleeping diagram with zeo ... missing naps

sleep phase diagram with zeo … missing naps 🙁

Anyway, I keep having some problems with the headband (or Dry EEG to record the sleep phases).  The machine is quite astonishing, light and comfortable.  But the developers had a big blind spot when it comes to designing the database.  The charts above are not the output of their website.  All the charts you see here are practically done by hand.  I have to copy paste, adapt, scroll, select by color, open, crop about 4 times. All that to make a little chart like that one!!  The reason is pretty simple.  Zeo thinks that everybody is monophasic.  So they will only save the longest period of sleep.  If you don’t pay special attention to your naps and record them on separate files they will just disappear from the record.   Not good for polyphasic sleep, of course.  So if you stop the alarm and put the headband in the docking station.  POUF!  Gone.  I did remember the length of the naps, and the dreams (REM) at the end of it.  So I’ve drawn in beige a rough estimate of the nap.  Anyway … I’m going to develop my own scripts to record the data and do my charts automatically.  This is roughly how it will work:

My headband talks to the phone and docking station.  Then my phone uploads the data to their website.  I use their website API to pull the data back to my computer regularly (I have to check if I can grab the full naps or just the core sleep). Then I convert it to a useful format, merge it with my personal subjective observations, and create automatic charts from the data with SVG-fig.  Wherever you see the funny cat it means I will share this code on Github (a place for developers to share and collaborate).  Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.  When I’m done I’ll share the code so anybody can plot their own data this way.  Wish me luck!

(2012/03/19, (2:30, 6, “just woke up”), (3:50, 7, “reading”), (4:27, 6, “computer work”), (5:40,5,”getting tired for reading”), (6:27,4,”ready for nap”), (7:35,5),(7:50,7),(8:30,7.5), (11:30,7.5), (12:00,5),(13:00,7.5),(17:00,6,”tired eyes and light headache”) … all good until 22:30.)

polyphasic sleeping log for March 2012, 7 days

March 18, 2012
by alvaro

Day 11 – adapting

The quest continues!

I’m back to sleeping every nap.  And falling asleep in less than 10mn every time.  Waking up at 2am feels easy (with a soft alarm) and I can get to work after 10 or 15mn. I’m starting to look for patterns to try and optimize the naps and their phases.  According to the literature some of the critical things are:

  • Timing of the nap (not too late, not too early.  On everyman 1/2h to 1h of margin is recommended)

This obviously has social consequences as one cannot make an exception in the middle of a party, a movie or a crucial meeting with a customer (“If you’ll excuse me I’m going to bed, thank you!“).  One has to avoid getting caught by brilliant ideas for hours …(or at least put the inspiration on hold for 20mn!).  I’ll try to document this better.  When I’m fully adapted I might carry out some controlled experiments shifting naps around.

  • Duration of the nap (trying to wake up in REM or at the end not to feel groggy)

Waking up in REM (feeling like you just got out of a dream) feels more refreshing.  I can definitely confirm this.  Waking up from light sleep makes me tired … but I don’t have much data for waking up in deep sleep.  I’ll let you know when I get more statistically significant results.

  • Diet, caffeine, sport, stress

It is quite astonishing that although I sleep around 4.5h/day I don’t consume any caffeine.  This has to be one of the hardest parts of the experiment.  I love the smell or morning coffee and I certainly look like a drug addict staring at my girlfriend’s cup in the morning … Gimme your coffee!!!   But fortunately she’s supportive and drinks it quickly keeping temptation at bay.  It’s quite possible that a sip of coffee tripped the whole experiment last week, so I’m just trying to adapt.  Stress is yet to manifest its consequences … but I do have good self-control in that department.  Concerning sport I’m taking it very easy for now.  I’m pushing my body to new limits, so I don’t want to overexert it with sore muscles.  However I continue with light sport (quick walk, cycle or jogg) and will increase intensity when I feel ready and strong.

Check out the  last 7 days below,

Continue Reading →

sleeping diagram with sleep phases on Everyman-3 polyphasic schedule

March 16, 2012
by alvaro

Day 9 – Oversleeping

I have overslept for the first time in the experiment.  Yesterday my 17:00 nap just didn’t succeed.  I was so tired that I went to bed at 22:30 and entered deep sleep in 10mn.

I woke up at 2:45 using the smart-wake, and crawled out of bed.  I usually make a decaf tea and wash my face … but my throat felt a bit sore, my muscles felt exceptionally tired so I decided to lay back and relax for a moment on the couch with a blanket.  I’m not quite sure what I was thinking but you don’t have to be a genius to guess what happened next.  sleepy Continue Reading →

March 15, 2012
by alvaro

Day 8 – Where did my nap go?

Here is my sleep chart today (only 3:51 of sleep in 24h!):

hypnogram with missing naps

hypnogram with missing naps

My 7am nap was mostly light sleep and waking up from deep sleep at 13:00 made me feel quite groggy.  In addition the 17:00 nap just didn’t happen.  Overall I didn’t start very tired but ended exhausted.

I did learn a few things:

  • You should not attempt a nap straight out of work.  If you stop your thoughts, logout of the computer, and get straight into bed … your thoughts will continue to spin for at least 10 – 15mn.   So it’s a good idea to take a break 10mn before the nap and do something manual, tidy, relax and clear your mind.  Otherwise you may miss most of your nap.
  • Some food like chocolate or sweets taken at the wrong time (1 – 2h before the nap) can totally alter your sleep.  The excited mind and body will spin around the bed restless.
  • Eye drops are very necessary and I’m using them two or three times a day.

Pushing my nap by 1/2 an hour at mid-day may have disturbed the schedule but I’m not sure.  In any case I missed that nap and I’m extremely tired, so more on this tomorrow.

hypnogram of polyphasic everyman schedule

March 14, 2012
by alvaro

Day 7 – You snooze you lose

I’m a snooze-fan. I can snooze for an hour (ok, even two some weekends!).

When I worked for the man, the alarm would ring 45mn before getting out of bed … and we would enjoy that fuzzy feeling under the covers just that little longer. However it often meant waking up feeling more tired.  During a couple of months last year I experimented with waking up at the same time everyday as suggested in this article.  I would wake up at 6am, do things for 1h, make some breakfast, and then join my girlfriend who had been snoozing for 30mn.  Surprisingly  I always felt more energized than her, even sleeping an hour less (on the other hand, I was tired earlier in the evening).  Waking up at once was difficult for the first few days.  But once I got used to it, it was actually easier.  It didn’t feel like crawling out of bed, but rather like jumping out of bed.  The same thing applies to Polyphasic sleep. I’ve been tempted to snooze.  I have done so for a couple of naps and once for my core-sleep.  And it’s a bad idea.  You feel more tired,  one snooze leads to another, so … I’ll try my best to avoid it.

As suggested yesterday, I’ve started to log my mood and awareness to track how I feel throughout the day.  Here’s my (subjective and made up) scale:

0 unconscious … sleeping like a log
1 experiencing micro-naps, hallucinations and extreme trouble to stay awake
2 eyelids closing, small winks
3 very heavy eyes and body, no concentration capabilities
4 sleepy mood. ready for bed in 5mn.
5 generally tired. sandy eyes. Can keep up for 1h
6 Tired but active, can do tasks requiring moderate concentration.
7 Fully aware, medium energy levels, can work for hours and do physical activity
7 Fully aware, good energy levels, can concentrate and do challenging sports.
8 High energy levels, excitment, great concentration and good body feeling.
9 Higher than normal mental clarity, body awareness, extraordinary insights, fast thinking.
10 I think I have become a buddha.


Below is the raw data which I’ll convert into a graph when I have some time to parse it. I log ( time, subjective score, comments).

[2012/03/14, (2:50,6,”tired body, sleepy eyes, a little cold”), (3:18, 9, “relaxed, aware”), (3:55, 7, “relaxed”), (5:21, 8, “excited”), (6:10, 7, “tired”), (6:30, 7, “tired eyes”),(6:38, 6.5, “eyes, thick head”), (6:50, 5, “heavy eyes”), (7:04, 4.5, “headache, sandy eyes”), (7:47, 7, “awake, relaxed body”), (8:00, 7), (9:30,8), (12:00,7.5, “doing sport, yawn”), (12:30, 6, “sleepy”), (13:30, 7.5), (14:00, 8), (17:00, 6.5), (17:35, 5, “waking up”), (18:00, 7, “tired”), (18:30, 8, “going to movies”), (22:30, 7, “tired”), (23:00, 6, “need sleep”)]

As suggested by Nic, I might do some awareness testing here ocasionally.   But I won’t have the time to track that every few hours.

hypnogram of polyphasic everyman schedule
hypnogram of polyphasic everyman schedule on March 14th


weekly polyphasic core nap

March 13, 2012
by alvaro

Day 6 – slowly adapting

Waking up was Ok.  I could concentrate and work quite well until 5:30.  Time at which I got drowsy and sleepy.  However some activity snapped me out of it and I got back to work.

It’s day 4 of the Everyman schedule and I’m doing very well.  Much better than the first day.  Again the 7am nap is still full of REM, just like in a normal sleep morning.

polyphasic sleep diagram of phases

sleep phases on the 13th of March (the mobile didn't synchronize properly for the 5pm nap)

Today I slept 4h and 39mn in total and I’m not feeling sleepy all day.  Instead there are a few moments around 6:30, 12:30 and after 22:00 when I feel quite tired.  But my energy levels are relatively constant the rest of the day.  I may start logging my subjective alertness and awareness on a 1 – 10 scale through the day to try to describe better the adaptation period.  Readers, what do you think?  Would that be useful? Continue Reading →

March 12, 2012
by alvaro

Day 5 – little REM


I’m on the 5th day of the adaptation period.  The original plan was to move today to full polyphasic schedule.  However I decided to hold off and continue a few more days on Everyman-3  (3h at night + 3 naps during the day of 1/2h each).

The reason is mostly to stay healthy and conserve my energy. Überman means only 2h/day which is quite extreme.  So I want to do that adaptation when I’m feeling very strong and ready.  I had a hint of runny nose in the morning, my hamstring is still recovering, … so I decided to wait.

polyphasic sleeping log, everyman 3 naps

polyphasic sleeping log, March 12th

However, the surprising thing is that I’ve felt much better than yesterday.  There were some periods when I was tired, but I wasn’t so sleepy overall.  I had a sip of coffee at 9, which I think affected my sleep for the midday nap (see how I only slept 19mn), but other than that I’ve been able to work, go for a walk, do a little exercise and stay focused on doing design, drawing, email, blogging and code refactoring (this is a fancy name that programmers give when they change the names of the files and functions in their program).  It still feels quite strange to wake up at 2:00 and see my town sleep at night while I work.  Today’s naps were characterized by a lack of REM.  I’m not sure if it’s adaptation or just environmental factors (coffee, light, mind distractions, etc).  Let’s see how I fare tomorrow.