This article follows the first one about polyhasic sleep, where I explained my ambition to try not to sleep in one night but in several phases spread over 24 hours.

You read it in the title, this attemp is a failure, but a happy one! Let’s see why and how to fix it next time …

Assessment

The first week was quite nice. I loved sleeping less, having more time and feeling the “continuity of time”. I did not feel particularly tired, but I had other difficulties. Social activities are particularly complicated… I would come back to this.

Pros

  • The waking and falling asleep phases are shorter and easier to live with
  • More free time
  • More energy

Cons

  • Socially complicated
  • Doing outdoor activities at night is not very motivating
  • The waking phases in the middle of the day are sometimes confusing
  • Requires extreme rigor

Other findings

  • Waking up is easier during the day
  • The body seems to adapt relatively quickly

Analysis and diagnosis

During this experience, I kept a diary where I wrote down all my hours of bed and waking. Now, this allows me to draw some conclusions and learn from my mistakes so I can do better next time.

Chart of polyphasic sleeping time
Diagram of the durations of the sleep phases of the two weeks of the experiment.

Partying, it’s wrong!

On the diagram, there are two peaks of sleep on October 27 and November 2. This is the day after two evenings well watered: a bivouac with my friend Joris and Halloween.

Indeed, it is unusual to come to an evening and say “Hi, is it allright if I take a nap of an hour and a half, where is your bed?”. So, we already skip phase 3

On top of this, we go to bed late, and alcohol abuse makes sleep ineffective.

Aside from the party, our lives are made up of encounters and activities that are not all in tune with this polyphasic sleep. To deprive oneself of it would mean breaking rule number 5 “do not become marginal”, so there is a real problem here.

Joris and me having breakfast in front of the cabin
Always nice to wake up in the mountains after a night under the stars! Left Jojo, right myself. Thanks to him for his photos!

Communicating vessels

By observing the trend curves, we notice that the phases are unbalanced like communicating vessels. The duration of phases 1 tends to increase and that of phases 3 to decrease, meaning there is a transfer of sleep time from one phase to the other.

I think it’s directly related to the fact that phase 1 is nocturnal while phase 3 is diurnal. I really felt this difference in my motivation for example. It was quite hard to do physical activities or outdoors at night simply because of the colder temperature, the visibility and the need to not make noise. Who mows the lawn at 2am?

So I tended to be more static, bored at night more than the day. This transfer of sleep time from day to night obviously seems natural, and that’s the whole difficulty. If I don’t pay attention, I may find myself out of pace.

Resolutions for next time

I loved this first experience, and I intend to reiterate it more seriously. I would certainly do this soon, but for the moment I prefer to concentrate on my preparations.

  • Social and other activities should not be a problem. It will be necessary to anticipate more these and adjust the phases of sleep before going there.
  • Keep the entourage informed of my particular sleep. Vegetarians have been very successful in making themselves respected especially by warning their relatives of their particular diet, which is now very well accepted.
  • Drinking much less better in the parties to ensure a minimal quality of sleep.
  • Increasing the duration of the diurnal phases should allow a better stability over time.
  • Organizing the activities between the phases of sleep should overcome the problem of motivation. A todo list for the night on one side and another for the day on the other.

To be continued…

I leave you with this little video made by Joris during our last bivouac I mentionned above. You must know that this man just returned from a 4300km hike in the USA called the Pacific Crest Trail, if you understand French I invite you to read his blog about it.

Mountains, cheese and wine. I take advantage of it before leaving where it does not exist!

Last Updated on 5 November 2019 by Vincent