(Originally published December 5th, 2009)

Follow-up to the previous note about polyphasic sleeping. I have now finished my experiment in polyphasic sleep, and am ready to make some conclusions.

As a recap, my schedule consisted of sleeping about 4 hours a night, with 3 half-hour naps during the day (noon, 5pm and 10pm). I did this for six weeks, with few exceptions. I stayed as close to this schedule as possible, only missing maybe 1 out of every 10 or 15 naps (not bad considering how random and hectic life can be).

One weekend, I did not have any naps, as I spent it in Guelph. Fortunately, I had a good sleep on the Saturday night. However, I was still wrecked for several days afterwards. Even though at that point I had only been doing this for two weeks or so, I was already dependent on my naps - a testament to the creature of habit that humans really are. Aside from this, I would once in a while miss a nap (usually my 5pm one), which made me a bit tired in the evening, but this was generally remedied by having a slightly longer nap at 10pm.

I also have noted that I became quite good at training myself to wake up without an alarm. Although I always set one as a backup, during my half-hour naps I would generally wake up one or two minutes before it went off. This was not the case in the morning after sleeping 4 hours, though.

Der Untergang

In the last week, since exams are coming up, and assignments are no longer a concern, I decided that I would stop the polyphasic sleep. However, being as I am, I decided to do a quick few experiments before I stopped. One of these includes skipping my first two naps. This was, quite simply, disastrous. I was extremely tired in the afternoon and evening, and my 10pm nap ended up being three hours (meaning I was sleeping for two hours while my clock radio was playing before I woke up - that’s how tired I was).

Not really important, but somewhat amusing is that (as I mentioned above) I became so used to sleeping in half-hour chunks that last Saturday I woke up at 8:15am (about normal), but decided to try to sleep in. However, after falling back asleep, I awoke again at 8:45. Tried again, woke up at 9:15. Decided that my body would win this time, got out of bed, and started my day.

Today is going to be my first day that I am not going to take a nap in nearly a month. I am quite tired right now, even though it is not even six o’clock and I woke up at 10 this morning. Unfortunately, this means that I will not have a very effective evening of studying, as I am finding it extremely hard to focus. Hopefully after a good night’s sleep tonight, tomorrow will be more conducive towards studying.

Das Ende

Being the scientific (well, Engineering) mind that I am, I did this not only as a way to increase available time, but as a sort of experiment. Some conclusions:

  • This did not make me any more difficult to understand/any less coherent. Usually when someone is exhausted, they tend to make less sense. However, I did not receive any comments from people around me that seemed to indicate that this was the case. To me, this indicates that I was probably as confusing as ever, but not in way that indicated exhaustion.

  • A big part of the “available time” part for me was time for assignments and schoolwork. Although I did not notice an increase in my marks in assignments and quizzes since doing this, they certainly did not drop. As is normal with any course, the later material tends to be more difficult to grasp, and my marks generally show this. However, they did not go down by any notable amount. Because I had so much time, I was able to do many of the suggested questions on assignments, read the textbook, and just generally have a better idea of what was going on in my courses.

  • As a final note, I had a lot more time to do stuff I wanted to do. In the first half of the term, I was extremely concerned that I would not have enough time to just finish assignments, so I went to few social events, and very little time for anything other than work. Since then, however, I have been to all sorts of EngSoc events, social events, extracurricular stuff, as well as having lots of time to watch movies. LOTS of movies. One might say that thanks to polyphasic sleep, I am far more cultured that I was two months ago, having watched many classic films when I would generally have been sleeping.

If there are mistakes in here, this is most likely because, for the first time six weeks, I am tired. Must… resist… urge to nap. Maybe I’ll go for groceries, and not at 1:30am this time.