Alcohol

Introduction

Alcohol is without a doubt a necessary addition to the lifestyle of many in the world. This is thanks to its long history of creation and making. And over time, science has discovered how it can affect sleep quality; this is in fact the topic that polyphasic sleepers have been yearning to understand for so long. 

Reading other posts and to this point, you probably think, that polyphasic sleeping tradeoff is too overwhelming. That is, the lifestyle seems so ascetic that you would have to refrain from such commonplace and enjoyable beverages. However, we have good news for you and will specify how you can still consume some alcohol if desired.

Alcohol’s Effects on Sleep

There are a couple mechanics of alcohol you should be aware of. Below are certain relevant findings that can affect your schedule:

  • Alcohol consumption can increase depth and duration of slow-wave sleep.
  • In addition, large amounts (more than 1 or 2 drinks) can reduce REM sleep.
  • Also, alcohol at first delays REM sleep latency with moderate amounts. However, with a long enough core sleep, moderate consumption should not be an issue.¬†
  • Drinking significant amounts of alcohol also leads to significant sleep architecture disturbance, which can completely wreck a polyphasic adaptation.
  • The most noticeable affect is the elevated risks of waking up during REM or SWS1.¬†Consequently, it is not advisable to drink huge amounts of alcohol while sleeping polyphasically.

Alcohol on Polyphasic Sleep

Since there are many polyphasic schedules, some of the tips may or may not apply to all of them. Thus, for that purpose, we intend to design how polyphasic schedules would fare with alcohol consumption.

Note:

  • We assume sleepers (excluding short sleepers) have adapted to these schedules.
  • Additionally, the table does not account for extended schedule versions and only standard scheduling.¬†
  • We also use the regular baseline of 90m SWS and 90m REM as average daily requirements.¬†

Ratings:

  • 4/4: Highly suitable, can sustain most reasonable alcohol consumptions
  • 3/4: Fairly tolerable, but can still break down in excess alcohol
  • 2/4: Neutral, may be somewhat unfitting
  • 1/4: Potentially very unsuitable, not recommended at all
Polyphasic Schedule Groups  Alcohol Suitability  Potentially Unsuitable Schedules
Biphasic None
Everyman Regular versions of E4, E5, Trimaxion
Dual Core Standard versions of DC3, DC4, Bimaxion
Tri Core Regular versions of all schedules
Core-only QC0
Nap-only All schedules

Brief analysis

  • As said earlier, alcohol delays REM onset latency. This means that the first REM episode will appear later in the core. However, a sufficiently long core sleep can still cover all REM requirements. As a result, Biphasic schedules are often safe.¬†
  • Everyman schedules (except the likes of E4) often have a core sleep of at least 2 uninterrupted sleep cycles. Hence, this can cover some additional SWS duration that persists into the second/third sleep cycle. However, Everyman schedules with only a 2-cycle core can still give SWS wakes.¬†
  1. This potentially can make it easier to sustain some drinking than on Dual Core schedules, whose SWS cores are often shorter (bar extended versions).
  2. Given the dense SWS distribution of the first Dual Core schedules, SWS wakes can appear more frequently with excessive alcohol consumption.
  3. DC1 and DC2 stand a much better chance and can rival E2 and E3-extended tier. 
  • Schedules with no core sleeps longer than 1 full cycle like Tri Core potentially have bigger problems with the evening core. This is because the usual 90m duration may still incur SWS wakes at the end of the cycle as alcohol lengthens SWS duration. As a result, oversleeps are more likely.¬†
  • Even though certain average sleepers claim to have adapted to some nap-only schedules, there are very few, if any, records of them consuming alcohol. Thus, nap-only schedules may not support drinking, or very barely. Mutants, however, potentially have more leeway.¬†
  • Please note that the table is only a guideline, and your consumption mileage may vary.¬†

Other Tips

No alcohol consumption before a REM nap
  • It is also not advisable to drink alcohol prior to any REM-oriented sleep sessions (e.g, a dawn nap/core). This can effectively reduce REM sleep duration and you will wake in REM by the scheduled wake time.¬†
  • However, it may be acceptable to drink a small amount prior to SWS-oriented sleep sessions without significant damages.
  1. Still, sleepers should avoid large volumes; avoiding drinking entirely is probably the safest option.
  2. Ending consumption 2-3 hours before a core and drinking a lot of water with a snack can minimize harm to sleep quality.
  3. Small drink amounts can actually reduce sleep onset2. This can be an advantage for the easiness to fall asleep. 
  • Alternatively, if one of your nap(s) always contains only light sleep, you can consume some small amounts before these sleep sessions.

The permissible amount after adaptation depends on:

  • How strict a polyphasic schedule is
  • How difficult the schedule is
  • Drinking frequency
  • Your polyphasic experience

Overall, be cautious and test in small increments.

Main authors: Crimson & GeneralNguyen

Page last updated: 15 February 2021

Reference

  1. Roehrs T, Roth T. Sleep, sleepiness, and alcohol use. Alcohol research and Health. 2001;25(2):101-109. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.547.2267&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
  2. Ebrahim, Irshaad O., et al. “Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep.”¬†Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research¬†37.4 (2013): 539-549.