BEGINNER GUIDE: The Choice of Sleeping Right

Narrowing Your Choices: Process of Elimination

Overview of All 25 Polyphasic Schedules

Q: After looking at all schedules and mapping out my timetable, I am still confused. It seems I can pick any schedules among E2, E3-extended and all the Biphasic schedules. So what to do?

A: In this lesson, you will learn to eliminate which schedule(s) you want to attempt, and then hopefully down to only one schedule. With all that said, it is indeed overwhelming when you look at all 25 schedules, each of which may contain more than one scheduling variation…

Here are the generic rules first:

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Rough sketch of possible nap times
  • Pick out the schedule group you prefer to do. Take a deeper look at a generic Everyman, Dual Core, etc.  schedule structure. 
  • If you are a normal, average sleeper (7-9h monophasic), nap-only schedules are a no go. That’s one group out of the way. 
  • If you cannot schedule a 90-minute core sleep in the day, core-only schedules won’t fit you. The only exception, however, is Segmented sleep. 
  • Unless you can sleep a bit early in the evening hours (e.g, ~10-11 PM range), most Dual Core and Tri Core variants are out. The most ideal exception(s), nevertheless, are DC1-extended and Triphasic-extended
  • If it is impossible to nap more than once in the day, cross out schedule variations with 2 daytime naps during work/school hours. 
  • As you want to try things safely, start with any schedules with at least 5.5 hours of sleep each day. If you are more ambitious, still, don’t go below 4.5-5 hours. Again, this should eliminate a lot more schedules! 
  • Check your age.
  • If you often naturally wake up at night, you may already favor Segmented-alike schedules

Obviously, there are more, so we’ll get to that soon. 

Nap Rules

Nap Duration

Q: I would like to start with having a 5-hour core sleep and 2 40-minute naps. Is this advisable?

A: While your total sleep definitely looks reasonable, the nap durations are not what we recommend. Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid nap durations longer than ~30 minutes and less than ~90 minutes (one full cycle). Anything in between these benchmarks has often recorded minimal success due to the unpredictable REM/SWS wakes. The only easiest exception for these nap durations is a non-reducing Biphasic schedule. 
  • Most naps should be 20 minutes long. This is also a golden duration with a lot of success over time. By 20 minutes, I mean the exact 20 minutes. Basically, you go to your nap spot ~5-10 minutes before your nap time first. Then, lie down when there’s few minutes left. Close your eyes when there’s one minute left till the nap. 
  • The most viable extended nap exceptions for reducing schedules are the Pronaps. These are around REM peak hours, so they should not give SWS wakes if the previous core sleep has already accounted for sufficient SWS. These naps can be as long as 45 minutes around REM peak. 
  • It is possible to schedule 30-minute naps. However, they are usually only present on Dymaxion-type schedules. These schedules, however, have a much steeper adaptation difficulty. Thus, you may want to avoid 30-minute naps altogether, bar a non-reducing Biphasic schedule. 
  • Some people anecdotally pull off 25-minute naps successfully. However, much fewer people succeed with 25-minute naps on a non-biphasic schedule. This is because SWS starts entering a daytime nap around the ~25th minute or so, which increases oversleeping chances. 

Nap Time

Q2: Can I have naps at these hours?

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E4-extended with late naps

A2

  • Avoid placing short naps at late hours. Usually, 7 PM to ~4 AM are bad times for naps. This is because NREM/SWS sleep is favored at these late hours and you won’t really nearly as much REM in your naps as you like. 
  • Most ideal times for short naps are from around REM peak to late afternoon hours. So roughly ~5 AM to ~6:30 PM is the workable range. 
  • The closer to evening hours, the more favorable core sleeps become. This means you can sleep for longer, with at least 90 minutes to get in more SWS. 
  • Oh, by the way, spare at least ~2-3 hours wake between your naps. You will enjoy more productive time without having to wind down too soon for the next nap. Furthermore, you want your body to not treat the 2 naps in proximity as interrupted sleep

Core Rules

Most Common Core Durations

Q1: What are the most viable core durations I can have for my own core sleep(s)?

A1: Great question! A core sleep is often very necessary to alleviate SWS and REM requirements, and getting the duration right will only help your adaptation. Below is the list:

  • Standard durations: 90-minute multiples. For example, 1.5h, 3h, 4.5h, 6h and 7.5h. 
  • Non-standard durations: 
  1. Statistically-likely REM period: 3.5h, 5h and 6.5h. The addition of 30 minutes may facilitate meeting REM requirements
  2. Other possible (requires more data) durations: 5.5h, 7h. These work based on the assumption that they act like other statistically-likely REM period durations. 

Mid-cycle Durations

Q2: Is a 4-hour core possible? I see a lot of variations in core duration on the website. I would like to squeeze 30 minutes of sleep from the 4.5-hour core.

A2: A 4-hour core is indeed viable, but we don’t recommend that duration. A lot of people pick it from the get-go, but with a very low success rate. 

  • You can schedule the 4-hour duration if you have extensive understanding of your sleep cycle. That is, by using a reliable sleep tracker to certify it. 
  • After you adapt with the 4.5-hour core, your core may naturally shorten by some margin. However, this usually only happens after you have adapted to your schedule, with many weeks of consistency. Note that it is no guarantee, and has only occurred on E3-extended so far. 
  • Even though you will have a hard time waking up from any core durations as time goes on, scheduling a mid-cycle core duration right away will give you struggle just on the first day(s) into the schedule. 

Dual Core Schedules

Q3: I see that certain Dual Core variants have non-90-minute core durations. Why are they the standard variants instead?

A3: Good notice! I’m glad you asked that question. Well, the reason they have distinct core durations is likely because of the sleep peaks. You can read more about the PDF reports on core duration’s adaptability on DC1 and DC2. Basically, a core around SWS peak will lengthen the duration of an SWS block; the same thing happens for a REM-peak core. 

Similar to naps, don’t forget to spare at least ~2-3 hours wake between each core sleep

However, we will continue collecting more data samples of successful adaptations to these Dual Core durations. 

Concluding Remark

If you get to this point, I hope you get a more comprehensive view on scheduling your naps and core sleep(s). Although the mileage may vary, we make quick work of what has the best chance to stick with the majority of the population. As such, you can simply bank on these rules to schedule your sleep sessions around the day. At this point, your polyphasic schedule should have some decent shape! 

In the next lesson, we will take a look together at how you will have to pick between the odds when adapting. 

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