Understanding The Reasoning Behind Each Choice
- Personal Monophasic Sleep Duration Assessment
- Work and School Schedules
- Short-term Polyphasic Sleep Strategies
- Polyphasic Sleep as a Long-term Lifestyle Choice
- Personal Health History and Lifestyle Habits
- Narrowing Your Choices: Process of Elimination
- Balancing Opportunity and Cost
- Some Practical Applications of Scheduling
- Your Final Choice
Personal Health History and Lifestyle Habits
Q: My health is good and there does not seem to be any issues. Can I start polyphasic sleep now?
A: If you are so, great. You can start whenever you’re ready. However, if you want to be extra sure, do a comprehensive health check. The best one would be to check in with a doctor or physician. If you know your baseline stats before your adaptation, it would be helpful to compare them to after adaptation.
Check the following, if possible:
- Hormone concentration. Cortisol, testosterone/estrogen, growth hormone, insulin are what you should care about.
- A blood test
- Internal organs’ functions and activity.
Q: I am an ADHD sleeper. What schedule would fit me the best, considering I take stimulants in the morning?
A: Biphasic schedules mostly.
- Segmented sleep may be the most optimal because you do not take any naps for the whole day and only sleep at night.
- If you cannot go to bed any earlier than ~11 PM, and have a nap spot in the day, consider Siesta or E1.
However, given your condition, sleep reduction may be difficult. We have also seen rare success with certain reducing Biphasic schedules as well. Therefore, a beginner’s best interest would be to limit the amount of sleep reduction. This also means extended biphasic schedules would support your performance well.
For other sleep disorders, check out the Before You Start menu bar.
What to Eat
Q: I do not know much about diet and what I eat, either. But I don’t think my diet is actually healthy. Any pointers for me to change?
A: What you eat affects your sleep, and more than you think. Just because you are able to sleep 8 hours a day, does not automatically mean you are getting enough sleep. Sleep duration is not the same as sleep quality. You could be getting a much lower amount of SWS than normal because of what you eat that day.
I am no nutritionist, but here is how I eat:
- Limit refined carbs. These sources are most common in white rice, pasta, white breads, added sugar and sweets. Overall, it’s just too much simple sugar, which results in insulin spikes and gradually causes insulin resistance.
- Consume a moderate amount of saturated fat. It is abundant in cakes, sausages, bacon, cheese, butter, biscuits. Of course, I know that we need fat, but just the right amount.
- Increase complex carbs. Specifically, these are very healthy and help with bowel movements, controlling cholesterol levels and blood sugar thanks to fiber. For example, oats, brown rice and other whole grains. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are also highly nutritious. We also have beans and other legumes too.
- Eat enough protein. I consume about 1.2 grams protein per kilogram, but that’s because I also go to the gym quite frequently. Thus, you may need less than this each day while still being able to avoid protein deficiency.
Feeding Time & Sleep Time
Q: What are the community rules regarding eating and napping?
A: A couple points to keep in mind:
- Don’t eat when there are only 2-3 hours left before a nap. If you are very hungry, have some small snacks or fruits. Avoid sleeping on a full stomach, as heavy digestion affects sleep quality.
- Alternatively, the best solution is to nap BEFORE you eat.
- Even though the post-lunch energy dip can facilitate sleep, so far research has only focused on non-reducing Siesta variants. This is mostly derived from the siesta culture after lunch.
- This also means that the absence of sleep reduction allows food consumption closer to nap time. No sleep reduction means you have more flexibility in sleep times and sleep duration overall. If you are adapting to a non-reducing schedule, you may eat closer before a daytime nap/core.
- Reducing schedules, on the other hand, behave differently because of sleep repartitioning. Reports from the community do agree that large meals close to nap time induce grogginess upon waking, less dream recall and less refreshment.
- Regardless, if you have a sleep tracker and show that you can consistently get REM in naps after consuming heavy meals, you have more freedom in scheduling naps then.
- The same principles apply to core sleeps as well. Avoid feeding at least 2-3h prior, or eat after a core (out of dark period). Some people may have to stop eating even sooner, so experiment as you go.
Q: I’ve found out recently that I eat around the clock, or a grazer pretty much. Because polyphasic schedules give so much wake time to schedule meal times in between sleep sessions, can I carry my feeding habits over?
A: Sadly, that is not what we recommend, at all.
- First, there is plenty of evidence about night eating and how it wrecks sleep quality. There is even night eating syndrome for that reason. This syndrome includes overeating at night with sleep issues, and even waking up at night to eat.
- Second, night eating can cause obesity and is an inviter of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Third, it disturbs your circadian rhythm. For example, breakfast is a meal that “breaks your fasting period at night” to set a new daytime circadian. However, when you are about to go to bed, you’re more like confusing your body with daytime hours still.
- Therefore, we recommend not eating at least 2 hours before a night core (even if the core starts as early as 9 PM), and during the graveyard hours (midnight to 8 AM) or whenever your dark period ends (after ~8-11 hours).
- To avoid night eating syndrome entirely, you do not consume food at all even during the wake period between core(s) or nap(s) during dark period. Refer to the Dark Period Course on how to set yours up.
- TL;DR: Start fasting at night, even if you are hungry. You will get used to this new change in feeding time gradually.
Q: So what are the best diets for polyphasic sleep? Anything that doesn’t go well with it?
A: Because diet is very complex, we still have to find out what works best. So far, though, most “reasonable” diets seem to go well with polyphasic sleep. Basically, you should aim to rake in sufficient nutrients. Whether you’re a vegan, a keto-er or an OMAD (one meal a day) person does not seem to make huge differences yet.
Q1: I would like to increase my physical activity intensity. What should I keep in mind when scheduling?
A1: Typically, for physically active individuals we recommend at least 3 continuous cycles for a core. This translates to a minimum of 4.5h core, with at least 2 naps. It is also wise to make use of SWS peak. For extended schedules, exercising should not be a huge issue. Just remember to reduce the workload a bit when adapting.
Q2: What are some rules about exercising regarding sleep times?
A2: The same as your feeding habits, including during graveyard hours.
There is no good sleep with poor diets! Polyphasic sleep can enhance your sleep quality, but food choice is at your disposal. Because of the hectic lifestyle in this modern era, many people do not pay attention to what they put into their mouth daily. I hope that you realize the importance of proper nutrition. You are what you eat, and poor feeding habits will destroy your well-being ultimately.
If you look back at the previous lesson, you now know, that everything is tied together. While you strive to improve your sleep, it may just be the right time to change what you eat as well.