BEGINNER GUIDE: The Choice of Sleeping Right

Polyphasic Sleep as a Long-term Lifestyle Choice

Looking into the Future

Adaptation Duration

Q: So after reviewing my timetable, I am certain I have 3 months to adapt to a polyphasic schedule. Is that long enough? 

A: Three months (at least) seems good enough to afford one full polyphasic adaptation. However, you have to be wary that:

  • An adaptation may take at least 2 months to complete. Although we have seen people make it through after ~5-7 weeks, many people need at least 2 months. 
  • There are many factors that determine how long it will take for you to be fully adapted. Some notable ones are:
  1. Luck. This is relevant in pretty much everything. For example, we’ve seen cases who stick to their schedules perfectly, but cannot get past Stage 4. This is owing to certain health issues or just sleep requirements (longer SWS/REM duration than what they expect). 
  2. Health. If you have poor health overall, sleep reduction will trigger and exacerbate your conditions. 
  3. Human errors. These include forgetting to set alarms, alarms suddenly malfunctioning, forgetting nap time(s), and skipping nap(s) because of work and other priorities. You’d be surprised to learn how many people actually forget to even set their alarms for their core(s) or nap(s). Oversleeping, of course. Things happen. 
  4. Difficulty of your own schedule. While this may be tricky to assess, you can only know it through trial and error. So give it your best shot. 

Short Adaptation 

Q: If I have only 2 months to adapt to something, should I still try polyphasic sleep? What would be my most sensible options?

A: Two months is actually a short-term approach, even though definitely longer than emergency situations. While it is probably sufficient for an easy adaptation, schedules such as Everyman 3 may not be that lenient. As such, you should focus on improving your sleep efficacy

  • For example, your best schedule(s) would be some extended schedules, like E1-extended, E2-extended, DC1-extended, or non-reducing Biphasic. These should be fair enough to not cause you too much suffering when adapting, at least. 
  • Because you only have 2 months, it is better to invest less in your adaptation. This also means that you should not invest so much time and efforts in a challenging schedule. 
  • Your goal during this period should be to maximize your alertness and productivity during the day. It is better to perform well, learn to manage your time well with the addition of napping to prepare for more difficult future adaptations. 
  • Learn consistent sleep habits and prioritize it a bit over some other things. You’ll go the distance in the future. 

Gradual Adaptation

Q: It seems to me that gradual adaptations are quite effective. So if I have 4-5 months ahead of me with the appropriate timetable, is this adaptation method a good idea?

A: You can look at the rough adaptation timeline below. Note that there is no guarantee, though. 

First Step: Everyman 1 Second Step: Everyman 2 Final Step: Everyman 3
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~1.5-2 months ~1.5 months ~1.5-2 months
  • Up to this point, it definitely sounds reasonable! While it is unlikely you will manage more than 2-3 successful adaptations in a row, it’s possible. For example, you can start with E1, then move to E2, and maybe finally E3 if your work schedule still allows. Because gradual adaptation in nature takes long, you definitely need at least a few months to be able to pull off something. 
  • Try sleeping at the same time for your core throughout these adaptation if possible. This means you will always be sleeping at 10 PM for all 3 schedules in the table, to get to E3. This is also what matters because for E3, usually the core has to be early for quality SWS time, while E1 and E2 are less so with longer cores already. 

Long-term Sleep Schedule Maintenance

Changing Sleep Times Against Odds

Q: Is polyphasic sleep really that inflexible? I have always learned that it seems sticking to every single sleep time everyday is just overbearing and unrealistic for me. Lifestyle, etc. all dictates changes in sleep times. Is it possible to make this more flexible?

A: In the past two decades, the most common polyphasic schedules are just Uberman, Dymaxion and E3. Needless to say, these are inflexible anyway. Now, though, we have added more sleep mechanics with certain extension that allows for more flexibility! In order to make your schedule flexible, you need at least ~5.5h total sleep; though it is tentative, it is a benchmark that has worked for most. 

Other than this, we have also provided further napping techniques to sustain your schedule after you adapt to it. Appetitive napping, prophylactic and replacement napping all have their merits. 

Sickness & Sudden Events

Q1: I adapted to E2 for more than a month now, but I got sick yesterday. Is it possible for me to return to my E2, any hope at all?

A1: That depends on the severity of your symptoms. We have seen certain people able to return to their schedule after having to extend their core sleep(s) for some days. If your adapted state is very solid all throughout, you should not have too much trouble with a bit more sleep to recover from the sickness

Q2: I can nap everyday at 5:30 PM for the third nap of E3-extended. However, I will have to move it permanently to 6 PM after adaptation. Will that set me back?

A2:

  • It may, but presumably not much if you’ve mastered the sleep schedule. During adaptation, though, that will suck and will do some damage. Eventually, in the wake of lifestyle and other uncontrollable factors, you would need to learn to flex naps and even your core anyway.
  • Sometimes, things will look ugly. You may have to turn your nap into a 90-minute core sleep, or extend your core sleep for 90 minutes more than one day to make up for missed naps. Once you have settled down for a long-term lifestyle, you will have to adjust to different sleep times. Brace yourself, and get back to your schedule one step at a time. You will need to be a bit patient, and it will be alright. 

Veteran Polyphasic Sleepers

Q1: Are there many veteran polyphasic sleepers in the community, aside from Puredoxyk?

A1: Over the years, there are a couple more. These are mostly people hanging on their schedules (e.g, E1, Segmented, E2, E3-extended) for at least 1 year. You can check out the interview below on a veteran E3-extended sleeper. She has been staying on the schedule until today, which is at least 3 years and a half!

Q2: This is great and all, but are there long-term Uberman or Dymaxion sleepers? How do these often hold up?

A2: Unfortunately, there is not much information on this at all. However, statistics show that most of these extreme schedules, with a low amount of sleep are often not sustainable for more than some months. We have asked certain individuals living on these schedules, and they often have to quit due to personal reasons.

It makes sense that the less sleep a schedule has (usually), the more fragile it is. This means more inflexible nap times, and even more susceptibility to sickness and downfall of changing sleep times. Puredoxyk said that she can only afford to basically move her Uberman nap by 5 minutes, and it already took her several subsequent naps to fully catch up. 

As a result, I would advise you to adapt to a reasonable schedule. There would be more leeway for certain things. For example, you can have some alcohol, caffeine and a bit less ascetic of a lifestyle if you sometimes need to. Recovering your schedule is also easier under dire circumstances. Put your time and effort into the right schedule, and you’re good for a long time to come! 

Boredom After Adaptation

Q: I love my DC1-extended so much! Can I maintain this schedule for my lifetime? I am gaining about almost 3h of extra wake time each day and I don’t have to sleep too early (11 PM first core). I have not gotten good sleep for a long time before this DC1.

A: It’s great that you have been able to make it this far, that is definitely an achievement! As funny as it seems, I have to present to you some very common themes after adaptation:

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Having nothing to do on Uberman after adapting
  • Many adapted sleepers, including long-term ones, have to quit because… they become bored. Exactly, they run out of useful things to fill up the extra whopping hours. Can you imagine having 22 hours wake each day on Uberman and having nothing to do? It’s going to be a wicked nightmare real fast. 
  • Other sleepers have to quit because of mental stress. At this point, they totally succumb to those pesky emotions. As a result, they just… sleep in and be done with everything. As such, it is unlikely we will run into a several-decade polyphasic sleeper that often. 

So while your long-term goal sounds marvelous if you can keep it up like that, it is actually… not easy at all. There are many things that just drive you to forfeit your schedule, and being bored is hard to blame. Since there is nothing wrong with reverting to monophasic sleep, or even poorly random sleep hours, it is all your choice.

Your motivation and commitments will keep your schedule afloat. I suggest you have a busy lifestyle, as most successful polyphasic sleepers sustain their schedule this way. They ALWAYS have things to do, and they need the extra hours apparently. 

Concluding Remark

If you make it here, great job! By the end of this lesson, you have learned what a long-term polyphasic lifestyle would look like, and how to handle certain setbacks. Most importantly, you also know to spare at least some months to afford a proper adaptation. You are aware of how your SWS and REM baselines can help you and what your timetable unfolds as well. Now, you’ve stepped one step further into setting up the correct sleep schedule! 

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