BEGINNER GUIDE: The Choice of Sleeping Right

Short-term Polyphasic Sleep Strategies

Extreme Polyphasic Schedules

Emergency Polyphasic Sleep

Q1: Is it okay for me to rely on an extreme polyphasic schedule for only 3-4 days? I have so much work to do on those days and I desperately need the extra hours. 

A1: Short-term polyphasic sleep is definitely a viable strategy. 

  • For one, you get some exposure to napping by detecting your patterns of tiredness. Hopefully, you catch a good moment to nap soundly. This will as a result give you more energy to temporarily help you with whatever you need to do next. 
  • For another, because you only stay on some schedule that short, you do not need to nap at the same times everyday. This is because you will not complete any adaptations in such a short time anyway. So, you can just nap when you are tired enough and when your schedule allows for an opening to schedule a nap. 
  • Focus on your important tasks, stay vigilant, drink enough water, and recover on monophasic sleep afterward. 

Choosing an Emergency Schedule

Q2: How extreme of a polyphasic schedule can I do? I need probably 20-21 hours awake for 5 days. Can I simply do Uberman or Tesla?

A2:

  • Nap-only schedules are possible for situations like yours, at least for short-term. If you cannot sleep during the day much, then Uberman may not look like the best choice. Versatile nap-only schedules like SPAMAYL should only be necessary if you cannot in any way schedule a core sleep. 
  • Also, I recommend you get at least a core sleep, by the minimum of 90 minutes long. Therefore, in your case, you can do Everyman 4. A core sleep also allows you to get some SWS, which is great for some memory consolidation and cognitive functions overall. 
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Everyman 4 as an emergency sleep schedule
  • Aside from your demand, any reducing polyphasic schedules can act as an emergency sleep schedule. It all depends on how much time you actually require to stay awake. Examples include, Everyman 3 (4 hours), even Everyman 2 (5.2 hours). There is plenty of evidence that napping can improve vigilance in sleep reduction conditions. 

Abusing Short-term Polyphasic Practice

Q: I tried emergency polyphasic tactics before and it worked great for the whole week! I thought I nearly adapted to that Everyman 3 pattern I attempted. Can I just use it again whenever I want

A:

  • First, sleep deprivation is in no way healthy. You probably also clearly understand by now, that an incomplete adaptation ensues endless sleep deprivation, regardless of symptom visibility. 
  • Second, I’ve found a few research papers talking about recurrent sleep deprivation episodes and their effects on health. “Recurrent” means you sleep deprive yourself some time, recover later, and sleep deprive yourself again. Specifically, the following aspects of your health may suffer should you subject yourself to sleep debts repeatedly:
  1. Lowered gut microbiota after 2 nights of partial sleep deprivation1. These bacterial population in the guts can in return affect the processing of various nutrients from your diet. 
  2. Increased insulin resistance and lowered insulin sensitivity1,2. These undeniably contribute to diabetes later on. 
  • Third, it creates bad habits, for example, procrastinating until the last minutes. You would just delay everything until you have to do them properly. And what would typically happen is the sacrifice of sleep duration.
  1. The common mentality is that you have so much wake time now with reduced total sleep, so you don’t fear anything, it seems.
  2. We’ve seen it before, basically everywhere. This is how a ton of monophasic people are perpetually sleep deprived. Let’s just skip a full night’s sleep to finish this bachelor thesis, and sleep like no tomorrow later!
  3. Poor time management will make you pay when it matters the most! 

With all that said, I strongly advise you to limit the sleep deprivation episodes as much as you physically can! Getting enough sleep every day and keeping things consistent are how you should approach polyphasic sleep. 

Methods for Learning to Nap

Q: I want to stay awake for 36 hours and then start Naptation for 3 days. I will recover before starting another schedule. Is this still a recommended method to learn to nap fast? 

A: As of now, it is an obsolete method. Let me explain. 

  • By doing Naptation and staying awake that long, you are already inducing acute sleep deprivation. This also means you will have to do a full recovery later on before you start your desired schedule. From our experience, starting a schedule with present sleep debts is a bad idea. It will only make things a lot harder. 
  • A thorough polyphasic adaptation in itself will teach you to learn how to nap. That is, as you progress through weeks, you will eventually nap well. However, patience and consistency in sleep times are keys.
  • If you want a sleep-deprivation-free way to learn to nap, try a non-reducing Biphasic schedule. It likely will be a lot slower than Naptation, but there is no pressure! Many people naturally sleep biphasically without reducing sleep time. Thus, even if you do not reduce sleep duration, you can still be an expert napper. 
  • Naptation also has to compete with other radical schedules.
  1. For example, Everyman 4, 5, Dual Core 4. These schedules with a core sleep and multiple naps per day can teach you nap fast, with less sleep deprivation. You won’t be as sleep deprived and the recovery period will also be shorter than from Naptation. 
  2. Many beginners also find Naptation extremely overwhelming. They quickly struggle to stay awake and do meaningful work.

Therefore, if you are dead set on accelerating your napping skills, pick schedules with at least ~3 naps daily. That should be plenty for you to fall asleep in naps in no time!

Concluding Remark

By the end of this lesson, I believe you should be able to know when to rely on short-term polyphasic sleep! These strategies have their own niches and downfalls as well, so be careful. If you, however, want to pursue the long-term napping lifestyle, let’s head to the next lesson. 

Reference

  1. Benedict, C., Vogel, H., Jonas, W., Woting, A., Blaut, M., Schürmann, A., & Cedernaes, J. (2016). Gut microbiota and glucometabolic alterations in response to recurrent partial sleep deprivation in normal-weight young individuals. Molecular Metabolism, 5(12), 1175–1186. doi:10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003. [PubMed]
  2. Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kessler, L., Imperial, J., & Penev, P. D. (2009). Exposure to Recurrent Sleep Restriction in the Setting of High Caloric Intake and Physical Inactivity Results in Increased Insulin Resistance and Reduced Glucose Tolerance. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 94(9), 3242–3250. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-0483. [PubMed]

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