Social Life


It is important to factor in social life when you decide if it is a suitable time to start a polyphasic adaptation. In fact, social life has been a tremendous force that prompts many successful polyphasic sleepers forfeit their schedules. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of Dymaxion sleep, is one such example; his Dymaxion schedule could no longer keep up with his work environments, colleagues’ and family pressure after ~2 years. There are also many, many other similar stories you have heard over the years.

There are, however, multiple aspects of social life that this post will mention. Human assistance can be great for adaptations, as they can work as mental support and alarms. However, there are times when it is best to not attempt a polyphasic sleep schedule due to relationships with other people. Thus, this article only details some of these situations.

Shaky Relationship

Will my partner be okay with me doing Triphasic?

Sleep deprivation during adaptation can cause people to be more socially irritable.

  • If you and your partner are going through a difficult period, adapting to a polyphasic sleeping schedule is not a smart idea.
  • You will have mood swings, more challenging communication, and possible conflicts related to rigid nap times.

All of these things in combination will test the stability of any relationship; already being in a shaky one has a big chance to ruin it. Having a supportive environment is also important. You certainly do not want people constantly to interrupt your naps or force you to miss them. All in all, you should aim to have the people around you support your decision, or at least accept it.

If you are interested in learning more about priorities on picking which polyphasic schedules to fit into your social life, you may want to check out the Pareto Principle. 

Less is More: Polyphasic Sleeping & The Pareto Principle

Interspersing Sleep with the Waking World

Some schedules require extremely strict adherence for long-term maintenance. However, it is generally very difficult to avoid real-life interferences. Real-world examples of social interferences include:

  • Someone walking in while you are sleeping at work. They wake you up by accident, because you forgot to lock the door.
  • Someone intentionally waking you up to check if you are okay, wondering why would you be sleeping at this odd time.
  • Getting a phone call from a nuisance caller in the middle of sleep.
  • The house cleaner deciding to make a huge amount of noise cleaning the house, at exactly the time you are trying to sleep.
  • A housemate deciding to hold a very noisy impromptu party at the house without checking with you.
  • A power cut in the middle of the night making staying awake difficult due to sheer boredom.
  • An internet outage in the middle of the night with the same result.
  • Alarm failing to go off.
  • Method used to turn alarm off being too simple and easy to do without fully waking.
  • Pavlok (an electric shock wristband used as an alarm) stops working due to phone doze mode, disconnected Bluetooth, dead battery, or a firmware error.
  • Lack of motivation to get out of bed for whatever reason.
  • Depression.
  • Pets waking you or taking your phone.
  • Baby waking up.

There may also be some social considerations for emergency circumstances occurring during a polyphasic sleep session.

  • Given the increased sleep depth on most schedules, entering SWS could prove devastating if there is some sort of emergency. This includes a house fire, a burglary, etc.
  • It is plausible that you will not hear the alarm go off and fail to wake up in certain sleep blocks on your schedule.¬†

Some Solutions

Sleep interruptions and the aforementioned accidental events are very annoying and can directly destabilize a polyphasic schedule if left unchecked; however, there are some tentative methods you can rely on to mitigate the damage. Otherwise, hope for the best and try recovering on the schedule some time later. 

  • Try to go back to sleep as fast as you can, if the interruption occurs in the middle of your core sleep. Keep calm, focus on your breathing intervals, and try to ignore the noises, etc.¬†
  • If your polyphasic sleep schedule is already flexible, you can simply wake up and wait for some time later to take your nap.¬†
  • In the event that some emergency events cut your core shorter, try to have the total sleep duration a multiple of 90m. For example, if you have to sleep 40m later for a 4.5h core, you should get 3h sleep instead of 3h40m. If you insist on the 3h40m instead, make sure you use extra alarms.¬†
  • Depending on your schedule’s adaptation difficulty, you may have to occasionally skip a nap without taking too much damage. Examples include E3-extended, DC2, E1, E2 (5h core).¬†
  • Practice making your sleep schedule as flexible as possible. You can then take advantage of the ability to efficiently nap at different times if necessary.¬†
  • In case of a power outage, be sure to stay engaged and find alternative activities. This is very crucial to avoid boredom during adaptation. For example, reading books, writing diaries, cleaning, etc.¬†
  • In rare cases, you cannot replace your alarm immediately and it stops working midway through adaptation. You only have a phone left, etc. Try the cortisol trick as a last-ditch effort.¬†

A Method to Sleep Polyphasically Without Alarm Clocks

Main authors: Crimson & GeneralNguyen

Page last updated: 15 February 2021