My difficult goal for the month of May is adjusting my sleep to follow the Everyman 1 pattern. Polyphasic sleep is one way that I create more time for improving my sofware development skills and learning in public. I also plan to use this time for coding up side projects and personal business development.
Since Friday, May 3, I’ve only slept 5.5 – 6 hours per night. Now I realize some people function like this consistently but not me. I’m used to being in bed for 8 hours every night without failure. So the uniqueness about cutting down my sleep to 6 hours is that I’m trying to do it in a healthy, sustainable way. No caffeine allowed.
I’ve tried polyphasic sleep before. Several years ago I saw it on Steve Pavlina’s site. It was horrible. I crashed. Big time. Only this year did I realize he was following one of the hardest polyphasic sleep patterns in existence (6 naps of 20 min duration per day) For my new attempt this month I chose one of the easiest sleep patterns in existence, Everyman 1. It has one core sleep period from 23.00 to 5.00 then a 20min nap at 13.00. For someone with a family or any type of social life I think your chances of success increase if you leave your evenings unchanged (e.g. don’t start going to bed at 8pm and getting up at midnight).
For this month I’m not too strict about what I do with my time after I get up, say between 05.00 and 07.00. I want it to be the most relaxing experience so that while I’m adapting my brain associates it with pleasure. After the habit is ingrained I can modify my schedule to use the extra hour for increased software development time. Therefore this month I’ve been taking a hot shower, having a hot shave, and sometimes making a bowl of hot porridge. I usually have a few minutes to go for a walk outside and let the goats out of the barn before 07.00. At 07.00 it is back to my existing routine – writing, coding, studying.
Nap time is more difficult. I work from my home office so that makes it possible to lay down on my bed for 20 min. I also try to not look at a screen for 30 min before my nap to let my eyes relax. My lunch break is from 12.30 to 1.30 (However, I have to be flexible depending on what is happening with work. We are a highly interactive team). First I make/eat my lunch then at 13.00 I lay down for 20 min. I have a nap kit. I wear ear buds that block outside noise. For the first couple of minutes I listen to Tara Brach then it shuts off automatically. A sleep mask covers my eyes. A light blanket covers me. All notifications are turned off on my phone (except the 20 min alarm). Honestly, these 20 min naps feel like 3 hours. There are vivid dreams like I cannot describe. I feel so refreshed when I get up.
I consider the experiment a success. I only had one morning when I slept after 05.00, on May 4. My 20 min naps are deep, deep. After 3 weeks I wake up every morning before my alarm. I feel alert and my sleep has improved.
What Went Well
1. I feel great. My sleep feels more refreshing now than it did when I was in bed for 8 hours.
2. The quality of my work time has improved. When I start work at 07.00 I’m primed and ready to go. No distractions. Everything else is taken care of.
What did not go well
1. There were a couple of mornings where I struggled to even walk. I know this is minor on the adjustment to polyphasic sleep patterns but I went through a few days where the fatigue was great. I was sick to my stomach. My brain was telling me I was sick and should be in bed. I fought through it and now that I’m getting beyond week 3 it no longer happens.
2. Having more time doesn’t break the habit of wasting time. I’ve had a few mornings that were wasted, plain and simple. Shopping/research on the internet for a brush cutter is not getting me closer to my goals.