Biphasic Sleep Update

Here’s a quick update about how my biphasic sleep trial is going. It’s been 9 days since I started.

First off, adapting to biphasic sleep was really no big deal. Compared to the first week of polyphasic sleep, this was easier by at least an order of magnitude. I feel pretty well adapted to biphasic sleep physically now, but it may take a while longer to become mentally and emotionally comfortable with it. It still feels a little strange, but that’s to be expected.

For the first several days it was very much like having jet lag. I felt out of sync with the time of day. During this time I relied heavily on guided meditations as an extra pick-me-up – this was very effective at eliminating drowsiness and keeping me alert for a few more hours when I needed a boost.

It was tough getting out of bed at 5am some mornings, but it surely helped that I was already used to getting up at this time.

The worst time of day during the adaptation was late morning, roughly 9am to 11am. I usually felt the best in the afternoons around 3-5pm and in the evening around 9-11pm. I was impressed with how awake I felt at 11pm sometimes — on my monophasic schedule I’d normally be asleep by then.

The adaptation period was definitely easier when I ate lighter foods. If I ate something cooked like a bowl of brown rice, some drowsiness would hit me about 30 minutes after eating. But when I stuck with fresh fruit and green smoothies, I usually felt okay.

Now I’m feeling generally fine. I still have some bouts of drowsiness now and then, but it’s been getting better.

The daily rhythms of when I feel alert vs. drowsy are totally different than what I’m used to on monophasic sleep. It’s strange to feel so wide awake after 10pm. This part takes some getting used to. I feel like I have this whole extra productive period after the time I used to go to bed.

Just yesterday I discovered that my alarm clock, which I’ve owned for years, actually has a nap button. I set the nap timer for 90 minutes, so now all I have to do is push that one button, and it automatically sounds the alarm after 90 minutes have passed. It’s a fairly complicated alarm clock that includes an iPod docking station, so it was very timely to discover this feature now.

My naps aren’t consistently 90 minutes though. Sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep or to stay asleep for 90 minutes straight. Today it took me about 30 minutes to fall asleep at nap time, and then I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm went off. So I only slept about 45 minutes. I suspect this will get better with practice though. Another possibility is that I may not need the full 4.5 hours of sleep at night. I might be able to drop that to 3 hours. For now I’ll stick with 4.5 though — I want to give myself more time to get used to this in its current form. This sleep pattern is working well enough that I want to lock in what I have. I can tweak it later.

One biphasic sleeper said he got the best results from napping on his couch and sleeping at night in his bed. I tried couch naps and bed naps and don’t notice much difference either way. Presently I prefer to nap in my bed. I don’t find it any more difficult to get out of bed than it is to get off the couch.

Overall I’m definitely liking it. Biphasic sleep really does seem to deliver the best of both worlds. I can stay up past midnight each day and still get up at 5am. A couple nights I went out at 10pm, just because I could. It’s nice to live in a city where lots of places are open late.

I need a bit more time to get comfortable with this though. It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that I can be a morning person and a night person without having to choose between them. And I can do this every single day.

I already seem to be more productive on this sleep schedule too. The extra waking time, which may only be 60-90 minutes per day, is very noticeable. It may not sound like a lot, but it sure feels like a lot. Many biphasic sleepers reported having more energy on this sleep schedule. I think I’m just beginning to experience that too, which is really nice.

I’m also feeling more relaxed on this sleep schedule. I feel like I have more time than I need each day. Some nights when I expect it’s nearly time to wind down and go to bed, I check the time and see that I still have 2-3 hours left before bedtime. I’ve been having to come up with extra activities to fill the time. Since I began this trial, I’ve listened to 4 or 5 audio programs (ranging from 1 hour to 8 hours each) and read 2 books. It’s nice to have extra time to invest in personal growth.

One thing I’m not sure about yet is when to take my 90-minute nap each day. Compared to the 20-minute nap cycles I was used to, 90 minutes really feels like a lot of time. At first it was hard for me to sleep that long, but I’m gradually getting used to the longer cycles. I’ve tried taking these naps at different times, as early as 2pm and as late as 8pm. Most days I began the nap between 5pm and 7pm. I still don’t know what time works best for me yet. I’ll have to continue to experiment. I have the flexibility to take the nap whenever I want, so my main consideration is how to achieve the best overall energy and alertness.

I’m not sure how important it is to take the nap on a consistent schedule or if it’s fine to shift it around each day. Presently I wait until I feel a certain threshold of pressure telling me to go to sleep. This pressure is similar to what I experienced on polyphasic sleep when my next nap time approached. It’s a rather gentle sensation that gradually increases the longer I go without a nap.

Right now I’m pretty optimistic about biphasic sleep, so I intend to stick with it for now. Rachelle will be back in town next week, and I’m curious to see how it works when I have someone living with me. She even suggested that she might want to try it with me.

Wow… I still have 2-1/2 hours till bedtime. What to do now?