Saturday, July 01, 2006

Polyphasic Sleep (Day 2)

My second nap was more of a break than a real nap. I did loose consciousness of where I was, but when I came to I felt that I hadn't really slept, just concentrated intently. But in retrospect, I think I did get some sleep, and my initial analysis of the period as "not really sleep" was simply confused because I was half asleep at the time. I also managed to wake up after 20 minutes without aid from the alarm clock, which I'd set for 30 minutes.

I took my nap a little early, at 11pm instead of at midnight, since I'd realized I really hadn't thought things through when I'd started, and had made no effort to synchronize my nap schedule to my school schedule. So the earlier nap is an attempt to remedy this.

I feel relatively refreshed, compared to the drowsiness I'd felt immediately before the nap, but I expect that the effects of sleep deprivation will start to occur within the next twelve hours, as I've only had 6 1/2 hours of core sleep plus an hour of naps in the last 24hrs, compared to my usual 10hrs of sleep. Still, I'd stayed up 'till 7am last night, so maybe I won't really start to feel it until sometime around then.

By the way, I feel I should mention there is something that makes my own situation rather unique compared to other polyphasic sleep experimenters. Over the last several months I've been using a light therapy lamp and a negative ion generator to treat seasonal affective disorder.

I don't know (and I don't think anyone knows) how using these devices is going to affect me while attempting to switch to a polyphasic sleep schedule. Exposure to bright light is supposed to affect the production of melatonin and help to regulate one's diurnal rhythms.

The general advice for people who have trouble getting up in the morning is to use the light boxes just as you wake up for about one hour to one half hour. But what do you do when you're waking up four to six times per day instead of just once, and napping for just 20-30mins at a time instead of getting a full night's sleep?

If I keep using the lamp once in the morning it might make it harder for me to switch to a polyphasic sleep schedule. But if I try using it for a few minutes each time I awake then I'll be in completely uncharted territory. Who knows what effect that will have on my body chemistry or mental health? It might help me adapt easier to the polyphasic schedule. Or it could really mess me up. Or it might have no effect. I simply don't know, and I don't think anyone does. There's been relatively little research in to polyphasic sleep, little research in to light therapy, even less research in to negative ion therapy, and absolutely no research in to combining all three. As far as I know I'll be the first one trying this combination.

This gives me pause, but I think there are many much riskier things in life (like getting in to an automobile). So I think I'll stick with it for now, and leave my therapy regimen the way it is. Later, I might try slowly adjusting the light regimen to be more in tune with my polyphasic schedule (assuming I succeed). Changing the light regimen right away may in fact help me make the adjustment to a polyphasic schedule, but it compounds the unknown factors in my particular situation. Combining all three of these factors is risky enough in itself. There's no need to make it potentially worse by messing with the schedule of light I get during the day as well as the amount and schedule of sleep.

Anyway, I think I'll take my next nap at around 5am. 'Till then.

1:30 AM
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