Although I’m really enjoying my experiment with polyphasic sleep, I’ve been troubled by some of the implied values in the rhetoric surrounding its proponents. They desire more productive time in their life and are taking it from they only place they can: a full night’s sleep.
Being productive is a good thing in itself, but industrialization brought with it cold calculations of human worth based on productivity. You are only worth what you produce, and those who don’t or can’t produce are worthless. There is little room for joy or art or play in this view of the world, and there is no space for rest but what is absolutely required.
Rest is a theological concept that has to do with more than just sleep. Rest is connected to the idea of Sabbath, the day of rest mandated for the Jewish people by Yahweh. Sabbath became a broader concept for Christians, who were taught by Jesus that rest is not about legalastic observation of the Sabbath, but rather some broader concept of being in relationship with himself.1
Rest is here seen as a state of being and as a relationship to God in Christ. Rest seems to be a way to describe a life lived in harmony with God and God’s purposes. While productivity is no doubt a part of the rhythms of a restful life, it cannot be the main thing.
So, has my experiment with polyphasic sleep led to a frenzy of productivity? Not really. I’m still adjusting, which means that those extra hours of wakefulness haven’t been of the highest quality. But even when I’ve been alert, I’ve noticed that, so far, I’m not doing that much more, but what I am doing is much less stressful. It seems that having more time in the day produces the novel feeling that there’s enough time. I’m relaxed and unhurried. It’s delightfully strange.
We’ll see how things evolve as I keep on with this. Will I once again fill my waking hours to bursting? Will I maintain the more restful quality of life I’ve been experiencing over the last 2 weeks? Time will tell.
When I started sleeping polyphasically 10 days ago, I didn’t think I’d last beyond 4 days. I love to sleep and have a propensity to hit the snooze button a few times per morning wake-up. But now I’ve gotten up by 6am for the past 9 of 10 days, something I’ve probably never done in my life.
The adjustment wasn’t as brutal as I feared, although I’m not completely adjusted yet. The period between waking and my first nap has generally been the worst, but the past two days have been tolerable. I’ve found that waking up in the 5-6am range, with nap 1 at 9:30am-10:30am and nap 2 at 4:30-5:30pm works well for me, as I’m a night owl and have zero trouble feeling great during the evening hours. I just need the naps as pick-me-ups throughout the daytime.
The thing people keep asking me is “what are you going to do with all that extra time?” My answer so far has been “I have no idea.” I’ve also been so tired during the early part of the day until two days ago that it wasn’t exactly useful time. Now, however, I have on answer: I’ll be writing on this blog more. The rest remains to be seen.
We don’t actually need 8 hours of sleep per night, say polyphasic sleepers. I stumbled on Dustin Curtis’ Sleep article, where he introduces the concept of polyphasic sleep and why you might want to try it. Read the article if this sounds weird to you.
The immediate appeal is more hours in the day. The Everyman 2-nap cycle, which I’m starting today, reduces my sleep needs from 8 hours per night to 5.2 hours per day. 2.8 hours of time per day to do I want to do. That’s almost 20 found hours per week. For me, it hits the sweet spot of big gains in waking hours without seeming unattainable.
The adjustment period is supposed to suck, meaning I’m going to want to quit. Which is why I’m going to keep a sleep log on this site. I didn’t want to gum up the works with a daily sleep log, so I created a specific sleep log section where I’ll log my progress. I’ll probably post weekly summaries on the main site for those who want smaller doses of my experiment.