Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Biphasic Sleep Experiment- 30 day summary


In effect, it's a 30+ day summary now but the findings still apply.

So far I have written the log entries just willy-nilly, for this summary post I am planning to have a little bit of structure. I will list out the pros and cons and then the side-effects of biphasic as I observed them.

Some of this material will be duplicated from what other biphasic bloggers have mentioned in their findings, but then, I didn't exactly invent Biphasic sleep so that was kind of expected.

I will give a list of links to the 30 day logs to make them easier to find.

Let's start.

Pro's

1. Most obvious one is time. You get more time to do your stuff, and after a week or so you start feeling it as well. Even when I was doing 1.5+4.5 hours of sleep, I still felt like I had more time.

2. Stress relief. Because you have more time to get things done, you don't feel harassed and stressed by everything.

3. The quality of sleep improves after you get used to it. You enter REM fast, have nice, vivid dreams and you feel like you had a good sleep!

4. Waking time is more refreshed. This shows more if you stick to the schedule strictly. You feel more energy, mood is usually positive and creative. You WILL get new ideas!

5. Flexibility. I varied the schedule quite a bit during the 30 days, sometimes from necessity other times of laziness, but biphasic didn't kill me or make me feel like a zombie. When I deviated a lot I had maybe a hard day but after next nap or core sleep all was usually forgiven.

6. Adaptability. This is more like flexibility, but I want to stress the point that you can adapt the biphasic schedule to suit your own requirements. Unlike Uberman it's doesn't need every-4-hours-exactly-on-the-dot kind of religious adherence and you can create the schedule that fits your day. I started with 1.5 hours nap at 1800, moved it as late as 1900 sometimes, had 2 hours some times, later reduced it to 20 minutes, even replaced it with noon or late morning nap once or twice, it still worked great! The core sleep also I have moved around a little between 0000 and 0200 but it never made me feel horrible for that.

Con's

1. Adaptation period. It doesn't have a long and brutal adaptation period like Uberman but still for the first week or so you can expect to have some sleep deprivation and fatigue. You can still function normally though.

2. Social life. By far the worst problem with ongoing biphasic schedule is that you need a nap in the evening hours which is usually the time to go out and visit friends. Other than a couple of exceptions, whatever limited social life I had I put it on hold during this. Most of the time though, taking 20 minutes out in early evening or even late afternoon shouldn't be a problem. I mean who goes to a club before 10 PM anyway?

3. Discipline. You need lots of it during the first couple of weeks esp. in the morning when it's time to get up as per schedule but you want to roll over and sleep more. This is still worse during weekends when there's no pressing need to get ready for work.

I have two tips about that. For the weekdays, schedule your waking time for that point after which you absolutely can't sleep or you'd be late for work. So, stay up later in the night rather than making time in the morning, in the beginning. You can change that later once you get used to having only 4.5 hours of sleep.

For weekends, make sure you have your last meal (of the day :) ) a few hours before you go to bed. Then when you wake up on Saturday/Sunday morning, you'll be very hungry. That'll get you out of bed faster than any motivational speech.

Still, on the topic of discipline, I think it'd help if you recorded a message for yourself and used that for your alarm (with beeps or rings as a backup alarm), I think that'd work well. I haven't tried it, but I am thinking of using it, something like, "I must wake up now if I want this schedule to work. It is my own decision and I am strong enough to adhere to it." Kind of like affirmations.

Osho mentioned in one of his discourses that we are never of one mind, the person who sets the alarm at night, is not the same person who hits Snooze in the morning. For that reason, I think this kind of message would put your morning-self in touch with the night-self. Worth a try. I might create one myself and upload it somewhere where everybody can download it for their use. If I did it, I'd use my guitar to provide the background so the same MP3 can be used for the alarm without worrying that you'd ignore the voice-only alarm in your sleep in the morning.

4. I don't think it is a real con but I mention it here just to be fair. I have noticed recently a case of..umm..bed-ear. You know when you sleep in one position for long, the pattern of the bedsheet texture is engraved in your skin? That's called bed-face. I sleep on my side and when I wake up I feel like my right ear is kind of ...well, not achy, but kinda wrinkled, if that makes sense. It makes me pull on my earlobe when I wash my face.

I suspect that since I am going into deep REM sleep right away, I am not moving at all once I fall asleep. As such, it'd be a good sign. Anyway, it's not gonna stop me from being biphasic.

Side-effects (both good and bad)

Diet. This is both good and bad depending on how you take it. Let me talk about the body-cycle or the circadian clock first.

Disclaimer: This following information comes from common sense, my own reading into the matter and my observations. I am not a qualified dietician or sleep scientist. Please don't just take my word for it, find out more on your own before you try anything. And even when you do experiment take all common-sense precautions. As Chandler says in Friends, "You've got to stop the Q-Tip when there's resistance!"

The way I understand the body clock is that our energy levels (and temperature) are like a wave form, which starts from the time you wake up, goes up, peaks somewhere in the middle, and then comes down as the night approaches.

What you are trying to do with the biphasic routine is to make these two waves, from morning to your nap, from after the nap to core sleep. Among other things, this is what you are trying to train your body to do.

Caffeine. Caffeine gives you a temporary jolt of energy, thus creating a spike in your otherwise uniform wave. Also, as reported by one blogger, as the effects of caffeine wear off, the energy levels decline hard, creating what I'd call a negative spike. So, this would of course interfere with your body training, in addition to the most obvious problem of keeping you up if you had caffeine too soon before going for a nap or core sleep.

In my case, I had several sources of caffeine in my diet and I had to cut all of them out one by one. They were all hard in their own right. Having pizza without Diet Coke is never the same but I did it and enjoyed it. In the mornings, I missed the caffeine kick when starting the work day but I persevered and now I don't have a "kick" but I have a natural, consistent, refreshing energy right from the morning.

Alcohol. Alcohol is the reverse of caffeine in that it'd make you oversleep the next morning.

That was never a big issue for me but it was harder in the sense that now my drink became instead of Diet Coke, a pineapple juice (for reasons known only to me ;) lol).

I think these would be 2 very strong reasons stopping general public from becoming biphasic. In my case, I have an extremely strong will-power and it gets better as I get older.

I don't know what effect Nicotine would have, since I have never had that filthy habit, but I can't imagine it having a good effect!

This reminds me of Yoga or Yog as it's really called in Hindi. Not a lot of people are aware that Yog is not the name for twisting your body into strange shapes. It has 8 steps, hence known as Ashtang Yog, the first steps are Yam, and Niyam. The last step is Samadhi - meaning enlightenment!

So, something that great starts with you regulating your body, your diet, your thoughts and shaping your character. Without that, you cannot reap the final, ultimate reward.

Biphasic is kind of like that. If you cannot regulate and control your diet just changing your sleeping time is most probably not going to do it for you.

Although, I think I'd keep the option open to having a drink once in a long while, but I would never make any of these a part of regular diet again.

I didn't mean to lecture but..once a teacher, always a teacher :)

Self-improvement. Doing biphasic puts me in a mindset where I naturally want to improve myself further. All kinds of thoughts and plans are in my mind. And yes, I will get to that workout routine soon :)

Confidence. This is hardly something that could be measured by modern science, but I have been feeling pretty good about myself, more sociable than normal, capable of handling anything that comes my way.

No superpowers. Unlike Uberman, I don't feel like superman nor do I see time slowing down. Just for that reason, I do want to try Uberman some time in the near future.

Creativity. I have been called creative quite a few times even before starting biphasic and I think biphasic has aided in it and put me in a more creative mood on a more consistent basis.

My creativity manifests itself in various ways. Too many to count, to be honest, so I'll just confine my narrative to the ones that I engaged in during these 30-odd days.

Photoshop. I launched my Second Life magazine this Monday and most of its work was done during this month of biphasic experiment. I felt great doing it, and based on the initial reviews the output is "Nice", "Wonderful" and "Awesome!". :)

Music. I have felt a marked increase in the creativity there. I created some new rhythms and riffs where I used to be stuck in the past. I really think my current mood is responsible for the new work.

Writing. I haven't written anything new during this period, except for some small things for the magazine articles, but I have had the urge to write a lot more. I'd probably start another story soon.

On second thought, writing long, descriptive blog posts for a whole month should count towards writing, no? :)

Work. I work in test automation field and my work also requires a certain level of creativity in problem-solving. Aced any assignments I got during this period.

Health. Generally good as it is usually. I did start getting a cold at one point which I fought with vitamin C, Vicks Vaporub and cough syrup. And it worked. I could get rid of it before it could get bad. That is also normal, so no change in my immunity.

Overall I feel relaxed and content. My worst day during this was much better than my worst day on monophasic, closer to my normal days on monophasic after 7-7.5 hours of sleep and my best days on biphasic have been amazing! I expect it to still get much better.

I have made this report long on purpose. When I have read other bloggers' reports on the same topic, I have always enjoyed them and wanted them to be detailed. If you find it too long you can always skip over stuff.

I welcome your comments and questions in this regard. As I disclaimed, I am not an authority on this stuff, but if I can help you from my personal experience, believe me, nothing would please me more!

P.S. I forgot to mention one con. Other than using sleep as a restorative, regenerative agent, I also see it as a pleasant activity. I have always loved my sleep. My usual sleeping patten lately (before biphasic) had been to stay awake as long as I possibly could and then fall asleep like a kid who's so tired he can't move a single muscle.
But when I did go to sleep, I enjoyed it. It can be argued that it the duration of sleep for pleasure purposes is irrelevant since when I am out I can't possibly "enjoy" anything as I am not "aware" of it. Logically true. But when you are only going to bed for 3 or 4 hours, you don't look forward to it with as much relish as a 7-8 hour stretch of sleep, even if you know that they will both relax and restore you the same.

Having said that, it might be just a matter of strengthening the habit. My evening nap is only 20 minutes (usually), but I still look forward to it. 

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