Productivity Tip # 9: Polyphasic Sleep
There is a bit in a Hindi song that goes like his….
Ladakpan khel mien khoya
Jawani neendh bhar soya
Budapaa dekh kar roya
Wohi kissa purana hai
This is a song sung by Mukesh for Raj Kapoor in the movie “Teesri Kasam”. The gist of this part of the song is …
“An oft-repeated life story is that of a childhood spent in play, youth in sleep and old age in regrets”
This was my mom’s favorite song. She dropped out of elementary school and never completed her education. To date that is still her biggest regret. So, she relates to this song as though it has been sung for her.
I am taking the literal meaning of sleep from this song and addressing those folks who think they are getting way more sleep than is needed. So, if sleep is getting in the way of your aspirations or goals then here is a tip that can help you.
Introduction to Polyphasic Sleep:
Polyphasic sleep is where a person sleeps multiple times during a 24 hour period. Monophasic is where a person sleeps in one stretch for say 6,7 or 8 hours and does not take a nap during any time of the day. I do not want to get into any scientific debate as to what is better monophasic or polyphasic because there is so much information available for anyone who googles polyphasic sleep.
My Experiment on Polyphasic Sleep:
There are multiple schedules of Polyphasic Sleep from Uberman to EveryMan. In Uberman Schedule you sleep 20 minutes for 6 times for a total of 2 hours. Yes, you heard it right. Just 2 hours per night. Some folks have done that and documented that in books and blog posts. This is an extreme form and I have not tried it.
I tried the EveryMan2 Schedule for 2 months. I slept for 3 and a half hours at night and took two 20 minute naps during the day for a total of 4 hour 10 minutes of sleep time. Before I went on this schedule I measured the number of hours I slept using the iPhone App “Where Is My Time”. I measured for 2 weeks and my average time was 49.5 hours. This was during a very stressful time of my work where I worked late nights and I honestly thought I slept fewer hours than usual. So, most probably I was sleeping 8 hours a day during my normal schedule. I calculated that if I went on a Everyman2 Schedule I will save 20-25 hrs per week just in sleep time. That was the motivation I needed.
I was moderately successful in this experiment. For 4 to 5 times a week, I was able to stick to the EveryMan2 Sleep Schedule and that was mostly during the weekdays. On weekends, it was hard to sleep for only 3.5 hours at night. I was sleeping from 12:30 AM to 4 AM. Waking up at 4 AM on Sunday got tougher and tougher. Also, there was not much to do when I got up at 4 AM. So, slowly I got off the schedule.
Weekdays were definitely very productive. I was able to get most of my work done with plenty of time to spare. I was able to complete my reading. I had time for my family and was less stressed out. So, this experiment was helpful in the sense that if I get more work than I can handle then I have a way out. I can try this schedule to get 20 – 25 hours per week. Its almost the number of hours needed for a part-time gig.
There is so much noise on how many hours of sleep per night that is needed for an average person. Is it 6 hours, 7 or 8 or 10? I am not getting into that debate because each person is unique. So, there is no harm in experimenting. If you think that you are wasting away your youth in sleep then here is a way out. Try it out and see if you can handle. I sure was able to and cannot wait to get back to that schedule if I think I need to.