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Planning your Schedule

There are various principles to keep in mind as you plan your polyphasic schedule. Breaking the rules here won't necessarily make you fail, it'll just make your transition stage more difficult.

Owls vs. Larks

When taking up polyphasic sleeping, one of the first things to do is to plan your schedule. Different schedules work better for different people. The first thing to take into account is whether you are a night owl or an early fowl (or as they prefer to be known, a lark). Night owls, while they only need the same amout of sleep as the lark, need longer individual naps, so therefore don't need as many. Larks can get away with short naps. On the other hand, night owls can generally be much more flexible in their schedules, whereas larks run into trouble if they don't stick to it. All this can be summarised in the following table:

Routines Nap length
Morning people More regular Brief
Night people Whatever A bit longer

However, it's possible for people to learn either.

You can take a test to find out which you are (NB: this test is a blunt instrument, and not necessarily accurate)

Biorhythms

You will no doubt recall biorhythms from the Sleep Information page. You need to plan your sleeping pattern to line up with your biorhythms. So before you begin, note down what time of day you feel tired. Those may be your best nap times.

The point of polyphasic sleep is to divide up your sleep into many parts. If they're not spaced to be an even number of biorhythms, you'll have more trouble, and, in this case, it may not even work.

Total sleep time

Various total sleep times have been achieved. Dr. Claudio Stampi recommends around 4.5 hours as a daily minimum. Steve Pavlina seems to be surviving on 2-3 hours/day.

Staged transition

Some have found that doing a staged transition helps. Those who are biphasic or triphasic before transitioning to hexaphasic have found that advantageous. You can also include core sleep, and then phase that out. What is possible for you depends (AFAICT) on your biorhythms, but in what way I'm unsure.

Interaction with Monophasia

It may also be a good idea to plan your time so that you can interact with Monophasia (the monophasic world). For example, the church services I attend, combined with other activities, run from 9:30am-~12:30pm. So I put one nap at 9am, and the other at 1pm.

If you can have the adjustment period (usually 3-9 days) during a period when you are on holiday or otherwise in complete control of your time (ie. self-employed with no time-critical projects), you will have a better chance of success.

Post from Cavendish

Cavendish sent the following message in response to a question about core sleep, which I reproduce with his permission:

  1. Work on your circadian cycle with a monophasic schedule first, and then shift to hexaphasic. What I mean is, figure out where the peaks and dips in your alertness are, and when you naturally wake up in the morning, and build your naps around your natural cycles. Alternatively, you might decide you're going to wake up at 5:00 AM, for example, and work to shift your waking time to that point on a monophasic schedule first. Then, when you shift to hexaphasic, have a nap end around the time you would be waking up.
  2. I can see three arguments for where to position core sleep. The first goes like this: core sleep ought to be placed during the time you are naturally sleepiest, so that you don't have to struggle to stay awake during that time. Second argument: core sleep should go at the beginning of your monophasic sleep schedule, since that is when your body is most used to getting the majority of its SWS. This second argument is more in line with how the term 'core sleep' is used by sleep researchers. Third argument: If you have your core sleep at a time when you are naturally sleepy (either of the times in arguments 1 and 2) it will be very easy to oversleep. Therefore, you ought to time your core sleep so that it ends either when you are used to waking up in the morning, or during the late afternoon/early evening 'forbidden zone'. The core sleep approach never worked for me, so I don't have any personal experience to draw upon, and I'm not sure which of these arguments makes the most sense. I would probably try the third approach first, though.

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