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Polyphasic sleep – Aborted after 1 week

Strangely enough, adaptation was going really well. It was much easier than the first time, but all the same, I ran into a few minor problems, and one major one. First, the minor problems:

Minor problems during adaptation

Temperature regulation

One thing that I forgot from the previous adaptation was the fact that my bodies temperature regulation seems to be completely out of whack. I suspect that this is actually all in my head though. When I get up, I’m so cold I’m shivering, even though it’s no colder than usual – I suspect this is just my body trying to keep me in bed.

Vivid dreams

Not really a problem, but it is a bit freaky. There was one morning where I woke up very confused about where I was since my dream was so vivid. I was even confused about the fact that I woke up since I was sure that I was not asleep.

Trying to keep yourself occupied

Especially while you are adapting, since you need to do something that will keep you awake, but the rest of the world is sleeping, so your choices are somewhat limited. One thing I found was playing Civilization 5 (Which turns out to be much better than I would have thought).

This brings me to the major problem though:

One major issue: RSI

Turns out that playing that much Civilization 5 comes at a price – Especially for somebody who spends their day in front of a computer as a software developer.

Initially, I noticed the pain only in the morning, so I assumed I had just slept on my arm. It took me two days to realize what was happening and by then, my hand was going numb and tingling. I stopped using my computer and got a full night’s sleep, which didn’t help too much.

I didn’t use my computer at all for 3 days before the tingling went away and I got some feeling back in my hand, but even now I can’t use my PC for more than about 30 minutes before needing a break.

Ironically, I think this was a good thing. I wasn’t taking enough breaks, and my posture was wrong, so I was doing the damage in any case. This just highlighted the situation (Hopefully before I did permanent damage).

For now, I’ve ordered a trackball to replace my mouse and installed some software to remind me to take breaks. I’ve also raised my desk so I can work standing up. So far, the situation is improving (even though my feet are hurting now).

In summary:

As it turns out, creating a sleep schedule based on your own sleep patterns works remarkably well, especially considering that I got it somewhat wrong. I don’t know if it might have gotten worse if I kept on with it, but my adaptation seemed to be going well and it felt like I was over the worst.

Being cold and having vivid dreams is a bit surprising, but minor inconveniences on top of the sleep deprivation, but keeping yourself occupied while you adapt is the real problem.

And finally, RSI is not fun. Read up a bit on RSI and make sure that your work environment is set up correctly and your posture is decent – By the time you feel pain, you’ve done quite a bit of damage and recovering will be much harder than prevention. The following is an excellent resource: http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~cscott/rsi.html