Polyphasic Sleep - Day 4

Today is day 5, Tuesday. I woke up from my 1pm nap about an hour ago. The last 24 hours have been… Interesting.

In my previous post I talked about the semi-succesful 1pm nap and the less successful 5pm nap, both on day 4. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how I felt after my 9pm nap (my memory has been crap ever since day 2), and apparantly I didn’t write anything down either.

Bart was supposed to help me through this night, we had arranged for him to be over at my house at 0.30am, so he could help me wake up from my 1am nap if necessary. However, he didn’t show up and didn’t answer his phone either. When I called him again the next day, he told me he had forgotten about it :( So I was alone this night.

After my 1am nap, I woke up as a zombie again, but I started feeling better about 1.5 hours after the nap. Eventually, I was feeling quite ok. Not great, but happy enough given the situation :)

5am nap - ugh

From there it went downhill though; Waking up after my 5am nap sent me straight to zombiehood again, and I felt cold. I realize I haven’t written about temperature before, so I’ll do that now. Since about day 2, I’ve been feeling cold a lot, especially at night. This is not surprising of course, sleep deprivation leaves you feeling cold, and core body temperature is lowest at about 5am. To give you an idea how cold I was feeling: my room was 24°C (75°F), I was wearing a shirt, a blouse, and a sweater, and still I was hugging myself because I was feeling cold.

Not only was I cold, I also felt very tired, and had significant narcolepsy attacks. Doing anything on the computer was not an option, I kept nodding off. I worked on the Lego truck a bit more, but eventually I decided I’d best go for a walk. The brisk air would keep me awake, and the exercise would do me good. I ended up walking through the snow for about 2 hours, which in retrospect was a bit too much; towards the end of the walk I was feeling quite light-headed.

9am nap - UGH

I returned home at 8.30am feeling very tired, I was hoping to fall asleep quickly and soundly for my 9am nap, but that was too much to ask for. It took me my usual 5 minutes to fall asleep, and it was the familiar wake-up-as-zombie sleep. But this time I woke up feeling much worse than usual; compared to how I was feeling, the usual feeling after waking up was a state of euphoric alertness.

In her book Ubersleep, puredoxyk wrote the following about sleep deprivation:

However, your brain is not an insignificant opponent [...] And when it really pulls out the big guns [...] the results can be quite intimidating. Don’t underestimate how challenging this will be!

I can assure you, she was not kidding. I went to sleep for my 9am nap feeling like crap, but I woke up feeling even worse, which created a strong feeling of hopelessness; My mind was going more or less like this:

The naps were supposed to help me rest, they were all I had. If the naps didn’t make me feel better, or even worse instead, how could I possibly go on? How much longer would I need before it started working? What if an entire day more of this was required to adapt? Or two days? I’d never survive that. I doubt if I can even make it through another ten minutes of this…

The despair I felt was indescribable, and as an added bonus my head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, making thinking clearly next to impossible.

Luckily, Diana called me at that moment. She had been calling me after some naps, to check if I got up, and to help me wake up more. That was always good, but this time I needed it. If there was any moment where I would have given up on adapting, this would have been it. Thanks to Diana, I didn’t get that chance. Talking to her made me wake up further, clearing my mind a bit, and her supportive words gave me enough determination to take on the feeling of despair. Thanks, Diana! I owe you one.

The next 3 hours were one horrible blur; I felt levels of fatigue I had not considered possible. It was as if I was feeling tired in every single fiber of my body.

I also experienced serious narcolepsy. Doing anything on the computer for more than two minutes was impossible. Even walking through the house barely kept me from nodding off! The section of Ubersleep about fighting off narcolepsy was very useful here (note: my chair is not an appropriate substitute for a punching bag, and now my hand hurts).

I ended up cooking a handful of beetroot I had lying around and playing Quake III in a twisted sort of multi-tasking. The beetroot barely fit into the pan, so they had to be re-wetted frequently to counter the evaporation of the boiling water. I ended up repeating the following routine:

  • Walking downstairs to the kitchen, jumping and stomping along the way to fight off drowsiness
  • Re-wetting the beetroot
  • Walking back upstairs, again jumping and stomping
  • Maybe pop outside for a minute to let the cold wake me up further
  • Return to my room
  • Continue my game of Quake III until I started nodding off again (about 2 minutes)

Ridiculous, but it worked. I also did some other things; I remember doing the laundry, and tidying up / moving about some things in my room. Eventually, I got fed up with this, and I tried to work on the Lego truck again. To my surprise, I was able to work on that without nodding off! So I spent at least an hour building the Lego truck, which is coming along nicely:

1pm nap - yay

Eventually it was time for my 1pm nap (finally!). I fell asleep within 30 seconds, which might be a personal best for me, and waking up felt a lot like the earlier “interesting” 1pm nap; I was a bit confused, and I felt more rested and clearer than usual. I also experienced some time dilation; Although the nap was only 22 minutes, it felt longer, maybe an hour. Still no memory of a dream though.

During the hours after this nap, the groggy feeling disappeared nearly completely, and I got moderate amounts of energy. I felt a bit tired, but not sleepy or yawny — just a slight tinge of fatigue without further consequences. I also did not feel cold anymore! I was wearing a shirt and blouse (both short-sleeved), and my room felt comfortable at 21°C (70°F).

For some time, I felt kind of… normal. Which was a huge improvement over how I felt before that nap. I was able to work on the computer normally (writing this post, for example) without nodding off. So it seems the naps are starting to work better! Although I’d like to see more improvements of course :)

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