Time to Read (using avg wpm): 11 mins
So now we know everything we could about sleep- the ins and outs and the how tos- the only things left are the advanced and the interesting.
Oddly enough- that’s what part 3 is about!
Otherwise, here we go!
The Remaining Elements of Sleep
- Final Words
There is a market for sleep improvement and I found a few ways to include tech in your sleep experience for better sleep performance.
A few apps and a few devices, all the tech in this section is designed at least to wake you up at the top of your sleep cycle, which as you read in part 2, is the optimal way to start your day.
Sleep as Android is a highly rated free app that has been downloaded over 20,000,000 times.
Lots of features but mainly designed to wake you up at the top of your sleep cycle, they advertise as follows:
“Smart alarm clock with sleep cycle tracking. Wakes you gently in optimal moment for pleasant mornings.”
Check it out here.
Sleep Cycle alarm clock is another sleep tracking app but it costs $0.99. This one has a higher rating than the free one.
I think it has a higher rating because it doesn’t prompt you to make in-app purchases as much as the free app above. Plus it has fewer features so it is more navigable and simple.
Check it out here.
The only problem with these top two tech products is that you have to look at your phone before you go to bed, in order to set up the sleep tracking, which is bad for your sleepy brain as you may recall because of all that intense and wakeful blue light. Using f.lux or turning down the brightness helps but avoiding screens altogether really is the goal here.
Beddit ($150) is a more accurate sleep tracker (they claim) because instead of just using the accelerometer in your phone, this product/app uses a thin band that you place under your bed sheet that is able to keep track of your movements with more accuracy than your phone.
Check it out here using my affiliate link.
Sleep Shepherd Blue ($250) is a cool headband that has all kinds of cool tricks.
It uses EEG (electroencephalography) sensors and an accelerometer to track your brainwaves and head movements and uses this information to give you accurate data on your sleep.
It also uses the EEG sensors to track brainwaves and uses binaural tones to try to alter your brainwaves to encourage sleep.
It gradually wakes you up with binaural beats to keep your from starting your day with the stress and anxiety of a tiger attack.
It houses all of the data it collects from your EEG report in it’s companion app where you can check out your sleep stats from the week, the night before and your “sleep score” that they give you.
The Sleep Shepherd Blue Raised over $800,000 from Kickstarter and Indegogo (two crowdfunding platforms) and at the time of this post is available for pre-order to arrive in June. Check it out here.
Polyphasic and Biphasic Sleep Cycles
Remember in part 1 when I mentioned that thing about REM rebound? Well that is the underlying principle of polyphasic (and biphasic) sleep cycles.
REM rebound is how your body makes sure it gets enough REM sleep even if you haven’t slept as much as you should have. If you don’t get enough REM sleep because you are sleep deprived, then your body compensates by trying to send you into REM sleep earlier in the cycle to catch back up.
Your body will also try to compensate in the same way with your stage 3 sleep/deep sleep.
These are the most effective cycles in your sleep and some say are the only parts of your sleep cycle that actually accomplish anything.
So bring on the optimization…
Using these two principles and combining them with body clock pseudo-training, you get polyphasic sleep cycles.
Polyphasic sleep is not complicated at all and it really just means scheduled napping. If these naps are scheduled and followed consistently, your body will catch on to the routine and use these naps for total optimal sleep, in some cases only using deep sleep and REM sleep.
The point if these practices is to sleep as little as possible while minimizing and, arguably, eliminating any detriments. I mean just looking back at the 1st post there was a stat that pointed out that you spend over 30 years sleeping- think of what you could do if you saved 15 of those years.
So to tie it all together, replacing your current sleep with polyphasic sleep is about cutting down on your hours slept while still keeping the benefits of a full night’s rest.
There are 3 popular polyphasic sleep cycles and then couple popular biphasic sleep cycles.
3 popular polyphasic cycles:
Uberman- take a 20-30 minute nap every 4 hours, ending with 6 naps and spending a total of 2-3 hours per day sleeping.
Everyman- A core sleep of 3.5 hours, supplemented with three 20-minute naps every 6-7 hours, ending with 4.5 hours of sleep. This is the easiest cycle to adjust to.
Dymaxion- Coined by Buckminster Fuller, this cycle requires a 30 minute nap every 5.5 hours, ending with a whopping 2 hours of sleep per day.
There’s also dual-core, tri-phasic and free-running sleep, check out the polyphasic society for more on those.
Anecdotally, these polyphasic sleep cycles are very awakening and the dymaxion cycle made Buckminster Fuller feel, quote: “the most vigorous and alert condition I have ever enjoyed.”
There are some caveats and things to consider though:
It is challenging to get yourself on any of these cycles initially and you become zombified in the initial stages of adjustment and this may hamper your work or projects if you aren’t on vacation or something.
You will also notice that you do not like missing any of the scheduled naps because when you miss a nap you miss a portion of your body’s new rhythm of short and effective sleep and become very tired.
And another drawback is that you are on a pretty independent schedule here and if you aren’t your own boss it can be difficult to find time to nap regularly while at work- not to mention that your family will probably be normal sleepers so you will be off of their schedule.
Plus, while your brain will get what it needs through the glymphatic system in deep sleep and the memory consolidation and everything else in REM sleep- this style may pose a challenge to your physical body. If your are an athlete and need plenty of time for physical rest and recuperation, you may need to sleep more than just 3 hours a day.
Not to end on a bad note though, polyphasic sleep is awesome.
One third the hour and the stages complete
Canines much quicker with a cycle’s defeat
20 times through the night the series repeat
At each REM interval, a dream bittersweet
At the six minute mark each dream ends incomplete
PMID:203958, a 5-line monorhyme by Doug
End of Intermission.
Biphasic sleep is basically the same thing as polyphasic sleep, it just schedules in two periods of sleep as opposed to 3 or more.
Siesta- Myself, many college students and most of Latin America use biphasic sleep in the form of the siesta. There are two ways of executing the siesta. The short siesta, where you get 5-6 hours of sleep at night and then a 20 minute nap during the day – or – the long siesta, where you would get 4.5-5.5 hours of sleep at night and then take a 90 minute nap. I alternate between the two depending on the circumstances (a.k.a. when I get off of work) but lean more toward the long siesta.
Siestas are also believed to already be part of our circadian rhythm- I don’t know if you’ve noticed but around 2-3 o’clock in the middle of the day, you probably get pretty tired. This is believed to not be because of lunch digestion and eating anymore, as it formally was, but instead is the body’s natural rhythm of trying to sleep.
It has also been shown that this form of sleep gives you more bang for your buck than monophasic, normal sleeping, in the form of more total wakefulness during the day.
Segmented- This is the one that I would like to try and think is pretty cool but doing it, because of my current work schedule, would conflict with my ability to wake up with the sun.
In this form, you get 3.5 hours of sleep at night to start, wake up and chill/work on projects for two hours, and then go back to sleep for another 3.5 hours.
The two sleep periods used to be a big part of life in the 17th century and those two hours were the time that most people did their reading and writing.
This cycle is a natural way of sleeping and is not hard to adjust to. You body focuses on deep sleep initially and slowly, as it cycles through each cycle, trades deep sleep for more and more REM sleep. If you break in the middle your body, for some reason, is more effective and efficient in it’s sleep cycles.
But I still am really interested in this sleep form in the future, mostly for the idea of 2 hours at night that I could have complete silence and focus on whatever project, course or post that I am working on.
Moving on to the next advanced sleep topic- while not directly about sleep is obviously about dreaming and is still applicable- and super cool.
Have you ever been dreaming- and during your dream you realize that you are dreaming and are suddenly conscious… but still dreaming? That is lucid dreaming.
Lucid dreaming is being “awake” while dreaming- and having control of your dream.
It is the connection between the conscious and the subconscious and there is a science to cultivating the ability to become lucid during your dreams.
During a lucid dream, with enough practice, you become able to control the environment and yourself in any way that you can imagine – literally – your imagination is your limit. It is said that most people, when they first cultivate the ability to lucid dream, choose to fly around beautiful scenery.
And apart from the obvious benefits of having an imaginary play world, there are tons of psychological implications as well and if you fall into the realm of psychologists who believe that dreams are connected to reality in deep and meaningful ways then you can see how being conscious during your dreams may give you insight into what your dreams/subconscious is trying to tell you.
I can’t get too much into lucid dreaming in this post because there is so much to it that it will have to be a post on it’s own. I have looked around enough though to link up some of the best resources for it in the meantime if you are interested.
Something to note though, related to the polyphasic sleeping above, is that going into REM more regularly throughout the day, which is what polyphasic sleeping causes you to do, means you dream more regularly- which is beneficial if you want to train yourself to Lucid Dream because you have the chance to practice regularly.
But here are those links, organized by application:
The final sleep post! I hope this was an insightful series, I know it was for me while doing the research.
Sleep is one of the fundamentals of human existence- don’t mess around with it. You sometimes have to be careful of what I call the “sleepy brain paradox.”
Get one night of too little sleep and your decision making suffers. A paradox emerges from this scenario if this poor decision making keeps you from going to bed on time the next night. And this repeats and repeats until you have a bad habit of sleep deprivation. Try to avoid this by staying on a sleep schedule- not only to avoid the detriments of the sleepy brain paradox but to get your body on a good rhythm of when to prep for sleep.
If you decide to experiment with polyphasic or biphasic sleep, or you get some use out of the recommended tech, come back and share your experience in the comments!
I’m going to take a nap now- goodnight!
Thank you for reading, share this post if you don’t think your friends get enough sleep!
References (for all three parts):