Two days ago I asserted that I would continue this experiment until July 20, and later that day I made a decision that would mean me sleeping in and possibly ending the experiment. The decision was to sleep on the Valhalla land instead of the house and I slept the whole night. I did it partly because I wasn’t feeling day-to-day improvement and mostly because it would be my last opportunity to sleep on the land, something I hadn’t done yet.
It’s unfortunate that the experiment is over but I think the best I can do about it is to reflect on how it helped me and what I plan on doing about this whole sleep thing in the future.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I discovered that I have more willpower than I thought. Sleep has always been very important to me, and I would do my best to always sleep around 8 hours per night, and yet I managed to be sleep deprived for 7 days because I wanted to.
It might not be the biggest accomplishment ever, but it made me realize what I can do if I just have a compelling enough reason to do it. And doing this definitely encouraged me to experiment with altered sleep schedules again in the future.
I learned from experience that reduce the amount of time you sleep and consciously choosing your sleep schedule can improve how much you produce in a day in two ways:
The first is fairly obvious – you have more time. Going from normal (say, 8 hours) to Everyman 3 or Uberman can save you 3 and 6 hours every day respectively. Even sleeping only 2 hours less – which is what I plan to do in university – can save you up to 62 hours or almost 2.5 full days. And if you do Uberman you can fit 2 8-hour workdays + 6 hours of leisure time in every day.
A side effect is also that, since it takes you so long to adapt and you’re making a conscious effort to have all of those extra hours, you will want to fill them with something meaningful, since otherwise you might as well spend your time sleeping.
So, not only do you have more time, but you value your time more. That’s two birds with one stone when trying to tackle productivity issues – which usually involve having too little time or procrastinating when you do have time.
Somehow I found that I was much more appreciative of the small things in life during this experiment. Obviously I now feel more respect and gratitude for sleep, but this also passed on to other things like taking walks, eating and having cool conversations.
A conclusion you could take from this is that depriving yourself from something you already value (in the form of a different sleep schedule or a fast, for example) will not only make you value that thing more, but that the gratitude you feel will spread into other areas of your life. I can’t say for sure if this is true, so I recommend you test out this theory yourself – I’m sure I will again soon.
At least for a few days, I will enjoy the perks of being able to sleep when and for as long as I want. But once I’ve recovered from the jet lag the +6h timezone change (Montreal -> Bremen) I want to go back to working on my sleep. Right now I’m thinking of doing what Steve Pavlina recommends in his recent post How To Fall Asleep In Less Than 30 Seconds with a few modifications. My reason for it is that this way I will be able to use my whole summer to learn how to fall asleep quickly with only a minimum amount of sleep deprivation in the beginning.
When I go to University in September I will give polyphasic sleep a second try, possibly with a modification of the everyman schedule that involves me sleeping around 5-5.5 hours in the night and taking two naps during the day. Hopefully by then I will be able to fall asleep quickly, so it won’t be too hard to adjust to this new schedule and I’ll be able to free up more time to do everything I want to do.
All in all, I’m grateful that I did this experiment, despite not having been very successful. It helped me grow and discover the potential for growth in conducting similar experiments in the future.