Biphasic Sleep : Day 13

Biphasic sleep : Day 13Whether it's a way to address world hunger, or I'm simply planning my day; I'm usually pondering something when I first open my eyes. Like dreams, these thoughts feel as though they've been going for hours (although a few minutes is far more likely). Today I was thinking about one of the few downsides of biphasic sleeping.

Regular monophasic sleep (the typical 'eight hours a night') is generally associated with two periods of greatly reduced productivity. Most people don't do much (at least not anything productive) in the last few minutes before bedtime, or the first few minutes after waking. This period varies from person to person, but about 15-20 minutes is fairly common.

Biphasic sleep has four such periods. I am reluctant to start anything major just before a nap, or just after, or just before the main sleep, or just after I wake from it. What can be done to reduce this 'lost time'?

There are a few small changes I have made over the past week, and there'll undoubtedly be several more. Here's a summary :

Reducing the 15-20

A few days ago I read Steve Pavlina's excellent article 'How to become an early riser'. My aim was not to become an early riser per se - I was simply curious as to how it was done. In that article was one crucial point that I'd never considered by itself: go to bed when you're tired, and wake up with the alarm. Modifying this slightly, I now hold the nap back a bit until I feel that I could fall asleep quickly; rather than having it at a set time each night. This works well, and certainly helps to shave the 15-20 minutes down a little.

Using the 15-20

Realistically I'm not going to solve the problem of world hunger by pondering it for 15 minutes. However, 15 minutes spent fleshing out plans for the day are well spent. A calendar, reminders and various to-do lists tell me what needs doing; the 15 minutes is great for establishing how I'll get things done. Very useful.

This is also the period of time in which dream recall - if any - is possible. Once the day begins in earnest there is almost no chance of remembering the subtleties of last night's dreams (I'm not talking about recurring nightmares here, which I've been fortunate enough to avoid). Although there isn't always an obvious meaning to them, a few notes should provide an interesting look mid-term (say, over a few months) of what kinds of things were going through my head. I suspect patterns may start to gradually emerge.

I'm sure there are many other ways of improving productivity during these periods, or at least reducing their duration. If you've got any ideas, let me know.

Following nap

That wasn't quite the result I was after. Waking naturally after 4.5 hours it took a while to work out what had happened - for some reason the alarm didn't go off (dead battery I suspect). What's the best way to correct this and get back on schedule? Probably to swap the nap/main sleep for tonight (napping around 05:30 - 07:00). Not to mention checking the alarm battery.

As for the productivity improvements, I've been noting down just how much time I've been spending on each task today (in order to see how productive I am during the bulk of the day) and there's probably quite a bit of tweaking I can do there. Improving the low productivity periods around sleep is just a bonus.

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Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 37) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

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