Every change in sleep schedule requires some time for adjustment during which sleep is going to be less efficient. This may result in the feeling of sleep deprivation during this period, similar to jet lag during adjustment to a different time zone. While this is unavoidable, especially when adapting to a more extreme schedules, there are various methods which can significantly reduce the sleep deprivation and time spent adapting. The following sections go through the process of adjusting to a new sleep schedule, outlining the specific paths people have successfully used during their adaptation.
Exaptation means pre-adaptation, and refers to ways to prepare the body for a coming adaptation. There are three main ways to prepare, by recovering, doing naptation and staying awake before starting. Each of these methods have different pros and cons, and are detailed here.
Most of these methods (unless otherwise stated) expect the attempter to have no previous sleep deprivation when starting it (methods that build on previously adapted schedules, like gradual adaptation and rhythmic preservation have this naturally from adapting to the schedule). This is usually done by doing a recovery schedule (see “recovery”) until all sleep debt is caught up to. Recovery is the concept of sleeping with natural wakes until all sleep deprivation is gone. Because all sleep deprivation can not and will not be recovered in a single day this process can be long and drawn out.
Recovery is usually done:
-before doing a polyphasic sleep schedule, if one is sleep deprived
-after falling into OS
-after one oversleep so big you know you won’t be able to continue due to the huge setback.
When coming from a previously failed adaptation recovery is usually done for 1-2 weeks, but it can take less time or more time depending on the amount of sleep deprivation accumulated. Before the first polyphasic schedule some can have a lot of sleep deprivation accumulated, and recovery can thus take several weeks or even months in extreme cases. Setting a time limit for when the recovery should be finished is not preferred, as there is no guarantee it will have happened in the set timeframe. While doing recovery one should preferably have a set time for the start of the sleep. This should be the same start as the planned polyphasic schedule if possible.
Recovering from a polyphasic schedule often follows this pattern:
- A few days with a short core (due to the body remembering to wake up early)
- many days with a long core
- 2-3 days of core times of the usual length
This is when one is done recovering, when the sleep has stabilized at a set length that is of similar length to before attempting polyphasic sleep, around 6-8h for most adults. Taking naps during the recovery period can possibly force the core to remain a shorter length, while not recovering enough sleep debt in the process. This is dependent on how far into adaptation one is when deciding on starting the recovery.
If recovery with natural wakes is impossible due to scheduling limitations doing it with as much sleep as one can get is doable, but recovering will take a longer amount of time. Speeding up recovery is not really possible, as the body will only allow itself to sleep a certain amount per day.
Recovering itself is a very painful process. Experiencing long lasting headaches, mood drops and such is very common. This is normal, and in a way necessary, but it’s important to know that this phase is only temporary. Keep looking at the goal in front of you and stay strong.
Staying awake before starting
Stay awake for 24-36h and then jumping into the desired schedule. What this does is allow you to start falling asleep faster and get a head start for the adaptation, but due to the increased sleep debt the symptoms are going to be harder for the rest of the adaptation (longer stage 3, shorter stage 1 and 2). Adaptation will not be quicker with this method. This is only suggested as an option for extreme or nap-only schedules, which will benefit most from falling asleep immediately or when human supervision is an option to avoid falling asleep from the aggravated sleep deprivation. Starting a schedule with pre-existing sleep deprivation gives similar effects as this method, and the length of stage 3 varies depending on the amount of sleep deprivation one has when beginning the schedule. A notable sign one started with sleep deprivation is excessive tiredness during the first week.
Similar to ‘staying awake before starting’, one stays awake for around 36h (until you reach second-wind) then start napping for 20m (or 30m for rare extreme schedules) at the end of every BRAC (20m once every 2h or 3h), to practice napping. Naptation is done for a number of days until you start falling asleep instantly (1-3 days), or until SOREM happens and you get REM in the naps (3-5).
This method is also valid for people who try to adapt to a schedule but fail to learn how to nap, as in people with no prior napping experience in their life. During the Naptation process people learn how to fall asleep instantly due to the accumulation of sleep debt, and the ability to nap has been anecdotally proven to be a skill that one does not forget how to do even after doing mono for long times (compare it to riding a bike). By first doing naptation one learns how to nap, then do recovery for 1-2 weeks to get rid all sleep debt, and finally proceed with the desired schedule. Naptation is done for a bit longer compared to the direct switch to make sure the skill sticks.
- Naptation can also be used to learn to nap while in an uncomfortable situation. Due to the extreme sleep deprivation that naptation causes, one can learn to fall asleep:
- While sitting
- In a car
- Lying on one’s back
- Lying on an uncomfortable surface
- In a cold/warm environment
- In a bright room
- In a noisy environment, and so on.
Some people recommend doing naptation for 3-7 days and then starting Uberman. If you’re planning on doing Uberman it is preferable if you already have some prior napping skills to be able to adapt to it.
You jump straight from monosleep into your desired schedule. This method is harder than gradual adaptation, however the time taken to reach the desired schedule is much smaller (granted that you manage to adapt to it). Jumping into Siesta, E1, E2, Segmented and DC1 is very doable with this method (assuming one sleeps a maximum of about 8h on mono). Past that, it becomes quite a bit more difficult, but it might be possible depending on how hard you go into this, how much prior experience you have, and how prepared you are!
Start with easy schedules, then move to harder ones by cutting down total sleep after each adaptation. This process takes a very long time (one month minimum per schedule), but is much easier to do than the cold-turkey method. By cutting out the overall sleep time in small chunks it becomes much easier for the body to adapt to it because there is not as much sleep to repartition. Having REM in the naps also carries over, and it will be much faster to achieve REM in every nap by doing this method. It is best to follow the schedule lines while doing this, and to have as many naps and cores lined up with each other in the switches. Adaptation routes as examples:
Mono -> E1 -> E2 -> E3
Mono -> Segmented -> DC1
Mono -> DC1-extended -> DC2
Mono -> Segmented -> Triphasic
Mono -> TC1 -> DC3
Mono -> (E2-extended ->) E3-extended -> E3-extended-flex -> SEVAMAYL
It is important to note that some people consider this method harder as, while the sleep deprivation is milder than for other methods, the total period spent in sleep deprivation is longer which can make the exact schedules harder to maintain.
Fast gradual adaptation
As the name implies this adaptation method is gradual adaptation, but instead of waiting for the sleep deprivation to recover one switches schedules right after the necessary skills have been acquired. An example of this is adapting to Triphasic from Segmented, and switching schedules at stage 2-3 when the body has learned to separate the cores in order to avoid the need to learn that skill at the same time as learning to separate the SWS cycles. This method is very hard to pull off successfully, and should be avoided by those without a lot of experience. To clarify, switching schedules mid-adaptation will reset the adaptation time, but keep the existing sleep deprivation, which results in a longer and harsher stage 3 as a tradeoff from stage 1 and 2.
Reverse gradual adaptation
Switching from an already adapted schedule to a schedule with more sleeping time, (for example adapting from E3 to E2), will not take as long as the original adaptation time. This is useful for people whose schedules change after adaptation, forcing them to completely switch schedules instead of being able to flex. Sticking with the schedule line is wise, as switching to another schedule line will still require adaptation to occur (switching from the E line to the DC line for example).
Some people use this method in an attempt to save their adaptation after realizing they can’t handle the initial amount of sleep deprivation, or after a big oversleep. This often results in failure to adapt for several reasons;
- Naps stop working (while this is temporary it’ll still wear them out)
- Initial amount of sleep deprivation turns out to be too much to handle regardless of the switch
- Tiredness strikes at the old sleeping times
- The body treating the new schedule as continuously oversleeping, which leads to major tiredness bombs, headaches etc.
- Lack of will and discipline, and so on.
Most of these lead to oversleeping or simply quitting.
Uberman as a precursor of E3
Similar to using naptation to learn how to nap before Uberman one can use Uberman as a method to learn how to nap before switching into E3. The naps that are going to be kept when jumping into E3 are placed at their corresponding places. Before a fast SWS onset is reached (usually day 7-11) one switches schedules to E3 in the hopes of easing the hit. This is going to be very taxing on the body due to the sleep deprivation acquired during Uberman. Another strategy is to do:
Mono -> Naptation -> Mono-recovery -> E3, if the goal is to learn how to nap.
This is a hypothetical method based on the ‘gradual reduction in sleep time’ theory, by which it might be easier to switch to reduced sleep times by maintaining schedule rhythm. Examples of this include:
- Bimaxion -> Trimaxion -> Dymaxion
- DC4 -> E5 -> U6
- TC2 -> DC3
All these sleep groups keep the same number of sleep blocks and preserve sleep times. Some prefer to keep the time of the beginning of the sleep constant, whereas others prefer to keep the wake-time of the sleep constant. Unlike general gradual adaptation, in rhythmic preservation one core cycle at a time is replaced with one nap and the rest of the times are kept the same. The key here is that when one sleep block is replaced the body should remember when to be tired. Repartitioning still has to occur after the switch in schedules, so light sleep is going to have to be kicked out of the cores regardless.
In other words, rhythmic preservation only increases the ease with which you fall asleep or wake without oversleeping, due to keeping circadian entrainment. You still experience the same sleep deprivation caused by reducing total sleep time.
Extended schedules usually have a smaller amount of REM in the naps. One whole nap could be almost completely NREM2, or every nap might have less REM compared to the non-extended versions of the schedules. When adapting via rhythmic reservation the REM in the naps will also be repartitioned. In other words the total amount of REM in the naps will increase.
Main author: Crimson
Page last updated: 8 January 2020