It is important to factor in everything when deducing if it is a suitable time to start a polyphasic adaptation. Other humans can turn out to be great for adaptations, as they can work as mental support and alarms. There are however times when it is best to hold off on attempting a polyphasic sleep schedule due to relationships with other people. This article details some of these situations.
Sleep deprivation during adaptation can cause people to be more irritable, and if you and your partner are going through a difficult period, adapting to a polyphasic sleeping schedule is not wise. You’ll have mood swings, more challenging communication, and possible conflicts related to rigid nap times. All of these things in combination will test the stability of any relationship, and already being in a shaky one has a big chance to ruin it.
Having a supportive environment is also important. You don’t want people constantly interrupting your naps or forcing you to miss them. All in all you should aim to have the people near you support your decision, or at least accept it.
Interspersing sleep with the waking world
Some schedules require extremely strict adherence in order to maintain them long term, but it is generally very difficult to avoid real-life interferences to schedules. Real life examples of inferences include:
- Someone walking in on you sleeping at work and waking you up by accident, because you forgot to lock the door
- Someone intentionally waking you up to check if you are okay, wondering why would you be sleeping at this odd time
- Getting a phone call from a nuisance caller in the middle of sleep
- The house cleaner deciding to make a huge amount of noise cleaning the house, at exactly the time you are trying to sleep
- A housemate deciding to hold a very noisy impromptu party at the house without checking with you
- A power cut in the middle of the night making staying awake difficult due to sheer boredom
- An internet outage in the middle of the night with the same result
- Alarm failing to go off
- Method used to turn alarm off being too simple and easy to do without fully waking
- Pavlok (an electric shock wristband used as an alarm) stops working due to phone doze mode, disconnected Bluetooth, dead battery, or a firmware error.
- Lack of motivation to get out of bed for whatever reason
- Pets waking you or taking your phone
- Baby waking up
There may also be some considerations for emergency circumstances occurring during a polyphasic sleep session. Given the increased sleep depth, entering slow wave sleep could prove devastating if there is some sort of emergency (e.g. a house fire, a burglary, etc) which you would ordinarily wake up to deal with. It is plausible that you will not hear the alarm go off and therefore will fail to wake up.
During pregnancy, especially the third trimester, you should not limit your time being asleep. Doing this has serious effects on the child’s neural development, cognitive development, and can result in various anxiety disorders. Severe sleep deprivation increases the mother’s risk of getting gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, depression and anxiety disorder1.
If you’ve recently had a baby (under 1 year), and don’t have a partner who is willing to take care of the baby during your sleeping blocks, then adaptation will be very difficult. Interruptions will prove to be detrimental to your adaptation. They cause the quality of your sleep to decrease drastically, replacing SWS and REM with light sleep, making adaptation a lot harder. Babies’ sleeping patterns can also change without warning, possibly causing scheduled cores and naps to constantly be skipped. If you really want to do a polyphasic schedule with a newborn, try to hold off until they are not waking several times during the night, and preferably do an extended schedule with a lot of scheduled sleeping time (E1-extended, Siesta-extended and so on).