Adventures in Biphasic Sleep

Today I've decided to try something new! Instead of writing a post I've filmed in in Vlog format! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Transcript:

Hello, yogi’s. I thought I would try something a little bit different today. Instead of writing a blog post, I'm going to blog about it or make this little video to talk to you directly, and see how that goes!

I hope you guys are all doing well. What I want to talk to you about today is my experiments and adventures with biphasic sleep. If you've read the blog any of my videos, you know that I'm very into sleep, and sleeping well.

When I was really ill, I had a lot of problems with getting to sleep, staying asleep, and it was all of these different sleeping pills, and none of them had any lasting effects. I had tried all these different things.

Nothing worked until I developed a more regular yoga and meditation practice. That really helped me so much. I'm still always looking for ways to improve my sleep, and to sleep better.

I decided to try biphasic sleep.

What is biphasic sleep?

you go to sleep just after sunset for about three or four hours. You wake up for about two hours. You go back to sleep again before sunrise again for another three or so hours.

I should mention that biphasic sleeping is part of a bigger idea of polyphasic sleeping. If you ever heard like about a siesta in warmer countries, that's part of polyphasic sleeping. Some people will do it in two, or three, or many.

The argument for biphasic sleep is that way back when before electricity, this is how most humans slept because it got dark, they would only have candle light which is not conducive to doing much, so they would go to sleep.

They want to sleep usually pretty early, because it was after dark or maybe even passed out from exhaustion which, as I'm sure you know, is very different than a full night sleep. They would then wake up in the early morning hours.

They would have that time to themselves, so it was often a very spiritual time. People might meditate. They might write. They might talk to their loved ones. They might make love. It's a very nice spiritual time for people.

Then they'd go back to sleep. Apparently, that's how a lot of people's sleep cycles worked for a long time until we developed this eight‑hour sleep cycle. A lot of people still have siesta today. We can see there they could sleep anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours on their siesta, and then again at night.

The idea is that we used to do this, and some people still do it naturally. It may be more in line with some people's circadian rhythms, so they might end up sleeping better and need less sleep if they follow a biphasic or polyphasic sleep pattern than if they follow what we usually do, which is the seven to nine hours a night sleep.

I decided I wanted to give it a try. When I was younger, I always loved being awake late at night and in the middle of the night. I loved the quiet. I loved that I could read, or write, or do whatever it was, and not be disturbed.

There was something very magical for me about that time. Even now, sometimes I still stay awake absurdly late. It feels like a guilty pleasure. I love that time of night . I decided that I was going to give it a try.

I prepared. I read a lot of articles about Biphasic Sleep. Everyone said the first few weeks is tough while you adapt, and you're going to be tired. Once you adapt, you're going to feel great. You're going to get more done. You're going to need to sleep less, etc. etc.

Definitely, the first few weeks were tough. I could see also how it was nice. I'd get up and maybe do a bit of yoga, do a bit of reading, or watch a movie. It felt like these stolen hours of the night, which was really nice.

What happened for me is that it didn't end up getting any easier. At first, I knew it was going to be a struggle to get out of bed. I thought I'll read or write from bed, or maybe hop to my desk and not fully get up, and then go back to sleep. That was OK.

When it came time to fully be awake during those hours and to do maybe a bit of work or to do something productive, it was harder to get up. It was also harder to get back to sleep. When I fully woke up ‑‑ which is what you're meant to do ‑‑ I found it hard to then fall back asleep.

Another thing that I struggled with was going to bed early enough. This is probably where I failed. It would be really interesting to hear if anyone else has tried this at all, and how they dealt with this.

The sun was setting more or less around 9:00 PM for most of the time I was doing it. I was struggling to go to bed before then. Oftentimes, if I was socializing or whatever, I wasn't back until around then. By the time I was ready for bed it was closer to midnight or, as I said earlier, I'm a night owl.

I might have all intentions of being in bed by 9:30, but then being in bed I would read, and I would write, or watch TV, or do any of those things, and again not get to sleep till closer to midnight.

When I was waking up around 3:30 or 4:00, going back to bed around 5:30 or 6:00, it was already starting to get light out. I think I sabotaged myself that I wasn't in line with the circadian rhythms.

Maybe if I'd committed to going to bed earlier, it might have had a different results if I was going to bed at 9:00 or 10:00 and waking up at 1:00 or 2:00, and going back to sleep around 3:00, and then waking up maybe around 7:00 after sunrise.

That probably would have been more natural. It didn't work for me, because while I was doing this I was back home. I wanted to be surrounded by family and friends, and do things. It didn't work for me at that time.

My experiment on biphasic sleep was a failed one. I'm now back on my eight‑ish hour sleep schedule, which is sometimes still to take a siesta in the afternoon. I found it very helpful sometimes, especially if I've not had the best sleep or the most hours of sleep the night before.

I have always been a fan of naps, actually a power nap or an afternoon nap. Without knowing it, I probably was a polyphasic sleeper already. The style of polyphasic sleeping to wake up in the middle of the night didn't work for me.

What I was also curious about is when I used to wake up in the middle of the night no matter what, or late nights when I still sometimes wake up, if I would be better off fully getting up rather than lying in bed and trying to go back to sleep or waiting to fall back to sleep, that I would be better off to get up for a couple hours and then go back to sleep.

That might be my next experiment. I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. If you've tried it or interested in trying it, especially if you have trouble staying asleep through the night, I would love to hear maybe if you've experimented with staying in bed versus getting up in that time that you're awake.

If you'd like to learn a bit more about sleep, how yoga and meditation helped me sleep, and some other things that I've done and tried that have helped me to sleep, or that I'm trying not help me to sleep, you can read some more on my blog.

Most of the information is in my six‑week online yoga course which is coming up October 17th. This runs a few times a year. If you're watching this after October 17th, head over to my website at arogayoga.com. The next phase this will be up there. We have a whole section on that course dedicated to sleep.

I've enjoyed making this first video blog. I'm excited to hear what you guys think about sleep and biphasic sleeping. Maybe put in the comments anything you've tried that was a bit strange to help you with sleep that either helped or didn't help what your results were.

Thank you for watching!

 

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Kayla, Just read about your sleep experiment. It would not have worked for me either, unless maybe the all of the people in my life and the activities I do were all on the same schedule. When I was initially diagnosed with fibromyalgia I was angry, depressed and anxious. I did some research and found out that there are people out there who have a background in psychotherapy that are specifically trained to deal with chronic pain using mental techniques and biofeedback and luckily my insurance covered treatment, and the therapist practiced at my health clinic. One thing she shared with me, and I have found to be true, at least for me, is to get up if you have not fallen asleep within thirty minutes or so. Leave that room and go to a different room, and just sit. Don't read, don't get on the computer, don't DO anything. It is not easy to do especially if you like to be busy but it does get easier over time. After 20 minutes go back to bed. Chances are you will fall asleep. If you can't, repeat the process. It It usually works the second time around if it does not work the first. The idea is to train your brain to associate the bed and bedroom with sleep. This also means practicing good sleep hygiene. In other words, you should do nothing in the bed bedroom but sleep and have sex. That means no t.v., no computer, no electronic devices and no electronic devices of any kind should be used in the bed or bedroom. Also no reading in bed, which was really hard for me. I love to read in bed. I takes time to adjust to such a routine, especially in our always on society, but it really has helped me. What I do is go downstairs, lean back in the recliner and watch the ceiling fan spin in the moonlight. That way, I am sort of doing something, but not really. Just a suggestion to try. Thanks, Michelle.
    • Thanks so much for your comment, Michelle! I have heard of the getting out of bed and leaving the room technique but I haven't tried it myself yet! I'm always hesitant because I also struggle not to read in bed, and it's usually my go to activity when I can't sleep! I sometimes try meditating as well when I can't sleep which is really helpful- I'll usually fall asleep after that, but I tend to do the meditation in bed which, as you point out, isn't the best sleep hygiene. I usually don't have too much trouble with sleep anymore, but I think my next experiment might be to really commit to this! I think it could be so helpful to getting an even better sleep! Thanks so much for the advice! xx
      • That insight's perfect for what I need. Thanks!
  2. Kayla, I have had "extreme hypersomnia" my whole life. At least that's what my sleep doctor is telling me. Now, anyway! At the appointment before my last one, he said I was narcoleptic. When I told him at the most recent appointment that I could have narcolepsy, like he'd said, because I'm having something like the hypnagogic hallucinations that are symptomatic of that disorder. Although, I would actually describe it as more like REM brain activity (basically dreaming) while still awake, with no control over the dreams. At that time, he told me no, that I was "just 'extremely hypersomniac'" & brushed off any more testing or trying anything other than the huge amount of ADD drugs I'm already taking. Needless to say, I'm in the process of getting a second opinion. Your vlog really intrigued me though. With all of this going on in my life, I just kept thinking, "my whole life, my mom, my husband, my schedules, everything... told me to sleep at night and get up in the morning. DO NOT NAP! KIDS NAP! NOT ADULTS! My body has always pushed me into a different sleep pattern! I think I'm going to start listening to it... I'm going to research this Polyphasic stuff and see if I can find my body's natural rhythm. I have fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain, & about 3 other invisible autoimmunities. If I can find my sleep... that would just be invaluable! Thank you so much, dear! ~bec
    • Hi Becky, Ugh I'm so sorry to hear about your troubles with sleep and not really getting anywhere with your doctor! I think that one of the most important things I learnt from this experiment is that you NEED to listen to your bodies natural rhythms. I've always been a night owl, so trying to go to bed just after sunset did not work for me. Though I may be open to trying another polyphasic schedule in the future because I do LOVE napping. I find taking a nap in the afternoon, even just for 30 minutes, can be so helpful! So yes, naps are definitely not just for kids! I found a lot of information on this website: https://www.polyphasicsociety.com/ - hope that is helpful! I'd love to hear how it all turns out for you! Good luck xx

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