Tips For Adapting1. DO NOT OVERSLEEP. Actually, this is and the next one are the ONLY things you can do that will help you adapt. Every other trick and tip is essentially a way to get you to follow this simple rule. Follow your schedule and that's it. Oh, and the rest of these are all ways to help you WAKE UP from your nap or not DOZE OFF. In general, and especially when adapting, you do not need to be worried about not falling asleep. While first adapting, you will be so sleep deprived that as soon as you let your body go to sleep it will be out like a light bulb.
2. Take Your naps. This should be obvious. When adapting, this should also be pretty easy. While adapting, if you follow step 1, this will not be a problem. Even after adapting, this is often easier than step 1. But, it does sometimes take some effort. Such as, when you are going to be going to a party (you know like a family Christmas party or birthday party or ...) think about when your nap times are and if you will be able to get one once you get there. Try to take one right before you arrive. YOu know things like that. This one can be a lot easier or a lot harder depending on how well you create your sleep schedule in the first place.
2. Avoid drugs. I'm not talking about illegal drugs (although you should avoid them also), but rather about drugs like caffeine, alcohol, etc. The only exception to the rule I just laid out: that you will be out like a lightbulb, is if you have a stimulant. There is little discussion on-line about nicotine (which acts as both a stimulant and a depressant), and I don't smoke. I would assume that the addiction in general might make it harder to adapt, but on the other hand, if you can time your naps to where you need a smoke when you wake up, that might help you get up after a nap. I say this for people already smoking, obviously. For the rest of us, caffeine is the big stimulant to avoid. In general, polyphasic adapters agree that consuming caffeine messes with your schedule, especially during adaptation. So, don't take caffeine or drink coffee to wake you up after a nap as it will probably still be in your system when you should be going back to sleep. Also, alcohol is a depressant and will make it more difficult to not oversleep.
3. Have an accountability partner. This means, have someone (a spouse, friend, sibling, parent, whoever) that will wake you up when you oversleep or doze off and scold you for doing so. In general, as humans if we know someone is watching us and wants us to succeed, we are more likely to stick to something.
4. Do the adaptation with a friend. This works in two ways. The first is that your friend is your accountability partner and you are theirs. The second is that if one of you oversleeps, then (assuming you are on the same schedule) the other can be there to wack him over the head and wake him up.
5. Have a long list of projects. This should be obvious, but if you are doing something, it will be less likely for you to fall asleep. Watching TV does not count as doing something (unless you are excersizing or in general doing something else at the same time).
6. Have enough time off work. This is up to you as to how much time is enough time. In general, I would recommend having at least 10 days off of work in a row. And, I would recommend (if possible depending on your job) to have the last day of work be your first day of polyphasic sleep. See my Blog post on my plan to convert to polyphasic sleep as an example. If you know that you are the type of person that will probably oversleep at least once or twice, then I'd say you probably want 3-4 weeks off. Yes, I realize that for a lot of people this is impossible. But, if you are still adapting and need to go back to work, then I guarantee you will simply revert to your monophasic style and wil have completely wasted the time you spent trying to adapt. I know I want to do polyphasic sleep to get more time, not waste it.
7. In general, eat when you wake up not before you go to sleep. This won't always work and hopefully won't make a difference once you are adapted. But, during the adaptation period it will be harder to wake up if your stomach is full, really.
8. Use more than one alarm. Some people don't sleep through alarms. Other people think they don't sleep through alarms, and still others know they sleep through alarms. If you are not the first type on that list, then you are going to have to come up with some sort of alarm scheme that will indeed wake you up. You may want to try staying up late while on monophasic sleep and setting off your alarms scheme to get you up early the next morning one time to verify that it will work. If you don't have a way to wake yourself up so you don't oversleep, you WILL NOT adapt to polyphasic sleep; don't even try. Some people put a music player near where they sleep to be able to
hit play when the alarm goes off to jar them even more awake. You may want to try finding an app which makes you complete some kind of semi-complicated task before turning off. I won't make any recommendations here, partly because I haven't found one which I love and partly because an app which works great for one person might be mediocre at best for someone else.
9. Don't sleep in your bed. This seems odd to most people, but think about it. Haven't you ever fallen asleep other places when you are really tired? Most people have at one time or another fallen asleep in the car, on the couch, in a chair, at a desk, or all of the above. How long did those naps last? All night? For almost everyone, almost all of those naps lasted less than 2 hours, for some of you the norm might be more like 20 minutes. This is useful for adapting to polyphasic sleep because your body will think/know that it is not supposed to be sleeping for a long time and will naturally wake itself up. To adapt, you will want every advantage you can get, especially the advantage of using your mind (that's the whole idea behind adaptation).
10. Don't sleep in the dark. This is pretty much in line with the last one. Most people sleep in the dark at night but not during the day. So, you will have an easier time waking up if it is light where you are sleeping, natural or artificial.
11. Have planned activities. This is similar to the "have a lot to do" tip but with a key difference, they are planned. This might include having a snack every time you wake up, or setting a pen and paper down in sight before you go to sleep, or excercising at the same time or times each day, possibly right when you wake up. The idea is that when you go to sleep, you know what you are going to do for the entire next waking period. So, when the alarm goes off, you know you need to get up and start working in order to get it all done.
12. Plan ahead. This goes hand in hand with the last one (I considered combining them). This means both planning ahead before you start but more importantly planning ahead while you are on the schedule. Planning ahead beforehand would include some of the other things on this list: having time off work, having a huge to-do list, etc. But, possibly more important is planning ahead on the schedule. This means before you go to sleep for a nap, you want to know what you are going to do the next period, including where you will be taking your next nap. If you don't plan on having a nap at a certain time, at a certain place, you're more likely to mess up your schedule. Obviously, if you're just hanging out at home then you have this planned: I'll sleep at home. But, if you need to go out and do something or go somewhere, then plan ahead and know that you will be able to get that next nap and where you are going to get it (friend's house, car, etc).
13. Don't read at night. In general, reading, especially non-fiction reading but reading in general, has an actual physiological reason for putting you to sleep. It has to do with the hormones in your brain. So, at the times when you are really having difficulty staying awake, DON'T READ. I don't care if you love to read, if half the stuff on your list of things to do is reading or what. Don't do it! Once you have or are beginning to be adapted, you will likely have no problem reading during the day time at al and may be able to do so at night also. Some people are really never able to read at night. If the reason you wanted more time was so that you could read at night, then this might be a bad idea. If, on the other hand, that reading is more like studying, in that you are reading, writing, working on problems, etc., it will likely wear you out but not put you to sleep at night, especially after you've adapted.
14. Use cold water. I got this from PureDoxyK's similar list. Here's the idea: Put a cup of ice water in a place where it would pour on you if spilled but won't be spilled while you are asleep. Tie a string around the cup and around your wrist that turns off the alarm. The movement to turn off the alarm will automatically give you another incentive to get up. ;)
15. Eat more. As with many of these, this should be obvious. You are awake more than before. You burn more calories when awake than when asleep. Therefore, you will need to intake more calories. For some people, just having bigger meals might work, but for most people, planning on a fourth meal, or for Uberman possibly 6 meals, will work a whole lot better. This has the added bonus of being somewhat more healthy for you (which might help your body want to adapt, subconsciously of course) and be part of number 11 above "have planned activities".
16. Buy a Zeo Clock Go to the page to get all the info on the clock, but the main idea is that it is a clock which includes a headband that detects what stage of sleep you are in. This is useful for a ton of reasons, all of which are detailed at the Zeo Page on sleeppolyphasic.com.
17. Buy a sleep mask This one might seem odd at first. Pretty much all the rest of them are things to keep you awake. This one is to help you get to sleep. Once adapted (or if you accidentally oversleep), it becomes more difficult to sleep during the day. Having a sleep mask to make it dark helps a lot of people. I thought I would never be able to sleep with one of them on. But, I found that after about 2 naps with it on, it became no big deal at all and pretty normal.
18. Plan your sleeping location. This should be highly obvious, but I decided to add it anyway. In other words, know exactly when and where you are going to take all of your naps before the day begins. Are you going out to your car? Will you have enough time to get to the car from where you will be, get back, if it is winter/summer will you have time to heat/cool your car before you go to sleep? Anyway, plan out every detail ahead of time to be sure that you will have enough time to be able to get somewhere and sleep.
19. Discuss with any roommates This is not a physiological tip but a psychological one. If you live with other people, think about what you will be doing when they go to sleep and what they will be doing when you go to sleep. If you cannot come to an agreement for how to act when the other person is sleeping, you will never be able to keep a good sleep equilibrium.