Biphasic Sleep: I tried it for a week!

Here’s a breakdown of my progress during my exploration of biphasic sleep.

Thursday
Daytime: wakeful the entire day.
Bedtime: 8PM
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nope. Slept through the whole dang thing.
Takeaway lesson about my sleep: I seem to need more of it than I’m getting.

Friday
Rise Time: 4:30AM. Felt rested, felt great!
I loved being up before the sun, before the day began. I did chores, wrote, did schoolwork, had a huge workout, shower, and completed an entire beauty routine all in the morning.
Midday Rest: Slept 1.5 hours.
I woke up feeling as though I had slept a whole entire night all over again. I woke up feeling as though it surely must be sometime in the evening, and it blew my mind when I checked the phone and saw it was only noon!
I had a hugely productive afternoon doing grad work, author work, and entrepreneur work. I gassed up the car and felt rested and almost optimistic about things. Also, my appetite was really normal! I didn’t need an afternoon snack, or even a pick-me-up in the form of a soda or a cookie.
Bedtime: 11PM, after staying up to have a late dinner and watch some television.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nope, I slept through the whole dang thing tonight as well.
Takeaway: Quality rest produces a quality work/home/life/mood day.

Saturday
Rise Time: 7 AM. Felt groggy. Really needed some coffee.
This morning I felt a little directionless and very cranky. I wondered if it was due to insufficient planning for the day or if it was because I was yet again on my older schedule. I lamented a little bit–now that I had gotten a reminder of what it felt like to be rested, it was a little frustrating not to get to enjoy that today. I decided to go to the gym to let off some steam.
My appetite was off the charts. I ate sugary foods and pre-packaged ramen–anything that could be ready quickly.
Midday Rest: I tried to see if I could repeat yesterday’s success with a nap, but I was restless and couldn’t settle my mind down.
Bedtime: 8:30PM. Tossed and turned from being too sore and from starting (unwisely) to think about wedding planning instead of writing down ideas to think of later.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Wasn’t able to fall asleep yet, so I put on some old YouTube Videos of Mother Angelica to help me drift off to sleep with happy thoughts.
Takeaway: I need to train myself to have a sense of completion about my day, and to give my mind permission to let things go when it’s time to settle down and rest.

Sunday
I did not log my sleep today.

Monday
Rise Time: 7 AM. Hit “snooze” a few times. Got up and had to hurry. Today was a good day, as I got to visit with friends, and house-cleaning efforts left the house still in pretty good shape today.
Midday Rest: Had a short snooze in the very late afternoon. Woke up groggy, but otherwise in a good mood.
Appetite was huge today! I had three-bean salad with olive oil and tuna, and it really hit the spot. Also, I was pretty thirsty today.
Bedtime: 9PM-ish. Eugene and I like to look at funny articles together and comment about them until we get sleepy.
Nighttime Wakefulness: Nothing yet!
Takeaway: Maybe I have recovered after several days of good sleep, and I no longer really need bed by 8:30 PM. I feel my clock changing and natural waves of sleep beginning to emerge.

Tuesday
Rise Time: 5:30 AM. Naturally woke up at this time, but still wanted to rest a little more.
Midday Rest: I did take a nap for about an hour.
Appetite: Was good, not great. I think considering symptoms of Long-Distance, I was doing pretty darn well today.
Bedtime: Around 10. Felt a natural wave of sleepiness, which allowed me to drift off pretty quickly.
Nighttime Wakefulness: STILL nothin’! It’s like I am needing and using every moment of sleep that I’m getting.
Takeaway: When I am going through waves of coping, more rest, and more meaningful rest, seems to be beneficial in helping me get through it.

Wednesday
Rise time: 6 AM. Hit the snooze button a bunch.
Midday Rest: Didn’t want one. I was plenty satisfied following right along with the work day, going right into grad schoolwork and author work, even working through lunch.
Appetite is normal, maybe a little on the low side. I had a slice of bread and butter for breakfast, and several cups of green tea. My body seems more interested in the warm tea than in anything else.

Takeaway for the Week

I’m more convinced than ever about the benefits of adequate sleep. It’s also fascinating to note my body going from needing an extreme phase of recovery, to now starting to fit into a natural sleep rhythm from about 9:30 to around 5 or so in the morning. Anything outside of those hours seems to make it inevitable that I’ll either need a nap, or will likely hit “snooze” more often than I should.

Perhaps when I’m not feeling so mentally taxed, I won’t need such extreme amounts of sleep. It’s a theory. In the meantime, my plan is to continue to nourish good, healthy sleep habits.

Summary: Did it help me at all?

I initially wanted to know if following a biphasic sleep pattern would improve the quality of my life and my mental health. Here are what I’m measuring and how I’m doing, now that I’ve been practicing this sleep pattern for a week.

  • Sleeping through the night: IMPROVED. Not only am I sleeping through the night, I feel as though I have been getting extra sleep that I’ve sorely needed, probably due to the current mental load my brain is dealing with.
  • Enough energy for daily demands: IMPROVED. Not perfect, but at the very least, I’ve had time every day for health, hygiene, paperwork, author work, schoolwork, social time, and extra things like putting on makeup and keeping up with chores.
  • Extra energy for working out and/or tackling projects: IMPROVED. I have started having enough energy for longer, more intense workouts every day.
  • Relief from depression-like symptoms: MILD IMPROVEMENT. Im still experiencing some blah’s, but having enough sleep has helped me with finding words to communicate with loved ones, and for prayer as well.
  • Appetite (not over- or under-eating): IMPROVED. I’m the type who will either eat too much, or forget to eat at all. Having enough sleep has helped me naturally enjoy healthy food, plus feel satisfied with small, consistent meals.
  • Naturally-occurring pattern of two phases of sleep per day: NO IMPROVEMENT. Not only was I sleeping through the night each night, I often found a ton of rest in midday naps this past week. Whatever it is that I’m recovering through psychologically, I clearly have needed the recuperation.
  • Peaceful time of wakefulness during the night where I could spend time in prayer and meditation without distraction: NO IMPROVEMENT. I’ve been sleeping, seemingly round the clock! BUT, lll
  • Productivity; in other words, the amount of work I am able to accomplish every day: HUGE IMPROVEMENT. As much as I’ve been sleeping, I feel as though I’ve accomplished 10 times as much as I usually do, and without being over-stressed or strapped for emotional energy afterwards.
  • Memory; the amount of information I am able to retain: IMPROVED. I’m currently studying for exams, and actually starting to feel more confident about them. A little.
  • Synthesis; the quality of my ability to think about what I am learning in school, and to synthesize ideas and discussions from it: IMPROVED. This has been a huge week for developing more creative ideas in my studies, in business, in writing, and I’ve even been able to help encourage others who are developing their ideas as well.

Well I’m convinced.

So typing up my experience and the improvements I’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that this has been a beneficial exercise for me.

I can feel my body naturally craving sleep at different times–and hey, that’s a huge step too, right? It’s a big accomplishment to know what being sleepy actually feels like, much like someone who overeats has to learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Now I know when I’m sleepy. So I just go to sleep.

In the coming week, I hope to have more regular times for sleep. I have a feeling that the exercise aspect of my routine is directly related to the quality and quantity of my rest. Perhaps as my body gets accustomed to physical recovery, the mental aspect of rest will be something that will be more routine as well? Plus, I’d really like to get to a point where I am so “caught-up” with rest and recovery that I actually naturally do get to enjoy some quiet nighttime hours of repose, prayer, and thoughtfulness. I’m looking forward to that a lot.

Margaret Nelson is the founder and contributor to Maggie O’the Valley, and author of THE TEN MINUTE QUIT, available on Amazon

1 Comment

  • Anne Glenn says:

    Thanks for sharing! What interesting findings! I wonder if these sleep patterns started in infancy and the infants just were never sleep trained, so they just always woke up at night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *