Biphasic Sleep Experiment


I was searching the web the other day for something about sleep, and ran across “New Ways to Sleep to Stop Your Anxiety” from Alex Taylor about the connection between sleep quality and anxiety. In looking through his site, I found that he has had a similar experience as I personally have had, with non-stop feelings of anxiety, which gets worse with poor sleep. What struck me, though, was his presentation of sleep research sleep that turns conventional wisdom on its head for certain types of people.

I did some more digging and found “Is ‘8 Uninterrupted Hours a Night’ Flawed Conventional Wisdom?”, a page on biphasic sleep on Mark’s Daily Apple, a site that I respect, and basically was able to corroborate what Alex is saying, though Mark’s approach to implementing biphasic sleep is different than what I’ve come up with.

The bottom line is humans probably never had an idea of a “solid” night’s sleep being 8 uninterrupted hours. This is a concept most likely born out of the Industrial Revolution, and is a relatively recent change as far as mankind’s tenure on this planet.

So, a switch went off in my head, and I decided that I was going to try a biphasic sleep experiment of my own.

I will post each day’s highlights on this website under the Sleep category.

The funny thing is, I didn’t plan to do this experiment right now. I saw the idea, related to it, thought to myself “I want to try that soon”, and thought I had left it at that.

Then, two days ago, I woke up right about 4:30 am (way earlier than my usual waking time of around 7 AM), wide awake, and ready to go. I did a quick calculation in my head, and realized that I had gone through 3 cycles of sleep.

“Well, here goes” I thought to myself, and got up for the day.

Parameters for the Experiment

  • Get my largest block of sleep at night.
  • Goal: At least five, 90 minute blocks of sleep during the 24 hour period. Six or seven would be great too.
  • Get at least a 6 hour block of sleep at night. A 7.5 hour sleep would be fine too. (I want this to be at least 6 hours, as that would be four 90 minute blocks, or four cycles through the light-deep-REM sleep pattern.)
  • Take a 90 minute nap at around 2:30 PM every day.
  • If the nap doesn’t last 90 minutes, continue to lay in bed anyway, in hopes to train my body for true biphasic sleep. (A nap less that 90 minutes will not take you through the full cycle of sleep)
  • Biphasic (2 sleeps) is the goal, but not a requirement. If I sleep three times in a 24 hour period, that is fine too.
  • Goal: At least five, 90 minute blocks of sleep. Six or seven would be great too.
  • Get at least a 6 hour block of sleep at night. A 7.5 hour sleep would be fine too.
  • Take a 90 minute nap at around 2:30 PM every day. (When possible)
  • If the nap doesn’t last 90 minutes, continue to lay in bed anyway. (My thought here is that I’m training myself to sleep during that block.)

Note: There is at least one day each week that a midday nap at 2:30 PM won’t be possible. This is real life, I guess.

Day 1

The first day of my biphasic sleep experiment basically caught me off guard.

How was this possible?

I guess you could say that it happened in part by the power of suggestion. I read an article on biphasic sleep and its connection with helping people with anxiety issues several days ago and thought to myself “I have to give this a serious try”.

I guess my subconscious was really listening to this, because that night the experiment began, whether I was ready for it or not.

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 1)

  • Slept from midnight to 4:30 AM (roughly). Woke up alert, and ready to go, but tense.
  • It immediately occurred to me that I went through exactly 3 full 90 minute sleep cycles, when I calculated the time.
  • I think this was because I didn’t go through enough sleep cycles.
  • Very much looking forward to the afternoon sleep!

The First Part of the Day (Day 1)

  • Worked from 4:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Plenty of focus, but felt “rough”. I got a lot done, and didn’t find myself getting distracted much at all. (As I understand it, this is typically when doing technical work when sleep deprived.)

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 1)

  • Took my nap at 1:00 PM. Slept for about 1 hour, remained in bed for the additional 30 minutes resting.
  • Even resting feels good, so I decide to always make sure I’m horizontal for 90 minutes during this experiment, no matter what.

The Evening (Day 1)

  • Here is where I did start to feel a bit like myself, although with a drugged, jet-lag sort of feeling lingering.
  • Feelings of excitement, thinking of how this might be the answer to part of my sleep issues!

General Impressions (Day 1)

  • Overall, felt good, alert, wired, and rough, all at the same time.
  • In my mind, this is congruent with making a significant change in routine all at once.

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 2)

  • Last night I slept for 2 cycles (three hours), woke up, got a drink of water, went back to bed, and slept for a third whole cycle and part of a fourth.
  • I know that I slept for part of a fourth because the alarm went off (Spring Break is over, rats!) and interrupted my cycle, and I felt terrible. But these are the realities of life sometimes.
  • Did not want to get out of bed, resisted it immensely, but I did notice that when I did get out of bed, I felt more ready for the day than I thought I would.

The First Part of the Day (Day 2)

  • I had a harder time working today, but was basically ok.
  • Focus was pretty good, anxiety level manageable.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 2)

  • My 2:30 PM nap lasted around 25 minutes of actual unconsciousness, and I laid in bed for the remainder of my time. Got up at 4 PM.
  • I didn’t set the alarm (as I don’t actually have an alarm in the bedroom). The problem that I notice with this is that, after waking early, I was watching the clock, waiting for 4:00 PM. While I still rested, my mind was not fully allowed to “turn off”. Tomorrow I’ll bring the phone in and use that alarm.

The Evening (Day 2)

  • As I write this I can say that I feel groggy, more peaceful, a bit disoriented, giddy, and totally committed to this experiment.

General Impressions (Day 2)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 4/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 5/10
  • Ease of focus: 6/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 9/10
  • Overall feeling: 6/10

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 3)

  • My son got to sleep around 9 PM, which left me some time to reflect before going to sleep.
  • Decided to sketch and do some art journaling. Around 11:15 PM felt like hitting the hay. Art journaling seemed to calm my “essential vibration” noticeably.

    Art Journaling
    Art Journaling
  • Probably got in bed around 11:30.
  • I believe I slept for 2 cycles, from what I felt like. I didn’t check the time. Got up for some water and went back to bed.
  • Slept for another cycle. Looked at the time: 5:00 AM. “Great!” I thought – enough time left for one more cycle!
  • Last cycle didn’t happen – I stayed in a wakeful dream state, but was very pleasant. I used what I know of Buteyko breathing to keep myself calm and relaxed. Had really cool dreams.
  • Alarm went off (too early!) at 6:30 AM. Stayed in bed (too groggy) until about 7:15 AM.

The First Part of the Day (Day 3)

  • Feeling generally better mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I guess you could say “all around”.
  • I gently stay on task, and I’m noticing that this hurried feeling is less than what I’ve been feeling prior to starting this way of sleeping.
  • Felt a sense of direction, peace, and focus.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 3)

  • Went to bed at 2:30 pm (been looking forward to it all day!)
  • Came to realize that white noise (which I use at night), as well as a mask was important for me. Also realized that sleeping in a different side of the bed was important too.
  • Decided to set an alarm for 4:00 PM on my phone (which I made sure to put in “Do not disturb mode”), since last time I had about a 20 minute sleep (nap), and afterward was watching the clock to see when the time was up. This allowed me to put that part out of my mind, and was important.
  • Took about 30 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Woke at the alarm at 4:02 PM. Groggy, and stayed in bed until 4:18 PM. (Note to self: Set alarm for 4:30 PM next time)
  • I couldn’t believe it – this is the first time that I would have slept the 90 minutes if the alarm wasn’t set incorrectly.

The Evening (Day 3)

  • A bit groggy, calm, and in a creative mood. I’m ready for some right brain activity!

General Impressions (Day 3)

  • I notice that understanding the 90 minute sleep cycle, coupled with knowing that I will take an afternoon sleep, calms me down considerably if I wake during the night.
  • Waking Peacefulness: 6/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Ease of focus: 6/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 9/10
  • Overall feeling: 6/10

 The Nighttime Sleep (Day 4)

  • Felt good last night. Did some creative things prior to going to bed, and made some advancements on putting together my home recording studio.
  • Had a song idea, recorded on the voice memo of my phone, and did a little bit of drawing.
  • Had a snack and took a shower around 11:30 PM.
  • Went to bed before midnight.
  • Tossed and turned. Shouldn’t have had the snack I think, as sometimes that causes digestive upset. (It’s a bad habit I’ve been intending to break for some time now…)
  • Probably fell asleep around 3:00 AM.
  • Got out of bed at 7:50 AM, from the way I feel, I’m guessing I got 2 good cycles and a interrupted 3rd cycle.
  • Feel pretty yucky. Definitely looking forward to the afternoon today. 

The First Part of the Day (Day 4)

  • I was pretty focused all day, though frazzled and wired.
  • Not as good as yesterday, but to be expected, given 3-4 hours of sleep during the night. 

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 4)

  • Went in right at 2:30 PM. Set an timer on the phone for an hour and 50 minutes. Learned from yesterday to give a little more than 90 minutes for the sleep, in case it takes a bit to fall asleep.
  • Out of bed at 4:15 PM. Probably unconscious for about 1 hour.
  • Woke up with creative ideas.
  • I feel groggy, dizzy, but optimistic.
  • Made sure to use the eye mask to block out more light. I think this is an important aspect for anyone wanting to try this. 

The Evening (Day 4)

  • Wrung out! Just not feeling well at all.
  • Stronger feelings of anxiety and unwell.
  • I’ve never been one to sleep much during the day, as my mind always seems to want to be active with something. I’m pretty sure that when I completely acclimate to this new way of sleeping my afternoon sleep will be 90 minutes most if not all of the time. That means the nighttime sleep needs to be good. I’m making a pact with myself to avoid eating much, if anything at all before bed tonight.
  • Still, I’m convinced my biphasic sleep experiment is working well, and worth sticking to.

General Impressions (Day 4)

  • I’m struck with the release of tension when it comes to having bad sleep. I’m used to thinking: “Oh no – this is a bad night, and I’m going to have a bad day tomorrow”. I experienced this thought last night: “Oh well, bad night. I’ll look forward to the afternoon sleep. Who knows, maybe I’ll sleep 3 hours then!”
  • Waking Peacefulness: 5/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 5/10
  • Ease of focus: 5/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 6/10
  • Overall feeling: 4/10 

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 5)

  • I was good last night – I focused on drawing, and not on snacking. Therefore, I went to bed feeling much more relaxed, yet starting to obsess a bit about sleep.
  • Went to bed before midnight. Probably went to sleep around 1-1:30 AM.
  • Woke at 6:00 AM. Bathroom, then back to bed.
  • Light semiconscious doze until 7:30 AM.
  • 3 good cycles, plus one doze. Would prefer to have 4 good cycles, but this will do.

The First Part of the Day (Day 5)

  • A bit shaky today, although I keep saying to myself: “You’re better than you’re giving yourself credit for”. Interesting thought.
  • I must admit: today was the first day I wondered if this was the right thing or not.
  • As the morning unfolded, I began feeling better and better. I remember Alex Taylor mentioning that you have to give this at least 7 days to get used to, and that it’s like jet-lag.
  • I ended up being very creative and inspired, overall.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 5)

  • So far I consistently think that I’m not going to fall asleep in the afternoon. It takes about 30 minutes, but to this point I’ve always fallen asleep.
  • Buyteko Breathing (again, what I understand of it) helps me to settle my mind and body and relax again this afternoon.
  • I awake feeling like I just want to stay in bed a little longer – in a good way. I feel calmer this evening than I would have without the afternoon sleep. (I’m starting to crave it.)

The Evening (Day 5)

  • Went to an event tonight by myself (very rare) and did okay. First time in months. Amazing.
  • Enjoyed the evening after coming home. Went to sleep easily.

General Impressions (Day 5)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 6/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 6/10
  • Ease of focus: 6/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 7/10
  • Overall feeling: 6/10

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 6)

  • Getting ready for bed felt good. Good attitude to sleep, and ready for it.
  • Laid down around 11:45 PM, woke up just after 6 AM. Assume 4 solid cycles.

The First Part of the Day (Day 6)

  • Feeling blissfully groggy during the morning time. Played games with my son.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 6)

  • Had an event to attend at 3 PM across town, so decided to lay down at 11:30 AM.
  • Not as deep sleep as I’m used to, presume it to be because I’m not used to sleeping again so soon after waking, but still very pleasant.

The Evening (Day 6)

  • The event was a large gathering for the memorial of a dear man in our family (almost 600 people). Did well considering.
  • I know the afternoon sleep helped make this easier than it would have been otherwise.

General Impressions (Day 6)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 5/10 (it was a hard day, though)
  • Ease of focus: 7/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 8/10
  • Overall feeling: 6/10 

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 7)

  • Very interesting. Found myself very sleepy at around 9 PM. Decided to lay down around 9:30 PM.
  • Peaceful, sleepy feeling (Eagles, anyone?). Had to get up to let the cat in. I figure I fell asleep around 10:30 PM.
  • Woke up at 6 AM (Woo hoo! 7.5 hours in one sleep!)

The First Part of the Day (Day 7)

  • Calmer than usual. Took care of some paperwork and other Sunday morning things.
  • Congregation meeting was in the afternoon, so I decided just to lay down for 1.5 hours, at 10:30 AM. Yes, very soon in comparison with my weekday schedule, but figured it to be best since I was going to be in public.

The Afternoon (well, Morning) Sleep (Day 7)

  • This was almost like second breakfast I guess. I didn’t sleep, but was very calming to my nerves.
  • The hour and 1/2 went by pretty quickly, so I must’ve snoozed some

The Second Part of the Day (Day 7)

  • Went in public for the second time in 3 days by myself – a milestone for me.
  • Went grocery shopping afterward.

Now for the Afternoon Sleep (Day 7)

  • Get this – I fell asleep on the couch around 5:30 PM for maybe 45 minutes.
  • Yes, not a full cycle, but another bit of nature’s calming and peaceful remedy for frazzled nerves. I haven’t been able to do this for years.
  • Seems that the biphasic sleep experiment is changing my mindset toward sleep at a deep level.

General Impressions (Day 7)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Ease of focus: 7/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 8/10
  • Overall feeling: 7/10

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 8)

  • Was feeling creative again last night, stayed up, feeling good until about 11:30 PM
  • Went to be soon after.
  • Woke at 6:45 AM (4 cycles).
  • I’m starting to realize that 4 cycles at night does not seem like enough.
  • I should mention that I go to bed when I’m sleepy, and this night I was not sleepy until late.

The First Part of the Day (Day 8)

  • I’m not really greeting the day with enthusiasm and vigor, though I must remind myself this schedule is still new, and that I’m feeling noticeably better with biphasic sleep than I did with trying to get all of my sleep in at night.
  • As the morning moves forward, I start to wake up and get moving.
  • The constant anxiety feeling is noticeably less with this approach, but (as mentioned above), 4 cycles at night doesn’t seem to be enough. Thinking 5 is, because when I woke yesterday morning I felt a difference.
  • Worked well, kept really focused on my tasks, and got quite a bit done.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 8)

  • 2:30 – 4:00 PM. Probably slept for 30 minutes, but I stay in bed the entire 90, just because it feels so good to rest.
  • I’m realizing that I’m not really getting a “sleep” in the afternoon, but a “nap”, and the two are very different.
  • Still, this approach is better than anything else I’ve tried in the last several years. I’m positive I’ll work through any hurdles eventually.

The Evening (Day 8)

  • I notice that I’m more available to my loved ones; I’m less distracted by my own thoughts.
  • Played outside with my son, and had fun.
  • Ate a good meal, had a good appetite. (One thing I’ve been noticing is appetite improvement, though I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before. I have an issue with underweight, so this is good news).

General Impressions (Day 8)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 6/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Ease of focus: 7/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 8/10
  • Overall feeling: 7/10

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 9)

  • Went to bed earlier. I just felt sleepy, so I decided to capitalize on it.
  • Looks like I got 5 cycles. Much better for me…
  • I would like it to be 4, just from the standpoint that would give me more time during the day, but in the end, I’m looking for what my body needs, and not trying to “hack” sleep, like some are doing with biphasic.
  • Sleep around 10:30 PM, wake at 6 AM

The First Part of the Day (Day 9)

  • Initially drowsy! But still, better than wired and tired.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 9)

  • 1:50 PM – 3:30 PM (couldn’t wait for 2:30, which is my normal time to sleep)
  • Got close to 1 hour of actual sleep.
  • Frazzled nerves upon awaking.

The Evening (Day 9)

  • Had an appointment at 5 PM – had to get help to get there this time.

General Impressions (Day 9)

  • Waking Peacefulness: 7/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: 6/10
  • Ease of focus: 7/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: 8/10
  • Overall feeling: 5/10 (something wasn’t right this day – not sure what it was. Perhaps food allergy?)

The Nighttime Sleep (Day 10)

  • Super sleepy last night! Laid down at just after 9 PM.
  • Probably went to sleep around 11 PM.
  • Slept through until 6 AM – woke by a little boy in my back!

The First Part of the Day (Day 10)

  • Feeling better than yesterday
  • Nerves are still a problem today.

The Afternoon Sleep (Day 10)

The Evening (Day 10)

General Impressions (Day 10)

  • Waking Peacefulness: ?/10
  • Daily Peacefulness: ?/10
  • Ease of focus: ?/10
  • Attitude toward sleep: ?/10
  • Overall feeling: ?/10



Leave a Reply

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