The train has become my sworn enemy.
The morning air is crisp enough. I open the door of my apartment building and fill my lungs with cold oxygen. On any other day that cool, sharp sensation would be enough to put a spring in my step, or at the very least shock me into action, but today it just reinforces the hard fact that my brain has been dulled. I am exhausted and I feel drunk. Utterly punch drunk.
At this point, 7am on Tuesday morning, I am this close to giving up on polyphasic sleep
To make my sleep schedule work, I have to leave an hour earlier than I normally would. I miss peak train traffic, which means I don’t have to elbow suits and schoolkids for the privilege of placing one single arse cheek on a seat.
This morning there are seats-a-plenty. But my body is completely, completely gone. I have no energy; I barely have a sense of my own physical being. On the platform I wobble as I wait, as if my legs can’t bear the kilograms. My eyes dart in and out of focus, there’s a mild ache of nausea lurking in the pit of my stomach. My back throbs, I feel disconnected from my own body, I make sure to stand far, far away from the edge of the platform. I genuinely worry that I could fall onto the tracks.
By far, this is the absolute worst I’ve felt since embarking on this adventure. This is why everyone who has ever attempted to transition into the Uberman sleeping schedule says that day 3 is the biggest obstacle to pass through.
I wonder if transition is possible. Will I be able to move from light, flaccid napping to the efficient, no-nonsense REM sleep I need? That’s what it’ll take to make this experiment a success. For now I’ve had no problem sleeping, but it’s the quality and type of sleep that counts. M body needs to understand that it must head straight to REM sleep without passing Go.
And at this point I don’t remember dreaming; a surefire sign that I’m moving toward the transition I need.
I sit down on the train. I’ve literally never felt more exhausted in my life. If I were more aware I’d be reflecting on what a stupid set of decisions I’ve made to get to this point, but my sole focus is on survival and nothing else. I must try my best to stay awake.
I pull out my mobile phone, I try to play a little bit of Ziggurat, an intense, fast paced shooter — just the ticket in these circumstances — but my eyes simply can’t hold their focus on the screen. They twitch and blink. Within seconds I’m dead and I realise I can’t play this game.
The rest of the train journey is a drunken blur. I barely remember a second of it. Before I know it, I’ve trudged into the office, and crumpled onto my chair.
And then, I had a dream.
I had a dream.
I can’t remember too much about my dream, but I know that I had one. I think Dr Emmet Brown from Back To The Future featured, but I can’t recall the details. Only that I woke up after my 10am nap feeling a little more refreshed than I expected. For a while, at least, this whole endeavour felt like an achievable goal, instead of something I was lumbering aimlessly towards, four hours at a time.
At the time of writing, it’s 11.13pm. Day three is almost over. I had a dream, and now I’ve had several. I feel like I’ve taken a massive leap forward. I feel like I can do this.
Follow Mark’s adventures over the next month in the Sleeping Like Superman series on Lifehacker.
Picture by Jeremy Keith