Sunday, July 16, 2006

A few thoughts on sleep

So it's day 2, and I'm already wondering if I'm doing this thing right. The grand plan was to try to get myself waking up, well, getting up earlier -- I already wake up several times in the early morning, something which I actually find kind of annoying, but it'd be nice to feel well-rested and alert while getting up at an earlier time. It's entirely possible that I'm actually chasing a fantasy here and even people who successfully adapt to being morning people still feel like ass when they wake up in the morning.

So I got up yesterday at 7:45AM and basically did the same this morning, despite going to bed around 1AM last night. I did wake up at 6AM, but I figured, why push it? A quarter-of-eight seemed perfectly reasonable. Except that when I'm getting enough sleep, I'm usually up by 8 or 8:30, so am I just being stupid here? Leaving my body to its own devices (and letting it get enough rest), I'll probably be back on my usual schedule by next week. But now that I'm sleep depriving myself, who knows? Generally, when I listen to my body, it's done me right. This tack may be inadvisable and fraught with peril.

And if I'm really trying to change things, I probably should be shooting for a wake up time closer to 6AM. At the moment, I'm rationalizing that I'm nudging myself in that direction by under-sleeping and getting up at my "usual" time, and that will help me get to bed earlier so that I can work my way towards the new target time.

So far, I've felt like ass both mornings. I've also gone for a run shortly after getting up, to try and help sync my body clock to the earlier time. The runs haven't felt particularly good, but I do tend to feel a bit better afterwards -- it's probably just a good thing to get the blood flowing, but it's also a kick in the ass telling my body: "no, I'm really not kidding about this waking up thing; it's time to get moving." Tangentially related because I say so, I'm attributing my not having fun at the dance last night to being generally cranky from the lack of sleep. (And the SOOTTAD being in Chicago, but that's really a secondary issue, more of an inability to recover problem.)

So it's morning, I'm up, and I basically have to force myself to not just go right back to bed. I go for a run, do stuff around the garden. Mmm, bed. So I surf the site of the guy who wrote the original early-riser article, and end up reading about his experience with polyphasic sleep. And the things that resonates are the bits about dreaming during short naps and the feeling refreshed afterwards. I also buy into the idea that naps provide mental breaks that can allow the subconscious to go to work, problem solving and improving creativity. Naps good.

Maybe I'm really polyphasic? Or I should at least consider trying it? Probably not, given that I sure do seem to like those big blocks of sleep at night as well. So perhaps biphasic sleeping? It's mentioned in the wikipedia article I linked to above. The sense I got was that it meant sleeping fewer hours at night but effectively getting you nap on sometime during the day, but when I Googled it, it mostly came up with people who were trying to get an extra couple of hours of wakefulness by spliting their sleep time into two shorter periods. Not really the same thing, and I don't really think I have the discipline for the latter, or interest really, since the sacrifices that you have to make to your schedule (not to mention reports of feeling tired or outright failure) aren't worth it to me. What? You mean I can get an extra 2.5 hours of wakefulness (awakeness?) if I go to bed at 8:30PM and get up again at midnight... uh, why would I want to do that? However, it did come up with an interesting article on a slightly different pattern:

This new view of a natural night's sleep in two phases is based on an old view of human behavior - pre-Edison. Before the invention of electric lights, darkness was mankind's companion during long nights, and sleep was typically punctuated by an hour or two of what sleep experts call "quiet wakefulness."

Dunno. Maybe I was on the right track when I just let me body do what it wanted. It was something I picked up in a psychology class way back when in high school, where there was this idea that when you were falling asleep during a lecture or while reading a textbook it wasn't that it was boring, but that your body was tired and needed sleep. (Because maybe it *was* boring, but that wasn't why you were drowsy.) It's one of the reasons I try to avoid caffeine. (within reason, of course.)

Of course, I'm still not sure how to work in that afternoon nap in when I'm at the office. (Does anyone think this will ever fly?) Man, do I miss those days of working from home. (and not working, from home -- by which I mean unemployed, not "working" from home.)


Tristram Shandy said...

One should be cautious about modelling one’s behavior after a confessed “blue-eyed, colorblind, left-handed, well educated, vegan, lucid dreaming, purpose driven, happily jobless, reality manipulating, meditation practicing, risk taking, goal seeking, problem solving, early rising, passive income generating, highly motivated, energetic, disciplined, persistent, optimistic, fearless, and proactive… writer, speaker, blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, game developer, entrepreneur, husband, father, and archetypal Aries.” And as far as “high correlation between success and rising early”? Witness Einstein, Mozart, and Descartes (waking early killed him).

tallasiandude said...

You definitely have a point. And I *have* considered that this whole waking early thing may be completely overrated -- I mean, I'm still essentially up for the same number of hours (and if not, I'm going to be seriously sleep deprived). And who knows? Maybe I can time things in such a way that I can grab a nap after I've gotten home from the office.

But it *has* been a freaking oven up here in the Northeast for the past week or so, so sleeping in isn't all that easy. (I finally broke down and put in the window A/C unit the night before last) And then there's the whole matter of core hours at the office -- they want us to be there between 10am and 5pm at a minimum.

There's also this strange *perception* of getting more things done. But that may not last as I start to need to get to bed earlier. Time will tell.

So... what are you doing in Ft. Worth anyway?