March 22, 2006

Napping at work

Posted in: Sleep

There was a thread on the uberman list (a yahoo group for folks interesting in polyphasic sleeping, i.e. six 20min naps every four hours, and nothing else) about napping at work and that reminded me of my last job: it sucks sleeping sitting up in a bathroom/toilet.

So when I was being interviewed by Google I made sure it was going to be OK crashing every few hours for 20mins. Not a problem.

Paul On Gmail Beanbag

The beanbags are fantastic!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 05:32 | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

Polysleeping update

Posted in: Sleep

I've been going on & off the polyphasic sleep schedule as needs must since Christmas. I have maintained the naps during the day only skipping the evening ones due to a hectic social life. I've fallen asleep in London pubs but it really isn't that cool and kinda freaks people out... So evenings now I'll stay awake and hit the mattress for a few hours at night.

Anyway, so yesterday I tried a full day awake - 8:30am to 1:30am last night, rising at about 8am this morning. This is less sleep than I used to have but not dramatically. I have no problem with sleeping too little for a single night; it's only when it's compounded it starts to get to me. What was interesting was that when I woke I felt qualitatively different from my previous mixed schedule - I came 'round with an aching tiredness that I'd more or less gone to sleep with. I had all those "just woken" symptoms like stuffier nose, red eyes, feeling groggy, all despite having made a point of hydrating before bed. So with my single datapoint to form a hypothesis I'd wonder whether it's actually the staying awake for a long period that is the factor or a factor that contributes, rather than or as much as volume or type of sleep.

I do realise this is only one datapoint but quite frankly I have no real intention of repeating this as an experiment... Back to naps for me!

Impressions, a month in

I'm finding the hybrid model entirely workable. The naps during the day, even when taken in less than lavish environs (cold marble sink in a toilet) are really refreshing and enable a useful night awake as & when needed. I'd like to spend more time awake and fewer nights asleep. It's about a 1:1 ratio at the moment I think but even at this point it's definitely a success: I'm getting more done, feeling fresher during the day, and have eliminated all traces of insomnia.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 11:46 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

"Full" night's sleep

Posted in: Sleep

Continuing my reduced sleep experiment, yesterday (15th) I had a complete day (day 6) of no oversleeps and mostly well scheduled naps. Apart from some dragging around dawn it was all fine. So I wondered what would happen if I slept the night. Would I feel like crap or bouncy in the morning? What time would I wake up? Would I want to get out of bed?

First off, my newly acquired skill of falling asleep within minutes still applied. I can barely remember getting into bed. If I get nothing else out of this experiment having developed the ability to fall asleep right away is an enormous win.

I also woke up before dawn (7:30am ish) and felt rested and ready to get up. It was comfy and I didn't have anything to do so I dozed and enjoyed the warmth.

And the feet...

At work now and feeling fine. There's one difference that's significant though. My feet are not hurting as much as yesterday. For anyone who's joined recently, I smashed my heels in May, underwent surgery and am in a year-long recovery phase. I can walk, but there's a background level of pain I have to manage. The last few days I've found it increasingly hard to walk comfortably. There's no doubt I've been in various stages of mild sleep deprivation; this is expected during an adjustment phase. And I know from experience that lack of sleep affects my capacity to absorb the background pain from my feet.

Now there are many factors that could influence here - what's the medium term effect of polysleeping? Once I've stabilized will I still get that (admittedly small) extra pain? Will it materially impact the healing process in any way? Was the night's 6hr sleep contributory or coincident to how I'm feeling today?

So, that in mind, and that this is a single datapoint I wouldn't read too much into it. But, datapoint it is nonetheless.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 12:29 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Puzzling diet; sleep success

Posted in: Sleep

Since going fruit- and veg-only a few days ago I seem to eating hardly anything. I usually pack away more food on any given table than anyone else, hoovering up whatever's left of the rest of the group's. On long haul flights I'll ask for seconds pretty much without fail.

And yet, I'm not eating breakfast, only having a large salad for lunch, and boiled veg in the evening. Last night I had a salad and bean pitta thing at Nando's.

What's especially strange is that with the polysleeping I'd expect to be eating more, and this is the documented response too.

Very strange... get in shape and double your free time! That's gotta be worth a $39.95 ebook...

I added up my nap periods for yesterday and had oversleep on a couple of them by an hour. Even with that I was only out for 4h20 of 24h which is about half what I would normally do. You should see my room, it's awesomely tidy. My email's under control, and I've put in several hours of low priority fun reading. Fantastic!

My last couple of evenings I've felt wired; not a caffeine or other dirty-stim jitteriness but a clean directable energy. After the first three days which were rather tough, only parts of the night now are a bit dozy. Nothing unmanageable, and certainly easily fixed with some physical activity.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 11:34 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

Lucid audio dream

Posted in: Sleep

One of the 'freebies' with polysleeping reportedly seems to be an increased tendency to lucid dream, the experience of being apparently conscious but actually dreaming. So you're in control of a completely created reality.

I've never had the full monty version. I have however in my past had audio lucid dreams (I think that's what they are), hearing a piece of music literally as though it were playing in the room, in complete orchestral THX Dolby 7.1 surround sound glory. It usually happens as I'm drifting off to sleep and I've never found out how to control it; conscious awareness of it seems to make it crash, an "Oh, COOL! Oh."-moment. It's a bit like the Hitchhiker's technique for flying, throwing yourself at the ground and missing by being crucially distracted at the very last moment.

Well, I had an audio lucid dream this morning on my 9am nap watch. It was sudden and powerful, albeit brief and crashed nearly instantly. Good sign though.

I'd love to learn more about this.. (anyone?) guess I have the time now ;-)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 14:24 | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Polyphasic sleep bandwagon

Posted in: Alternative, Sleep, What am I up to

There's been some buzz recently around modifying one's sleeping pattern away from a single chunk at night to multiple "polyphasic" naps throughout the day. The ultimate form of polyphasic sleeping seems to be called the Uberman Schedule and consists of six twenty-minute sleep periods spaced evenly four hours apart. Thus instead of sleeping in my case around 8hr/night there's the alluring promise of getting away with only 2hr/day, in other words nearly 40% extra time awake, or even more persuasively, double1 your free time. (If you're the type of person that's bored a lot, perhaps that's half as persuasive.) No amount of expensive time management courses is going to double your free time.

So clearly I have to try it.

I've read over the years a few accounts of this sort of sleep pattern including various inventor-types (Edison, Da Vinci, ...) who have supposedly lived like this. As far as I can tell though that's pure copy/paste rumour. My interest was piqued again a month or so back in The Game where Neil Strauss and his housemate tried it. But both failed.

A shift into polysleep, a term I have just coined to save me some typing, requires a transition phases of a few days feeling anywhere from tired to utterly shattered. Anyone's who's undergone sleep or food deprivation (students and dieters) knows how hard it is to fight off nature's pull.

In fact I have never heard of anyone polysleeping beyond a month. Even with "lite" versions that have a few hours of "core" sleep (uninterrupted hours, typically 4am to 7am), and/or with occasional "reboots" (indefinite uninterrupted sleeps taken every fortnight of so), the documented successes are of the order of a handful.

Until now. Nik forwarded me a link to Steve Pavlina's description of a shift to a polyphasic lifestyle. A couple of weeks ago he wrote in his final update,

I consider the experiment a huge success, and I intend to continue with polyphasic sleep indefinitely unless I discover a compelling reason not to.

Now that's interesting. And Steve was on the full Uberman 6x20min schedule.

So naturally also being a curiosity junkie Aries I have to try it... I started out Friday daytime and it's been four days and nights so far. My ability to fall asleep any time and anywhere is developing nicely. Places I've fallen asleep in the last few days include a toilet, a café, a bath, a bedroom floor, and a busy Hoxton bar with a dozen mates around. I haven't yet developed the knack of dropping right into REM sleep, except when I'm in meetings...

Sticking to the twenty minute schedules I've managed with mixed success. The first couple of nights I had three and four hour sleeps in the morning. My discipline about getting out of bed for the first 30years of my life has felt to me particularly poor and polysleeping has shone a glaring spotlight on that. If you even shut your eyes again for a moment after waking you'll find yourself transported in a split second hours forward. The upside of this is that the only way to succeed is to develop that discipline - adapt or die. If I sleep for 1.5hrs, i.e. an hour oversleep, I've gained nothing; compounded over the day that'd be the equivalent of 6 * 1.5 = 9hrs, i.e. more than I would've slept otherwise. Or if I manage 5 * 20mins correctly and then lose it sleeping 4hours that's not much of a gain either.

The unforgiving schedules at least occur at a frequency where the adaption and learning is fast. I'm literally practicing sleeping on cue six times a day. As someone who's spent most of his childhood and early adult years thrashing around for hours at night before Morpheus finally arrived this is incredibly gratifying. You'd be surprised the sense of achievement being able to drop off with your head on a cold sink at four in the afternoon. :-)

Socially it is challenging. Even with a bit of leeway around when the naps happen inevitably one of them is going to land in the middle of an evening activity. Dinner, movie, or any kind of one-on-one is ... well, imagine it. It's bizarre. I suspect this is going to be one of the hardest aspects to work around. Made harder by, at least at the moment, my quality of sleep in random places isn't that great yet so tiredness is added to the sensation of oddness. Fortunately I have no shame explaining any odd nonsense I'm trying out and almost everyone's joined in the curiosity (and taken sneaky pictures; hi Emir!)

What's good so far? Actually a lot. First my sense of time is dilating. I started this on Friday and it feels like nearly a week has passed, and I've got nearly a week's worth of stuff done. Started a new project I'd been putting off for lack of time, read several dozen pages of dense online tech manuals, and written an essay. This is all the while hosting and entertaining three people who visited, going to theatre, a couple of social outings including an excellent big one organised by Dean, oh, and doing a couple of full-time jobs.

There've been some subtler effects too. I have in the past thought, imagine if I didn't sleep. What would that be like metaphysically. One day runs into the next without a break, day follows night follows day follows... inductively compelled and drawn into looking into the future. I've found the idea scary and daunting, unpunctuated, segmented, or contained with rest. I think it's daunting because much of life is like a treadmill, and one of the few remaining excuses to step off is sleep at night. Scary because one's led into confrontation with the possibility of endless existence without purpose, before one's subconcious has a chance to shut down that line of thought with some plausibly deniable distraction.

Right coming up to the tricky 5am slot. Wish me luck ;-)

1 The calculation of double I've come up with by assuming a work day of eight hours is smeared with an hour either side of dead time activity like getting into work, switching on the pc/starting up the chainsaw, shuffling papers/picking stones out of its blade, etc. So with 16 waking hours, 10 is "lost" to work, leaving six. With another 8-2=6 hours wrested from sleep's sophorific clutches, that's double. In fact it's probably better than double given that in the original six there's some non-repeating dead time tasks like brushing your teeth, tidying the house, etc.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 04:48 | Comments (3) | TrackBack