Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Experiment, Phase 2

Yesterday was a big day for me: I successfully presented my curriculum paper to the accounting faculty and moved into candidacy! Now the "only" thing between me and a Ph.D is a dissertation. Only.

This is quite significant for my sleep habits. I've used polyphasic sleep almost as a necessity over the past month to get through that presentation. There was just a lot of work to do, and I wasn't getting it done and balancing family duties with 8 hours of sleep. As mentioned earlier, I feel I've successfully reduced my average hours sleeping to about 5. Now that the "pressure" has been released, will I keep this up?

I can't quite describe how fun it was for me to have an alarm go off at 3:00 AM this morning and feel rested enough to get up and read a few papers, check email, check the news, and make a blog post.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sleep Status

Dear World,

Yep, I'm still here. Been busy, but I haven't forgotten about you. Time marches on, deadlines grow ever closer, and thankfully spring has finally come to Chicago. My child turns one this week, my wife has two finals, I have intramural soccer and Frisbee tournament games, have to present my curriculum paper in 12 days, etc. So with all this going on, am I still on this crazy sleep schedule? You better believe it.

I have to admit that I have backed off from the initial intensity. I no longer try to go on only 3 hours of sleep (the Uberman). I just crashed too often and felt like I was punishing myself. I "let" myself get 3-4 hours of core sleep at night and then take 2-4 naps during the day. So my average sleep time is about 5 hours. Not bad.

Another disclaimer: I have slept longer than that! On occasion I've overslept, but it's crazy how oftentimes I'll wake up on my own around 4am (if say I went down around midnight and intended to only sleep for 30 minutes) and be ready to get up and work. That would never have happened before.

I also had to deal with an inflexible conference last weekend. Knowing there was no chance of getting a nap, I went ahead and slept 7-8 hours the night before. The conference was great, I felt alert and survived from 7am - 10 pm, at which point I completely crashed. I think my wife wanted to talk to me when I got home that night (I was gone all day), but I really don't remember much of that conversation.

So my "professional" judgment is that this is working for me. Why then don't more people do this? I was posed this question by a very educated behavioral economist. If this is so optimal, why don't we see more people doing it, particularly A-type personalities? I didn't have a good answer then, and I still don't have a good answer. One friend suggested alcohol and coffee consumption, which would make this schedule very difficult. Part of it is just living in a monophasic world, where co-workers, subordinates, companies, suppliers, staff all work during the day. But why more academics don't do this, I'm not sure. It seems fairly optimal from my current vantage point, and will hopefully get me a lot closer to graduating at a reasonable cost.

Please, world, let me know if I'm crazy, or what I'm missing from this analysis.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Listening to your body

I've had a pretty good day, but must admit I'm tired right now. I slightly overslept a few of my naps today by hitting the snooze button, something I hadn't done previously. And while visiting a friend tonight I found myself fighting urges to nod off during the conversation. Her place was pretty warm, so that definitely didn't help. I've got a slight sore throat, and in general I've felt better before. I've gone three days/nights straight, and have gotten a lot done. I think I'll listen to my body and go sleep for the rest of the night and hit the reset button.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday Update

Everything went according to plan today--four naps and I'm still up at 3:30 am working on school projects. I've had a decently high level of focus, which is really excellent (doing some rather technical academic reading). I had two intramural sports games this evening, and I'm guessing the physical activity is going to result in some stiffness and exhaustion tomorrow, but I'll do my best to stick to the schedule. I'll sleep now until 7 and try to do this again tomorrow/today (Thursday).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Loss then a Win

I ended up really missing my child Tuesday morning. I typically get him when he wakes in the morning, which works as a great alarm to make sure I'm up around 7. Consistent with my strategy I stayed up most of Monday night but went to bed around 3 to get a "few" core hours of sleep. With no child though, I ended up waking up at 9 instead of 7! Oops.

Last night I decided to correct this inherent weakness by setting two alarms and mentally preparing myself. It worked! I slept from 4-7 and managed to pull myself out of bed and get started on my day. Of course I wanted to sleep, but I told my body I'd take a nap in an hour and I ended up with a pretty good morning--much better than yesterday anyway. My goal today is to get 3-4 30 minute naps for a total sleep time of approx. 5 hours, and then to repeat this for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Commitment Week

My wife and baby are visiting family this week, which makes it an ideal lab to perfect my sleeping schedule. Tonight is a lot harder than most of the nights I remember from last week, which may be a direct cause of sleeping at night this last weekend. Hard to judge how quickly my body adapts to a new regimen and what switching that regimen can do to my work/focus/enjoyment. I am doing it though, which I think is good enough for me. I'm going to try to stay awake another hour before reliquenshing my body to the bed sheets.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Challenges

This last weekend was just too much and I failed to keep a polyphasic sleep schedule. We had family come visit from Utah and did lots of walking, talking, and eating. These long (and fun) days did not easily facilitate napping, and even with an occasional nap I was exhausted at night and only put forth a cursory effort to get any work done. That's two weekends in a row where I was unsuccessful at keeping this sleep schedule, but I'm determined to go at it again this week. Even if this turns into a strictly weekday system, that's still a net gain on productive hours and I'd be happy--not as happy with a complete polyphasic sleep schedule, but still happy.