If the difference between yesterday and today is any indication, then I think I\’m over the hump. There were only two times today when I felt like I couldn\’t stay awake. One was during a two hour meeting at church where I couldn\’t move around, speak, or interact â€“ hardly the ideal conditions for someone who\’s going through voluntary self-imposed sleep deprivation! I blanked out twice for about twenty minutes each time but nevertheless was awake for more two-thirds of the meeting. The second time was just me making a terrible choice of activity. When I woke up from my 1:00am nap, I got up and immediately started watching videos on my computer. I got nice and comfy, laid on my side, and listened to some guy from Microsoft drone on about the new Robotics Studio. It is stuff I\’m fascinated by, and I\’ve been waiting for a chance to watch this movie for weeks, but it was hardly stimulating enough to keep me awake. I quickly fell asleep and switched to something more active once I jerked awake in my seat.
Here are some initial guidelines of best ways to spend the adjustment time (especially late nights). Good choices that I\’ve made were chopping pineapple for smoothies, typing this log, clipping coupons, eating, balancing my checkbook, programming computers, and data manipulation. Bad things were reading books and anything where I\’m horizontal.
Two things that have been good and bad depending on the circumstances were surfing the web and watching TV. When I had a goal on the internet, I found it stimulating and spent up to two hours at a time without being tempted to sleep. For instance, I have had my eyes on MIT\’s Open CourseWare page, where it has syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and all of the other class material for all classes taught at MIT. For motivated and self-directed individuals, this is a great opportunity to guide your learning based on one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Before, I had just poked around at it, but earlier tonight, I spent about an hour looking up the degree requirements for Computer Science and compiling a list of links to the courses I was interested in looking at. I did this immediately after sleeping through the Microsoft video and was not at all sleepy during that hour. On the other hand, yesterday I was less directed and went to YouTube looking for funny stuff, and that had my eyelids drooping in less than twenty minutes, just because it was so much less interactive. So I would recommend using the internet as long as you have a stimulating goal.
The other questionable activity is watching TV. If you have something entertaining to watch (I\’ve been using Season 4 of â€œ24â€ and am currently watching â€œReturn of the Kingâ€), it can be a nice, unproductive but relaxing way of passing the time. Caveats: 1) if it\’s not entertaining or if you\’re too familiar with it, don\’t use it â€“ the key is stimulation. 2) DO NOT LAY DOWN or get too comfortable. TV isn\’t interactive so you need to stack the deck in your favor. Instead of just watching TV, I would recommend using it as background noise and images while you\’re doing something interesting, or to do something mindless like fold laundry or clip coupons to keep your body moving while you watch. I don\’t know if this will be different once I\’m through the adjustment period â€“ I hope I won\’t have to be so vigilant about remaining active all the time.
Steve mentions several times, and I\’m beginning to experience it, that there are some psychological changes that come with such a drastic reallocation of time. I\’m getting used to it, but the first two days, I felt like I was missing out on a full night\’s sleep. It was nothing like the sick exhaustion that comes from staying up all night to cram for a test or finish a project; it was more like cognitive dissonance that I didn\’t sleep, but wasn\’t tired. Imagine that you could be completely full from eating six grapes a day. Your physical need for food would be met, but wouldn\’t you miss eating nice big varied meals? It\’s just a change of habit but it felt strange.
There is one other change that I didn\’t expect but in retrospect makes sense. While my nights are so much more full and productive than during normal sleep, my days feel broken up by taking naps so often. Since I usually don\’t take a nap and one day of the weekend I might take one, to take three naps during the day seems decadent and has taken getting used to. What I\’m really curious to see is how polyphasic sleep works on a workday. Well, I guess I get to find out in a couple hours!
One note on timing of naps â€“ I have not been strict about the timing of my naps this weekend. I have been awake anywhere from two and a half to six hours between naps, which meant that I took naps at different times on different days. There is one a big part of the day that must be consistent from now on though. I must schedule naps at 8:00am and 5:30pm, because those are times that I will be on the train. That also means that I need to take a nap at lunchtime and at 4am to get me on schedule for my train nap. But during the evenings, early nights, and weekends, I can move naps around with a lot more freedom.
Final note â€“ in his Day 3, Steve Pavlina mentions how he feels like he\’s dreaming before he even falls asleep, and it feels like being in two places at once. I felt like this the very first day and continue to experience it during most of my naps. I wonder if this is a common experience that everyone has, and if the fact that I felt it earlier means that I\’m adjusting faster than Steve did. It\’s hard to draw any real conclusions from a sample size of 2.
PS: Tomorrow\’s forecast looks good. Steve says that on Day 4, he definitely felt like he was over the hump!