Archive for the ‘Sleeping’ Category

Waking Someone Up


Categories: Comic, Sleeping

Good Guys Win

Wait, that doesn’t seem right…

Good guys win only in movies.

That’s more like it. Whether you think this is true or not, or whether you believe in karma or an afterlife reward, is irrelevant here. I like to believe that there is an incentive to be nice around other people, to do stuff the way they should be done, and to act in a logical manner while keeping the future in mind. But I unfortunately talk by experience.

This is not what happens in real life (at least, most of the time). Women are interested in the cool guys who look like they can give some excitement from the day-to-day routine.

Picture this: a random guy enters a bar. He wears a leather jacket and is holding a shiny black helmet under his arm. His stubble gives him a rough and wild appearance. First impression, he likes to race with his sports motorcycle, and lives on the edge of danger. He’s exciting.

Now picture me, on the other side of the bar, sitting down and sipping a beer. I’m clean-shaven, wearing a white shirt, and my tie is loosened around my neck. Whether I’m attractive or not is irrelevant – I’m labeled as someone who works at a desk job. I’m boring. Strangers won’t come talk to me.

I may be smarter and make more money, statistically speaking, than the cool guy, but that is irrelevant too. Women will go out with the guy who can bring excitement. Almost invariably.

Now sooner or later, this woman may come to her senses, realize that the guy is really a jerk, a dumbass, or a douchebag, and leave him. If this is a movie, she will see me as a smarter move, and I get the girl. If this is a movie. In real life, of course, I will be somewhere else, maybe years later, and she will do the same mistakes again. Over and over. Because cool guys are cool. They win.

Another unrelated example. I save my money for when I will retire. Even though I have a modest salary, I try putting a lot of money aside. I don’t eat out often, I very rarely buy the latest gadgets, and my car is boring and inexpensive (relatively speaking). Let’s forget for a moment that women will prefer the guy with an Audi compared to me and my trustworthy Corolla. The cool guys have debts, but they have material possessions. I am debt-free, and I’m planning for a great retirement. There are rumors that the governments are planning to seriously increase the inflation in the coming years in order to help people (and themselves) to pay their debts. That means that cool guys will have an easier time paying their debts. That also means that the money I struggle to set aside for my retirement will be worth a lot less. Good guy loses, cool guy wins.

So what does it mean to be cool (aside from not being boring)? Cool guys don’t take care of their health as much – they go to fast food restaurants with other cool people. Vegans who take care of their health are boring. Cool people don’t think about the future – they live in the now. They take trips to interesting countries and buy expensive stuff in their oversized home. A cool couple will have two cars – having money, and parading to the neighborhood, is cool. Cool people drink alcohol and coffee. Up until recently, smoking was considered to be cool (it is still considered cool by kids, though), but public pressure got the best of the government, for once. Why do you think there are so many actors, singers, and rich people who use drugs? Yes, living right in danger’s face is cool. People look at you and think “wow, I want to look like him!”. Cool people don’t brush their teeth and floss three times a day, because thinking proactively is not cool. Live in the now! Break the rules! Getting a speeding ticket means living, and you’ll get girls! Being cool also requires a certain lack of dedication and will in some areas. For example, it’s considered cool to deliberately make mistakes when you write a text message to someone, but someone else who applies himself to write correctly will be seen as putting too much effort for nothing. Someone taking care of his health will not be cool, and won’t be called to a party.

Today, I lost something else. By sleeping polyphasically, I had something different – I was different. There are so many things that can go wrong with this experiment, that for once in my life, I was a cool guy. I tried for a week in early February, and stopped because I got scared. Then I went back to polyphasism for a complete week, and found out that my body was too weakened. I caught the flu during my one-week “normal schedule”, and caught a cold after exactly one week on the polyphasic sleep schedule. This is not normal for me, and is the first actual consequence that I notice. True, I live in Quebec, it’s February, everyone is sick right now, and my flu and cold may or may not be related to the sleeping schedule. There’s too much at stake now – it’s not only a matter of what studies you decide to believe, but an actual notice of how my body is responding. Maybe.

By doing this, I got a lot of experience and insight about myself, and the human body in general. But such experience is not considered cool – skateboarding experience, on the other hand…

The plan right now is to stop polyphasism. The consequence is that I go back to being a boring guy. Other consequences are that my interests and pass-times will have to compete for my very-limited free time. Having a course in the evening means that I won’t do anything that day. Another possibility would be to cancel my gym membership and do some basic exercises at home, which would free up 0.5-1 hour every work day. I wouldn’t like to do that, but getting up at 04:45 means I have to go to sleep at around 09:30. I don’t have time to do anything.

Whatever I do, I have the feeling that I am doomed. FML.


What does it mean to be cool? Not thinking about the future, and living now.

I don’t want to do that.

Categories: Dating, Sleeping, Thinking

Polyphasic Sleep – Back in Action

2012/02/21 1 comment

My state of reason did not stay for long. Not even two weeks…

It is true that after sleeping polyphasically for a complete week, going back to a normal sleep schedule seemed boring. Since then, there has been many times when I wished to do something new, only to realize that it would need to compete with all my other projects for the little free time I have.

I can usually remember my dreams, now. And I fall asleep faster. Is this because my internal sleep algorithm is changed, caused by only a week of polyphasism? Did my January trip to the U.K. shuffle the way my body handles my circadian rhythms? Do my going vegan in late January have anything to do with it? How can I know? I can’t afford another trip for the next 80 years, and I won’t go back anytime soon to a carnivore diet. What I can do is give polyphasism another try.

Who am I kidding… I’m doing it for the free time it gives me. It really was intoxicating – it seems the more time you can grab, the more you need.

Actually being polyphasic was indescribable. There were many times when my nap was coming, and I was feeling excited to know that right after it, in just 30 minutes, I would come back and eat a small breakfast. It was intellectually stimulating to try to place my meals to strategic positions across a 24-hour cycle. It became a game for me to try finding the most optimal nap hours, considering stores, courses, and gym hours. But what I love most about this is the feeling of being peaceful. I’m currently sitting in front of the computer, quietly, while most everyone else are sleeping. Wait, scratch that… What I love most is that after work, it seems like you have a free day ahead of you, and that a simple week-end seems like a week of vacation.

I know my body, and I remember what happened two weeks ago, and how it felt like. And I am not stupid. I will stop again if I find that it is too much of a struggle to get up. I will stop if I notice any negative change, mentally or physically. Also, I will try eating less than on my first try – I was always hungry!

There are no studies about people having all the REM sleep they need, but lacking 100% of the other sleep cycles. All I see are studies about general sleep deprivation.

In an evolutionary aspect, why would the human body have light and deep sleep, if it doesn’t need them? I honestly don’t know – maybe as animals, we tended to sleep during the dark hours – a lot more than needed. Maybe the humans and their REM cycles are optimal when spaced a bit apart, so non-REM sleep cycles could be some sort of fillers? Another of my hypothesis could be that non-REM sleep are helping the body fight its toxins. Think of all the food you can eat that would disrupt your REM cycles – caffeine and alcohol, to name only two. If you don’t take any, your REM cycles are nice and comforting! More logically, since almost forever, we eat heavy food. If the body needs extra time out of REM sleep to digest all the meat, that could also explain non-REM sleep…

It’s anybody’s guess, but if we speak about evolution, we might as well speak about the scientific curiosity of doing something that is not well studied.

On another note, sleep deprivation, only by sleeping 5 hours instead of 7, has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. It has also been shown that these people lacking sleep tend to make poorer food choices. Without knowing the last phrase, it was already looking like diseases of affulence to me – diseases that are only common in the west (mostly North America and Europe) because people don’t care about their health. So what really causes these diseases in people sleeping only 5 hours? The sleep deprivation, or the fast-food?

My 01:00 nap nears. I’ll do my best, stick as much as possible to a strict nap schedule, and see where it goes from here. If you see me acting erratically, pray tell me.

Categories: Sleeping

Polyphasic Sleep – Addiction

2012/02/17 2 comments

Even one week of polyphasic sleeping was too much.

It’s been nearly a week since I stopped this, but I still remember the taste of the forbidden fruit. I remember it keenly, and can’t stop thinking about it – I’m intoxicated by what it felt like during the nights. For someone like me, it’s an addiction that is haunting me, however brief the contact.

On a side note, I have to admit that my sleep has been changed during the last week. In particular, I can remember most of my dreams when I wake up, while I used to never remember them.

This week, I continued reading articles and study reports on the internet. I have come to realize that the object of study is sleep deprivation, and not light- and deep-sleep deprivation. They say that deep-sleep is essential to the human body, but it has never been studied in isolation, by itself – I can’t find any that doesn’t turn out to be generic sleep-deprivation. What if the body only needs REM sleep?

I also learned (today, actually), that the amount of deep sleep decreases with age. I don’t know if older people don’t sleep as well as younger people, or if their lives are more at risk, but they seem fine to me. That gives me a small idea that maybe, just maybe, deep sleep is overrated.

What about sleep debt? What if it really is an REM-sleep debt? Would it make sense? Sleeping a shorter night can cut a whole sleep cycle from your night, and along with it, its REM section. Since an average sleep cycle lasts 1.5 hours (mine is closer to one hour), and an average night lasts 7 to 9 hours, that gives you an average of 5 or 6 cycles during the night. And what do you know? The uberman polyphasic sleep schedule gives you 6 naps every day, and every nap gives you a whole REM section (which itself lasts 15 to 20 minutes).

If what the body really needs is REM sleep (and only REM sleep), you get as much of it as a normal person in a whole night. And if this turns out to be the case, my strongest point against polyphasism (Con – Lack of Deep Sleep, and Sleep Debt (7/10), in my last post), is rendered invalid. This section was the tipping point in my list, and helped me make my decision to stop this schedule.

So what should I do? This is a rhetorical question to myself, but if you have any insight that would help me…

Categories: Sleeping

Polyphasic Sleep – Introspection

2012/02/10 4 comments

Yesterday evening, I wrote a post that was pretty much pep talk in order to convince myself to continue on the uberman polyphasic sleep schedule. I have tried to be honest with what I felt.

Yesterday evening, I had a conversation with my sister on facebook, and went to bed for my 22:00 nap. My plans for the night were to increase my work on this blog, continue a program for my web site, and go for a nightly run at around 00:30-01:00. I woke up at 05:00.

This isn’t me. I think I can count on my ten fingers how many times in the past I have really overslept like that. Even though I woke up great as usual, I was disappointed. The experiment had started so perfectly, and had gone downhill – should I say free-fallen? – near the end of my first week. I was not mad, just very disappointed that I had been so careless in the first place to let that happen.

I now need to rethink my motives, rethink what this sleep schedule means to me. Why am I doing this?

This is one of these occasions when you need to build a list of pros and cons, even though you have already made your mind. Because that’s what these lists are for – you already know, perhaps subconsciously, what your decision will be. Making such a list is only a medium to objectively see your thoughts on paper.

Here it goes, the pros and cons of the uberman polyphasic sleep schedule, as I see (and experienced) it. Also included are how important the point is to me, on a scale from one to ten.

Pro – Increase in Free Time (10/10)
This point is off the chart. As I said in the past, I can’t even begin to express myself on how five more hours of free time a day felt to me. On monday morning, after my first week end, I felt like it was a whole week that had gone by. I felt like I had been on vacation. With five hours a day, the amount of things you can actually do is incredible, and this was exactly what was missing for someone like me – time for my projects. Now that I have lived it, I feel like I can’t allow myself to go back. Without polyphasism, I will have to put my projects in a list, ordered by importance, and most will never be born.

For example, practicing on the piano has no real benefit in the long-term for me, compared to, say, reading a theoretical physics book. My reasons are that I probably never will play in front of others – my piano sessions will be for my ears only, and even though just playing the piano is fun and relaxing, learning things by reading increases my awareness of what is around me, and makes me a more knowledgeable person.

You can add the fact that I was starting to be interested in evening courses. I was starting to look for swing sessions, woodworking classes, and Toastmasters meetings. Having time during the night to do my personal projects left my evenings free to do different things.

Actually, ranting about my projects is worthy of a post by itself, so let me carry on with the list.

Pro – Increase in Attention (3/10)
Being different itself has pros and cons. For someone like me who is virtually invisible, having a conversation about polyphasism, even when more critical than constructive, is welcome.

Also, it makes me look like a geek, or at least like someone who is able to tweak his own life.

Con – Being Sleepy (4/10)
I’ll be honest – my initial phase is not even over, but I have substantial reasons to believe that the worse I would have is that drowsy feeling behind the eyes.

There is also the matter of actually succeeding in getting up with the alarm. Whether what happened last night was an isolated incident or not, I don’t know. What I know is that it very rarely happens to me because I’m a very light sleeper, and if I have to start struggling, using two different alarms, and a backup, and finding ways to make sure I get up, well I won’t be enjoying the experience as much.

The fact that I overslept like this last night leads me to believe that my body was actively fighting something, not just passively fighting it.

Con – Lack of Deep Sleep, and Sleep Debt (7/10)
If the studies I read are true, I should give this point 10/10, since it’s about my health. If it’s true that Steve Pavlina did the uberman for 5.5 months without any side effect, should we understand that he is a special case, or is deep sleep overrated? Because that’s what it boils down to – polyphasism gives the body REM sleep, but removes the other sleep phases. Do we believe blindly in such studies that say that deep sleep is as important to the body and mind as REM sleep?

What about sleep debt? They say that if you get less than eight hours of sleep per night, the missing hours will have to be slept sooner or later. People like me, who slept 6.5 to 7 hours for years, have a sleep debt of thousands of hours, which will never be repaid. Honestly, a sleep debt is easily believable in the short-term, but when you look at the long-term consequences, am I to believe that I am doomed to a higher risk of heart problems and other such western disease that is normally (and rightly) attributed solely to nutrition?

I felt fine with 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep everyday, and will not try going out of my way (read: hibernating) in order to pay the concept of a debt that may or may not turn out to be true.

I believe more in the implications concerning a lack of deep sleep. It sounds more right. Using a product like the Zeo Sleep Manager, I’ll have a better view of what’s happening to me when I sleep.

Con – Temporary Project Status (2/10)
I knew from the start that this was not something I would keep doing for a long time. Sure, if everything went incredibly well, I would consider sleeping like that for a long time, but I was not expecting it. It was merely an intellectual curiosity, but the knowledge that all this wonderful free time would disappear sometime soon was disconcerting.

Since I know I’ll stop in a few weeks, why not stop right now? What’s the difference, except having 30 more hours of time every week, when you calculate in the long term?

Con – Napping Outside (4/10)
I wasn’t forced to take a nap outside my home yet, except at work. I could sleep in the server room, and had to put a jacket on because of the cold. I was slowly getting used to sleep there.

Sooner or later, though, I would have to take a nap somewhere else. For example, at my sister’s place, in my car, or on a park bench. This can be irritating when you know you can’t get back home before you really need your nap. Also, not being able to sleep anywhere can be tricky – if you have to take the car, it’s a bad thing to drive while feeling sleepy. Just trust me on that one.

Anyway, there’s a lot of planning necessary when you stray away from the day-to-day routine, and this would become burdensome quickly.

Con? – Strict Diet (1/10)
I don’t know if it’s a con or a pro, but being on an extreme sleep schedule like that, you need to really watch what you eat. It’s like when you practice for a marathon. Any excess or indulgence can lead to lower results, or in this case, tougher nights.

I generally have a very good diet, but there were a lot of times when I would have liked a cup of coffee, a glass of Bailey’s, a bottle of beer, or a few cookies. I am convinced that being vegan has greatly helped me with polyphasism. If anything, this whole experience helped me level-up concerning my ability to refuse unhealthy food.

Being on a polyphasism is a great incentive to eat as healthy as you can, because if you don’t it’s not just your weight that will rise – you will lack sleep and disturb several of the following naps, which will cause you to oversleep.

Con – Marathon and Gym Training (2/10)
I am subscribed to a local gym near where I live. During the week, it’s open from 06:00 to 22:00. This left me in a tight spot, because I love going to the gym in the morning. Opening at 06:00, this would push my last nap to around 08:00, which would push my work schedule. This was possible, of course, but I started going to the gym during the evenings, which was also difficult to fit in with a dinner and two evening naps. The best would be to find a 24/7 gym.

Actually seeing this list makes me realize that my decision is not that surprising. but there is an additional point that is worth mentioning.

Con of Cancelling my Sleep Schedule and Looking like a Quitter (8/10)
I have to make something clear: I am not a quitter. Some times, because of work, I may have to cancel things and look like a quitter, but that’s merely responsibility towards my boss. Being a quitter is more like starting a project with someone and leaving in the middle, or becoming vegan and switching back after only two weeks just because you tired of it. If I was a quitter, I wouldn’t have gone through four years of army training.

But sometimes, a personal project is compromised by new information. That’s when I have to think hard about why I’m doing it, what my goals are, and what I expect from this. Are the gains better than what I’m willing to pay for?

Right now, I’m looking at the list above, and see the the gains are mostly egocentrical. If you add the potential of health problems, even if there is no conclusive research that the body absolutely needs deep sleep in order to function perfectly, it might be a show-stopper for me.

By now, my decision is pretty much clear. I will stop this, for my future health, just in case. I will go back to a less complicated life, with less time on my hands. I go back to the stability and comfort of a day-to-day routine.

But I fear some people will see this forfeit, and think I’m just a quitter. Seriously, who likes a quitter? Who trusts a quitter? If I can’t even go through this for myself, how can I go through something hard (like a marriage) for someone else?

It’s not just a matter of going through – it’s more like finding the strength to keep on. I had that strength, until everything went tumbling down, and I was about to go back up, proud, stronger, before I paused and really looked at what I was doing.

It is with heartfelt regret that I must put a stop to this. This has been an awesome experience that I wish I would have continued, but I know when I am beaten. My primary goal is, and should be, my health, both right now and when I’ll be 80 years old. What I regret most is that I’ll be part of the majority who failed this extreme schedule within two weeks. I started good, went downhill, and decided to stay there. It never was that I “couldn’t handle it”, but nonetheless, the outcome is that I failed.

One other thing. As I talked to people about this, I noticed I had a certain reluctance to express this decision. I was almost ashamed to admit defeat. I had the exact same feeling when I had to tell people that I was switching to being vegan. Why should I be ashamed of my own decisions? It’s not as if they were not based on solid studies.

It’s like religion. People usually don’t like to change, and when someone talks to them about another way, they feel threatened.

Will I really be interested in sleeping biphasically?

I could take a nap at noon, and sleep six hours at night. Let’s be realistic, it’s not for me. Even if I try really hard, I never was able to sleep during the day after I had a good night’s sleep. I would have to slightly sleep-deprive myself, and right there, I would miss the point.

I could also tweak my sleep schedule and aim for REM and deep sleep. I could have a 1.5 hours sleep at the beginning of the night, and later have a longer 4.5 hours sleep. But, all that trouble to have an extra hour of free time? What about a nap at noon, and a night of 1.5h and 3.5h. That gives almost 5 hours of sleep. Is it really worth it, or is it just a toned-down version of what I’ve been doing for the pas week, that will become too much trouble for too little gain?

For now, I’ll switch back to being monophasic, and aim for better sleep quality.

Categories: Sleeping