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Day Two

Posted by ApochPiQ, 02 February 2006 · 152 views

So Day Two is coming and going. I slept in until about 1PM today, which frankly I don't really care about, because I know I'll work late to compensate for it tonight - and in my new work environment, nobody else minds, either.

It's a bit hard to stay disciplined and actually work, when nobody is holding the Axe of Firing above your head all day, but so far so good. I haven't yet succumbed to the temptation to play games at random times, but it's starting to occur to me that why the heck not? so maybe tomorrow I'll do some of that. For the first time in ages I've felt motivated to clean and organize my flat, which is utterly amazing, especially since I've felt that way for three days straight now. I think this schedule freedom thing is going to be very, very good for me.

I've gotten my build environment fully up to date and can now build working debug packages of X3 on demand, which means I'm in prime position to start code work. My big job of the day was to go through my backlog of personal emails and bug reports and put together a tasklist. I'm waiting on word from my lead on what my priorities will be for the near future. I'm hoping to get to work on improving our interal task coordination and bug tracking processes; I'd like to build a whole new system (the ones we have work fine, but are suboptimal).

Anyways, I'm waiting on word back on what I should be focusing on. In the meantime, I'm collecting some thoughts and concepts on all the various stuff that I might get assigned to, just so I'm prepared to dive right in as soon as I get my priority chart back. This month is something of a probationary period for me (my final payscale and job title will be determined by my performance this month) so I'm really itching for a chance to prove myself properly. Nobody has any doubt that I can get the job done; really we're just experimenting to find out what I'll be able to do with no other demands on my time (i.e. without an Evil Day Job). I honestly have no idea how I'll end up, so this is kind of an exploratory procedure for everyone concerned.


Getting back to the subject of sleep, I've decided I'm definitely going to say the hell with rigid sleep cycles. I'd done some looking at biphasic and even polyphasic sleep schedules, but it seems to me that the medical realities behind such schedules really aren't well understood enough yet. For instance, there seems to be some debate as to whether or not polyphasic cycles are actually healthy/possible. I've got total freedom to try anything I want, but frankly polyphase cycles seem to be even more unforgiving than a traditional monophase sleep-when-it's-dark schedule. Even worse, there seems to be doubt as to whether or not polyphase schedules allow you to recover from physical stress (i.e. hard exercise) properly. Since I'm wanting to give my Parkour interests a strong shove with this new schedule freedom I have, it would be pretty stupid to adopt a sleep cycle that doesn't let my body recover properly.

However, by direct contrast, it seems like everyone has good things to say about free-running sleep phases. I'm a firm believer that any medical "science" that tries to make strict generalizations about the good of every single human being is most likely full of crap; everyone is different. As a corollary, everyone is going to react to differing sleep patterns and cycles differently. The idea of free-running sleep is that you never actually force yourself to wake up or go to sleep; you sleep when tired, and wake when rested. Seems pretty darn good to me.

In fact, the only objection I've seen to adopting free-running sleep patterns (so far) is that it's virtually impossible to reconcile the habit with societal patterns. That's perfectly fine with me, frankly; I have no obligation to be in some building between some arbitrary hours of the day; I have no particular aversion to being asleep or awake at times people find "weird"; and in the modern world of 24-hour supermarkets, I don't have to worry about dying of hunger. Seems like this is definitely the way to go.


As a matter of fact, I've basically decided to go for it. I slept in a lot this morning, so I'll probably be up until 3 or 4 AM working/goofing off anyways. Seems like a fine time to start adopting a free-running cycle. I'm already very well adapted to living on weird sleep cycles (as evidenced by my previous journal blatherings, and the fact that I lived through the Crunch Mode period) so I'm thinking that I'll probably be fine. Every now and then I'll probably have to stretch my sleep schedule to fit someone else's convenience (meetings come to mind) but that's not a problem at all. Worst case I can just go back to sleep afterwards [grin]

Really the only genuine problem I can see is that it may be hard to resist the temptation to oversleep a lot. I'll have to develop some strict discipline in getting out of bed as soon as I wake up feeling refreshed, because I currently have a bad habit of just snoozing for another 3-4 hours and eventually getting up feeling like crap. I don't see that as a particularly insurmountable obstacle, though; just a little challenge.

My hope is that, over time, a free-running cycle will tend to keep me awake as much as needed. The idea is that I'll only be sleeping when I genuinely need rest, so I should always be near-optimum in my sleepness/awakeness ratio. I really can't see any physical health risks, either, since the whole idea is to be attentive to my body's needs. There might be some psychological stresses involved, but my mind's so screwed up, there's no way that'll cause any permanent issues [wink]


So, as usual, I came here with about three sentences worth of stuff to say, and ended up spouting for far too long. Maybe, with all this extra time, I'll figure out the magical art of concise communication.

Or maybe I'll just keep reading Dune.




I was on a free-running cycle for nearly 4 years and in retrospect really tore me up. I fell easily into a 36 hour cycle and over than time sunk into 12 hours of it being sleep. It worked great for maybe 2 years but by the 3rd it really started to take its tolls. It can easily lead to mental time loss, sub-optimal task management, and various non-obvious depression like states. For my own health and curiosity I have been working my way back to a typical day/night cycle but I am so shot that my body barely can respond to natural circadian signals and I even need to take melatonin at times to trigger a propper sleep phase. I do know every one is different and will react differently. In the short term it was very great in my mind and I was able to do exactly what I wanted but looking back I realy screwed myself up. Just be careful is all I am saying. And good luck with all you other endeavors.
Thanks, I appreciate the concern [smile]

I've had brushes with sleep problems of many different flavors, so I'm all too familiar with the warning signs of not resting properly. (Been through insomnia, DSPS, a whole range of stuff bordering on chronic fatigue, some medical issues [asthma and allergies are some big ones], self-imposed sleep deprivation, chronic oversleep due to lack of discipline, pretty much every combination of bizarre jetlag shifts... you name it.) Time will tell how I acclimate to this whole concept, I guess, but I'd like to think I'll see any serious danger signs long before I cause irreversible damage.

In any case, I'm still young, stupid, and adapt easily to very drastic schedule changes, so if I have to pull a full abort of this free-run thing, I think I'll be OK [grin]
Interesting read.

Being a lazy student with no particularly firm schedule I seem to have adopted this "free-running" cycle.

For the first couple of years of Uni it was rare for me to be in bed before 3am or up before midday.

Then came a year at IBM where I had to be up and in the office for a reasonable time (note: no fixed time) and I managed to pull my schedule to getting up around 7.30am and going to be around 11.30pm. It was great - I loved it.

Now I'm back at university I'm finding it pretty hard to actually stick to the same schedule, and I've noticed that my productivity has really gone down. Even the simple "todo" list ends up falling behind - if I get up at 1pm and don't get out of the house fairly quickly the labs will be shut and I'll have to wait till tomorrow [headshake].

I guess, as you said, it's a perfect case of "YMMV" [smile]

Good luck with the new routine!
Jack
I'm not sure what I would count my sleep pattern as, apart from erratic [smile]

Week days I get up about 7.30, and usually don't see the bed again until some time between 1-2am typically. At the weekend, I might stay in bed on Saturday and Sunday until around 1-2pm. I do wish I could motivate myself up earlier, usually don't for one reason or another (usually a self induced illness). This means I don't get as much as I would like done over the weekends, or at least later than I would like leaving me with little extra time.

Oh well. I guess if it bothered me too much I would do something about it [grin]
Anonymous Poster
Apr 22 2006 10:45 PM
Check this article out: http://www.supermemo.com/articles/sleep.htm
I've adopted a free running sleep cycle recently and it's been doing wonders. I used to suffer from CFS too, but I guess all I needed was a good sleep.

"Free running sleep algorithm:

1. Start with a meticulous log in which you will record the hours in which you go to sleep and wake up in the morning. If you take a nap during the day, put it in the log as well (even if the nap takes as little as 1-3 minutes). The log will help you predict the optimum sleeping hours and improve the quality of sleep. With some experience, you will need the log no longer; however, you will need it at the beginning to better understand your rhythms
2. Go to sleep only then when you are really tired. You should be able to sense that your sleep latency is likely to be less than 10-20 minutes (sleep latency is the time between going to bed and falling asleep). If you do not feel confident you will fall asleep with 10-20 minutes latency, do not go to sleep! If this requires you to stay up until early in the morning, so be it!
3. Be sure nothing disturbs your sleep! Do not use an alarm clock! If possible, sleep without a bed partner. Keep yourself well isolated from sources of noise and from rapid changes in lighting
4. Avoid stress during the day. Stress hormones have a powerful impact on the timing of sleep. Stressful situations are also likely to keep you up at the time when you shall be falling asleep
5. After a couple of days, try to figure out the length of your circadian cycle. If you arrive at a number that is greater than 24 hours, your free running sleep will result in going to sleep later on each successive day. This will ultimately make you sleep during the day at times. This is why you may need a vacation to give free running sleep an honest test
6. Once you know how much time you spend awake on average, make a daily calculation of the expected hour at which you will go to sleep (we will use the term expected hour later on). This calculation will help you predict the sleep onset. On some days you may feel sleepy before the expected hour. Do not fight sleepiness, go to sleep even if this falls 2-3 hours before your expected time. Similarly, if you do not feel sleepy at the expected hour, stay up, keep busy and go to sleep later, even if this falls 2-4 hours after your expected time
7. Here is the list of cardinal mistakes to watch for:
* do not go to sleep before you are sleepy enough - this may result in falling asleep for 10-30 minutes, and then waking up for 2-4 hours. Ultimately you can experience an artificial shift forward in the entire cycle!
* unless for natural reasons (no sleepiness), do not go to sleep well after the expected hour. This will result in missing the period of maximum circadian sleepiness . Your sleep will be shorter and less refreshing. Your measurements will be less regular and you will find it harder to predict the optimum timing of sleep in following days
* do not take a nap later than 6-7 hours before the expected hour. Such a nap is likely to affect the expected hour and disrupt your cycle. If you feel sleepy in the evening, you will have to wait for the moment when you believe you will be able to sleep throughout the night
* try to avoid taking a nap longer than 30-60 minutes. Except for conditions of major physical or mental exhaustion (e.g. heavy exercise, illness, dehydration, etc.), such a nap is a likely result of not sticking to other rules of free running sleep and is also likely to disrupt the cycle

In free running conditions, it should not be difficult to record the actual hours of sleep. In conditions of entrainment failure, you may find it hard to fall asleep, or wake up slowly "in stages". In free running sleep, you should be able to quickly arrive to the point when you fall asleep in less than 10 minutes and wake up immediately (i.e. without a period of fading drowsiness). In other words, you can remember the hour you go to bed, add 10-15 minutes and record it as the hour you fell asleep. As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, you should record the waking hour. Usually you should not have any doubts if you have already awakened for good (as opposed to temporarily), and you should not fall asleep again (as it may be a frequent case in non-free running sleep). Fig. 1 shows an exemplary free running sleep log in a graphic form:"

Before I tried it, I never even KNEW that sleep was supposed to be refreshing, that it was ideal to wake up WITHOUT that fading drowsiness but alert instead. It was typical of me to sleep 9 hours or more with 5-6 nocturnal awakenings thrown in to the mix. As a result my body and mind was just drained and I could barely function. But now I sleep for about 6 hours each night, feeling fully refreshed. It's really strange that such a small change in your habits can have such a huge impact on your life.

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