Midnight Fuel – Sleeping Patterns

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Do you ever look at the clock and decide that now is as good a time as any to get a shit-tonne of work done? Perhaps you’re feeling guilty about wasting the day away or perhaps you feel like you’ve just been struck by lightning. Either way, in your mind it’s as good a time as any to stay up all night and kick ass. To say to hell with whichever one of the many sleeping patterns you enjoy and just work hard.

Yeah me too.

It’s like getting plugged into the mains or perhaps taking an aircraft to supersonic speeds. There’s just this availability of energy and you want to take advantage. A lot of the time it’s beneficial, but sometimes it’s just not.

Right now it’s 3:19am on Wednesday the 25th of May. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I’ve been getting done and it’s clear that it’s not enough. Not by my standards at least.

Whenever you read the life story of anyone successful, one common theme is a lack of sleep and these late night work sessions. It seems synonymous with the uber wealthy and world leaders, and yet on the other hand, there is a new culture of individuals who want to reframe the focus on healthy living and sustainable sleep patterns. Ariana Huffington for instance believes we are in the midst of a sleeping crisis and that we need to re-establish our relationship with those 8 hours a night.

For me though, I can’t help but wonder. Whenever I wake up after a long night worth of sleep, I feel absolutely terrible and unmotivated. I don’t feel like I have any purpose and will often lounge in bed for a few hours before finally getting up. This can easily take me from late morning to early afternoon, which cripples me even further. This is going to bed at 10pm-1am for the record.

When I stay up all night however, I find that my productivity increases a lot and I can follow general themes and make sure my actions fall into these themes effectively as well. For instance, if I need to get work done or study hard, I can make sure that distractions are kept at bay for longer than if I tried to do that when waking up.

Something I also noticed was how differently my body reacted being in a different setting. When I stayed in Auckland this past weekend, I found that waking up was much easier, as was getting things done faster. Even though our time was limited there, I was going about my mornings much faster. After doing some research, it might be because my brain was still half awake, coupled with important timelines to follow (check out and taxi pickup etc). This article from New Scientist points out research recently completed by Masako Tamaki at Brown University.

Now of course sleep is incredibly important and I do understand that, but do we operate better by sleeping in one big dose or in short naps spread out across the day? With the 9-5 day quickly vanishing and many cities becoming 24/7 hubs of activity, the idea of sleeping all night is also becoming some what distorted. A few google searches later and I found this post on alternative sleep cycles.

So I’m going to try polyphasic sleep, or more specifically, the uberman cycle. This calls for a 20 minute nap every 4 hours, which is going to be very interesting to see how my body adapts. I’ll be especially impressed if I am able to keep some of the more permanent traits described by Steve Pavlina here.


Alright, that’s enough for me now