Monday, 20 July 2009

GTD: Biphasic Sleep Experiment – Day 1

This is the first of a series of posts that I will create covering my experiences with my GTD experiment on Biphasic Sleeping.

Me being an idiot, as always I decided to throw myself in at the deep end. I have actually started this experiment on a Sunday to see the effect it has on my “Monday morning blues”.

However, to raise the bar some more, I also went out last night and got really trashed, so I decided that I will go to bed a little earlier for my long sleep (13:30 as opposed to 1500). (Update: I never actually did this)

Sunday Evening/Night

I got my head down for 1.5 hour afternoon nap at 19:30. I dozed off pretty quick because I was tired due to the late night last night. When the alarm woke me, I didn’t feel like it was screaming at me to get up. I woke up feeling a lot more refreshed which was actually quite surprising (I was worried that since I was so tired, I would quickly fall in to deep sleep and actually wake up feeling groggy).

At 00:16 I started writing this blog post ready for completion tomorrow evening. I have yawned a few times, but I don’t feel anywhere near as tired as I thought I would. I was expecting to major crash and burn by 11:30. While I am slurping on some tea (I am a real tea bag), I was also expecting to be needing coffee.. Not yet.

Already having a great time working in the quiet of night. I have read several blog posts that looked interesting, as well as completing two blog posts of my own (the introduction to this experiment and another GTD post on using a dictaphone for task management), which is a good few thousand words of (I hope) useful writing.

Now being honest, I would not have got round to squeezing these in with other (higher priority) tasks on the list. Especially the blogging (I try to be a man of action, not words). So, this has been nice.. But we will see how I feel tomorrow.. :)

Some points to note:

  • I forced myself NOT to drink coffee – I want my wake periods to be natural and unassisted. This was difficult in itself.
  • I was getting real hungry around 00:00, so I decided to throw some Marmite on a couple of bits of toast (I am a lover ;).
  • When it got to bed time, I didn’t crawl to bed exhausted, but I did fall asleep quickly.

The First Monday

First Thing

Right, I have awaken at 06:00 as normal after a 3 hour sleep. I started to settle in bed at 02:45 last night. I was really happy with the productivity last night – everything I could have done on my ToDo, was done!

I feel OK right now. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel tired – which is to be expected, but I don’t feel heavy-headed/exhausted. I didn’t find it hard to get out of bed at all, if anything I found it easier.

Will see how the tiredness levels are affected as the day goes on. I will be taking a sleeping mask in to work with me, I have a distinct feeling I will need a power nap later.

  • I found I wanted a smaller breakfast since it wasn’t that long ago I last ate.
  • I skipped coffee, instead having a pint of water :)
  • I didn’t feel any loss of energy on the ~3 mile walk to work.

Working Morning

Once I got in to office, I quickly settled in to work. My brain seemed to be working fine – great in fact.I genuinely felt no difference. I was coding in no time, quickly running through the red-green-refactor iterations until lunch time.

  • Again, ZERO coffee. This has been a first for me for a LONG time.
  • I snacked as normal on a handful of fruit & nuts.

Lunchtime/Afternoon

I ate some more food at about 12:30 (same time) – I have recently got back into the better habit of grazing so I never eat a big amount of food at one time during the working day.

Now, I always have my afternoon slump at about 14:00. I normally push through this by downing loads of coffee and hoping for the best. Obviously, now on a caffeine ban, I cannot do this. So, instead I decided to don the sleeping mask, kick off my shoes, put the office chair into recline, put some Aphex Twin on the headphones and then got 30 minutes of shut-eye. This was a bloody fantastic idea.

I quickly went to sleep and actually felt myself relax and fall into REM sleep (which was kinda weird). My computer then later beeped at me telling me to wake up. I was able to work solid until 16:30 feeling totally refreshed. I am thinking I will most likely do this every day from now on. I left the office having completed 13 Pomodori – which I believe is a personal record.

  • No coffee to pull me through the afternoon slump.
  • Nap replaced the coffee, which was much more effective.
  • Extremely productive working day, I found it much easier to focus and brain quickly got into gear.

Evening

I got back from the office and had some chow. I then felt a bit tired so kind of milled around a bit and played some 360 until my nap at 19:30. It was nice to not feel guilty about doing this, I know my ToDo is in great shape.

Then the inevitable happened, when I awoke from my 1.5 hour nap, I felt tired, REALLY tired! So I decided to go back to sleep for another 1.5 hours to shake it off. I then awoke at 22:30 feeling much better.

I then quickly got to processing emails etc, and of course working on this blog post. I know I have set the bar bloody high with this experiment, so after a productive first evening/working day, I am going to have an easy going night and just do some reading :)

And this is the whole point, I want to be able to have more time to take it easy. I am sick and tired of feeling like “there is not enough hours in the day”. The first logical response to that is to make more hours in the day.

Now, even if I complete this experiment and then revert back to monophasic sleeping. I would have had a month where I would have had approximately 3.5 days, yes FULL DAYS (24 hours) of extra awake time to “get on top of things” that in itself would be immensely useful!

  • Needed 1.5 hours extra sleep after nap.
  • Survived a whole day without coffee to perk me up.

Wrap Up

A very small bump in the road (the extra napping time) for what I feel like was a blindly good (and interesting) first day.

  • Peace of mind caused by massively smaller ToDo list totally worth the (actually small – at this stage) amount of tiredness.
  • Brain already seems much more active and focused.
  • Coffee appears to be rapidly heading towards the “barred” list for a normal working day as a “energy provider”. It’s all LIES! Sure, I enjoy a coffee-and-code session at Costa’s, but I think that may end up being the only time I drink coffee,
  • Loving the quiet time in the night to read/write to my hearts content, it is sooooooooo peaceful and I genuinely find it really relaxing (I don’t feel like I am “working” or “studying”).
  • I am very conscious that I might just be riding the “feel good” wave of adrenaline and excitement, so I totally expect the “wrap up” on future posts to be much more negative very soon!

I will probably be looking to bullet point thoughts for the day in future (unless people prefer the diary-like narrative?). I am also thinking of ways to log things such as:

  • Productivity
  • Diet
  • Impact of Exercise/External Factors etc.

Any ideas on what kind of metrics/other information people would like to see, please do comment and let me know, I will see what I can do :)

2 comments:

  1. Howdy Rob,
    I kicked off a Biphasic routine last night too - It'll be cool to cross reference notes as we're doing things a bit differently. I'm looking at a 4.5 core nap starting at 11pm and a 1-1.5 hour mid day nap. Later will experiment with cutting the core sleep back to 3 hours. Is this your first sleep hacking experiment? I've got you bookmarked and feel free to check my progress at wesproject.blogspot.com

    Good luck!

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  2. Great post. I would also add the importance of keeping your lists current and the consistency of the Weekly Review. I've found that I "can't sleep" when there is this gnawing sense that things aren't clear, current, and complete. The longer I wait to complete a full Weekly Review, the harder and harder it gets to get *good* sleep.

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