Category — polyphasic sleep
(I owe the polyphasic community like six hundred updates — sorry guys! My productivity has been miserable lately, for reasons that have nothing to do with sleep. Actually, that's one of the posts I need to write: How being polyphasic is different from "just" a productivity hack. But first I need to fix my shit so that I actually have time to write again!
ANYWAY. This one feels pressing, so I'm using it for motivation to Sit In The Chair And Press The Keys, which has been unreasonably difficult lately.)
Introversion has been "a thing" lately, and I think that's good overall, since as many of us know by now, people who are introverted socially are/were often mis-labeled as being unsociable, unfriendly, antisocial, or just not pleasant to be around — and that certainly isn't fair. Having different needs isn't a crime, and we should all be more understanding of each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Good lesson.
But as with many fad ideas, I think this one risks going too far. If I'm reading my feeds right, approximately half of all Internet-connected humanity thinks it's an introvert now; and we know for a fact that that isn't true. (Neither are half of them suffering from some mild form of Asperger's, I might add as a corollary.)
I point to myself as an early example: I was called antisocial and treated just the way introverts hate being, for a long time. Then I was more politely labeled an introvert and, well, pretty much treated the same way, though as the idea gained traction in the nerd community, it became easier to explain my loner-hood in a single word, I guess. I behaved like an introvert, as I think many people (especially Gen-X/Y-ers) in the "nerd subculture" do: I avoided parties, crowds and people I didn't know, preferred the company of just one person if any, and spent a whole lot of time with my face in a book or a screen, shutting out the world.
But I wasn't an introvert. And I wasn't "antisocial" either, whatever that means: I was, in fact, an extrovert with a crippling case of social anxiety disorder, and a whopping history of childhood bullying and isolation that had left me unable to identify, express, and meet my own social needs. What the early well-meaning people identified as being "socially miswired" and the later people identified as "introversion" both missed the question: Was I *happy* that way? Because while I think we can all agree that it's cruel and stupid to look at a young person and say, "Fuck 'em, they're antisocial", is it really more helpful to label someone (or yourself, I might add, because this is an easy cop-out rather than dealing with it) "introverted", if the end result is still ignoring a problem?
A truly introverted person spends a lot of time alone, or with one or very few companions, and is happy that way. Their social needs — and we are humans with social needs, and not getting them met is no healthier than malnutrition — are being adequately met by their circumstances. You could compare them (sloppily, but adequately) with people who only need three or four hours of sleep: That's rare, and it is unhealthy and mean to force someone like that to lie in bed all night because "that's normal and normal is what we do" — but it's just as bad to ignore the sleep-deprivation of a friend who's only able to sleep three hours a night but is miserable that way.
I guess what I'm saying is, labels are dangerous. If we really want to be compassionate to each other and understanding of our differences, we need to empathize, to see each other as individuals, and to care whether whatever someone's doing is working for them or making them happy, rather than what box it fits into. The "introverted" label made it possible for me to continue to starve myself of social contact I actually needed — and more pertinently, the application of that label made it easy for people, even people who loved me, to ignore that I was miserable and needed to fix some things about my social life.
What happened, finally? I went to a very good therapist and after a few sessions I casually mentioned that I was an introvert, whereupon she actually snorted before saying, "You are one of the most extroverted people I've ever talked to!" From there it became gradually clear that I wanted and needed social contact that I wasn't getting because I'd been taught to fear or avoid it — but because I'd been taught to fear and avoid it, and then further taught that it was just "how I was" (i.e. "my" label), I didn't actually know that that was the problem: I only knew that I felt a lot of negative shit pretty much all the time, that I usually felt like an alien and had a hard time connecting to anyone, and that I wasn't very able to be happy either alone or in company; and that while having one safe-feeling companion seemed like a fix for that, it was often landing me in very dependent and unhealthy relationships.
And while my issues may have been pretty serious on the scale of things, I don't think it's at all uncommon for people to be misaligned with, unaware of, or not automatically able to meet their social needs.
In fact, I think "not aware of or able to get what you need for some reason" is a LOT more common a situation than "introverted". The difference is, the former shouldn't be written off or ignored: it's not a stable state, a comfortable label that's fine as it is. If you are intro (or extro) and fine, then great, awesome. You probably know what you need, then, and are capable of going out (or not) and getting it; and therefore there's not much reason to worry — the most discomfort you face is explaining your needs to others, which come on, isn't really that bad. (And if it is, well, stop hanging out with those particular others; they suck.)
But if you feel lonely, cut off, anxious, unsafe, unheard, or like you hate yourself or your life…that's not a label, not a thing, and not okay. Neither you nor the people around you should be ignoring it: You should be fixing it. And fixing it starts with believing that a fix is necessary and possible…something those neat handy labels can sometimes really get in the way of.
May you find peace, whether or not you find the "right" word for it. ;)
November 10, 2013 2 Comments
In Ubersleep, I alluded to a scary possibility: That corporations would encroach on our sleep-time to the extent that they do anything related to growth: Maximally, without regard to the consequences.
Looks like someone wrote a (non-fiction) book about it. I haven't read it, and I'm not entirely sure that I want to (sounds depressing, right?) but it's certainly exploring a point that people — especially those who control how companies treat people and shape society — would do well to be vigilant about.
November 9, 2013 No Comments
September 27, 2013 1 Comment
Hey everyone! I just wanted to share the exciting news that Ubersleep Second Edition has received two (five-star!) reviews on Amazon – and I swear, I didn't beg, threaten, or pay for either of them!
(I would, however, immediately throw away all those moral misgivings and grovel, write poetry, or have drinks with anyone who wanted to write a few more, or add some to Lulu.com [ebook | paperback] where there aren't any for the Second Edition yet… ;)
September 9, 2013 2 Comments
Ah, the occasional utter borking of the schedule.
Do I, either as-me or as-a-polyphaser, do this more often than most people? I've no idea. But I definitely do it sometimes. And the takeaway I usually get from it is that wow, even when totally stick-blendered, polyphasic schedules are a lot easier to recover.
Yesterday I had a pretty normal 2-nap day, and slept for 4.5 hours last night. (Actually, my E4 core nap is turning out to be mostly closer to 4h 45m — which doesn't surprise me, since when I sleep for 3 hours, it's actually 3:15. Is this related to the fact that when I sleep for 8 hour nights, I actually need closer to 9 to feel rested? Worth wondering.)
Also worth noting, especially as a YMMV: I know these times because I don't use alarms anymore, unless it's to be certain I wake up at a certain time for an important thing, and even then I usually don't need them. I know how long I'll sleep based on how many naps I got and when, and I wake up on my own pretty predictably.
Until I do shit like today, that is. ;)
Today I headed off to a taiji class in the morning (after a normal morning consisting of the normal 2 cups of coffee-with-butter — yup, still doing that, and I still love it as a form of breakfast; not every single day but usually). I stopped for tea / second breakfast, because fun fact: when you eat (or drink) breakfast at 5am or thereabouts, you're hungry again by ten or eleven – and then went straight to the climbing gym. I grabbed a nap (it was close to noon; I'd last slept at 7 and normally would have napped about one, but it didn't surprise me that I was tired early after a pretty intense martial-arts class, and anyway I wanted to sleep before I got to climbing) and didn't sleep for very long (note: I don't know how long, because I don't bother with alarms for 20-minute naps at all anymore, because here's a weird one: even if I don't sleep for some or even most of it, I will still almost always stand up after 20 minutes, or a little sooner; my internal alarm is getting pretty hilarious!) – probably I didn't sleep much due to some combination of sleeping early, being excited to go climb, and sleeping on a hard surface in a new place with lots of ambient noise. But I did feel refreshed after, and then I:
- Climbed for about two hours
- Stopped for a light lunch
- Climbed for another four hours
- Walked about 2 miles
- Ate a pretty huge meal (for me)
- Walked another 2-ish miles home
In other words, I had a great day that ended with my getting home about 9:30pm, having skipped my evening nap and cycled through at least a thousand calories in extra exercise and food.
So of course I came home, luxuriated in blankets and a book for a few minutes, and passed out deliciously cold, probably about 10pm. I woke up about 3 hours later, at a few minutes before 1am.
(Another fun fact: If I sleep at an odd time because I'm worn out from exercise, I almost always sleep 3 hours. Occasionally 1.5, but much more often three — 3 hours seems to be my "recovery sleep" time.)
And I felt great — well, a bit sore in the hands and shoulders, but duh, marathon of climbing. I could have gone back to sleep if I wanted, but overall I felt quite rested, so I got up, showered, read my email, watched some videos, and, well, wrote this — it's now about 3:30 am. I suspect I'll get tired again around four or five and grab an "extra" nap before my regular morning one at 7-ish.
So with only a bit of effort, my schedule will be easy to get back on track tomorrow, even though what I did to it today could easily be described with the "o.O" emoticon. That's definitely one of the benefits of being polyphasic, especially when you're prone to having crazy high-energy days sometimes; instead of sleeping a stupid ton to recover and then finding myself in the middle of an uncomfortable re-adjustment, I just shift a core, add a nap, and wham. And it's not as complex to do as it is to explain: I know this part might be due to my being really used to polyphasic sleep by now, but all I'm really doing is sleeping when I'm tired, and doing so for the durations I know work for me (20 minutes and 3 hours, basically).
One last thing: I've been getting tired of defending polyphasic sleep lately, because there's been a lot of discussion filtering through my inbox and my RSS feeds, and a lot of it is either completely unrelated to the kind of thing *I* mean by polyphasic sleep, or just attacking straw-men by showing that sleep dep is bad (which it is, but I maintain that in the modern world, at least as I experience it, being monophasic is more likely to involve sleep-dep than being polyphasic). Anyway, the temptation is there to just shrug and go about doing my thing, but I do see how that's not the best thing for everybody, especially if due to my circumstances as a long-term polyphaser, I have information that could be useful to others who are trying to fix sleep problems or find a schedule that's better suited to their lifestyle. So please pardon me if I lapse into silence about it sometimes — it does get draining, after a while — I promise I'll pick it back up and keep going.
Also, I have been working on some major changes to this site, which will hopefully make finding the droids you're looking for easier. Stay tuned!
September 9, 2013 1 Comment
Remember, what can be used to increase freedom can also be used to decrease it…
August 20, 2013 No Comments
TED has a talk on "why we sleep"!
Par for the course with this topic, it raises more questions than it answers, but still a really interesting look into the current science (and not-science).
- If you live to 90 and sleep an average length of time, you'll spend 32 years asleep. ::shudder::
- I'm not sure I agree that sleep is the "most important" biological state, but I think he's just being dramatic because he's passionate about the topic, so forgiven.
- The discussion of how people's view of sleep has changed is really interesting…I suppose I'm a bit of a tick on that timeline. What pithy quote from me might he use in this discussion? *Hmm*
- My Taoist self is interested by the idea that "we" don't think about sleep (obviously I do) because we don't "DO" anything while we're asleep. People do tend to (philosophically) criminally underestimate and ignore the Yin aspects of our lives…
- "Sleep and memory consolidation" is very important on several levels, including creativity — of course, the issue of "how much sleep and when" isn't addressed, so for all we know polyphasic sleep is just as good or better here.
- "Everyone is desperately sleep deprived" — I TOTALLY AGREE. This is why I really hope we learn to nap. ;)
- 100,000 car accidents a year due to sleep dep and microsleeps…and yet I'm about to drive 15 hours (for the umpteenth time) using Uberman naps — a break every 4h or so for a 20-minute nap — and if the much-used pattern holds (I've been calling it "Road Uberman" if you missed that ;), then I'll feel fine.
- WOAH, there's science behind why I get so snacky — even why I crave carbs specifically – when I miss a nap or push it too far! Neato!
- Good basic how-to-sleep-better advice, including one I didn't know about: Brushing your teeth right before bed is a bad idea. Hm!
- Linking mental illness and sleep…interesting but a bit specious IMO. That there are correlations, sure; but watch out for assuming those causations… (To be fair, he's not making wild conjectures here, but I would prefer more caution about not encouraging them; for example claiming that sleep disruption should be used as an early-warning sign. Maybe just me.)
- "Take Sleep Seriously" — his motto — sure; I like that. Feel that this may be a bit narrow-minded in terms of claiming that there's no third option between sleeping too little and sleeping 8+ hours…but that's definitely my bias, hehe.
August 16, 2013 1 Comment
Would you sign up for a membership that let you grab a spot like this sprinkled through your city? What would you require of it in order for it to be worth your money?
What do you think about this being A Thing that cities have and offer — as a paid, private service?
[Insert thoughts I have here about freelancing and the future of the knowledge workforce...darn it, I need to get on that writeup!]
(Hat-tip to Malcom, who's absolutely right — I do get the coolest links sent to me! Like this one! ;)
July 28, 2013 No Comments
Ooo, this is exciting news! I love LessWrong, and some of the LessWrong community has decided to launch a polyphasic adaptation experiment — I'll be spending some time later on perusing the many comments on their page, but I wanted to post this asap for those who're interested in the state of polyphasic research.
I'm a little hesitant about their adaptation plan, which is one of the weirder forms of gradual adaptation that I've seen; however, they had to go with something, and while I would have opted for a simple just-start-the-new-schedule approach (if for no other reason than to minimize interference in the test results by the style of adaptation — if people can't adapt, we'll never know if it was because of the schedule or the strange adaptation method), it is what it is, and hopefully isn't too important to their overall result.
I can't express how excited I am to see this level of self-directed study, and by a group that's generally so comprehensive about conducting their own research. Awesome awesome progress. *yay*
July 27, 2013 2 Comments
I mean, yeah, DUH from my perspective; but still, nice to see!
July 26, 2013 No Comments