"Forced desynchrony," I've been told many times, "is considered torture" by many authoritative organizations. Usually phrased as a warning against any mad-scientist tendencies I may have developed, any uncontrollable urge to inflict terrible sleep-dep on other people.
Most people who throw that shit around have no idea what desynchrony and serious sleep-dep are like, I'm sure. So they can't actually be blamed for not realizing how ridiculously averse to sleep-dep I've become as a result of exposure to them; how, yes, I've deliberately gutsed through terrible sleep-dep, because as someone who never felt rested, I felt I didn't have a choice, and how now that I'm normally not sleep-deprived — hardly if ever — I am a TOTAL WIMP about feeling tired.
Not even sleep-deprived: just "tired". On an average day I don't yawn, because before I ever get to the point of yawning, I've felt what to me is a very uncomfortable not-alertness that has prompted me to go nap. I get at least one nap every day, no matter what's going on; on busy days I get two; when life is good and easy, three or more.
Furthermore, after years of polyphasic sleep, I now hate sleeping longer than 4h at a time. Even if I don't nap, I'll often get up after 4h, because I wake up naturally then, and I know that if I sleep longer I'll feel stiff and groggy — sleepy! upon waking! the horror. My body knows now that waking up after 3-4 hours and getting a few naps during the day is much more comfortable.
If I yawn, most days, it's like a four-alarm fire in my head, and I will drop everything to go sleep.
No, man, I'm a wimp about sleep-dep. Because I've been there, both at low-medium levels for years, and then cranked to eleven for a few short bursts. Hell god fuck no, save me from that shit.
Sooooo, what happens when *I* get tortured with forced desynchrony? When the world forces me to stay awake for 12-14 hours, several days in a row, with no opportunity to have a nap no matter how tired I am?
I GO THROUGH GODSDAMNED HELL IS WHAT HAPPENS
KILL ME NOW
…This is day 3 with no naps. I couldn't sleep longer than 4h at night the first 2 days (see above), and last night I probably could have, but I could only actually get 5h of sleep due to the schedule, so that's what I got.
…Did I mention KILL ME NOW?
A work summit has me staying in a hotel and working all day in a tiny one-room office with a bunch of other people and zero place or chance to nap. The combination of travel and this flagrantly, non-optionally monophasic work-schedule has been — no kidding, I am not abusing the term here — torture.
Here's what it feels like.
I have a permanent headache. My entire skull feels wrapped in cotton pain.
My face is weird and tight. My jaw keeps clenching whenever I'm not concentrating on relaxing, as though it's taking herculean effort to hold up my own body.
I have to focus on not slurring my words — no-one else seems to have noticed it, but I can; it's like my lips are wearing lead coats.
Oh yeah, and my skin is so crawly; I'm squeaky clean but I want a shower and I keep thinking there are bugs on me or crumbs in my clothes. Augh augh augh.
Everything looks shiny, not in a good way. Like when you're hungover and the lights are too bright.
I'm perpetually hungry, but food isn't making me feel better.
My normally impressive balance is back to low-average levels. I banged my knee on a thing this morning, for the first time in geez, maybe a year? I don't do stuff like that anymore thanks to taiji.
I can't really tell from here exactly how, but I know my brain's not doing well either. I'm working, and nobody's fired me yet, but it's definitely difficult to concentrate. I like my job, but this reminds me of being stuck in boring classes at school, watching the clock, silently begging for it to be over. I know I wouldn't feel that way if I wasn't so ugggggh with sleep-dep.
My stomach is unhappy too.
My eyes are burny and gritty.
My fuse is about 1/8" long. I'm pretty sure that if something made me angry, I'd go right from zero to losing my shit. (Please lord do not let anything make me angry.)
This evening we might be off "early" (7 or 8 pm — I've been awake since 6am) and I may get an evening nap. Maybe I'll also pass out until morning; I'm sure I now feel sick enough to sleep more than 4h — but I'm also sure that if I do, I'll wake up feeling like a zombie, and probably be severely sleep-dep'd again by tomorrow afternoon. (That nighttime wad of sleep gets me through to about 12-1pm, and then it's nosedive time.)
Pray for me. And don't ever worry that I'd do this to anybody else…believe me, I know better. The only valid reason for suffering through this crap is (well, apparently for a paycheck? and) in order to eliminate it.
Remind me to tell everyone how many naps it took me to recover, too. I should start getting them again either tomorrow evening or Thursday morning, depending on how the airline gods are.