nap time!

Friday, August 17th, 2007

today i achieved a schedule pattern that i think about a lot but rarely attain:
last night i went to sleep between 10 and 11 pm.
this morning i woke up at about 3:30, did some work, and made breakfast around 6 or 7, stopping to go outside and watch the sun rise.
since then i’ve been puttering around, doing some odd bits and pieces of things, and growing sleepy.
now it’s noonesque, and i’m going to take a nap. possibly for mulitiple hours.
when i wake up, i will have the rest of the afternoon and evening ahead of me, fueled not only by my nap but also by the knowledge of my early productivity, which makes for a nice cushion to ward off grumpiness. i tend to get a lot more done when i’ve already got some things done to get myself started, and getting that boulder rolling reliably is really the crux of all my sleep and motivation experiments.

the basic idea of today’s approach is to get a full night of sleep, but split it into pieces. it usually doesn’t work for long because it’s hard to get in a good-sized nap on a regular basis, and because, once i fall asleep, i have difficulty convincing myself that i should really get up after my first complete sleep cycle, which takes between 4 and 5 hours. i also don’t tend to sleep as much on the whole, which makes getting up progressively more difficult even if i’m not tired because the grog can pull the “you probably need more sleep” card.

i’m not convinced that i really do need more sleep, though, or at least not as long as i have things to keep me busy, which is hopefully most of the time. the idea is modeled upon the way i operate when i’m camping, high, or otherwise really in the zone of some project. when it works otherwise, it is usually by accident, which is what happened this time. i didn’t actually intend to go to bed at 10 or 11. i just lay down because i had a headache and couldn’t really do anything else. i told myself i would rest until my headache went away, and then get up and do more work. my headache went away after a couple of hours, but i kept telling myself i could sleep more. this is not strange for me – after an initial zonkout, i tend to sleep rather lightly and often engage in a lengthy period of “no, not yet… not yet… not yet…” with regard to the question of whether it is time to get up, and one of the greatest joys in my life is answering “no” to that question. there are two different modes of this, however – nap mode and night mode – and nap mode is much easier to break out of because i don’t think i’m supposed to attain a “full night’s sleep” feeling before i get up, and ironically that makes it much easier to relax.

the idea, therefore, is basically to trick myself into always being in nap mode, and it came about because at some point i decided that thinking of time cyclically kind of stresses me out. i do pretty well with “tomorrow is another day” kinds of thoughts at night, and can muster all kinds of resolve about how i will get up early and conquer the world, but when the morning rolls around and i face the other side of the coin (“today is the first day of the rest of your life” and all that) the grog just pipes up with something along the lines of “well, best be rested up then, shouldn’t we?” and i go back to sleep.

i think this comes from an expectation about the kinds of things that make for a successful “day” as unit of time – getting up, eating, exercising, working, doing chores, being social. as if days are these puzzles to solve, and the goal is to break life into the right shapes and sizes so that all the appropriate goals fit within the frame. that’s really intimidating to me for some reason, and apart from that it strikes me as a rather silly illusion. to me, life feels much more like a continuous game of tetris, and the core competency is more about reacting to each piece as it comes and knowing what kind of floor you have to build upon. one day there might be a lot of blocks, the next there might be a run on those little t-shaped jobbies. it is silly to get pissed off when you don’t get the same order you got yesterday, and i’d rather just pause when i’m tired than hit reset at some regular interval just because someone says it’s time for bed.

the REAL insight, of course, is that the difference between pause and reset is all in my head. and the napping approach is kind of like mental training wheels for that lesson.

so welcome to the next layer of my insanity.
if you followed all that, you get a prize.

i’ll write about it again with a bit more effort at coherence if it actually bears fruit this time, eh?

why doesn’t this exist?

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

so i do a lot of thinking about sleep and the arising therefrom, and this morning after i got myself up and was sipping some tea i started on the track of “all i really need is to start my metabolism going, but the problem is that i’m so cozy and groggy that it is difficult to get myself to move my arms from underneath the blanket to ingest anything, even water that is sitting right beside my bed.”

this family of thought trains has brought us such ideas as: start breathing deeply as soon as i capture enough consciousness to remember to do so, because air, at least, can be consumed in any position, and is the foundation of the rest. this does a lot, but then i still need to keep stepping up the intake ladder, and so today i started musing on how it would be helpful if i could just have someone drop one of those gross jellified energy paks into my mouth, or maybe if i strapped a camelbak full of coffee to the ceiling and then just had to slide underneath the straw. thinking of silly ideas like that made me happy, but then i was like, wait… why don’t they make time-release caffeine pills that you take before bed and then kick in after 8 hours? that’s like setting the coffee machine to make the world smell good in the morning but without the step of actually having to go get the coffee. that would be brilliant!!

i asked google and found some interesting stuff. they DO make time-release caffeine pills but not in the don’t-release-anything-for-a-while style, rather in the release-this-slowly-so-i-can-code-all-night-without-buying-more-mountain-dew style, which is useful in it’s own right, but quite different.

i also learned that green tea acts as time-release caffeine because the tea is encased in tannins, which is part of why the high from green tea is mellower. that’s nice. i’ve been enjoying toasted green tea quite a bit lately. it’s good. i like to do this walkup to caffeine thing where i drink green tea early, black tea late, and coffee after lunch. but that’s not this post, i guess.

perhaps most enlightening, however, was the discovery that one can purchase time-release caffeinated tights. snake oil man sez they get rid of cellulite. methinks they get rid of pesky extra dollars.

someone else did already have my idea, but he just mentioned it in this mefi thread two years ago and everyone else ignored him.

their loss, yo. srsly.

my first thought was that it must be hard to make something time-release after multiple hours. but we make birth control that releases itself for months at a stretch. so what gives? i’m half sarcastic and half serious. do people feel more like addicts when they pop pills instead of drinking their drugs with cream and sugar? is getting up on our own a source of emotional victory such that getting help from a pill would make people depressed? does time-release feel too sci-fi for daily use? would it be possible but expensive? did i just not look far enough into my google results to find the winner? it seems like the idea crosses some sort of line, and i’m curious about what it is.