Some polyphasic sleep info

So, I’ve developed an interest in polyphasic sleep, with an eye to actually trying it out soon. There are a bunch of links around the place, pretty much spiderwebbing out from Wikipedia. Steve Pavlina, whose account on becoming polyphasic was my main motivating force, wrote once that he knows of only one book on the subject, which he hasn’t read (see the end of his post). He also notes how expensive it is — I can’t object to that; luckily, there’s a copy in my university library: Why we nap, editor Claudio Stampi.

I’m reading it at the moment, and it contains a wealth of information. Including a fair amount of info that contradicts much of what the polyphasic sleeping people claim. The differences are minor, though.

There’s also an article in Outside online that seems to be the source of quite a number of conceptions on the topic. As a magazine article, it’s more accessible than the book. And I just wanted to jot here my notes on it.

there are two types of sleep: REM sleep, which is important for memory and learning, and non-REM sleep, which restores energy and releases hormones for growth and development. Non-REM sleep occurs in four stages: Stage one is a light slumber; stage two marks the onset of real sleep, where the heart rate and breathing slow; and stages three and four provide the deep (or slow-brainwave) sleep that is most highly restorative.

This is a great summary of the actual phases of sleep that most polyphasic advocates seem to not mention. Instead, it is popular to say something along the lines that REM sleep is all you need and your brain adapts to entering it quickly. This explanation is overly simplified at best, and incorrect at worst. Recall I’m not an authority on the matter, so these statements may be premature from my mouth. Or fingers, rather, I suppose.

Back to Stampi: the next paragraph after that quoted above talks about how most of the slow wave sleep that happens in an 8-hour sleep cycle is performed in the first three. This implies its usefulness to the body, and how multiple short naps are more efficient since the earlier parts of sleep are the best. Moving on:

[Morning people], Stampi discovered, are good at taking short naps but are not as efficient late at night, and prefer a more regular routine. [Night people], on the other hand, appear to be excellent at coping with highly irregular schedules, but prefer longer naps

Interesting! I hadn’t come across this yet. As a night person, it simply doesn’t make as much sense for me to try and extract much rest from a really short nap. Another interesting tidbit is that people don’t want to sleep between 6pm–8pm, which I’ve typically found the best times for working in my very irregular schedule.

Sleep researchers, including Stampi, agree that if you have the option of snoozing a solid seven or eight hours per night, then taking it is the best strategy for being a well-rested, efficient human being. But if you can’t pull it off, a Stampian approach might help keep you upright with less than sufficient sleep.

And what do I make of this? Well, I think that learning how to sleep properly is the main outcome I’m hoping to achieve from my interest in this area. If it happens to be like Stampi himself, with a six hour night and a single 15 minute nap in the afternoon, then that’s still exciting news for someone who’s struggled with sleeping patterns for as long as I can remember.

MarsEdit improvements

So, due to Brent’s pre NetNewsWire 2.1 special, I bought the NNW+MarsEdit combo. I gave up NewsMac Pro after it died on me. Sorry Rory; but I’ll continue to check your new stuff out.

MarsEdit in the past I’ve had trouble with. Apparently that’s in the past, now, posting here worked first time. [Actually, I’ve had quite some difficulty, but if you’re reading this then it’s been overcome.] I’ve got some suggestions:

  • <return> should open posts in the main window.
  • “Delete Post” should have a menu item and a shortcut.
  • Markdown integration. Oh, I just found it for the Preview window. In that case, I want Markdown and SmartyPants.
  • I notice that keeping the Preview window open is quit performance intensive, even with “Live Preview” turned off.
  • I’d like to be able to hide the “Weblog” panel when editing posts. I do have only one weblog, after all. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be a toolbar item. [Update: actually, after looking at things a bit more, it seems likely that this pane is more useful when using other blogging software.]
  • “Save to draft” is slower than I’d expect.

All in all, I’m very happy the app is usable without having toolbars. I like to hide my toolbars as much as possible. It all began when Mail.app’s toolbars made me want to vomit, and now I like my windows austere.

Anyway, I should be working. Let’s see what happens when I try to post this after its been written in Markdown. Preview looks as it should, so I expect it’ll work like a charm…

…but that’s not the case. My ultimate suggestion for MarsEdit improvements, then, is to be able to write, preview, and post in text written with Markdown. And SmartyPants, don’t forget. That’s as essential, for smaller reasons. Anyway, I’ve written a script to do all this myself, and these are the results.


First day of the rest of my life

I realised it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t actually done anything yet this year. Actually, I’ve been very optimistic recently about my PhD, stemming from thoughts from earlier in the year.

I mentioned that I felt I was in an inflexion point at the beginning of the year. Well, now’s the time I’m actually ramping out of that. It’s very early days still, but I feel like I’m so close to being really productive I can just about reach it.

But I lament the fact that I haven’t been writing as much here. In the above link I wrote that I had meant to summarise my readings over the holidays, and now that time is so far away I can’t even remember the feelings that I had. There’s no feedback there, and we all know that feedback loops are what improves things.

So it’s not just enough to write. It’s also important to read what you write, maybe every day, or maybe every week. In the meantime, I’m off to try and self-motivate myself, back to where it all began.

So what am I going to be trying to do? Well, that which I always have struggled with: regularity. In everything, silly; not the “regular” associated with poo. And in the end, I might end up like this guy. Damn. Imagine having the self-discipline to learn to be able to sleep in half hour blocks six times a day. Only. That’s a lot of extra time that could be spent doing stuff. (It works for him; anecdotally, it appears that not many people succeed in polyphase sleep.)

And with that, I’m off to start my first day of the rest of my new life. Wish me luck.


End of the Fringe

Never let it be said that I am not a man of good intentions. Simply one whose intentions sometimes go astray due to bright lights and shiny objects.

Now that the 2006 (Adelaide) Fringe has wrapped up, I’m in a state to return to scheduled programming. Luckily for you, my imaginary readers, you have infinite patience and won’t mind that I’m not going to be writing a whole lot here. Oh, gosh, says I, I really did mean to write in here a lot just for the sake of practising my writing skills. And indeed, I do actually hope to do so.

But you know me. (Or you would if you existed.) Actions speak louder than intentions, and it just so happens that there are so many little things that pop up that don’t exactly help to keep me on schedule. They divert my intentions and in short time I’ll have forgotten all that I meant to have been doing. So we’ll see how we go.

Let’s get back to the heart of the matter I had been meaning to mention. The Fringe is over, and for the first time I can remember it’s been a bit of a burden. Yes, I know. Life’s hard. But what I mean is that in the past it’s all been fun, and this time it’s been with a real sense of loss that I’ve realised that my dip into the carnival world is over this time. The performers simply move on to bigger cities and other events, around in circles until the next Fringe here; then once again our experiences will touch again briefly and the pleasure I’ve felt over the last week or so will hopefully be re-experienced.

And the fact that for the next two years I have to work really hard finishing my PhD is inextricably linked to the ending of the Fringe might in fact have amplified the effect, but even a few days after it’s all over I’m thinking back to it with nostalgia.

The funny thing is, it’s not even my nostalgia. Ali and many other people were a much greater part of the community down in the Garden of Unearthly Delights (for example), and it’s their happiness and excitement reflected in me that I miss.

But like most things in life, the experience will come around again. This very brief journal entry stands to crystallise my feelings before I move on to become another person.