Monday, July 30, 2007

Dymaxion sleep

So, I make no secret about my insane sleeping issues. In high school I averaged 3 hours per night, and as an undergrad people would call me the hall's vampire (they'd wake up @ 4 am to use the bathroom and see me doing laundry, wide awake).

Sometimes I can wrangle it in, or schedule it so that I 'flip' on a certain day (rotate a full 12 hours so that a particular day has me awake during 'normal' hours). Yes, I've tried everything from stimulants in the morning and sleeping pills at night, to light therapy and melatonin, with no results. I've had sleep studies done, and I hit REM in 4.5 minutes (40+ is normal), and get about 33% more than the average person. You can probably see why I'm mildly obsessed with the topic. I had a blast teaching a review session on sleep to some undergrads, who were entertained by my story.

I'm bringing this up because I'm doing a little experiment. You might have heard of Polyphasic Sleep -basically sleeping less time overall, but in many segments. I'm going to try a particular flavor used by Buckminster Fuller called Dymaxion sleep. Basically, you sleep 30 minutes in every 6 hours. Sound crazy? Good. Bucky said that everyone should try it, and as I have yet to a Nobel, who am I to question him? I'll post any significant observations and an update in a week.


Anonymous said...

I've had similar sleep issues myself for years, hitting REM with a similar time-course as you. (It's fun trying to sleep with those EEG electrodes airplane-glued to your head, no?)

I've mostly got it under control now by trying to keep a regular schedule and going to bed earlier than I want to, but in the absence of routine I quickly diverge from everyone else.

Personally, I've always wanted to try the 28 hour day-- 20 hours of awake-time, 8 hours of sleep, and a six day week. It's supposed to be great, except for the interactions-with-others problem. Monday is basically a normal day, Tuesday is like a grad student's day (wake at noon!) and from there on it is increasingly impossible to coordinate with anyone else.

Brandon King said...

That _is_ very similar to my situation - probably the most similar that I've heard. I actually had a pretty good run on a 24-12 schedule (24 awake, 12 asleep). I chose it because at least that way I was up with the world every other day. I just had too much trouble pushing through the last 4-6 hours, or I would wake up after 4 hours of sleep and be completely alert and rested.

The sleep doc said I have a "12-hour phase shift disorder", but I think it's more complicated than that. If left to my own devices, my schedule drifts, like yours. On top of it, I feel 10x's more productive in the middle of the night - around 3am. Somewhere along the line I must have scrambled my SCN, or my pineal gland is on strike.

Zachary Tong said...

Since you hit REM sleep faster and get more, does this mean you actually get better quality of sleep than most normal people? If so, thats a pretty impressive trait! Increased productivity with less downtime.

Do you find it ever "catches" up to you and require more sleep than normal every once in a while?

Brandon King said...

Hi Zachary,

Welcome to the site!

Actually, I get WORSE sleep than others. Think of it this way: When you're in REM, your body and brain acts as if you were awake. When i wake up, I'm still tired, but sleeping more doesn't remedy it. I've gotten used to working when tired. I generally use caffeine to kick myself into gear, but build up a tolerance to it and have to use it in waves. I've learned to use my most awake time for important work, and my more tired times for other activities/hobbies.

As for experiencing "REM rebound", I haven't noticed it unless I do something extreme, like stay up two days in a row for no reason.

:] said...

im sorry.
this must be really random.
but you found that pic of that cat on the internet right?
its not urs, is it?
i was just wondering and was too curious not to ask you. i was actually googling ppl sleeping in school for my blog that i have yet to post and i saw this pic.

actually i wish i could be sleeping right now, but i have a stupid 700 point project due tomorrow for my english IV class.

Brandon King said...

Ha! Nope, pic isn't mine, but I figured that the site is just for fun and reference (not money), so not a big deal.

Good luck on the English project!

Mel said...

HI. I recently have been considering trying to adapt to a polyphasic sleep pattern so I have been researching it and came across your blog. You say you hit REM quickly and that causes you to get worse sleep than others. I have never had studies done (I plan on it soon) but I have noticed I can wake up after only being asleep for 10 or 30 minutes and have already started dreaming. I am assuming I enter REM quickly and that my sleep stages are just plain messed up. No matter how long I sleep for, I am still tired and I never wake up feeling refreshed. Is this what you experience? I am a high school student and even though I crave those 10, 12, 14+ hours, my procrastination gets the best of me and I am lucky if I get 4 :P I just found it interesting that there is someone out there with similar sleep issues because I can't seem to find much information on this.

Anonymous said...

so....???? What happened? did you adjust? fail? I'd love to hear a report...

Brandon King said...

Like most sleep schedule changes, I tried to give it a couple weeks to settle in. After about 1.5 weeks, it was almost impossible to maintain this schedule because it meant being on the brink of exhausted constantly. It wasn't practical because the time of each nap or 'the big sleep' roams throughout the day when you don't catch that sleep period at the right time. There's no waking up early or sleeping in without having to calculate when you can sleep again. Basically, sleep end up taking over your thoughts all day. So, after about 2-3 weeks I gave up on it.

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