Time to plan: the sequel!

Posted by Somnium Exertus | Posted in , , , | Posted on 02:27

 Ok! So today's post spontaneously became Pokémon themed. At least the beginning and end are in the theme. Fun fact: the Song of the day, Page of the day and Pocket change text is automatically inserted to the text field when I create a new post. That's why I can only state that the beginning and end are in theme since I haven't written the middle yet. You can read the middle in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

If you clicked on "Read more" hoping to find a post all about Pokémon, then I regret to inform you that it won't be. Kinda. This post is all about sleep and I'll try to liven it up with as many Pokémon references I can think of! If, for some strange reason, you're reading this and "don't get" Pokémon I'll either laugh at you and claim you're lying or laugh at you for actually missing out on the whole Pokémon craze. On a more serious note, I'm actually going to talk about sleep and will have the non-Pokémon Master explanations in brackets for you; if I don't translate it for you, consider it humour you're missing out on.

Do I really need to add a caption to this?
No, I really don't, but it helps align the text
to the right of this image better.
Butterfree, I choose you! If you know me at all, you'll know that I tend to be a night owl, meaning I don't sleep until later on in the night. Chatting to people that late at night can be a real hoot! Now that I have this new-fangled schedule worked out, I have a constant wake-up time, but what about a bed time? I've always thought that I've needed less sleep than the average person, which may or may not be true. One truth about my bedtimes is that they've never been constant as long as I've been living on my own. Does this sound familiar? It probably does, as the sleep experts have pointed the finger at the internet as the biggest sleep stealer. All that information, accessible 24/7, really does impact us. I'm pretty sure that 90% of my nights in the past half-decade have ended with me closing Firefox, then shutting off the computer and going to bed. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if there's some magical point in time when I should be getting to sleep and there's a juicy Wikipedia article open, I'm gonna read the whole page, and then a few more linked to that article. Gotta catch 'em all!

This calls for an experiment! Will my free time to research the net suffer? How much sleep do I really need anyhow? Will our brave blogger find a pattern that works for him? Find out next paragraph!

Somewhere around 8 hours, right? Nobody really has time for that in school though, so just make it up in naps during the day if I need to. I'll go to bed when I feel tired. Does this sound familiar as well? It certainly does for me. In trying to answer these questions I came across some surprising answers and all kinds of neat facts about sleep that I didn't know before. Yes I'll share, just this once. For the average adult, yes the recommended time is 8 hours of sleep a night. In that case, I'll just consider myself 'special' and therefore exempt myself from the suggestion and stick to what I've been doing. BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

Turns out there are a few common mistakes when it comes to sleep. The first one I'll point out is sleep debt. If I'm supposed to get 8 hours a night but only got 7, I just take an hour long nap and I've paid off the debt, right? WRONG! You've made up for your lost sleep, but since you were awake for longer than normal, your brain and body used more energy than it would in a normal day, thus you just slept an average amount in total for a longer than average day. So see? You're still behind. If you sleep 8 hours it means you're awake for... 24 - 8 = 16... 16 hours. See the trick here? Every hour of sleep refreshes two hours of awakeness, so if I only got 7 hours of sleep, that means I was awake for... 24 - 7 = 17 hours. So to recharge from that I need 17/2 = 8.5 hours total, I got 7 that night, leaving 1.5 hours to go toward naps. Ok, but what if you're bad at math and calculating your sleep debt will force you to stay up longer... meaning you need to nap more... meaning you start losing your productive time in the day... until all you do when you are awake is calculate how long you need to sleep for until one day your results suggest you need to go back in time? Lucky for you I've got a solution for you, an online sleep debt calculator that you can find here.

Moving on from the whole sleep debt mismanagement we now look at the notion of going to bed when you feel tired. It turns out that this is a bad habit to adopt, as you're constantly accumulating sleep debt, but your body will adjust to a few late nights and you won't feel tired until a bit later next time. In fact, staying up one hour later than the recommended sleep pattern, so 17 hours, equates to the same level of impairment of someone who just blew 0.05 on the breathalyzer. To quote the department of transportation:

Butterfree: Drawn drunk or
just tired? Maybe even a
tired, drunk 5 year old?
With a BAC of 0.05, an individual’s vision may already be affected in terms of sensitivity to brightness, the ability to determine colours, and depth and motion perception. The brain’s ability to perform simple motor functions is diminished.

So maybe getting proper sleep is something worth working on. This calls for an experiment! I'll adopt all the recommendations I can find for attaining optimal sleep and note any changes, good or bad. I'm thinking that I might initially complain about lost time that I would have spent doing "stuff" otherwise, though I wouldn't be surprised if getting a proper sleep made me more efficient through the day and still allowed me to get the same amount of "stuff" done. So what tips have I found to use in my quest for the ultimate sleep? Behold, the list of tips is here! It's also my first bullet list on this blog, thought probably not the last.

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine.
  • Find a way to relax, such as reading or taking a warm bath.
  • Make a habit of going to sleep at the same time each night and rising at the same time each morning.
  • Get regular exercise and eat no later than two to three hours before you go to bed.
  • Sleeping until the sun rises and getting an hour of exposure to morning sunlight will help reset your biological clock. 
Well folks, I'll continue on with things tomorrow as per usual as I need to catch me some Zzz.....

Oh yeah, I'm completely aware that I didn't explain any of the Pokémon references. YOU SERIOUSLY HAVE A GAP IN YOUR LIFE WITHOUT THEM!

Song of the day: Pokémon Battle Theme
Page of the day: f.lux™ Better lighting...for your computer
BONUS Page of the day: "Welcome to our Pokémon Center. We can heal your Pokemon to full health. Shall we heal your Pokemon?" - Nurse Joy
Pocket change: $1.50

Comments Posted (2)

  1. It's true, going to bed at a decent hour will increase your productivity and you won't be missing out on anything.

    That being said, I guess I'm a masochist. I used to be a morning person. M-words....

  2. Yeah, I felt the irony of doing almost all of my research for better sleep at a time where I should ideally be halfway through my sleep...