Sleep, and the Consequences Thereof

31 01 2012

Okay, that was a bit of an unintended hiatus, that was. Not to worry, there’s life in this blog yet.

So why has there not been a post for more than two weeks? Sleep. And the side-effects thereof. You might remember that I wrote about getting up “early” every day in my very first post here. Well, that experiment is going… Okay-ish. Most week-days I’ve been up before 9am like I said I would, although I’m falling into a habit of catching up on sleep during the weekend. Another problem has been the lack of energy. The first week went alright, but it’s not unusual for me to get up early and go to bed equally early for about a week. Week two was when it started to get difficult. It was hard to get myself out of bed and hard to stay awake during the day. Even harder to focus and find energy to do the things I wanted to do, like write. And week three and four were just so bad that I started power-napping more or less unintended, and on Thursday last week I took a three and a half hour nap in the afternoon. And this isn’t even counting weekends where I’ve been playing catch-up on sleep, staying in bed ’till around 11-12am (2pm this Sunday!).

But! And here’s the good news: I am getting out of bed before 10am on weekdays and some days even earlier and my sleep patterns are stabilising. Just look at the chart below from my SleepBot app. The weird patterns on the left is how it looked before. The highlighted portion to the right is this last month. See how much more regular it looks? Could be better, sure, but I doubt I’ll ever have a completely regular sleep cycle. Experience tells me that that will never happen. I am a night owl and no amount of getting up early will change that.

Which leads me to the big problem with this whole thing. I like being up at night. It’s when my muse is awake and when I feel most creative and when I have the drive to write. And I still have that little voice in the back of my head telling me ‘screw this sleep crap. It’s not worth it spending your time in bed – at night – when you could be writing’ and it’s a hard voice to ignore. Especially when the muse starts chatting away at me when I turn off the lights at night and try to go to sleep.

So what does all that mean? Right now, it means that the writing project is on hold while I get used to this new sleep pattern. If I get used to the sleep pattern. Hopefully, it will happen and hopefully my muse will come along for the ride. Otherwise, it will be a very difficult journey to see all the way through. Writing is important to me. And if I can’t write because I have a nocturnal muse and I’m trying to live up to “normal sleep times”, then fuck it. I’m going to be going where the muse is. As long as I’m unemployed and unemployable, I only have two days a week where I have to be up early (due to reason that are too complicated to explain in this post).

But so far, so good. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Not yet. I’ll be giving it at least another month before deciding whether it’s worth it getting up in the morning…

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2 responses

13 03 2012
Emma Newman

I am also late-set, my brain starts to kick in after about 10:30 in the morning, my peak creative periods are in the afternoon and evening, my ideal time for going to bed is about 2am. That would be how I’d live if I didn’t have a small boy who needs looking after (sadly he’s inherited my husband’s preference for early).

I felt guilty about it for years, as society labels us as lazy, then I heard a great documentary on Radio 4 about this and how people who are naturally late-set are just as hardwired into it as someone who is a natural early riser. Getting up early for us just means a lot of long-term sleep deficit as our sleep cycles can’t adjust very quickly at all.

Anywany, just thought you might like to know you aren’t alone.

17 03 2012
C. Rasmussen

Thank you for your comment and apologies for the late reply.

I have read some of the research about what you call late-set (here in Denmark, it’s termed B-person, which I suppose is slightly offensive). It’s interesting reading, but hard to get others to understand, especially since there are many late-set people out there who have become early risers due to the demands of society.

Oh, I could go on and on about this and how it fits in Danish society in particular, but perhaps that’s better suited for another blog post. 😉

And yes, it is good to know that I’m not alone. It does feel lonely sometimes when society wants you to follow a pattern that your body just can’t manage. So thank you for commenting. It means a lot.

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