Biphasic Sleep

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

Since the beginning of August I've been feeling tired and depressed even more of the time than usual. Particularly, I've been continuously feeling sleep deprived and irritable much like being jet lagged. As a result, for the last fortnight I've been experimenting with biphasic sleep; that is, splitting my night's sleep into two segments, getting up for an hour or a bit more in between.

Like many, I think, people of my age I tend to have to get up in the night now much more often than I used to. Even only using a red-light head torch I still often have a hard time getting back to sleep at all quickly. Often I need a second trip around 50 minutes later to fully empty my bladder after which I can usually get back to sleep OK.

Previously I've been going to bed around midnight (often in bed just before then reading for about 20 minutes so lights out just after midnight) with the alarm set for 07:30 or so depending on the expected weather. The trouble is that if I have to get up at around 04:00 and 05:00, or even earlier, it's been fully light by the time I'm settled again making it very difficult to get back to sleep resulting in one night's sleep of maybe only four or a little more hours rather than the 7½ I really need. Repeat that a couple of times a week and the sleep debt quickly builds up.

By the middle of August I was hardly functioning at all. The 1st was a good day (bright and calm) but I felt “one setback short of a meltdown” so left site soon after arrival then on impulse had a drive out across the Moine to see if there was any visible building activity for the spaceport as I wasn't clear what the state of this is. Nope, nothing to see. After that there were only a few short days fiddling around with things inside the house till the 11th when I put up the two sheets below the small bedroom window and the lower sheet to its east. I put another sheet up above and west of the bathroom window on the 13th.

On the 17th I set up new safety ropes a bit further along the roof and drilled the next sheet to go on the top row but by the time I'd got that ready to lift the breeze was beginning to build and I was really not up to dealing with any issues while racing against the weather to get things done so packed up and went home.

The next day I did a bit of fiddling around inside the house then came across a minor snag and lost my rag feeling overwhelmed by the whole project.

So, what I've been trying is going to bed about 1½ hours earlier than before (i.e., aiming for lights out by 22:30, with about 80% success rate) with an alarm set for 02:00. I get up then and mess around on the computer for about 1 to 1½ hours before going back to bed. It usually takes me a little while to get back to sleep but I then sleep solidly until the alarm goes off.

The overall idea is to accept I'll be awake for a bit more than an hour in the night so a) go to bed earlier to compensate and b) make some mildly productive use of that time.

It's by no means perfect but does seem to be less bad than my previous sleep regime. I need to get better at making sure I'm actually in bed by not long after 22:00 and lights out by 22:30 but I think I'll stick with it for a while, maybe trying variations like moving my up-time a little later or whatever.

Since then I've got the sheet I drilled on the 17th up and the upper sheet to the east of the small bedroom window. I'm currently car and van-less so have had one lift from my neighbour when she was going to Lybster anyway and got the bus up and back on Thursday. Unfortunately the bus times don't work at the weekend, all there is is one southbound bus in the morning and one northbound bus in the afternoon which is not too helpful when you want to make a trip to a point to the north of where you are.

When experimenting with this it's handy to have the central heating under software control so it's easy to set it to suit without having to fiddle around with a silly little modal UI with a very limited keyboard interface.

ed@george:~$ ch set off till 01:45 then 19.5 for 1:00 then off till 07:45 then 19.5 for 2:00 then off

Goodnight, again.