Day 20: Conclusions

It's over. Today I finished the first leg of my sleep experiment - Segmented Sleep. I kept a log of the hours I actually 'slept.' I put slept in quotations there because what I really did was log when I went to sleep. I didn't actually fall asleep at these minutes. I could never record that without someone watching me and recording it for me. As I said in the introduction - "I am not an expert," nor did I do this in a lab. I did it out of sheer curiosity. Below are my conclusions:

Log of actual bedtime and waketime hours during my experiment.

Log of actual bedtime and waketime hours during my experiment.

As you can see above, I went to bed each night between 9PM and 10:30PM. Much of this hinged on how my day was going - what was I involved in doing that day, who I was hanging out with, or where I was other than at home. You may also be able to see that I began getting out of bed later and later in the morning. I have found that my body - my female circadian rhythm - does not care at all that the sun has come up. She wants to sleep in the morning. There is little I can apparently do about this. I am not an earlier riser and likely never will be. 

Interestingly, and quite surprisingly, I found that getting up in the middle of the night - that nameless wake time between first and second sleep - was very easy. I woke up naturally 5 out of 20 of the nights. You can see that I indicated 'natural wake up' with an uppercase 'N.' I hypothesize I would have woken up naturally more often, had I continued to go to sleep earlier. 

Probably the most surprising conclusion I came to during this study was that I didn't feel I needed to force my body very often to wake up or to sleep. While I did use alarms, I used soothing alarms so I wouldn't startle myself out of a REM cycle unnaturally. This ended up meaning that I was more aware of my cycles during first sleep. And, like studies have shown, I slept deeper during second sleep, and had my most vivid dreams in the morning hours. 

Right from the beginning of the study, I wondered whether or not waking with others - family or communally - would make the process easier. I didn't have the pleasure of doing this communally, but I did find a friend who would participate in my mid-wake hours. And it is hard to place a value comparison on waking alone versus waking with another human. I enjoyed both quite immensely. I enjoyed the quiet reflective time in the night alone. And I equally enjoyed talking with someone. Last night, for my last purposeful wake time, I went out and had a beer with a friend. It was interesting because I felt like we were out much earlier, yet we were surrounded by the 1AM crowd, complete with drunk girls dancing near a pool table, and an ambulance showing up for some patio ruckus. The experience, while enjoyable because I was with a friend, was strange. I assume that if most people slept in segments, the 1AM crowd would be calmer, perhaps less drunk, and the experience would seem less artificial on my end. 

Over the course of the next few days, I'm curious to find out if I will wake in the night on my own, even though I will have no alarms or reminders set, I'll no longer be keeping a log, and no longer be writing about it. One thing I'm really looking forward to is having social time in the night, and not having to tell other adults that my bedtime is at 8:51PM. 

I plan on taking a week off from my experiment. I need a break from science. Please do check back, as I will likely have a follow up post on here soon. And I will be planning the 30 hour cycle as soon as I'm ready to experiment on myself again.