experience narrative

Day 12 - Reflecting on the Night Off

As you may know, if you have read my previous entries, I took the night off from the experiment a couple of nights ago. It was fun, to say the least, and it also shed a little light on how I have been feeling during this experiment, reinforcing some ideas, and introducing others. 

Wednesday night, the night of Day 10, I went with a friend to a speakeasy-style bar and we hung out with his rather interesting friend, the bartender. At first, I was SUPER tired. By 10, it felt like it was 2AM. But we had a good time - we debated monopolies with an AT&T employee and there was some friendly yelling about capitalism. And by 1AM, I was wide awake, and could easily have continued on with the night. But I wanted to get some reasonable sleep, so I went home and slept directly through the night until 9AM. 

The next day, I felt amped. I was excitable, and kind of jumpy. And I was hungrier. I felt guilty about skipping the experiment for one night, but when I realized how much difference I could tell between how I felt after sleeping all night, versus in segments, I thought it was worth it. 

Last night, I went back to normal, though it was hard to fall asleep after having slept until 9AM. 

Tonight, I go on a totally spontaneous adventure to visit a friend in Augusta. I'm bringing candles, and we'll see what happens. This friend has graciously agreed to hang out with  me, sans electric lights, in the middle of the night. I suspect the rest of this experiment (8 days left) will be filled with me just sort of messing with it to see what happens... 

Day 10 - The Halfway Mark

I thought that by now I would start waking up naturally. It's only sort of happening. 

As you know from my recent narratives, I have been waking up in the middle of the night with little problem. But it's seriously getting old. I'm running out of things to do in the middle of the night. I've finished a novel, read several magazines, written rather extensively in my journal... I now TOTALLY understand the phrase 'burning the midnight oil.' 

As both a social person AND a night owl, it's hard not to succumb to peer pressure and quit this thing at day 14 instead of 20. 

I haven't decided what to do with myself tonight. I'm sort of edgy. I sort of want to break up with this experiment. But I won't. Instead - I'm going on hiatus for one night. 

Tonight. I stay out after dark. 

Day 8 - Sometimes Sleep Comes Hard

Last night I couldn't sleep. I tried. I tried some more. I texted a friend when I realized I knew where to find ice cream (real, actual ice cream) in the Atlanta area. I tried again. 

I gave up and did what I normally do between sleeps and tried again at... hold on... I'm keeping a log of it all... 00:45. Finally, it worked. Hopefully tonight I'll be back on track. Was it the case of too much energy build up, like I was blaming for giving me the shakes? 

Actually, it turns out I think I might have had a cold. The night before last, when I again got up at exactly 00:47 (naturally), I sneezed uncontrollably the entire time I was awake. Let me tell you, that's hard on the candles I use to read during those times. I also slept in until 8:32 the next morning. Now, if you had told me a month ago that I would ever think of 8:32AM as sleeping in, I would have said something less than pleasant. But here I was, 'sleeping in' until 8:32AM. And last night, I was so hot, I couldn't sleep. Granted, this was in combination with my obsessively stressing out about how much I haven't been writing toward my dissertation, but I can usually calm my mind when I'm thinking too much. No. I was burning up. 

Today I feel fine, if a little tired. But I don't feel guilty about disrupting the sleep schedule because that sort of thing HAD to have happened to pre-industrial people too. Heck - according to Roger Ekirch, a lot of people got super drunk in order to get to sleep before 10PM - the hour considered the 'best' time by Dame Sarah Cowper, upper-class socialite diary keeper in 1705. So a little cold keeping me up until nearly 1AM isn't the worst thing in the world. 

Day 6 - Got the Shakes

As I suspected, the weekend is harder than the weekdays to be conducting a sleep experiment that keeps me home in the night-time hours. I can't go to birthday parties, out for a few late drinks... nothing. 

But - as I was observing the other day, drinking before sleep does affect me a lot. I am pretty much changing up my entire lifestyle. As I get used to this sleep schedule, however, I am finding that I get up naturally in the night time - so far it's been exactly at 12:47AM two nights in a row. And that I don't want to go to sleep right at sundown, but really right at dark. And I don't get up with the sun, but about an hour later. So this is turning out interestingly. I'm still using alarms, but I'm wondering if I'll need to in a couple more days. 

Today though, I woke up with the shakes. I mildly (very mildly) suspect that I may have a cold. But I'm also wondering whether or not all this resting is making me jumpy. I am a VERY high energy person to begin with - so high energy that I wear people out just by hanging out with them. My current hypothesis is that I am shaking with excess energy. I ran about 5-6 miles today and I felt much better. I'll see how it goes over the next several days. 

In the meantime, I'm going out with friends, but I'll be leaving early - on a Saturday night - and it doesn't make me happy. Sure, I could quit this whole thing and just live a regular life again - but where's the fun in that? Then I'd just be a quitter. 

Day 4 - Drinking and Driving

It's WAY past sundown, so I'm going to keep this short-ish. 

Things are still going well. It's still easier to get up in the middle of the night rather then in the morning. This morning I slept until 8 - which is contributing (a little) to my not being all that tired tonight. 

I'm having a hard time feeling tired tonight. I bought a car today. I didn't plan to execute the operation of the purchase today, but I found a really good deal, I liked the sales guy, we haggled, I signed. I own a car. And I still am not sure it was exactly the wisest choice in the whole world, but it was the right time. I haven't owned a car in well over 10 years, so... it was time. And now I'm overly excited about the whole thing, and negatively excited about a lot of the reactions I've been getting from family such as, "now you're more free" - which totally baffles me - but this isn't a blog about my car buying experience. 

Let's get back to the topic at hand:

I am noticing a few things as I conduct this experiment:

1. It matters what I eat before I go to bed. I went to watch a soccer match with friends before bed yesterday - ate a BLT, had a few beers, ate some popcorn - woke up at 12:30AM feeling kind of gross. Usually this kind of food-discomfort has left me by morning... but not at 12:30AM. 

2. It is VERY hard not to go out with my friends after dark. I'm really late getting to bed right now because I wanted to have a celebratory drink with friends because... I bought a new car! (just one, I don't drink and drive)

3. Alcohol DOES affect sleep. I had zero problem getting to sleep after 3 beers yesterday, but a hell of a time waking up in the morning. Very oddly, it did not affect the night time awakeness. I wasn't drunk - I read my novel by candlelight just fine. But I still felt... off... in the morning. 

So my findings at this early stage are that my food and drink intake are directly related to my sleep - as is my light source. And that this was probably easier when everyone did it. 

Oh, the weekend is going to be socially difficult.