Stephen Brown's Blog

Sleeping Without an Alarm: Update 3

Posted Friday 05 December 2014 08:29 by Steve in Sleep

I'm not going to write a lot here, and this update is long overdue, but after going without my alarm for a while I decided to start using the alarm again. My sleeping pattern was shifting too much and it was affecting the quality of my naps.

When I have a good nap in the middle of the day I am a lot more productive in the afternoon. This means I get two periods each day where I'm super-productive and I can get a lot more work done, which in turn means a better hourly rate. When my nap fails at midday I struggle in the afternoon and often achieve very little.

Here is a sleep chart from when I wasn't using an alarm:

This was my typical sleeping pattern without an alarm

As you can see, my waking time was starting to slip and I was taking a while to fall asleep at night. I also missed a couple of naps and was having generally shorter naps.

Here is a sleep chart from after I started to use my alarm again:


I'm not being so anal about my waking time now, and am setting my alarm forward or backwards each night depending on how tired I am. I am missing a lot less naps and am generally functioning better.

The only bad thing about my new sleeping pattern is that I'm getting into a bad habit of waking up, setting my alarm for half an hour later and going back to bed. Apart from that I'm much happier sleeping like this and glad things are back to normal, although I did enjoy the beginning of this experiment where I was still waking up early, just without the alarm.

Overall I think my internal body clock is slightly out of phase with the real world. If I let myself wake and sleep whenever I feel like it, my sleeping pattern seems to shift backwards, so I think I need the alarm clock to keep a consistent sleeping pattern. One reason for this might be that we have to have the curtains closed in the bedroom due to having a street lamp outside our window, which means it doesn't really get lighter when the sun comes up. Maybe I need to experiment with a sunlight alarm clock, or something that opens the curtains in the morning, but that's a topic for another post...

Leave a Comment

Sleeping Without an Alarm: Update 2

Posted Wednesday 04 June 2014 06:44 by Steve in Sleep

I've been doing this for just over 2 weeks, and so far this experiment has been a success. Here is my sleep chart for the past 9 days:


I copied this in the morning so the afternoon sleep from today is missing (it hasn't happened yet).

As you can see, there have been quite a few days where I've woken up late for one reason or another. The latest I woke up was on Thursday when I woke up at 7:30am. Each time this happens I think "I won't be napping today" but so far I haven't missed a nap.

I'm still a little worried that over time my sleeping pattern will start to shift, so I'm going to keep an eye on things until I've been doing this for at least a month. I'm not sure if I'll do another update on this, but you can always check on my sleep chart because it's pretty obvious if I go back to using the alarm as the wake up time would be the same every day.

Leave a Comment

Sleeping Without an Alarm: Update 1

Posted Tuesday 27 May 2014 19:38 by Steve in Sleep

I've been doing this for a week now, and it seems to be going pretty well. Here is my sleep chart for the first week:

Sleep chart for the first 8 days

The first couple of days went surprisingly well: I woke up about half an hour later than I would normally wake up with the alarm. The time I woke up was slipping back eachday though, and on the fourth day I woke up at 6:30am which made me think maybe it wouldn't work. After that it went back to before 6:00am and has continued to be in the 5am - 6am range most days, which is when I want to get up.

The other thing that I was worried about was that I would sleep in, then not be tired at nap time and then my whole sleeping pattern would get messed up. I'm happy to say that this hasn't napping, and my naps have generally been about 1.5 hours in length which is better than before.

Overall I'm finding the experience of waking up without an alarm to be a lot more pleasant, I'm feeling less tired in the day and generally enjoying this. I'll write another update in a week's time.

Leave a Comment

Sleep Mini-Experiment: Sleeping Without an Alarm

Posted Monday 19 May 2014 07:01 by Steve in Sleep

It's been over a year since my last update. I've been continuing to log my sleeps on my sleep chart, and now I've added a dream diary to it. I've also been tracking some important changes that I've been making in the 'my missions' page. This blog is something that I like to use to log experiments and relatively short term projects, especially that don't fit into any of the other categories.

Before I go into details of my latest experiment I'm just going to give a short update on my sleeping pattern.

Biphasic Sleep May 2013 to May 2014

I've been sleeping biphasically for 1 year and 10 months now, and I'm still enjoying my sleeping pattern. I've recently made the switch from being employed to starting my own business, and having 2 'mornings' in a day is something that I think is great for my productivity. Sometimes after programming for a few hours I can feel myself slowing down, and the best thing to get back into the swing of things is a couple of hours asleep to recharge, and then I can work quickly and efficiently again.

My daily routine tends to be as follows:

5:00amWake up, clean teeth, cup of tea
5:15amTurn on the computer, check emails, type up my sleep comments and any dreams. Sometimes do half an hour or freelancing work (especially if I have to launch some changes to a client's site)
6:00amMake breakfast
6:30amHalf an hour freelancing work
7:00amWake Yu Lee up. Sometimes make her breakfast and a packed lunch
7:30amFreelance work
10:30amLunch time
11:30amIf I'm tired I go to bed early. If it's sunny I sit in the garden and have a beer. Otherwise I tend to relax and watch You Tube videos for a while
12:30pmNap Time
3:00pmWake up, clean teeth, shower, cup of tea
3:30pmFreelance work
6:00pmDinner time
11:30pmBed time

Obviously nothing is set in stone, and I often do a bit of work in the other slots. Sometimes if it's a nice day I'll spend more time outside and do a bit of gardening, but this is the general pattern. The main thing is that my sleeping pattern helps me get as much done in the afternoon as the morning, without feeling like I've been grinding away all day.

When I started setting my alarm at 5:00am each day, one of the main motivations for that was that I was working part time at WorldPay, and also doing some of my freelancing work on the side. It was helpful to get up and do a couple of hours freelancing work before heading off at 7:30am to go to my 'day job'. I also took my nap at around 12:30pm and was always pretty tired, and started having longer and longer naps.

Now that I don't have my 'day job' any more (or I only have my day job - whichever way you look at it) I don't need to get up and do a couple of hours or work each morning before having a big chunk of my day taken up by something else. I really don't have anywhere that I need to be most days, and I can pretty much do whatever I want.

Sleeping With an Alarm Clock

I've conditioned myself to jump out of bed at 5:00am and turn the alarm off quickly, and this has become a consistent part of my morning routine. Although this is an effective way to get up each morning, it's not the most pleasant way to wake up and sometimes I do wake up feeling very tired. Recently I've been thinking that it would be much more pleasant to get up without it.

Oneproblem with my alarm is that Yu Lee has become totally immune to it. She says it's harder for her to use an alarm when she needs to because she is used to mine going off and has learnt to sleep through it. This is one of the reasons that I wake her every morning.

Another problem with relying on the alarm is that when I accidentally turn it off or set it wrong I will tend to sleep in for a long time. If I wake up in the morning and the alarm hasn't gone off, I instantly think "the alarm hasn't gone off yet, therefore I don't need to get up yet." This leads to me feeling groggy when I do wake up and sleeping in for a long time.

There are numerous other disadvantages: having to set an alarm when I go somewhere; not being able to easily catch up on a little sleep when I'm sleep deprived; the fact that the alarm going off seems to pretty much erase any memories of dreams that I've had. Basically it's an unpleasant, unenjoyable way to start the day!

Sleeping Without and Alarm Clock

For the next week or two I will be seeing what happens if I don't set an alarm in the morning. I'm hoping that I will keep my biphasic sleeping pattern, but possibly spend a little less time napping and a little more time in my core sleep. Hopefully I will still get up early each day, but if I do start getting up slightly later it's not really a problem as I have no commitments in the mornings.

Throughout this experiment I intend to use the following rule to decide if I will get up or not: When I wake up, if it's later than 4:00am, I will get up.

If my sleeping pattern starts to slip a little I might try setting the alarm for 6:00am, and keeping it in mind that the alarm is a final resort, and that I should generally be getting up before the alarm. If my sleeping pattern continues to slip I will probably have to ditch this experiment and accept that I'm stuck with the alarm for life!

Either way, I will definitely write some updates on here so that you can read whether it worked or not.

Day 1

I'm not going to give daily updates, but as I'm writing this I might as well say how it went this morning!

Today I woke up naturally at 5:15am. I then dozed off for about 10 minutes, and then got out of bed. I felt a little tired, but it was nice not to be jolted out of bed by the alarm.

The surprising thing is that after my lapse of willpower when I let myself go back to sleep, that I only dozed for 10 minutes and still managed to get up on my own. This is hopeful!

Leave a Comment

Biphasic Sleep - March and April

Posted Wednesday 01 May 2013 22:47 by Steve in Sleep

I didn't bother to post anything last month, as I don't have a huge amount to talk about any more. Things are going well and I am still enjoying my biphasic sleeping pattern. Let's have a look at my sleep charts for the past 2 months.

Here is the sleep chart for March:

March Sleep Chart

If you want to view this chart with all of the mouse over comments go here: March Sleep Chart.

In March I slept a little less than usual with an average of 6:42 hours per day, and for one week in the middle my average sleep per day dropped as low as 6:00 hours. I had 3 days where I missed my nap but overall it was pretty good.

In the first half of the month you can see a section where my naps suddenly became a lot longer. This was when I was in Spain visiting my dad: we go to the bar every day at lunch time when we are over there, and when I nap after a few beers I pass out for a lot longer!

Also on the 31st you can see a very long sleep on the chart. This sleep looks longer than it actually is due to the fact that the clocks went forward in the middle of the night, although I did sleep for 7:38 hours which is a lot for me (and I felt pretty rough when I woke up).

Here is the chart for April:

April Sleep Chart

If you want to view this chart with all of the mouse over comments go here: AprilSleep Chart.

Again things went pretty well in April and I only had 3 days where I didn't nap. The main thing you can see here is that I have started to nap a bit earlier in the day towards the end of the month. At work I had a conversation with my manager and he agreed that I could take 2 hours for lunch and leave an hour later to come home, which means that I now have enough time to quickly walk home, sleep for 1.5 hours and then return to work for the afternoon. So far these naps haven't been the best in the world, but the quality of my sleep is improving and it's great to not feel tired in the afternoon (especially when I have a boring meeting and everyone seems to be falling asleep!).

Towards the end of the month we went to visit some friends in Coventry so my sleep pattern shifted a bit later than normal. I was pretty tired in the evening but not too bad, and I managed to get my sleeping pattern back to normal without being totally sleep deprived like I would normally be on my old sleeping pattern. I still managed a lay in before work on Monday but sleeping in for 2 hours only means I need to stay in bed until 6:30am which is still pretty early for work.

The following is a graph of my hours of sleep each day for the entire month:


The grey dots represent the number of hours I slept in each 24 hour period, and the blue line is a 7 day rolling average. As you can see, I slept more than usual at the start of March while I was in Spain, then a lot less than usual when I got back (6 hours per day for a week or 2) and then it went back up to my more usual 7 hours per day. I really don't have any idea why my need for sleep varies so much!

Overall things are going well at the moment. The biggest thing to affect my sleep quality has been getting new neighbours. I knew the old ones were a bit loud as sometimes I would hear their tv very loud, but what I didn't realise is that they were very noisy when just moving around the house. I used to constantly hear them slamming around, running up and down the stairs and walking from one end of the house to the other slamming each door behind them.

At the time I just put it down to the walls being thin, but then when my new neighbours moved in I realised they were just really noisy people! It took me a couple of weeks to even be sure that anyone was living next door after they moved in, and I was only 100% sure when I heard them hoovering a couple of times. One time they woke me up from a nap with the hoover, but instead of being angry it didn't even bother me. It's amazing ow much difference it makes to your life to not constantly hear people through the walls...

Leave a Comment