First off let's have a bit of a recap. When I initially started my sleep experiment, my goal was to try out a different sleeping pattern to try and decrease the hours of sleep that I needed each day, so that I could spend more time awake and doing things. This was a failure! I couldn't get through the adaptation period as it was making me miserable, so I decided to give up and try something else.
The next thing that I decided to try was a biphasic sleep schedule, as this was supposed to be much easier to adapt to and still offers a slight decrease in the hours slept each day. As I continued with the biphasic sleeping pattern my goals began to change: instead of trying to optimise the amount of sleep that I was having I decided to work on the quality of my sleep instead. Around this time I created my sleep mission on my website with my new goals.
Throughout most of my life I have nearly always had problems sleeping. When I was very young, one thing that I clearly remember was having to go to bed at 9:00pm each night but laying in bed for 1 or 2 hours almost every single night before I could get to sleep. As a teenager I often would get by on a lot less sleep than I needed during the week, and then sleep in until the afternoon on the weekends, and this is something I have continued to do right through until my working life.
When I was at university things got even worse and at one point and I actually ended up with a sleeping pattern that was longer than the 24 hour day! I had a cycle that went a bit like this: sleep for 9 hours, stay awake for 16 - 17 hours. During term time I would keep this under control but during the long holidays that I had back then I would end up going to bed 1-2 hours later each day until I ended up going to sleep at 8:00am and getting up at 5:00pm! My main memories from this period were staying up all night and playing computer games, and going shopping at Tesco at 3:00am (which was cool because I used to cycle and no cars were on the roads trying to kill me at this time of day!).
Since university I have been working so my sleeping pattern has obviously not been able to get that ridiculous, but recently I had been sleeping 7.5 - 8 hours each night during the week, and then on the weekend laying in until 10:00am to catch up on sleep. On Sunday I would normally be mostly caught up, but then I wouldn't be able to sleep until 2:00am, which meant I would only get 5 hours sleep and would feel tired again for all of the following week.
I'm pretty sure that I could have improved on that without switching to an unconventional sleeping schedule, but it would probably have involved sleeping 8 - 8.5 hours each night, and this would have been difficult for me. Whenever I tried to go to bed early enough to get this amount of sleep I would often find it very difficult to sleep, so normally I would end up laying in bed for an hour and still only get 7.5 hours.
My Biphasic Sleeping Schedule
Since I have started my biphasic sleeping schedule my whole lifestyle has changed. Before the switch I was drinking 2 or 3 beers every single night, and sometimes having a whiskey afterwards. I was drinking 5 or 6 cups of tea every day, so my body was constantly under the effects of either caffeine (which I am really sensitive to) or alcohol, apart from when I was sleeping. Every night I would need to get up to go to the toilet and every morning I would wake up really thirsty. The shortest amount of time it would take me to fall asleep was generally about 20 minutes, and on a bad night (of which there were many) I would go to bed at 11:30 and still be awake at 2:00am! I felt tired every day during the week and wasted half of the day in bed on the weekend, and even when I felt tired in the evening I still found it difficult to sleep.
Since I have changed my sleeping pattern all of this has changed! Practically overnight I went from having 2 or 3 beers a night to having 2 or 3 beers a week, and I reduced the amount of tea I drank to a sensible amount (3 cups a day). I no longer feel tired all day in the week and I get tired very quickly in the hour or so before bed time and fall asleep easily, both for my nap and for my evening core sleep. I get up early every day including the weekends and if I want to I can easily leave the house by 6:00am.
The main difficulties with keeping a schedule like this stem from the fact that I am living in a society where everyone sleeps differently to me. Sometimes it can be difficult to do certain things, for example going out for a beer after work or staying away from home. Most of these things are not as big a deal as you would think though.
First of all, with respect to my sleep pattern affecting my social life, it is generally not really a problem. I come home from work early (at 4:00pm) and sleep, and I can set an alarm for 6:00pm if I need to meet up with my friends in the evening. This generally isn't a problem as a lot of people get in from work later than this, so on a week day it has very little impact on my social life.
The main problem with this sleeping pattern is when I need to be away from home for longer periods of time. When I am staying away from home I either have the option of finding a way to nap, or skipping my nap and being very tired for half of the day. I would always prefer to take the nap if I can as I am not very good company when I'm half asleep!
The one thing that I haven't really experimented with at the moment is going out for the day, but I'm sure I will get to practice this in the summer when the weather is better and we go out more. I expect I will just leave the house earlier and come back earlier. I can easily leave the house at 6:00 and then I can come back home in time for my nap, or sleep in the car on the way back.
The other problem with sleeping during the day is finding somewhere dark and quiet to sleep but normally I can get by with a face mask and some ear plugs.
For a while I have been saying that the real test of whether or not I have fully adapted will be if I can survive Christmas without screwing up my schedule. Christmas is over now, and I think overall it went pretty well!
This year I worked Christmas Eve and finished early, so that day I took an early nap just like on a weekend. On Christmas day we got up early and drove down to London to spend the day with Yu Lee's family.
We had Christmas dinner with Yu Lee's sister in her house and it was a very big meal, so by 3:00pm we were pretty tired. We had already decided to go back to Yu Lee's mum's house for our nap and when we got there her next door neighbours were having a bit of a party, but once I had put my ear plugs in I could barely hear it and fell asleep easily. We slept for about an hour and a half and got back to Yu Lee's sister's house just in time for dessert! I actually think it was lovely to have a break from everything and when we came back we felt refreshed and alert and enjoyed the rest of the day, and were easily able to stay up until 12:30am.
Throughout the rest of the days at Yu Lee's mum's house things were similar to this. We napped as usual and it wasn't a problem at all and none of them cared that we were missing in the middle of the day for a couple of hours. One of the things I love about staying there is that we can always do exactly what we want as everyone seems to do their own thing. The only difference to my sleeping pattern was that it shifted a bit later than usual, and we went to bed between midnight and 1am and I got up between 5:30am and 6:00am.
On 27th December we went to my mum's house for a second Christmas. This went very similarly to Christmas with Yu Lee's lot, and we had a lovely Christmas dinner and went to bed for a while in the early afternoon. We sat around the table after our nap until about 1:00am again and had a lovely time. Our family don't all get together very often so it was nice to see everyone in one place.
When the topic of sleep came up before our nap, my brother's girlfriend actually sounded interested in trying an afternoon nap. She said that she often falls asleep in front of the tv at about 9pm and would like to be able to feel less tired in the evening.
My brother and stepdad on the other hand weren't so enthusiastic! I think my brother just wanted an excuse to have a bit of a moan at me, but my stepdad really didn't seem very impressed. He said things like "When I was your age we used to stay up late without needing to take a nap. I don't see why you can't just get on with it" and "I think you're putting too much emphasis on your sleep". I remember feeling a bit upset at being judged like this, especially considering that this is the only time in the past 4 months of doing this that anyone has taken offense to my sleeping pattern. I don't think either of them have ever had any trouble sleeping though so I suppose they don't understand what it's like to lay in bed for hours every night without being able to sleep.
Apart from that everything was pretty uneventful until New Year's Eve. We didn't really do a lot for the new year: we stayed at Yu Lee's mum's house and spent the evening playing Boggle which was actually surprisingly good fun. We went to bed just after midnight and laid in bed listening to the fireworks which was surprisingly relaxing, and then I fell asleep easily and drifted off into a nice sleep.
The next thing I knew it was 1:30am and I was woken up by the loudest house party I have ever heard in my life! Next door to Yu Lee's mum is a student house, and all of the students were there over the new year. At 1:30am they decided it was a good idea to play Gangnam Style at full volume which actually woke me up from a deep sleep. I remember feeling quite angry as it was extremely loud. I don't think you should ever really play music that loud when you are sharing a party wall. I think it's fair enough to have a party but this really was excessive.
After that I laid in bed for about an hour before I managed to fall asleep again. Luckily I had earplugs to block out most of the noise. When I did finally fall asleep I had the following lucid dream. This is copied straight from my dream journal.
Tue 1 Jan 4:00
This dream took place in the garden of my Mum's old house at 35 York Avenue where I grew up. There were a few people there and I don't remember who exactly, but I remember that Yu Lee's mum was there. In my dream I am my current age
We are sitting on the ground in the garden and suddenly someone has a big horrible spider on them. I look at it as they flick it off and I say that actually it is not a spider. When it's on the ground I look closer and it is big, green and looks like it is made of plants. It isindescribableand has a very dream-like look to it.
I say that I think it is an insect, and I am sure that I know what type but I can't think of the name. All of a sudden I think of the name at the same time as another dream character and almost in unison we both say "It's a Goliath".
The next thing I remember happening is that a fighter plane flies over, pretty close to the ground, and we all look up at it. Suddenly I can somehow see a news report on the TV and the same fighter jet is being shown, but this time the camera moves above the plane so that you can see the markings. It is a grey colour with a white logo on each wing that consists of a thick white outline with a big white dot in the middle.
The news says that it is a Jewish war plane and that the Jews are invading the UK! Everyone is taking it very seriously and seems to be quite alarmed.
As soon as I saw the logo on the news I felt that I'd seen it before very recently, probably from an earlier part of the dream.
As I stand there in the garden thinking about what is happening I begin to think that this cannot be real and that I must be dreaming. Even while I think this I don't really believe that I'm dreaming, but as a test I leap into the air and jump about 4 meters over the gate in the side passage. I realise that I really am dreaming and fly over to the house on the opposite side of the road.
As I fly towards the house the dream starts to fade so I try to focus hard on the scenery and look around noticing every detail. This works and the dream becomes more vivid again.
I continue flying towards the house, and fly close enough to the chimney to touch it and look at the colours and textures of the brickwork. The texture is incredibly detailed and I can't believe that my brain is capable of generating such realistic images. The dream starts to fade but this time it fades out completely to black. As my vision fades and the sounds of the dream world start to disappear some kind of electronic music starts to fade in.
I open my eyes and I am in Yu Lee's bed at her mum's house. It's 4:00am and loud techno music is playing from next door from the house party.
I got up to write some notes about the dream and got back to sleep about 40 minutes later, when I had another lucid dream! This one was much longer, and this was the first time I had ever had such a long lucid dream or had 2 in one night.
After that I went back to sleep again and had broken sleep until 8:00am.
The next day I felt tired all day, but when I went for my nap I couldn't sleep. In the evening I felt really sleepy and went to bed at about 11:00pm, and woke up the next morning at 5:00am. I felt really sleepy the next day too as I obviously had accumulated a bit of sleep debt, and this lasted until I finished work when I had one of the best naps I have ever had! I slept solidly for nearly 3 hours and woke up feeling like a different person.
Since then my sleeping pattern has gone back to exactly how it was before Christmas. Overall things went pretty well. Even though I did mess up my sleeping pattern on New Year's Eve, it went straight back to normal after just one day, where I would normally have a whole week of feeling tired on my old monophasic sleeping pattern. I almost feel like I am better adapted to this than I ever was to my 'normal' sleeping pattern, so I have decided to mark my sleep mission on my website as a success!