Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Monday, March 17, 2008

Week 11, Day 1: Sleep means... rest?

Today is my first day of being officially "rested". [The official "sleep report" of last night is at the end of this entry.]

I went to bed last night at about 10:40. I know I said I'd do 10 pm, but honestly, in the relative scale of Jeffrey Beaumont sleep activity this was a significant bedtime for me. I can, without exaggeration, count with both hands the number of times I've gone to bed before 11 pm over the past eight years.

I am a person with sleep habits that would be described by most (non-monk category) people as "terrible", "dangerous" or "inexplicable." I have pretty much always been this way, dating back to being a two year old who freaked his parents out at night by climbing out of his crib at night to come downstairs and watch TV with them. This was followed by years of reading-by-flashlight past my curfew (which my grandmother, bless her heart, used to say was the cause of my burgeoning myopia). Finally around age 14 or so there was no longer a sleep curfew--just my dad waking up to go to the bathroom at 1am yelling upstairs, "Get off the
computer and go to bed!" Then I went to college a few years later and bad sleep habits were cemented by four years of sleep patterns best described as "retarded."

Basically, I've just never really cared for sleep. Or at least, not getting any more of it than I feel I need. Mostly, I hate "going to bed"--I am a person who is rarely or never bored and so it always seems like there's something I could be doing at night rather than going to bed. Which is, of course, a hilarious thought given that I'm a terrible ADHD procrastinator with a horrible sense of time management and so despite the many things I could be doing at night, I'm often just senselessly awake for the sake of not sleeping.

And these bad sleep habits have seemed to hit a peak of preposterousness lately. Specifically I do not believe that I have gone to bed before 12:30 even once since a few days before Thanksgiving, and the vast majority of the days I've gone to bed after 2:30. This began with going through one of my first bouts of true insomnia, starting around Thanksgiving and continuing until Christmas, followed by the beginning of Hyperliving as 2008 rolled around. Just as I finally became able to sleep at night, I took on a schedule of hypermotive activity like nothing else I'd experienced and bad sleep habits became crazy sleep habits. For once, I had become so active that, between "living, hyperliving, and documenting my hyperliving", I began to feel like I truly didn't have time to sleep.

I would estimate that for 5 or 6 days of each week in 2008 I have been sleeping only between 3-5 hours a night, and the other nights--even including weekends--I have gotten 6 or maybe 7 hours of sleep only. For a while I was fine on this crazy schedule, but at some point a few weeks ago I felt an overwhelming sense of major exhaustion creeping in and I knew that something had to change. Part of the problem, as I suggested earlier, is that I am not very efficient with my time. I need to budget more time than most people to complete each individual task because my mind is constantly distracted and wandering from what I'm supposed to be doing. Writing, blogging, cleaning, even getting dressed or getting ready for work... all of these activities take forever because I can't go for more than a few minutes without stopping to pick up a banana, check out a sports score, poke through my iTunes library, pick up a basketball, pick up my guitar, und so weite. Essentially anything laying around my house that could serve as a focus deterrent becomes one, and so it becomes a shitty struggle for me get through anything in a reasonable amount of time, let alone quickly.

A part of me is obviously comfortable with these distractions, and my liberal sense of timing coupled with my lack of concern over not sleeping enables these behaviors more further... but let me be clear that I wish it were different. I don't like the fact that I stay later at work than everyone else, because I get there later and then need more time to get basic shit done. And even for things that are fun, like writing, it still takes me forever to finish my thoughts, even when I have something specific I want to write about--and often by end I feel like i've left out some crucial points that I lost focus on and forgot about. The constant wanderings my mind aren't just frustrating; they sort of kill me.

But wrapped up in part of this week's task is an acknowledgment that at least part of my struggles may very likely come as a result of never operating at 100% brainpower, because, honestly, there's just no way anyone runs at 100% on only 3-5 hours of sleep a night. I have little doubt that I am less predisposed than most toward holding "normal" patterns of attention, but I truly have no way of knowing for sure how real my "problems" are and to what degree they come from never being rested enough, since (I'd guess) I have spent most of my entire life underrested.

So we'll see how this week goes. 10 pm is really early, more early honestly than I need, but if I want this to truly be an experiment, I needed to raise the sleep meter high enough so as to be certain that I'm getting a statistically significant increase in sleep/rest.

The official Night 1 Sleep Report
--Went to bed: 10:40 pm
--Sleep music: Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
--Fell asleep: approx. 11:05 pm
--First woke up: 1:22 am
--Subsequent wakeups: 3:30 am, 4:15 am, 4:40am, 5:05 am, 5:29 am, 5:51 am, 6:14 am, 6:32 am, 6:51 am, 7:06 am, 7:13 am (all without alarm clock)
--Out of bed/wide-awake: 7:22 am
--Total sleep period (counting brief wake-ups): 8 hrs, 17 min

As you can see, my body wasn't entirely prepared for all of this sleep, as I first woke up at 1:22 am (!!!!). It depresses the shit out of me a little that my body is like, "Oh two hours, cool, ready to go (sort of) if that's what you need." Worse though is the fact starting at 3:30 (4.5 hrs of sleep down) I began to wake-up approximately every thirty minutes for the duration of my "sleep" until I got up for good at 7:22--without the aid of my alarm, which had been set for 7:30. Worth noting is that each of these times I awoke, I wasn't so rested or alert that I actually wanted to get out of bed, but I was awake enough so that I couldn't just fall back to sleep and stay asleep.

We'll see how the rest of the week goes (hopefully better than last night), but I'm excited that maybe I'll learn something new or at least for a few days see a different side of Jeffrey Beaumont.

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