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muflax comments on Optimizing Sleep - Less Wrong

10 [deleted] 10 May 2011 11:36AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 12:03:13PM *  7 points [-]

Ha, story of my life.

A few things to check out that I found useful:

How much sun do you get, especially after waking up? Also, how far away from the equator do you live?

Caffeine? Alcohol? Both are evil. Cutting out caffeine was a major improvement for my sleeping schedule and level of concentration.

How much exercise do you get each day? Try walking or standing until exhaustion and see if you find it easier to go to bed earlier.

Also don't dismiss mental problems. Low-level background depression can easily lead to procrastination and drifting sleep. It certainly does for me.

Finally, just get used to it. I've been polyphasic for about a year. (Not anymore; kills my memory.) Spending 10+ hours each day in complete darkness and with no-one awake gives you a lot of time to think. After a while, you don't need people anymore. ;) I also spent a few months in high-school on an inverted schedule, getting up at 6-8pm and going to bed right after school. Works just fine. (Or try to make friends who are equally screwed up or who live in a different timezone.)

Comment author: gwern 10 May 2011 02:23:07PM 4 points [-]

Finally, just get used to it. I've been polyphasic for about a year. (Not anymore; kills my memory.)

Interesting; I've long suspected polyphasic sleep came with that sort of price. How were you benchmarking your memory?

Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 03:35:05PM 7 points [-]

Anki reps, mostly. I found that I could do proper review sessions for about 2-3 days and would hit an impenetrable wall. I couldn't learn a single new card and had total brain fog until I got 3 hours more sleep. That, however, would reset my adaptation.

The whole effect is a bit less pronounced on Everyman, but not much. It is however easier to add sleep when you already have a core.

I didn't notice any other major mental impairment after the initial sleep deprivation. I could (and did) play 16+ hours of BG2 and similar games each day and not break down. (I'm so grateful for the easiest difficulty setting now. One Uberman attempt took me 55 hours until I got any sleep at all and all my cognition went to hell. But I could still play HL2, although I got lost within an elevator.)

The other really bad thing about polyphasic sleep is impatience. Quote from my diary at the time (also notice the slight irritation):

Impatience is really getting annoying. Except for the short core I can't skip any time at all anymore. If something takes 6 hours, like a download for example, I will be awake (almost) all the time and have to wait. Every. Minute. Of. It. You see everything pass. Someone just went to bed and you want to talk about something? Prepare to sit there, for 8 hours or more, fully awake. Wrote some email and await an answer? You'll have memorized 500 digits of π before you get it. You can't skip anything, can't just hibernate a few hours. Once the sun went down, you'll sit in darkness, for 14 hours and more right now. If you are not president by day, superhero by night and mad scientist on the side, you'll be bored right out of your skull. Your puny hobbies are not enough for The Night That Never Ends, mortal!

Besides all that, it's cool and kinda works.

Comment author: gwern 10 May 2011 04:00:51PM 5 points [-]

Anki reps, mostly. I found that I could do proper review sessions for about 2-3 days and would hit an impenetrable wall. I couldn't learn a single new card and had total brain fog until I got 3 hours more sleep.

Oh, cool - as I understand it, Anki keeps fairly detailed statistics and exposes them to you; it'd be interesting to see graphs matched up with you being on Everyman vs Uberman, etc.

I didn't notice any other major mental impairment after the initial sleep deprivation...Besides all that, it's cool and kinda works.

Yeah, but I wonder what's really going on during polyphasic adaptation. Relevant tangential links:

Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 04:26:23PM *  1 point [-]

Oh, cool - as I understand it, Anki keeps fairly detailed statistics and exposes them to you; it'd be interesting to see graphs matched up with you being on Everyman vs Uberman, etc.

Well, yes, it would be, if I weren't a dumbass who threw them away. ;) I deleted my complete Anki deck at the time because it was pretty low quality and I was really getting annoyed with the content. I did another one that covered the later half of the polyphasic sleep period (which I also used to test my memory), but that was 1.5 years ago and as I have a fairly strict "delete boring cards" policy, virtually nothing of it is left.

Also, most of my diaries are gone. The only thing left are activity logs of some months (nothing really interesting) and several recaps I wrote based on the earlier material. Mania's a bitch.

Comment author: gwern 10 May 2011 04:33:55PM 5 points [-]

A Lesson is Learned But the Damage is Irreversible. People wonder why I hate to delete stuff, but examples like you are why.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 04:40:55PM 2 points [-]

Agreed. I'm now logging and saving much more aggressively. That wasn't the first chunk of important data I lost, but I try to make it the last.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 12:24:11PM *  0 points [-]

I try to avoid the evil influence of the daystar. I live in the lower half of the United States, and in a region in which it becomes uncomfortably hot during the day.

Walking is something that I tend to do in the evening and at night for fun as opposed to as a serious exercise.

The low-level background depression.... that could bear looking into. For me, the complete darkness by myself is a very relaxing sort of state of mind, but it can almost as easily lead to procrastination on the Internet as serious work.

The 'make insomniac friends' option also bears looking into. Perhaps I should post a sign next semester, "Insomniacs of Campus, Unite! You have nothing to lose except a whole lot of sleep!"

[Edited for nonsensical typo.]

Comment author: Vaniver 10 May 2011 02:00:47PM 1 point [-]

I try to avoid the evil influence of the daystar. I live in the lower half of the United States, and in a region in which it becomes uncomfortably hot during the day.

I suggest buying a blue light for light therapy, and using that in the morning. Melatonin at night is also pretty effective at cutting down insomnia (but can only do so much for me). Doing a significant amount of exercise during the day will also help you fall asleep more quickly, but that isn't really time-saving.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 May 2011 07:15:58PM 0 points [-]

Does a blue light really work? Do you use one yourself? I'm considering buying one for next fall (Germany gets pretty dark), but I'm still fairly skeptical given how useless most other treatments for sleep/mood disorders are.

Comment author: Vaniver 10 May 2011 08:02:10PM 0 points [-]

I use one myself sometimes. I cannot quantify its effectiveness, though, and so that's not terribly helpful.