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The DSPD Experiment

Being unemployed, my body has rejected my alarm clock and adopted a sleep cycle that is far off from a normal 9-5 work day. This is a struggle I have faced my entire life, with the periods where I have been forced to a morning schedule strongly correlating with the most depressed parts of my life.

During one of my summer breaks during my college years, I shut off my alarm clock and allowed my body to adopt its own sleep cycle, independent of societal norms. I naturally settled on a 2AM-10AM sleep cycle at that point in my life.

I have renewed my interest in the idea that I have delayed sleep phase disorder. This blog will serve as a sleep diary, aimed at documenting my sleep hygiene, mood and productivity.

By good sleep hygene, I will aim to follow the NIOSH guidelines, ignoring actual time of day, starting each day at the time I wake up naturally.  This includes:

  • Allow 7-9 hours a day for sleeping (15-17 waking hours).
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol prior to sleeping, and caffeine several hours prior to bedtime.
  • Sleep in a dark, quite,comfortable and cool environment.
  • Avoid TV beds and other media furniture.
  • Follow an exercise routine, but not within 3 hours of sleep.

Even when I awake naturally, it take a couple hours before my energy level rises. Also, I am caffeine dependent, with severe headaches if my caffeine intake is reduced.

This leads me to the following sleep day schedule:

  • Hour 0: Wake up naturally.
  • Hour 3: Productive Period/exercise.
  • Hour 9: End Caffeine intake.
  • Hour 12: Dinner.
  • Hour 15: Dim lights, with my Pandera Enya channel playing in the background.

For example, today I woke up at 6PM, and started a pot of coffee and went for a run at 10PM. By this schedule, I would stop consuming coffee at 4AM. At 7 AM I will eat dinner, and begin winding down at 10AM.

Based on a rough sketch of the past few weeks, I know that this is actually later than my natural cycle. I will actually stop drinking coffee about midnight, eat about 3 AM, and will fall asleep near 6AM. I will then likely wake up around 2PM, and be energized by about 5pm.

Regardless, I intend to post an update after dinner each day. This update will include:

  • Time of sleep the previous day
  • Waking time of current day
  • Exercise of current day
  • Productivity grade
  • Mood grade

A grade of B will indicate an acceptable/average productivity and mood. Today I have an above average productivity, as indicated by initiating this experiment, and an above average mood. Thus I score an A for both today.

Time of Sleep: 6AM
Waking Time: 6PM
Exercise: Ran 1.25 miles at 10PM
Productivity: A
Mood: A

Categories: DSPD Experiment
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