I was feeling tired one day this week, so naturally a piece called How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off would catch my attention. It’s about how to, supposedly, condition yourself so that you will get up when your alarm goes off automatically — to the stage where you become physically uncomfortable if you remain in bed.
Whilst this seems to be a little extreme — sometimes it’s nice to lie there and snooze! — a second article seemed more practical. This was about how to become an early riser ; that is, to get your body into the rhythm of getting up at a reasonable time each morning.
More importantly, the article is about the idea that if you consistently get up at a certain time, then your body will begin to recognise when you should go to sleep. This means that you listen to your body to know when you need to go sleep, then go to bed at that time, rather than at a fixed time each day. So, if you’ve had a hard day and need a lot of sleep, your body will make you go to sleep early. On the other hand, a slack day means you can stay up late before your body starts telling you it’s time to clock off.
How accurate and useful any of this is to the general population — as opposed to only the person who actually wrote the article — is anyone’s guess. I do notice that, if I set my alarm clock for a certain time each day, I will start waking up by myself just before the alarm is due to go off. I also find that when I get into the pattern of waking myself up, I feel much more refreshed than when I am rudely awakened by the alarm clock.
I guess this means there is truth in the matter of your body getting into a rhythm and “knowing” when you need to wake up. That this also stretches to your body knowing when you need to go to sleep sounds reasonable. The problem for me is that my waking up times tend to vary enough that I don’t get into a pattern; even on weekdays I vary my alarm clock by up to an hour depending on whether I shower the night before, how late I go to bed and other such things.
The final, and probably the most interesting and weird, article is an experiment, still by the same guy. This is to do with so-called polyphasic sleep, which is changing your sleep patterns in a far more radical way. Rather than having one long sleep at night, you have six much smaller naps during the day of half an hour each at regular intervals.
The aim the writer has is to spend a couple of months trying out this sleep pattern and to keep a semi-regular diary describing what it is like. I’m only up to day seven so far, but it seems like it must be very odd from what I’ve read so far. Things like days not seeming separated by a long period of rest must be a difficult thing to get used to. I’m going to try and read the rest of the diary over the next couple of weeks, I’m interested in what happens!
Quite an interesting set of things to read if you have sleeping on your mind like I did!