Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

The problem with time is that there is simply not enough of it. I know this scarcity should make us feel grateful for what we have got, but in all honesty I am greedy. I want more.

I have over 700 books on my Amazon wishlist and they are not going to read themselves. I have ideas for over 40 articles, I have a journalism course to be studying, I have work to be getting on with, and on top of that I wouldn’t mind at least some form of social life. A drink now and then, a smoke on the beach, a kick around with friends, and perhaps even re-joining the gym.

With my desire and interests spread among so many different targets, the only solution seems to be cloning myself, or a stealing the watch from a fictional child named Bernard. It simply isn’t possible. Or is it?

I like to use my time productively. I know that Facebook is a constant distraction, but my newsfeed gives me just that. Checking in on Facebook every few hours is the equivalent of turning on the news for me. It is the same with Twitter. Breaking stories, transfer news, updates from Gaza and Syria. Social media actually helps to inform me of what is going on in the world outside my bedroom.

I do not watch TV as I don’t see it as a productive activity, when I eat food I make sure there is a documentary or TedTalk on in the background, and a coach or bus journey is the perfect times to plough through the latest book. Productivity and time management, two phrases that are probably more at home in a US conference for businessmen, but they are two phrases that I seek to make the most from.

So with that said, with the combined issues of productivity and time management representing the proverbial thorns in my side, what can be done to accommodate these spiky invaders?

As I work from home this cuts down the amount of time I spend travelling – cuts down as in completely eliminates. From my bed to the office is simply a matter of rolling off the mattress. That is a handy time saver, and it also provides me with an opportunity to save even more time.

The master thief, the criminal overlord, the pink panther of time is something that we all overlook. I think that the single biggest waste of time in all our lives, is sleep.

Now this may sound rather ridiculous. No, I am not saying starve yourself of sleep. People should not push themselves to stay awake as long as they can. In fact sleep deprivation can kill someone far more quickly than starvation, so you have been warned. What I am saying is that you should sleep, but you should try and sleep for far less time than what you currently do.

If we do the sleeping sums then it becomes apparent that a large portion of our lives are missed because we are dozing. If, say from the age of 16 onwards I slept for eight hours each night, that would mean that from then until now I have been asleep for 24,752 hours, which translates as just over 1031 days. Meaning that since the age of 16 I would have been asleep for almost three years of my life. That is a lot of time to miss.

How on earth am I going to be able read all those books, write all those articles, join the gym, work a job, have a social life, and become the next Noam Chomsky, if I am asleep for almost half my life?

The answer is that I probably wont. In truth I probably wont anyway but lets not dwell for too long on the subject of Paddy-Dream-Crushing.

So when I was in Uni, all those many moons ago, I stumbled upon a method of sleeping which gives you more time to be productive, without the feeling of exhaustion that comes from simply waking up really early, and going to sleep really late. I was tempted to give it a trial run, but never got round to it. My situation currently though, provides the perfect testing ground for what is known in the land of nod, as polyphasic sleeping.

I am not going to go into great detail about polyphasic sleeping here as there is a huge amount of information already on the world wide web. The basics though, are as follows:

– The most important time within sleep is known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and this is where a person receives their rest and can re-charge their batteries.
– Traditional monophasic sleeping involves sleeping for 6+ hours a night. During this time sleeping your body slides into REM on a handful of occasions.
– Polyphasic sleeping is basically where you condition your body to enter REM much more quickly. Through routine your body learns that it will only receive very limited sleeping time, and so enters REM much sooner.

There is more to it than that, but that is the very basic principle of it. I must admit that I have not done tremendous amounts of research on this so this could go horribly wrong, but I have never been one to back down from self-Guinea Pigging. (Yeah, I just made that word up).

My new sleep schedule looks like this:
2am – 5am = Core sleep
10am – 10:20am = nap
3:20pm – 3:40pm = nap
8:40pm – 9pm = nap
And that is it.

It is a journey into the unknown but it is my hope that this will give me more time to read, write, learn, study and generally just do stuff. Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Thomas Edison were all polyphasic sleepers, so if it is good enough for them, it is most certainly good enough for me.

Right, here goes nothing.

This article was originally published on Cultured Vultures on August 4th

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