It has been more than 4 months since I have written something on this blog. My apologies. I was preparing for Ph.D. admissions in the month of May. I joined Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay for my Ph.D. program. The last 2 months were packed with course work and assignments and I was super-busy due to submission deadlines. Now that I have settled down on the campus, I thought to update the blog. I have a lot many new things to share with you all. However, today, in this post, I have decided to tell you the most interesting thing that I discovered just now (literally just now!! few hours before typing this post!)
It has been years since I attended regular classes. Literature readings and assignment submissions have been routine tasks of everyday life after joining the PhD program. I started playing table tennis, snooker and working out in the gym at night to get relaxed from daily intellectual exhaustion. The gym was on my agenda for quite some time. I made a couple of new friends; Abhijeet and Ankur who accompany me in these activities. Ankur only joins for table tennis and snooker while Abhijeet is okay with anything.
I have learned a lot of things from both of them in the last couple of months. However, things became quirky when I observed that my daily schedule has become abnormal. I observed that my sleeping patterns have been changed over the last couple of months. I have been sleeping inconsistently in a 24-hours day-night cycle. Records about bed-times in my daily diary validated my intuition! This is how I started experimenting with my sleep to optimize myself.
I have experimented with early-morning routines earlier but they didn’t last for more than a month for some or other reasons. It was clear to me that I am not an early bird but at the same time, I did not want to be night owl!!
Each time after working out in the gym at night, I could not sleep till 3-4 AM! I used to either study/ chill out in night-canteen with buddies or watch web series and YouTube videos in the meantime. This was normal till I skipped the gym for some days due to studies. Those days, despite skipping the gym and other physical activities, I couldn’t sleep till 3-4 AM. I found that my body had adopted change-in-lifestyle and hesitated to sleep early! I reversed the change to some extent and consulted with a doctor in campus hospital and followed minimum buffer time between meal, sleep, and gym. These guidelines limited my experiments with sleep. Once, I slept for straight 12 hours from 10 PM till 10 AM. The height of experimentation happened when I did not sleep at all for the whole night! I had enough sleep in the evening that helped me stay awake the whole Saturday night! Though it was technically fulfilling all criteria suggested by the doctor, I was not convinced with the pattern!
I was writing down the changes in productivity and ease in my daily diary. Two good things happened during this experimentation period. First, I could study more (but not better in all cases); second, I mastered short naps in the afternoon to heal my body against fatigue generated during midnight-drama.The Solution:
The whole experiment ended (I suppose that is has ended) when an idea of the bi-phasic sleep cycle (actually a new sleeping model for me) struck in my mind. I checked it on the internet and found that it is a well-documented sleeping model that our ancestors were following!! The bi-phasic sleeping cycle involves 2 distinct sleep schedules over 24 hours day-night cycle; one at night and other in the afternoon mostly after the midday meal.
The bi-phasing sleeping cycle used to be a tradition in China, India, South Africa, Italy, Spain and in the regions where the weather is warm. Not going too far, Punekers world-famous tradition of sleeping in afternoon (closure of market from 1 PM to 4 PM) is also an example of bi-phasing sleeping tradition. Industrialization and modernization seems to have changed the tradition to monophasic sleeping cycle (taking 7-8 hours long sleep at night in one go).
In many articles and in online communities, some people report that biphasic sleep schedules really work for them. You can find more information about biphasic sleep in this article.
I am happy that I found something that is well-followed by a large no. of people over the course of time. As of now, I don’t see any reason to not to follow this new sleeping model. I am sure that splitting sleeps will keep me more alert and make more productive! I am hopeful that my experiments with sleep will end here!! Only time will tell if I have found perfect solution or need more iterations. 😉
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