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Old 01-30-08, 06:00 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Alternatives to Standard Sleep?

A friend admired Edison's ability to work through the night, using innovative or unusual alternatives to standard sleep.

Being able to ride through the night is a potentially useful skill on some tours.

If, for example, you are stuck in a large metropolitan area, with expensive hotels (or full ones), and all you want is to sleep for a while, then keep riding... -- if you could just keep riding, skip the sleep, and ride through, until you are out of the cities and into good free camping territory... -- if you had the skills to manage sleep in alternative ways....

The friend who admired Edison's ability to work through the night was able to do it himself. He would go through a little ritual, and then lie down on his couch and sleep for maybe ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

'Cat-napping' and 'power-napping' may be similar.

*******
Some people who are adept at meditation say that they can relax (mentally and physically) enough to get the benefits of sleep, and can reduce their sleep time dramatically.

*******
I've tried a 9-2-9-2-9-2-9-2... sleep pattern. Rather than eight hours each night, I switched to nine hours one night, followed by two hours the next night, and so on. It saves, on average, two and a half hours a day, or over seventeen hours a week.

It worked for quite a while.

*******
There are probably other ways of doing these things.

A close friend used to just do all-nighters whenever she felt like it.

Apparently, there are a few people who can go for years entirely without sleep.

*******
It's an interesting challenge -- to conquer sleep, or to find new ways of dealing with it.
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Old 01-30-08, 06:04 PM   #2
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Have you heard of Randonneuring? Some of us do 1200 km randonnees over the course of 90 hours with about 5 hours of sleep.

Start talking to the Randonneuring crowd if you want more answers on this one. I could go into quite a bit of depth about effective sleep, if you're interested, because I'm one of the ones that only manages about 5 hours of sleep over the course of a 90 hour randonnee.
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Old 01-30-08, 06:30 PM   #3
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this is a pretty interesting idea, although i think that if i had extra hours i would probably just waste it watching tv or screwing around online like i am now, and i do love sleeping in
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Old 01-30-08, 07:00 PM   #4
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I wouldn't recommend people make a habit of shortchanging themselves on sleep. It leads to fatigue, irritability, stress, burnout, increased risk of accidents and a variety of health problems.
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Old 01-30-08, 07:04 PM   #5
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There are two things I have a really hard time spending time on. One is sleep. I'm one of the few people who, on a normal sleep pattern, get 2-3 hrs and wake up. When I wake up, it's wide awake. During the week, I sleep 2-3 hrs, get up, do some stuff, go back to bed for another hour or so, and get up and ready for work.

On tours, I love riding through the night. Watching the sun come up is my favorite time of the day.

The other thing I just can't make myself spend time on is eating. My diet is good, I just don't like 'relaxing for dinner'.

Most of the time on a tour, when the sun goes down (around here in Summer it's around 9:30-10:00pm) I like to catch a couple hours sleep, get up, and ride through the night. Perfect......for me.

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Old 01-30-08, 07:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for the interesting replies.

Any others also welcomed.

*******
M: I would be interested to hear more about your experiences with this (on this forum or on the other...).
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Old 01-30-08, 07:22 PM   #7
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Well, here it is ... with my current computer I have trouble doing more than one thing at a time, so looking up the info to back all this up is difficult. I may do that one the weekend. Or you could look up ceridean cycle (or ceridean clock or system ... I believe that's how you spell ceridean)

However, after some research, scientist have discovered that our REM sleep patterns are in a 1.5 hour cycle. If we can complete one entire cycle, we can wake up refreshed. But if we wake in the middle of a cycle, we run the risk of waking up with that groggy, out-of-it feeling. So, it is recommended that we aim to sleep 1.5 hours, or 3 hours, or 4.5 hours, or 6 hours, etc.

Now, having said that, unless you're the type of person who is asleep the second your head hits the pillow it is a good idea to allow a slightly longer time of lying down than that. For example, if you are on a Randonnee and you want to sleep 1.5 hours, allow yourself 2 hours. This gives you 10 or 15 minutes, or so to wind down and actually fall asleep, and another 10 or 15 minutes to lie there in a semi-awake state, convincing yourself to get out of bed and keep riding.

If you don't have time for a full 1.5 hours, the next recommendation is that you go with something shorter than 30 minutes ... say, anywhere from 10-30 minutes. If you do that, you will not have fallen completely into the REM cycle, and you can still wake up refreshed.

So on a 1200K, I will ride 24+ hours, then sleep for 1.5 hours, then after about 12 more hours, I might catch a 20 minute nap, then another 12 hours or so later, I might go for 1.5 or 3 hours of sleep. Then about another 12 hours later, I might catch a 10 minute nap ... another 12 hours I might go for a 30 minute nap, and then another 10 minute nap about 6 hours later, and then I'll ride to the finish, where, after about 2 hours of celebrating, I'll fall asleep in my hamburgers.
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Old 01-30-08, 07:53 PM   #8
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Thanks. Interesting stuff.

*******
This is all rife with fascinating possibilities to explore and experiments to try.

*******
I've heard that most people's natural sleep cycle (and the one some people think we evolved with) is to sleep for about three hours, then to wake up in the middle of the night (for the night watch) for some hours, and then to sleep again for a time before breakfast.

*******
I wonder if the biofeedback people have done anything with this? It's possible to learn to increase alpha-wave time (and to alter all kinds of other things that usually are not considered under our control); I wonder if there are ways of learning new sleep skills.

It would be great to have some new skills and alternatives....
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Old 01-30-08, 08:08 PM   #9
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they make watches now to use as alarm clocks that detect when you have completed a REM cycle by your movement I think, so I think you would put in a range of time and it wakes you up at the best time. I'll try to find a link

edit: here is one of them
http://www.engadget.com/2006/01/23/a...n-youre-ready/

here is a slightly cheaper one
http://www.amazon.com/Sleeptracker-W.../dp/B000E8FG20
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Old 01-30-08, 08:46 PM   #10
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A fellow that I toured with twice has the ability to sleep for 5 to 10 minutes and wake up refreshed and can go all day and all night like this seemingly forever with just these periodic short naps. He remains a disgustingly healthy person as well.
To this day I still receive e-mails with photos at all hours of the night as he wanders around taking photographs. All this after working hard all day as a high end cabinet and furniture maker and riding his bike hard after work and/or hiking in the local mountains during daylight.
Unfortunately, I still need my straight eight hours each night. I guess that I was born in the wrong gene pool. It was a challenge touring with him.
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Old 01-31-08, 12:21 AM   #11
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I don't like to shortchange myself when it comes to sleep. A few years ago, when I was in a caregiver role, I spent quite a few months sleeping four to five hours a night. I managed, but the lack of sleep, coupled with the heavy stress, took a toll. Since that time, I've had a few short nights when I've been working on something special or when I've been so caught up in something that I've not noticed the time. But those occasions are rare now.

There is one sleep trick I've learned and use regularly. On Mondays (my busiest day of the week) I'll often come home for a supper break around 5 or 5:30, eat a bit and then sit down on the couch and sleep for 10 to 15 minutes. I wake up automatically and I feel refreshed enough to go back to work for several more hours. If I don't do the power nap, I'll have a hard time concentrating and my work will suffer badly. This trick isn't about cutting back on sleep but about managing a long work day.
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Old 01-31-08, 01:29 AM   #12
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I believe its called biphasic sleeping. Some of my friends were into it for a while. The first week getting into the groove of things is hell.
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Old 01-31-08, 04:27 AM   #13
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Long distance sailers take sleep in 15-20 minute slugs, and that can last out for weeks or months at a time. They can't short change themselves on sleep, because the periods are too long. When not sailing they train their sleep patterns by using the same pattern during their prep times.

Despite Jharte's experience, my own experience outside of cities around here has tended to be that it is really dark with only the bike lights, and that it is all too easy to fall into a pothole or make a nav eror (GPS would be a godsend possibly).

I had an idea for riding through the night sleeping at day, based on a trailer, because you often don't get hassled for sleeping places during the day where you would draw undesireable attention at night. I just didn't find it practical, too difficult to cruise at night despite the cool etc... Maybe Rondo is different with groups of riders, combined lighting and nav, but in more remote areas I just didn't find it practical. I'm a night owl, so I just wish it had worked. One of the reasons I am not comfortable the first few days on tour is that I need to reset my rythms to what is normal for most people.
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Old 01-31-08, 06:56 AM   #14
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I can see this as an interesting thing in some pursuits, but don't see it for touring. A good night's sleep is a well earned pleasure when on tour.
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Old 01-31-08, 07:22 AM   #15
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Hmmm. Sleep. I don’t know why anyone would consciously consider alternatives for getting less of it. To what end? I get about 4 to 5 hours a night. I live for Friday night when I can sleep in. I wake at around 4AM and go right back into a sweet, delicious sleep until about 8 when I wake up and sleep can’t be induced any longer. Less sleep is an acquired knack, that’s all there is to it. When sailing long distances with a full crew on two watches, the four on four off habit takes about two days to get in sync. There are other systems that are a little easier to adjust to. The fifteen minute cat-nap, solo sailors have my admiration and my pity. I sometimes (thankfully, not much these days) work for 24 or 48+ hours straight. If you can make it till the sun comes up—you’re golden, the day passes as normal.

I cherish sleep and will do what I can to get eight hours. It doesn’t happen except on weekends these days. Not only that—I like my bizarre dreams.
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Old 01-31-08, 08:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foamy View Post
Hmmm. Sleep. I don’t know why anyone would consciously consider alternatives for getting less of it. To what end?
Niles is obsessed with behaving in non-sensical ways. (see Light, Rechargeable, Compact -- Microwave Ovens for Touring? and Radical minimalist sleeping arrangements for examples)

You can do without sleep for brief periods or devise different schedules, but you cannot "conquer" sleep. It's a critical biological function, and sooner or later you have to make up your sleep debt.

What's next, conquering haircuts?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H.
Apparently, there are a few people who can go for years entirely without sleep.
I'm afraid this is patently false. The world's record is around 250 hours without sleep. Serious impairment starts around 48 hours, hallucinations around day 4.

Next time you're stuck in an urban area and need some sleep, find a hotel.
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Old 01-31-08, 01:29 PM   #17
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Respectful disagreement on the no-sleep individuals. There are apparently rare people who need no sleep. I'm pretty sure a good search of the medical and sleep-research literature would confirm this.

*******
There is also a movement in meditation circles (more widely known and practiced in India) that is sometimes called 'conscious sleep.'

People who learn how to do this no longer sleep in the way we know sleep.

They are aware even while sleeping.

They don't lose touch with awareness. There is no lapsing into unconsciousness.

Their minds relax deeply, and they no longer verbalize, intellectualize, think about, or conceptualize things. There is no loss of awareness, though.

They talk about paying special attention to the transition phase (where the waking state actually transitions into sleep), and about learning to stay 'awake' or alert through that phase.

From the descriptions I have seen, it sounds like something that can be learned with a little practice and close attention to details.

Since one does not lose contact with awareness, it is not exactly 'sleep' as most people know it.
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Old 01-31-08, 02:31 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by jharte View Post
There are two things I have a really hard time spending time on. One is sleep. The other thing I just can't make myself spend time on is eating. My diet is good, I just don't like 'relaxing for dinner'.
My goodness!!! Sleep and food are my two greatest joys in life!
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Old 01-31-08, 02:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
Niles is obsessed with behaving in non-sensical ways.
Niles is just our lovable eccentric. But really, if no one ever thought outside the box, we would never have any new good ideas. I may not agree with all your ideas Niles, but keep spitting 'em out anyway.
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Old 01-31-08, 03:35 PM   #20
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"Standard Sleep"

pfft, that's for amatures..

Haha, love it
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Old 01-31-08, 03:52 PM   #21
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Respectful disagreement on the no-sleep individuals. There are apparently rare people who need no sleep. I'm pretty sure a good search of the medical and sleep-research literature would confirm this.
There's a good write-up in Scientific American.

http://www.sciam.com/biology/article...icID/3/catID/3

Apparently there are very rare disorders that will result in 'virtually' no sleep for months. However, the side-effects sound pretty darn scary. Frankly, I'd be very concerned about anyone riding for more than 24 hours without sleep. They may think that they're functioning normally, but cognitive impairment is definately present.
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Old 01-31-08, 04:06 PM   #22
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"People who learn how to do this no longer sleep in the way we know sleep.

They are aware even while sleeping."

Different but comonly reported is people sleeping while marching. Happens in wars, and such, people fall "asleep" and later wake up having marched a whole distance. A problem with this state is that you have to be completely exhausted to start with. Other problems are likely to show up on the windshields of cars.

An all nighter periodically is a nothing, particularly when young, and then apparently you get the ability back later... I could see that as being useful, possibly in an extreme desert environment. Never tried it though. Might work out to avoid the hottest and coldest periods of the day.

It sounds good to talk about going through cities at night, but the problem I see there is that the sub-urb is the kind of place I would want to avoid at dark. I went through montreal again this summer and between campsites it was an 80 mile day. The best route includes some sub-urban areas that are high speed, pot-holed, counter traffic on a highways, and in the kind of areas people drink and then go home from, or wake up and sleep-drive to work from, or pouly lit bikepaths. Unusual for me, a good navigator, is that I got completely lost on a prior trip in broad daylight, so who knows where I might have ended up in the night. So If I got to choose 9-9 daylight or 9-9 night, I think the daytime works out. And that is without even mentioning getting supplies, sightseeing, or stopping for something to eat. Tasks that may not be fully executable at night.
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Old 01-31-08, 07:03 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
Respectful disagreement on the no-sleep individuals. There are apparently rare people who need no sleep. I'm pretty sure a good search of the medical and sleep-research literature would confirm this.

*******
There is also a movement in meditation circles (more widely known and practiced in India) that is sometimes called 'conscious sleep.'

People who learn how to do this no longer sleep in the way we know sleep.

They are aware even while sleeping.

They don't lose touch with awareness. There is no lapsing into unconsciousness.

Their minds relax deeply, and they no longer verbalize, intellectualize, think about, or conceptualize things. There is no loss of awareness, though.

They talk about paying special attention to the transition phase (where the waking state actually transitions into sleep), and about learning to stay 'awake' or alert through that phase.

From the descriptions I have seen, it sounds like something that can be learned with a little practice and close attention to details.

Since one does not lose contact with awareness, it is not exactly 'sleep' as most people know it.

You really should get into Randonneuring. First, it would take up the time you seem to have on your hands. Second, you'd really get in touch with aspects of yourself you never knew existed. You'd push yourself to and beyond physical and mental limits. And you'd experience something of what you just described. However, don't be surprised at what crawls out of the ditches and grabs at your wheels in the night.
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Old 01-31-08, 11:09 PM   #24
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Niles
If you want to experiment with altered sleep patterns I suggest you spend a few months with a colicy baby.While your at it, throw in a couple of toddlers, and a regular job. Let us know how it works out
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Old 02-01-08, 12:13 AM   #25
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Although I am not in to touring (yet) I have drove long haul tuck witch in also very demanding as far as lack of sleep goes. All it takes is a shipper having a bad day to make it so that you have been awake all day waiting and now you must drive an 18 wheeler all night. I find that 3 hours of sleep and the willpower to climb out of bed can do wonders; about 8 more hours of driving. Also I would on occasion only take a 45-60 minute nap while sitting in the front seat of my truck. Something about not being that comfortable when I slept for that long kept me from getting that groggy feeling, then I would follow it with 2 brisk laps around my truck (about 300 feet) . Then I was able to get about 3-5 more hours out of my driving. Just thought I would throw my .02 in.
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