Thursday, February 23, 2012


Sleeping. We all do it. Some of us are better at it than others. Some need more than others. Let's take the most handsome guy typing right now and ask how much sleep he requires, shall we:

Me: How much sleep do you require?

Me: Hey, dude. Thanks for asking. Well, it varies depending on the day...

Me: WTF does that mean?

Me: Well, two days a week I get 7. The other weekdays I get 8-8.5.

Me: What about the weekends?

Me: Usually closer to 10 hours. Sometimes even a nap thrown in for good measure. Depends how hard I exercised.

Me: Sounds like a lot of f@#$ing sleep dude. You're pretty much a vegetable.

Me: You're one to talk - how much do you sleep?

Me: Ummmm. About the same, actually.

Epic interview.

Lately there have been quite a few stories published about sleep - many challenging the canonical wisdom of the 8-hour sleep cycle. I know many  people who toss and turn frustratingly each night. Some get up to pee 3 or more times. Some have too many thoughts percolating that distracts them. Others drift in and out, never fully embracing the coveted REM cycle where we fall out of hot air balloons and land in giant bowls of Cadbury eggs. Aren't your dreams like this?? BTW those triangular shaped chocolate candies are INSANELY good. Not like I have a pack or two every night or anything...

Some claim elixirs like not eating past a certain hour, or refraining from sugars and caffeine in the hours before retiring to bed. No dairy perhaps? Some have to read before to put them to sleep. We're all very different.

For me, I need 4 pillows. Count em, 1-2-3-4. One for my head. One between the knees. One for the ankles. And one for my arms to hold. Shit, one day I woke up with five (one resting on my stomach). Excessive? Probably. I'm a pain in the ass in hotels. Before I even check in to see what the room set-up is I request two extra pillows. The firmer the better.

I also quasi-rely on a sedative. I used to use narcotics to help me relax and sleep (God, wish that supply didn't run out), but now I use Tylenol PM or the like. Sometimes melatonin. It's not a good thing. My body has become sort of dependent on them. I try to ween myself off, but currently I'm fighting some painful back spasms so I actually do need them.

Anyway, the articles allude to the notion that 8-hours in one sitting (laying) may not be the most efficient use of sleep time. Two cycles of 4 hours says a new BBC article. Another one has an extremely complex schema for attaining optimal sleep - polyphasic. I've read a variety of hybrids of this model.

So....I'm curious, what are your sleep patterns like?? Please disclose as I am all earzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..


Anonymous said...

Sedatives are very harmful if used regularly.They will harm your athletic achievements and destroy personal relationships, of this I am certain. Try a class in Mindfulness or Yoga. Once you get dependent on sedatives the body forgets how to sleep on its own. You don't need deep child-like sleep, the body just needs to rest, even if the mind stays active. The mind actually needs very little rest. Only the body.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment. I do think some dietary changes like a little less chocolate and soda and sugar before bed can make the world of difference in your night. Do try to wean off the tylenol PM...It will only do a number on your liver. You should definitely try meditation and some chamomille tea or try counting swimming laps in the pool....

Doran said...

When training hard for ironman I had a hell of a time getting to sleep at night. And it sucks because you know your body needs it. So for two triathlon seasons I was using advil PM a few nights per week. I sleep a lot (8 hrs + when possible) but am a light sleeper and have trouble going to sleep and once I wake up (doesnt matter the hour, lately its 5:30am) I am up for the day, regardless of how long I COULD sleep in. So that sucks. Yeah, sleep. Weird. Also, I dont think a few tylenol PM's are the end of your life. Hope I'm not proven wrong.