Resetting My Sleep Rhythms

Over the last week or so, I’ve been plagued with sleep problems. This was more than not being sleepy around bedtime. This was not being sleepy plus not actually sleeping when in bed.

I think it started with a few late nights. From there, I spiraled into becoming semi-nocturnal. I would be okay with the good kind of nocturnal. The kind where I could sleep peacefully and wake up as evening fell. That would be a schedule that I could live with. There’s a chance I could even stick with it. I’d have to plan for certain waking hours to overlap with the rest of the world. Overall, it would doable.

My kind of semi-nocturnal wasn’t the good kind. My kind had me tired-but-not-sleepy at all hours. This also meant when I was in bed, I was too tired to sleep. Which makes no sense.1 Looking back now, I can see missing my afternoon nap screwed things up.

The second wind

I can usually count on a second wind of energy around 9 p.m. My concentration and focus will perk up for about three to four hours. Sometimes this is a good writing time, sometimes not. Strangely, I find this a good time to learn new things. This is when I can sit down and read or do computer things.2 It’s a quiet time. One that lends itself to quiet activities which require focus and concentration.

I get this second wind no matter how well I slept the previous night. This second wind is productive if I get my afternoon nap. I’ll be able to retain what I’ve read. If I’m working on a project I can set goals and work with purpose. The next day I’ll be able to remember what I worked on and what I learned.

If I don’t get that nap in, I have to be careful. The second wind will still come, but the outcome will be disastrous. I’ll get a shot of alertness along with an itch to work on something. Now—instead of three to four hours—I’ll maybe get one. That’s enough time to get started on something, but not enough time to make decent progress. But once I fade, I fade fast. Thus the problem: I’m wired to keep going.

If I dive into something that requires serious concentration, one hour isn’t enough. This is especially true when it’s something new to me. I won’t make progress because of little snags that seem to catch me along the way.3 This is normal when learning. Banging into the sharp corners is part of the process. It also takes time.

If I’m still stuck after an hour or so, I’ll slide into “zombie time.” I’m awake and working. I’m also a hot mess of poor concentration and inertia. This is truly wasted time. I make no progress. I also don’t absorb anything I read. But for some reason I also won’t stop.4 This is when I stay up late enough to effect my functioning the next day.

Drastic action

Over the last week, the tiredness had taken its toll. My days ran together. Zombie time was all of the time. I had to do something.

This past Sunday night was another late one. Around 3 a.m. I realized I had slipped into zombie time hours ago.

So I forced myself to stay up through the night.

I was hoping this would give me circadian reboot. I saw the sunrise, then collapsed at 10 a.m. for about three hours. Then I stayed up until about 1 a.m. This gave me about three hours of sleep in a thirty-six hour window. Then I crashed.

The sun woke me up this morning around 8:30. I feel better, but I’m still behind in my sleep. I’ve already planned for my afternoon nap.

Doing a hard reset on my body clock sucked. Monday is a barely remembered fog. It was a truly wasted day.

Now, there’s hope that I can get this week back on track.


  1. I really don’t know how or why this happens. But it well and truly sucks.
  2. I’m purposely being loose in defining this. It can be anything form blog maintenance to learning a new programming language.
  3. Like in ruby: At first, ARGF looks like each file will be read sequentially. But no! It will suck up all the files on the command line the same as if they were cat’d and piped to stdin. This caused a few wasted hours.
  4. I might be slightly broken in the head.