The picture below shows the schedule I'll be sleeping and working on. The red is when I'm scheduled to sleep and the green is when I'm scheduled to work. I am starting this on Wednesday, April 1; or arguably Thursday April 2, as the 2AM sleep start is the closest to what passes for normal for me otherwise.
I have earplugs and an eyeshade already. I'll add steps here every day or so to track my progress. We will see how it goes!
Step 1: Why?
I have heard vaguely of an experiment with people living clocklessly in caves, where the cycle they slept on tended to be 25 hours rather than 24. It's well known that circadian rhythms are 'about' a day long (thus the name). I think that my innate sleep cycle at least is longer than 24, so now I am testing that. No I haven't really done that much research. If you have ideas for stuff I should read, I'd love a comment about it.
Step 2: "Day" One
I felt slightly sleepy all "morning" but that's not unusual for me either. Plus I am not drawing any conclusions yet. The 2AM - 11AM sleep isn't really weird for me either, although I do not usually wake up so many times.
Next sleep: 6AM - 3PM Friday April 3.
Step 3: "Day" Two
So far I've had no difficulty getting up at the specified time, which normally is terribly difficult for me. Of course, normally I'm not getting 9 hours of sleep.
Next sleep: 10AM - 7PM Saturday April 4.
Step 4: "Day" Three
Last night it was somewhat difficult to stay up all the way to 10AM, despite having woken up at 4. I definitely had a sense of should-be-asleep. Now, this could be simply because I've so far just stayed at home working on projects, in a dark quiet house; if I were to bestir myself to go Out this feeling might dissipate. I'll try that tonight, there's an event I have in mind to go to that'll run Late. And an 11AM meeting as well.
Also, I normally drink about one can of coke per day (but never coffee or tea or other caffeinated things), and although I never particularly notice a caffeine rush I'm sure it affects me to some degree. Since Wednesday I haven't had any coke, mostly because my food pattern has changed, and this might be affecting my sleepiness too. I haven't decided whether I'll keep not drinking caffeine, or have some. I'll note that here as it is likely to be related.
Next sleep: 2PM - 11PM Sunday April 5.
Step 5: "Day" Four
I think it did not help that I had 2 cokes 'yesterday'. WRT caffeine, I decided that since this experiment is aimed to see if the 28 hour day can be normal for me, I would not have any special rules about non-sleep items. Therefore, if I wanted a coke, I could have one, as usual. I do have a usual rule of one per day, which should apply -- but I broke it. As I occasionally do.
I did finally manage to have regular meals, which I had not done previously. So far I had 'breakfast' of cereal and an orange around midnight, then 'lunch' of eggs & sausage at an all-night restaurant around 5. I'll have 'dinner' at lunchtime today. Not sure yet if I should try to maintain 3 meals daily or move to 4 slightly smaller ones... I will consider this over the next few days.
I am feeling rather tired 'today,' perhaps due to the utter backwardness of the schedule on Sundays, or perhaps due to not having slept as well as previously. I am finding that nighttime hours are longer than daytime hours :)
Next sleep: 6PM Monday April 6 - 3AM Tuesday April 7.
Step 6: "Day" Five: FAIL
"Yesterday's" scheduled sleep was 10PM to 7AM. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to get to sleep at 10, having had basically 12 hours the night before, and having woken up at 9. I also figured that was a strong sign that 28 hours is too long a day for me. I considered my options. Should I try to get back on it and continue throughout April anyway, assuming it simply will take some time to adjust? Should I give up and go back to struggling through the week on 24 hours? Or should I alter the schedule?
Next sleep: 10PM Tuesday April 7 - 7AM Wednesday April 8
Step 7: "Day" Six: Busted & Adjusted
As I suspected, I was not able to sleep at 10PM. I went to bed then, and after some upping & downing I got to sleep around midnight. I awoke at 8. This isn't too far off, though; I believe I can still use 10-7 as the schedule. I chose to alter it, and below is the new version. It pushes each night's sleep back by only 2 hours, not 4, and then I get a nap on Sunday morning to tweak it back into night order. I also marked Sunday night as starting at the same time as Monday; I don't know if I'll keep it that way or sleep at 4, according to the strictest interpretation.
Next sleep: 12AM - 9AM Thursday April 9
Step 8: "Days" Seven and Eight... or, April 9 & 10
On the 8th/9th I slept at midnight as planned, or even a little earlier. The 9th was fantastically busy and I did not have a chance to write this up and unfortunately I no longer remember any details of that night, the one before last as I write this. I do remember not particularly wanting to get up in the morning, but made myself do so on time at 9AM. I had a coke at dinner at around 6:30, but no caffeine after that. I got quite tired around 10:30 but got a second wind in an hour or so, such that when 2:00AM rolled around, the next sleep time, I didn't quite make it. I got in bed around 2:20 and had difficulty going to sleep. I probably slept before 3:30, and woke up often during the night. I could have gotten up at 8:30 or at a lot of points afterwards, but I powered through with the sleeping and did not get up until quarter til 11, just short of schedule. Today, the 10th, I've been quite perky so far!
Next sleep: 4:00AM - 1PM Saturday April 11.
Step 9: Week Two-ish
The adjustments I made are shown in today's picture, which is not of a PLAN but of the sleep I actually slept. The most difficult bit was Sunday, which as planned and as slept required a short overnight sleep and getting up early, most likely not fully rested. Since this is what I often get during much of the week, if I can get one day of not enough sleep, wonky & tired, down from 4 or 5 days of it, I'll call that a win!
Overall I've felt fine; some days my eyes are tired, some days not. It has been interesting to discover how closely tied my sleep actually is to daylight, which I had not thought to be the case from previous experience. I do find myself waking up after a couple hours of daylight, even on the later days when I ought to sleep more. I've been letting myself go back to sleep, which I rarely or never have trouble doing.
Also I find that my usual resentment of bedtime has reversed. Usually I am annoyed that I ought to go to bed already, and stay up late out of perversity. Last week a couple times I felt annoyed that I had to stay up later, and perversely went to bed early.
Step 10: Week Three-ish
Then I kinda swapped Friday and Saturday's schedules, this time due to a friend visiting from out of town. Man, other people, you know?
(But next week is worse, I'm afraid! I don't think I'll be able to draw any real conclusions at the end of April. I will have to keep going through May.)
Step 11: Week Four-ish
I was going to keep this schedule through April and then think about whether to try and do it regularly or revert to 24 hours. But I don't feel I have really properly been able to evaluate a 26 hour day. So I'm going to take another month, and with luck I'll have a better sense at the end of May whether this works for me or not.
Of course, even on a 24 hour day one rarely keeps EXACTLY to schedule. There's always something, a book you just need another hour to finish, or some exhausting thing that puts you to sleep earlier than usual, or a party that's too much fun to leave at midnight, or one, or two, or five... So I may go a little easier on the weekends, and allow myself more leeway. We'll see how it goes on!
Step 12: Week Five-ish
I'm going to keep on with the M-F schedule throughout May, but try various changes for the weekends to see if I can improve them.
Step 13: The End
It doesn't work better at all.
Drat. But check out last week, below. It is very clear that keeping to the 26 hour day (not to mention a 28 hour day) is Not Natural for me. It takes a lot of work, and I fail frequently. This is not easier than failing to keep to a 24 hour cycle, which is basically what I've reverted to. So, I'm stopping this experiment. I will probably come up with another one at some point but I don't know what it is yet. Perhaps I will simply try to have no schedule at all!