For my project this past month, I tried something a little different: I tried to readjust my sleep schedule to normal by altering the length of days. Let me back up.... As followers of this blog may know, I have a rare sleep/neurological disorder called Delayed Circadian Rhythm Disorder, and though there's no treatment there are some hacks, and one of these is altering day length to adjust sleep/wake times. My doctor's recommendation was to operate on a 26-hour day for a while until my sleep time wraps back around the day. This is great, and I've confirmed that to a limited extent I can do that, but I wanted to do it the opposite way: shortening my days so that I go to bed a little earlier each night.I have to start by saying this worked, actually. I managed to get my bedtime down to 1.30am or so, which for me is pretty fantastic. My waking time, I think, did not adjust by quite as much. So I was sleeping more, technically, but waking up just as tired for the most part. Still, I was able to begin being productive earlier in the day and I felt like my focus during the mornings was improved. These are all really great indications, but the fix was extremely delicate.
Last Wednesday I was up late working on stuff and got too absorbed in what I was doing to check the time, so I accidentally stayed up about an hour too late. Thursday morning I was a zombie and I felt like I was right back where I started. Thursday night I wasn't feeling tired the same way until much later, and when I tried going to sleep the same time I had troubles falling asleep. I tossed and turned to the point where it really made more sense to get up and read for a while. Thankfully I had Friday off from work so I could sleep in and get myself sorted. Shitty.
The lesson learned was worth the experiment though. Modulating the day length I adhere to does work, to a limited and temporary extent. I think I could keep it up for longer if I'm very careful, but it's not the kind of thing I can do at the drop of a hat like a neurotypical person can. Working out the math from my sleep diary (yes, I keep one, but only when I'm trying something like this) it looks like I was able to adjust my sleeping and waking times by as much as 10-15 minutes a night.... That's pretty discouraging since most people can adjust multiple hours a night if they have jetlag or something.
Also, I have slightly flexible hours at VSA, so there wasn't a huge amount riding on this. The discouraging thing is that I was shooting for midnight as a bedtime. It's a nice even number (00:00) and seemed like I'd have plenty of time to get my sleep and wake up in time for work. I utterly failed to get there, possibly by lack of trying since this was a casual thing I was attempting to see if I could do it. I still don't really see any strict 9-5 jobs in my future... at all. What I've got going on now works out alright for me, just hacking my sleep schedule temporarily while I work contract gigs. If anyone's disappointed I didn't go out drinking with them lately, this is why though.
So now I'm in the unfortunate situation of being offset by a couple of hours relative to how I normally sleep and offset by a couple of hours from how neurotypical people sleep.... So it might be a week or so before I'm back at 100%. Sucks.
Sleep tight, space cadets.