Caleb Stanford


life-goals sleep this-blog

Life goal: Don’t pull any more all-nighters for work.

Sleep has always been a sort of ongoing personal experiment for me. In high school I wanted to try out a 28-hour sleep schedule (see 1 2 3), but never succeeded. In college, I like to believe I perfected the art of staying up all night. Specifically, I mean staying up all night and then timing my bed-time perfectly to set myself in course for an earlier sleep schedule than I had before — a schedule I desperately wanted, because I was always missing class and other events due to my inability to get up. In semesters with 9am classes and noon classes alike, I always missed a lot of class and sleep was usually the reason. It was so hard for me to get up in the morning that I found it easier — often much easier — to stay up all night (with plenty of food and caffeine, and other tactics) rather than have to go to bed and try to get myself up in the morning. If this doesn’t strike you as absurd, it should! Of course, these all-nighters were often more or less forced by the work I had to do, but they were also usually exciting and energizing. I have always loved the novelty of doing a project or activity late into the night, until the sun rises and longer.

Since then, my sleep habits have slowly gotten less maintainable, and I don’t feel energized to pull all-nighters the way I used to. But at the same time, I still find myself caught in late sleep schedules, unable to get up in the morning, and unable to power through a full all-nighter to reset things. Staying up all night for work has, as a result, been considerably more stressful and miserable. After this semester, I finally decided to see a doctor about my sleep patterns.

It seems that I have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. The strategy for correcting (or just investigating) this starts by controlling for all possible negative influences (caffeine, inconsistent sleep, lack of association between bed and sleep, electronic screen time, and so on). In the absence of these factors, you try to obtain a “normal” 24-hour schedule, and you push wake-up time back slowly over a period of weeks. Finally, you start to experiment with which factors have the biggest effect by reintroducing them if necessary. Since classes are over and there are no deadlines, this is the perfect time to be working on sleep, and it’s an exciting project.

Perhaps in a few months I will be back to my usual patterns. That’s OK — it may be how I am happiest. Staying up all night for fun or with the right work drive can be really wonderful. But what I can’t do, and am not going to let myself do, is fail in planning my time so that staying up all night becomes the only possibility, instead of a decision. So, I’ve made that a life goal.

I want to start writing in my blog more. I’m still a bit undecided on whether this is really a better idea than posting to Facebook. Especially since Facebook posts would probably get 10 to 100 times more views. But it’s a different kind of outlet, with different expectations and norms, and I want to try out using it consistently. I think it may have the possibility of being more free-form and more honest. When I post to Facebook I think too much about what my readers will think.

So my goal with the blog is to write down whatever I’ve been thinking about. And I also want to write more. I don’t want it to be polished, I just want to work on my writing and express my thoughts on things. Hopefully, by focusing on quantity instead of quality, I will start writing every week instead of every couple of months, and over time the quality will get better.