May 10, 2011
I have an atypical sleep schedule. I tend to drift in the hours that I keep (that is, going to sleep later and later each day until a 'reset' is required). I also am willing to sacrifice sleep if something sufficiently interesting or urgent (problem sets, a Neal Stephenson book, a new Less Wrong article about an interesting topic) comes up. While procrastination earlier in the day can also play a part in my staying up late, I've noticed that, left to my own devices, I seem to prefer a day-night inversion. I'm naturally much more active at night than during the day, and will skip a meal or two in order to maintain this schedule. (Note: I realize that day-night sleep inversion can be a sign of a medical illness. For reasons I won't go into here, I don't believe that any of them are applicable.)
The schedule that I have now is not optimal for a number of reasons:
What I'd like to do is figure out how to optimize my sleep schedule. I'd prefer not to just 'invert' it to be a typical sleep schedule, but to either alter the sleep schedule or discover changes that I can make in other parts of my life that will mitigate the downsides. Some things are obvious: microwavable food for when nothing else is available at night is one change that I can make right away and would minimize the damage from skipping meals. The social issues and 'drifting' are more complicated and don't present an obvious solution after a few minutes of reflection. The reason I resist changing back to a regular sleep schedule is that I know that I'm groggy and miserable in the morning and less productive until about noon of that day if forced to operate under a regular sleep schedule.
Do you have an atypical sleep schedule now, or have you in earlier parts of your life? I would hazard a guess that among the Less Wrong/Rationality/Skeptic/Bayesian community, experimentation in sleep schedule would be higher than in the general population. Have you tried a polyphasic sleep schedule? (I once unsuccessfully did a few years ago in hopes of solving some of the above problems.) If you have experienced these or similar problems, what 'hacks' have you found that mitigate the downsides?
(Note: This is my first discussion post. I apologize in advance if the formatting or content seems a bit askew as a result. Constructive criticism is of course welcome.)