The thing about experimenting on yourself is that sometimes you’re not coherent enough to collect the data. This is why scientists use lab rats and volunteers I suppose, but I have neither at my disposal. Because I am the only test subject, the experiments are extremely one sided, but some results are better than no results, and I can always expand the results to include others at a later date.
My latest experiment* is in sleep deprivation. I know that my body can go about 52 hours before becoming so delirious that I cannot function if there are no helpful supplements (caffeine) involved. I wouldn’t be much good to you after 36 or so hit, but with stimulants I can assume that I wouldn’t last much longer based on prior experience with sleep deprivation. This week I have been getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night to see how it affects my mind, body, and work (I usually get 7+). My main finding so far has been that the less sleep I get, the more prone I am to nightmares – but only upon initially falling asleep. Mostly those nightmares include being completely paralyzed and suffocating, and that is the worst feeling ever. A secondary finding is that the less sleep I get, the easier it is to wake up. I’ve started doing yoga in the morning – I get up around 0530 or 0600 depending on when I went to sleep the night before and will do twenty to forty-five minutes of yoga depending on how much time there is before work. I follow that with a cup of coffee, and I’m ready to go. I’m alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic…even with only 16-20 hours of sleep since I woke up on Sunday.
The main negative aspect of this whole experience is that my right eye has been twitching almost constantly. It also hurts constantly when open. I think I’ll be sleeping all night tonight, but a valid argument could be made for continuing this through Saturday afternoon – at which time I will fall asleep and play catch up until I wake up naturally or my alarm clock awakens me on Monday morning. Whichever happens, the experiment will have been worth it.
Later: I am now able to comment on how this experiment affects my emotional state. We were given some extremely bad news at work today about forced separations and how they are going to go about it, and I am not currently doing well. Nothing is in concrete yet. No one knows who is being “separated” (a grandiose term for “laid off”), but we do know some of the methods by which it will be done. I know I am exceptional in some aspects of my job, but I also see my failures more clearly than ever before. I am bad with details, for one, and the Military is all about details. Attention to detail is the reason that we fold our clothing the way we do and the reason that our desks are completely clutter free no matter how much work we have piled up (in a drawer or an “in/out” box). Details have never been my specialty, and if I were not sleep depraved currently I might not pay much attention to that. I am good at my job, and I like what I do. I am never late to work, and I contribute to office moral more than any other person here. Yes, I go on my feminist rants when the guys are stupid, but if I don’t tell them to piss off for using the word “woman” in place of “weak” (I heard someone say the other day, “you have a woman’s ankle” to someone else who was on crutches. He wasn’t laughing when I was done with him) then no one will and they will continue in this capacity forever.
Even Later: I came home from work and took a nap – slept for about 3 1/2 hours. Upon waking, my right eye, the one that hurt and twitched all day, felt odd. I went to the mirror and that shit is swollen. I don’t think this is about sleep deprivation. Have a hot compress on it, but will see doctor tomorrow if it is still swollen or if swelling has gotten worse.
Edit: I had a stye. It hurt.
*When I say that my latest “experiment” is in sleep deprivation, I really mean that I’ve been sucked into Elementary and not been sleeping until around 0200 because IT IS SO GOOD. That’s really all that this blog post was written to say.