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Sleep cycles n all December 7, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in contemplation.
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This is not my first winter per se, but its my first winter since summer and thats what matters 🙂 Something ( arguably everything ) about winter drives you crazy. Sun rises late (about 7 am) and makes up for the time by setting early (4:45 pm) ! Short on sleep for a while, I come back from the lab at 8 pm , take a nap and wake up at 11 pm to catch up with some work. At this point its hard to keep track of whether its day or night, whether you had a full night’s sleep or otherwise, is it still yesterday or today etc. If you had some deadline to adhere to, you wake up wondering if you are 3 hours ahead of schedule or 9 hours behind it. You keep looking at the clock every 15 minutes on 2 different clocks because you dont really remember the time you saw the last time around because there seems to be a inherent disharmony about it all.

I guess humanbeings over millions of years have evolved to sleep when its dark and waking when its bright. This is probably what makes it weird to sleep when its dark and wake while its dark – you wonder if you slept for 2 hours or 26 hours. I dont have the data but I wonder if over the years the average sleeping and waking time of the human race has been pushed closer to the midnight thereby stretching the waking hours.

Its been a while I have felt this way. Back in 2003-04, at IISc Bangalore I work hours started at 5 pm and went on till 7 am more often than not. I choose so because the lab was more peaceful, the campus was night had quite an allure and most importantly, I was personally more productive during those hours. It took a while to get used to that but during early days, this discomfiture was common. Doctors on night shifts, 36 hour shifts ( very common in the US ), call-center employees and other emergency occupations will have more to say on this.

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