State of the Sleep

February 1st, 2007  |  Published in etc  |  1 Comment

So, a quick CPAP update via a brief history of my sleep:

I think most of us are like this: When I was in my teens and 20s, I could pull an all-nighter and probably bounce back by just going to bed on time the next night. I passed German this way, going from skipping nearly the entire semester (except the first two classes) and failing all but the first of three normal exams to cramming for the final and getting the A I needed to pull out a passing grade. The extent to which this learning was truly baked in was proven 15 years later, when in Spanish 101 my reflexive answer to every single question offered by the instructor was in German.

By my mid-20s, the all-nighter wasn’t quite so easy, but I was in the army and I could survive on two hours a night in field conditions for up to a week.

Post-army, I could maintain on about five hours a night for a few years.

After Ben was born, I had a feeling of sleep deficit that never really lifted. So I needed 8 or nine hours a night, could do o.k. on 7, needed a nap the next day after 6, and felt seriously queasy on five or less. On weekends, even with 7 hours of sleep the night before I’d want a nap in the afternoon. This has been the state of things for three years.

The dirty secret of my working life to this point has been that most days I was marked “Out to Lunch” on IM, I was probably grabbing a quick sandwich and squeezing in a nap, which didn’t work great because I still felt sort of slow and dopey afterward.

Since the CPAP has come along, that’s slowly changed. I’d like to get more sleep every night, but I’ve found my tolerance for how little contiguous sleep I get has improved, and yesterday was the first time I took a lunch nap in two weeks, after I’d only gotten five hours of sleep the night before. I don’t nap on days after six hour nights at all, even if I do get some of the mid-afternoon torpor most people get. Seven and eight hour nights, and I don’t register any sense of slow-down beyond a sort of mild awareness that I don’t feel very efficient.

So in the way of “progress reports,” this is the first real one about how things have noticeably changed for me. I still don’t sleep what I consider an ideal amount (a solid seven every night), mostly because my habits about just making myself go to bed by 10:30 or 11:00 are poor, but I’ve got a net gain of about two hours of useful wakefulness every day.


  1. pk says:

    February 2nd, 2007 at 9:53 am (#)

    Very interesting. I’m averaging 5-6 hours these days. I’m lucky if I get 7, and I get the lesser extreme of 4 hours more often than I get the optimal 8.

    I never nap–not even on weekends–but when my sleep dips below 5 hours, I usually get dozy in the mid-afternoon, and sometimes I do close my eyes for a minute in my chair. (And if I got less than 5 hours, alcohol was usually involved, so there’s that to factor in.)

    But it sounds like I’ve been getting about the same mileage from my sleep hours as you’re getting now with the CPAP. If only they had a device to make dumbasses go to bed.

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