Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/31: Sleep-Deprivation

After yesterday morning's bris, I walked to our good friend who had kindly agreed to watch Elianna while Serach was at work until I got home. Walking back in the unbearable heat reminded me why sleeping just a half-hour out of thirty or so is not something I can do more than a couple of times a week, and after Serach came home I went to sleep for about 6 hours.

For years, my mother has tried to convince me that I need to get on a normal sleeping schedule, and I usually agreed somewhat while not actually being able to do so. I'm generally unable to sleep unless I'm exhausted, and that doesn't happen all that often: The coming of Shavuos this weekend reminds me of the time I stayed up for 69 consecutive hours, both to learn and to help take over for the cook of WITS, my high school [of 130 students], who was informed on the first day of the holiday that his father had passed away. (That's a story for another time.)

But how important is it really to be on a "normal" sleep schedule for someone in my situation? I sleep on average 4-5 hours, and can go on 2-3 a night for a few weeks if need be, even skipping a couple nights if there's something important to be done. [Perfect for tax season.] I work better later, rather than earlier; as most people are getting tired and burning out, I seem to get going. I seem to thrive in pressure situations, where the work/studying/essay needs to be done now, because it's due or the test is in just a few hours. I feel like I am better off remaining on my own "off-schedule" as long as it allows me to accomplish more.

Anyways, on to the roundup:

Jewish Community Issues:
BeyondBT discusses Internet in the home. Interesting debates in the comments.

Gil gives his two cents on the two sides of discretion. I thought I linked to this yesterday, but see I had not - it's a short, sharp read. Excerpt:
But what really bothers me are the communal figures who don't usually watch their mouths but are suddenly being so careful. Don't they realize that when they are quick to denounce everything and then suddenly don't denounce this, they are sending a huge message with their silence?
Orthomom discusses Bar Mitzvah boys and beer... and alcoholism in the community in general.

Nephtuli talks about the terrible approach some people have to solving shidduchim problems.
Am I crazy for thinking it's ridiculous for someone to choose his spouse solely on the basis of whether he can learn full-time for two or three years? Am I the only one who thinks this whole system is absurd? Why can't people see the obvious answer is for not everyone to spend years in kollel on someone else's income?
Jack hits two years. Check out some of the best posts of his - the one he marks as his first really great post will blow you away.

Town Crier has a number of other greats posts in Around the Blog.
(From heavy to light...)

Xvi questions his future.

Shoshana lives... and learns.

Godol Hador reflects on what seems to be his struggle in life.

Robbie drives away from the last segment of his life.

The PsychoToddler turns 5... but the blog keeps its name.

Stacey enjoys the apples of her eye.
Daled Amos remembers the time he got in trouble for performing magic. Kinda freaky, really.

Nephtuli gives the best review I've seen of United 93, and just why it's so important to see now.

Romach has an interesting take on tomorrow's same-sex court cases in NY.

WestBankMama wants your aliyah stories, which she'll round up just before Shavuos. Here's hers, on the 15th anniversary of her move.
Check it out! Worth noting: Holy Hyrax's post from a couple of days ago is still mired in serious discussion, and every two cents counts.


  1. I'm going to sound all doctorry here, but you are depriving your body and brain of much needed rejuvination with your current sleeping schedule. You may feel that you're alert and at your best on less sleep, but that's because you're brain and body are overcompensating for lack of sleep by releasing more adrenalin and hormones than it normally would to keep you awake. You may not think it, but it will catch up with you. There is a reason you need to sleep, need to sleep a certain amount, in order to function properly. While research doesn't tell us why we sleep, it does tell us what sleep does to us when we do sleep. It's a mini-hibernation, where your brain first processes the information and events of the day, tranferring them to your long term memory, or discarding them from your short term memory. Then, your body refreshes itself and the brain. There is a reason imsoniacs and people with sleeping disorders have so many health and mental problems. If you can't complete 4 complet R.E.M cycles, which takes about 4-6 hours, you're in very big trouble, health wise. Your metabolism completely breaks down, and you're in trouble. I would reconsider your sleep schedule if I were you. You'll be a lot better for it.

  2. I think you misunderstand... I've been doing this for 10 years (or more). I *can't* sleep longer than a few hours, and *can't* make myself sleep. I'm an insomniac, but not unable to function because of it.

    Obviously, I need sleep - just less of it and less often. I don't feel I'm at my best when I'm tired, either - my point was that I work better later than earlier, as opposed to most people who work better closer to when they wake up.

  3. All the stuff I learnt in psych is coming back to me after reading what you've written! Stuff about sleep and wake cycles and rhythms. Which I learnt in twelfth grade which is the year I did my best work after 10.00pm and had to be at school early the next day (not that I was actually so alert early). So from one night owl to another, I understand! At least there's shabbat to catch up on a bit of sleep :P

  4. A couple of suggestions.

    1) Take some time to work out EVERY day. This will help get your body out of the sub-par sleep rut whether you feel exhausted or not. If you spend any time watching TV, listening to the radio, or even an iPod, try doing all that while working out. And I have no idea whether you are the least bit overweight, but people who sleep too little are much more likely to be dangerously overweight. Obesity is definitely hitting epidemic levels in the U.S., and I'm sorry to say, it's even worse in the Orthodox community for whatever reason.

    2) Cut out all the caffeine. I know coffee played a role in your meeting your lovely wife, but since you're not looking anymore, let it go. Drinking the sugared-up, milked-up Starbucks stuff will kill you, (chas v'shalom), well before the lack of sleep does. You will get some headaches for awhile as you "detox" for awhile, but you'll start to feel better and able to sleep better pretty soon.

    3) You got to do this for Eliana. Growing up with bad sleep habits is really tough on a kid and if she ends up immitating you, or thinking you're up "having fun" while she's supposed to be in bed, she'll start resisting bedtime... big time!

    4) In the early days of this transformation, try to help yourself out with a professional massage.

  5. I hear ya on the sleep thing, except that I actually do need sleep and don't get it.

    Great round-up, by the way. Some really interesting posts (other than mine). Thanks for the link!

  6. I'm impressed, though I can't imagine living like that.
    On average I get 7 hours a night and if there's going to be an exception it's going to be an hour more.
    On the other hand I have certain time limits.
    I can't go to bed before 9.30 pm and even if I go in at 4pm I will probably wake up no later than 9am.

  7. Ezzie: I have just finished my Magnum Opus - Chapter 73 of Jameel's Excellent Aliya Adventure.

    For your reading pleasure!


  8. Sarah - heh. Interestingly, I used to never be able to sleep on Shabbos afternoons, either. Now, I can usually sleep a couple hours, but I then can't sleep Motzei Shabbos at all.

    Jake - Thank you for all the suggestions. The working out isn't bad; interestingly, when I used to sleep *less*, I was super-skinny; now, I am a tad overweight, but that's more from not moving at all than the sleep. I never was able to just "work out" - but I used to bike 6-8 hours a day, then played basketball in Israel 3-4 hours a day, and always played football at least once a week. Now, I do none, and that's a big problem.

    I actually almost never drink coffee anymore; even when I did drink it, it was only when there was a Starbucks nearby. I *do* drink a lot of Coke, but it's dependent on whether we have in the house, and half the time we don't. I don't think caffeine is the problem (especially as I would have 4 venti lattes - 16-shot equivalent - a DAY one summer, and would be able to go to sleep soon after the last 2 lattes).

    I do hear the Elianna point, and that's a tricky one. Nevertheless, since I usually do work or am on the computer, I doubt she would get such an impression.

    And I'd LOVE a massage. :)

    Shoshana - Yes, I actually was wondering if you'd comment about that. That's worse. :(

    Thanks, and you're welcome, about the links.

    Pragmatician - The concept of set times boggles my mind... :)

    Jameel - Thanks, will check it out!

  9. Thanks for the shout-out! And get some rest, ya hear?

  10. I agree wit Orthomom that there is a issue with alcohol in the religious community, I am just not sure what she proposes to do about it. I would like our leadership to avoid meddling...they have already sapped my energy re: TV and internet...not sure how much more I could take ;-)

  11. I WISH I could survive on that little sleep. Even if you can only sleep 4-5 hours a night, can you make it so it's the same 4-5 hours, i.e. 1-6 or 2-6? At least that way your brain knows what to expect, even if it isn't much!

    You have to recharge your synapses or whatever. Someday you're going to be MY age, whether you can imagine it or not, LOL!!

  12. jh: re: "I would like our leadership to avoid meddling": didn't you hear about the OU Kiddish Club ban??

  13. Ezzie , awesome blog and interesting posts ...... regarding the ability to accomplish most when under immense pressure and u got the deadlines acting as the default focus factor setting on the brain wave channel and brain is sooo like that .I can only function with the last second structure and deadlines looming before me aka ADHD also way too much energy .... waiting until the last second and living on the edge can get the dopamine juices flowing thus enabling you to hyperfocus on the task or situation at hand.Also a good medicinal option for way too much energy is Adderall . It uses up the energy but also sometimes may use up any personality depending on the individual .

  14. Stacey - Are you my mother? [ooh ooh Dr. Seuss reference!]

    JH - I think she made suggestsions in the past, and was just reiterating her issue with it here.

    Chana - Not really. It's more like a 5/30 ratio. If days were 30 hours, I'd be great...

    Crystal - Welcome!!

    I'm not a fan of anything that messes with my brain, so I have never taken anything like Adderall. I should note that I am not ADHD or even close: I'm actually a super-calm person in general - I wouldn't say I have no energy but I'm not 'hyper', either (as opposed to say my wife, who was referred to by a cousin when we were engaged as a "livewire"). That's why it's all the more troubling/confusing in my case, even though I do have that similar experience to your own.

  15. Very best site. Keep working. Will return in the near future.