You may have noticed two days passing since my last post. But I have only slept once. Why? Let me tell you.
For most of my life, I have lived with a medical sleep disorder. As simply as I can put it, my sleep cycle is longer than 24 hours, like it's set to some other planet.
According to Wikipedia, it's called "Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder", which is the worst name I could possibly imagine for a medical disorder. Basically, it goes like this:
Usually, a person will wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night, and the whole journey takes around 24 hours. But with me, for some reason, this journey takes around 40 hours, maybe longer.
This pushes my body clock out of sync with the natural pattern of night and day. As a result, I spend just as much of my time in the early hours of the morning as I do during daylight.
I would best describe it as "Permanent Jetlag". Most people only get this when they visit a new time zone, and once they take a few days to adjust, they get back on their feet and the journeys continue right as rain.
I have yet to find out what that would do to me, as I've never been on a plane or left the UK. But I'll tell you this. I love waking up and finding out the sun is just about to rise. It's a rare treat, like a Bank Holiday or an extended TV special. The morning is the best time to wake up, for sure.
I usually don't feel tired until I've been awake for 18-20 hours. After that, I'll stay up until the 24-28 hour mark, or longer if I feel restless or unusually stimulated. Once I've fallen sleep, I'll be interrupted a few times, but I'll usually get up and stay up after about 14-18 hours or rest.
The whole cycle could last anywhere between 36 and 60 hours. As you can see, it is very hard to think of "my day", or "what happened yesterday" when referring to our human calendar.
If there is an upcoming event that demands my attention, I simply have no way of knowing whether I will be awake for it. Usually I'll try to plan my sleeping time days in advance - but still, this is very unpredictable. Like I said, I could stay awake much longer than planned if I feel stimulated.
The social impact, here, is very unique. It's hard enough to stay friends with people when they live in a different timezone, any long-distance partner will tell you that. But when you're completely phasing out of sync, when you could sleep through an entire day of sunlight without seeing anyone, it gets harder. Human society lives during the day. Good thing it only covers half the world at once...
How this disorder affects education, employment, and creative work is another matter entirely, but I won't go into that.
So, the next time you wonder how my web activity gets so evenly spread across the clock, or ask me why I'm up so early for someone in the UK, now you know. I'll leave you with this exquisite piano piece by Steve Reich, a pioneer of American Minimalist music.
"Piano Phase" is a 20 minute composition with huge masses of detail, but one very simple idea. It's amazing. It's two identical melodies, one faster that the other. The way they move in and out of sync causes all sorts of.................damn.