Tag Archives: sleep


I like data. I believe in collecting data and analyzing it to see interesting trends. And it’s always sad to lose data, because then I lose opportunities to analyze said data.

One piece of data that I find interesting is sleep. The amount of sleep that I get each night strongly affects how happy and productive I am, and I want to analyze this data to see if there is anything that I can learn about my sleep patterns. So I’ve been recording my nightly sleep schedule — when I go to sleep and when I wake up. The hope is that I can eventually produce pretty graphs of when I sleep. It pains me to think that some people could be recording their sleep schedules too, but instead fail to do so out of laziness.

I’ve been recording sleep data since 13 March 2012 (excluding naps, e.g. boring classes; all times approximate and rounded to the nearest five minutes), and I can already see some patterns. The full analysis hasn’t happened yet (I plan to wait until I have more data), but here’s some preliminary statistics (as of today, August 26).

Average since March 13: 7:59:21
Maximum: 12:29 on March 29
Minimum: 0:00 on March 24 (thanks to red-eye flight)
Minimum positive time: 2:45 on June 3 (thanks to ARML)
Standard Deviation: 1:27:08

I think I’ve been sleeping more (and more normally!) over the summer:
7-Day Average: 8:41:25
15-Day Average: 8:39:20
30-Day Average: 8:29:52

Let’s hope that this trend continues!

There have been a couple of erratic weeks:
Maximal 7-Day Standard Deviation: 4:14:15 (week ending March 30)
And some very regular weeks:
Minimal 7-Day Stanford Deviation: 0:04:30 (week ending April 15, a week of times between 8:00:00 and 8:10:00)

Conveniently, recording sleep data also makes me realize when I’m not sleeping enough and motivates me to sleep more. Which is a good thing.



One day, a few weeks ago, I was working on a representation theory problem set, and at some point, I curled up on a couch in order to take a nap. I dreamed that I was in a forest, holding a harpoon gun, hunting representations. The representations were little LaTeX symbols with legs, \chi_U and \rho(g) and character tables that kept running away into the bushes. I dreamed that I was walking softly through the forest, stalking my prey. I can’t recall if I ended up catching any representations, though I think I woke up from the frustration of watching those representations run away.

Another time, I started to fall asleep in an algebraic number theory class. At the time, fields were being discussed, and as I drifted into sleep, I saw a cow standing by the door at the front of the classroom. The cow appeared to be in a grassy field, and it looked very happy.

I think I should sleep more.


An average human (if such a thing exists) typically spends approximately a third of its life sleeping. This seems like a massive inefficiency. If humans did not waste so much time sleeping, just think about how much more they could accomplish in a day! A human that sleeps for 8 hours a day could potentially increase its productivity by 50% simply by not sleeping. Right?

OK, maybe not. Empirical evidence has shown sleep to be essential to human functionality. Indeed, many (though apparently not all) humans cease to function effectively after sleep deprivation on the order of days. Though they have learned to use chemical stimulants such as caffeine to help them stay conscious for longer periods of time, they inevitably fall victim to sleep. This seeming need to waste years of each individual’s life on totally unproductive sleep is not yet understood by this researcher, so it shall be an area for further study.

That was my attempt at imitating biologists and sociologists. Which one did I actually imitate? I believe that biologists and sociologists are more or less isomorphic, so it doesn’t matter.

And now, after that little bit of excitement, we’ll abandon the world of biology and sociology and return to the standard mindnumbingly dull content that we all know and love.

I haven’t been sleeping enough recently. That’s unfortunate. It’s not because I have too much work — as work expands to fill all available time, I could sleep more and the same quantity of work would still be done. Instead, I’ve decided that sleeping for more than eight hours in a night is a waste of time. In fact, even sleeping for eight hours is a waste of time, as the biologist/sociologist said above; however, I’ve demonstrated that I cannot function without sleep.

So I don’t consider sleeping until eight hours before my alarm. Then, I remember other things on my to do list and deal with a bunch of emails, and then I regret staying up so late. It’s a failure of rationality and intelligently designed planning. Any suggestions?

Maybe sleeping isn’t such a waste after all. But the thought of spending 20 years (in the unlikely circumstance that I live as long as expected value predicts) of my finite life sleeping instead of doing math just seems ridiculous and depressing. Am I insane?

As we all know, I probably am insane. So life will go on as normal… that is, until life comes to an end.