28 Hour Day
Joe Betts-LaCroix is a bit of a procrastinator and he gets obsessed on projects and he doesn't like to let it go, end up staying up later than he should which leads to sleep loss. So he started an experiment with a 28-hour day. In this talk, he describes in engaging detail how he set up a tent in a crawlspace under his house, how his family reacted to the experiment, and what he has learned from it.
I am Joe Betts Lacroix and I am here to tell you about my adventures with the 28 hour day. So I’m a bit of a procrastinator but I do every day have to typically wake up around the same time as you can see from these traces from my Zeo sleep coach and waking up is that blue line there, petty constant because of life i.e. kids.
But as I say I’m a procrastinator and I get obsessed on projects and I don’t like to let go of them, so the time that I go to sleep is highly variable and you know it could be hours before I can actually let go of the thing that I’m doing. So I always want to stay up later. Unfortunately that leads to the unfortunate phenomenon of sleep loss, which everybody knows is really bad for you. Most of us know that. I sort of know that, but I wanted to change this and I looked into Tim Ferris’s recent book, where he has a bunch of different sleep experiments or sleep patterns that people could try.
Uberman, Everyman etc. and I looked online and saw that lots of people were talking about trying these and there was basically no follow up from anybody saying yeah that worked, so I assumed they were complete disasters and decided not to try them. besides it wasn’t so much about when is it wanting to delay sleep that I was most obsessed with.
So then XKCD commix which I’m really a big fan of and I noticed at the top of one of the strips, him poi9nting out that six 28 hour days somehow coincidently exactly fitted into the same week as seven 24 hour days, and looking at it I could see that every night I would be able to go to be four hours later which is obviously a procrastinators dream, so I decided to do it.
I made a schedule and the sleep is in grey and the days of the week are rows and I made it four hours later every single night. It added up to 56 hours of sleep and then I put in some time for my family, 46 hours and that’s pretty good, and 64 hours for projects and work and study which is awesome and also some time right in the middle of the work week in the middle of the day, working with the normal. I was imagining myself doing this forever and then of course most importantly time every day for a relationship.
Weirdly on a weekend in the middle of the day when I’m hanging out with my kids I’m sleeping, so that was a bit of a strange twist to this.
So how did I do this experiment?
I used a Zeo sleep coach, which has a headband that measures as most of you probably know its EEG signals to detect sleep and a Withing’s blood pressure cuff. As we know getting not enough sleep can cause stress and world renowned expert Robert Sapolsky, lets us know that having lots of stress will kill you in horrible ways. He told me that when I complained that cortisol is really hard to measure, which is the best proxy for stress, I can measure blood pressure for a proxy for cortisol which seemed actually really doable for me, so that’s why I included the measure in the experiment.
So where to do it?
So looking around at the top level of my house I tried to think l of where I could be asleep while everyone else is awake, and pretty much zero places offered themselves as being compatible.
So on the lower level of the finished spaces, same problem; don’t want to sleep next to the furnace. But there is this huge crawl space down there and it’s just wasted. And one particular place is reasonably flat and I can get to it through a hatch right next to the furnace.
And it’s not as flat as I would like but it’s pretty flat. So I just rolled out a tarp and it had a little bit of headroom, not quite enough for the full height for the tent, but it’s okay. I dragged the mattress in there and that’s where I conducted my experiment.
So how did it come out?
I did it for two weeks and you can see the sleep from the Zeo and the vertical grey lines are four hours apart. So there’s my normal crazy sleep. It’s starts at the blue line and this perfect mathematically exact four hours later every single night, was actually really a lot of fun and I enjoyed this. And I actually felt like going to sleep every night, because normally I’m not tired.
Unfortunate in the yellow circles you can see the red is waking time, and I tended to wake a the same time I woke up for the prior sleep, which is a bit annoying. Here’s the second week and I’m continuing on below the blue line of my normal kind of crazy messed up sleep pattern. Again in the yellow circles there is timed when I would wake up right when I woke up the prior day. It’s an unsolved problem and a mystery of this whole experiment.
So why did I wake up so much. So one, there is my tent underneath the house in the crawl space, and if you’ll recall from upstairs there’s the piano. And I did wake up to music, not always good music a fair number of times. So the next time I do the experiment I will build a soundproof room for it.
Here is the overall sleeps and you can see a before and after, and I general doing the experiment period I got this roughly the same crappy seven hours a night average, although you can see it degenerating going slowly down during the experiment period.
So the blood pressure data I think came out pretty good. The average is about the same as it was before on, during, and after, so I probably wasn’t completely destroying my body by at least this measure hopefully.
Some it was challenging and it required a lot of logistics. I really enjoyed it and it felt great in many ways and I consider it worthwhile, should definitely tweak it and of course try it again.
So I did and first I felt this new schedule that’s a lot simpler so that the people I am collaborating with especially my friends and family have a better idea of when I’m accessible and when I’m not. And unfortunately I chose a time to do this when it really wasn’t a good one in my life. I just got back from Ted Med and I had all these things to catch up on, and people to coordinate with and I was kind of stressed out. And also the Zeo for some reason didn’t catch a couple of the night of sleep, which are these red triangle that I stuck on there.
And bad planning, although I’m in a soundproof space that I made and I basically cut it off part way through. Unfortunately I don’t have as much freedom in my life right now as I would like to have to go completely off the scale. However, I would love it if somebody else do this because I just think ironing out just a few more bugs and we’ll probably have something awesome here, and figuring out why some nights I wake up and some nights not.
Happy to help maybe someone in this audience would like to do it. if you would I’d be glad to help you, and give you tips on how I collected the data and how I built soundproof rooms etc. and if you do please let me know. Call me, email me, Twitter me, find me.