Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2013 (Bloomington, MN) with: Gert Franz

My Sleep Experiment And Schedule Shift

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Life

As you may or may not have noticed, my blog has been a little quiet this week. I've been trying to respond to as many comments as I can, but have not done anything in the way of new posts. The reason for this is simple: I'm sleeping more. I used to get about 6ish hours of sleep a night and do my blogging in the morning hours before work. A few weeks ago, however, Clark Valberg pulled me aside and, in not so few words, told me that I looked horrible and that I needed to start sleeping more. Granted, this was right before Scotch on the Rocks, so I was a bit stressed; but, nonetheless, I wanted to take his advice and run with it (Clark's advice tends to payoff quite well).

So, what I've been doing for the past 2 weeks is going to be at my normal time and waking up an hour later. This takes me from 6/6.5 hours of sleep to about 7.5 hours sleep - a 15% increase in sleep time. And, to be blunt, I feel pretty freakin good! I'm feeling like I have much more energy throughout the day and, I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it, but my chronic wrist has been feeling much better in the gym as well. Alternating Dumbbell curls, which used to hurt a good deal in my right wrist, have been going up with no problem at all!

That said, losing the hour of free time in the morning has negatively impacted my research and development time. I'm trying to make up for that time in the evening hours; but so far, like Stella, I've been having a little bit of trouble getting my groove back. Hopefully, by next week, I'll be back on track with my research and development and my blog reading (I've been seriously poor about reading all the good stuff that people are putting out there).

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Reader Comments

Ben, sleep is important. Often developers don't realize that productivity drops off (kinda like being drunk and thinking your performing better).

also if you are able to take a 20 minute catnap (power nap) between 2:30 - 4:30 you can see an improvement in alertness and brain function probably for the next 4 hours. Basically acts like having caffeine but without the side effects or rapid drop off in benefit (similar to lifting versus cardio calorie burning).

Lastly the use of power naps for some can equate to that extra sleep and allow you to stick to your normal schedule. Lifehacker.com has some links

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@Kevin,

I've thought about napping. I've never been very good at it - usually I can't keep my brain quiet enough during the day. I share an office space with a guy who naps though, right in his office chair. Not sure how he does it comfortably.

But, like I said, the extra bit of sleep has definitely been making me feel better.

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yeah often you need some sort of white noise. I served in the Marines so learned to sleep standing ;)

The key is to develop that 20 min-30min max nap. The reason is after 30 min you could go into deeper sleep and waking will be more like if you had slept normally so takes longer for brain to spin up and also could throw off your normal sleep pattern.

As an example I worked on a project for almost a week on about 4 hours a night with cat naps during day. At the end was pretty spent but overall was able to do it.

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@Kevin,

I've actually added white noise to my work time as I find it helps me concentrate. I saw someone on Twitter post this link and I've been enjoying it a lot:

http://www.rainymood.com

It's basically just a 30 minute thunder storm that loops. Very calming.

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Hey Ben
Like you, I love being a CF developer, I mean REALLY love it. There is always so much to learn and I love that the technology, and our own skills, are always moving forward.

For the last 18 months I have been working two jobs - one Mon-Fr (9-5) and the second in the evenings. I was frequently working until 12 / 1am and then getting up at 6 / 7am.

The thing is ... I don't think anyone will ever look back on their life and say, "I wish I had spent more time at work." When my main contract was renewed last month I asked them to cut it to Mon-Thur so I could accommodate my 2nd job on my Fridays.
Now I get more sleep, I am less stressed and I am getting more fun time. I also think I am working more productively** as I need to make my reduced time count!
As an unexpected bonus, my 2nd employer gave me a raise for being so loyal and creating a dedicated day for them.

**I would also say that as a follow up to Scotch on the Rocks I have started using pomodoro technique - shutting down email/twitter/facebook and just checking them when "I have time" makes a big difference to my productivity.

Unlike Kevin, I just like to get out during the day and get some fresh air - go swimming, go to the gym. Anything to get the blood pumping so I return to my desk invigorated for the next set pomodoro's.

Sorry for the huge reply. Just a topic that's very dear to me at the moment.

All the best
Marty

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@Martin,

Working two jobs is intense; I can't even begin to imagine what kind of wear and tear that puts on you. That's impressive that you can keep that up.

Like you, I like to get out a bit and go to the gym. A few days a week, I actually go to the gym during lunch. It's nice to get out when the sun is high and bright and also to get the blood flowing. I am lucky that it doesn't much matter what I wear to the office, so after working out, I can just come back in my gym clothes for super convenience.

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@Martin, well I didn't say I always do the cat nap, hehe. When I was on a Gov't contract couldn't do it (won't say what the gov't employees did ;) )

Yeah getting out is a big deal too. The exercise helps to oxygenate and give you that high and vitamin D from Sunlight gives you the happys. Sleep is still critical.

Here is another bit of info that any developer would like. Sleep allows your mind to clear its buffer and move more short term data to long term. Think of studying and those "A Ha" moments.

The 20-30min nap allows this to happen. Oh and lastly two recent studies found the following. One, said actual work day in typical corporate environment is 4-4.5 hours (Martin that is probably why you are more productive, better time management). Two, LOL just forgot!!! well another study says age affects short term memory.

LOL. I read too many health studies.

Oh just remembered. The most successful PM and sales people focus on a single task and complete before doing the next, because humans CANNOT multitask - we task switch.

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@Kevin,

Ha ha ha, guilty :)

As far as multi-tasking, I feel the same way. I am absolute rubbish at trying to do more than one thing at a time.

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@Ben

Yeah me too, just as my wife! Yeah when I worked that gov't contract one project took me over a month because I kept having to do meetings, assist developers (that's what I get for architecting our framework choice and front-end tech).

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@Kevin,

I've found that if I have 3 meetings in one day, I pretty much lose all drive to work after that (no matter when then 3rd meeting ends).

@M,

I'll take a look at that.

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For those of you who want it, here's the mp3 of the Rainy Mood site:

http://s315939866.onlinehome.us/rainymood30a.mp3

I thought it might be good to have on an mp3 player. It might proof useful for my daughter's room to help her sleep!

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Not only will sleep help your work life but PROJECT HUGE would be impacted significantly with more sleep. You might see a difference with that extra recovery.

PS My project CUT needs a jump start :(

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@John,

RE: Project HUGE, that is definitely one thing I am hoping! Now, I just need to get a workout program down so I can start following a path and tracking my progress.

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Ben, you should learn to code while you sleep. I am currently working on a legacy cf app that was clearly written by a developer deeply in REM sleep, so it must be possible.

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Change of topic...

"...my chronic wrist has been feeling much better in the gym as well."

I could be wrong, but I would almost bet money your wrist pain has nothing to do with your wrist. I bet you have deferred pain from long-term knots in your upper forearm. It's quite common and usually miss-diagnosed.

Try this:
Sit at a table and put both arms, palms to elbows, flat on the table, palms down. Resting your arms on an armchair might work fine too.
Use something like the butt end of a tv remote, something hard but somewhat rounded, and start gently pressing into the top of your forearm. Begin at the bend of the elbow and work down to half-way towards the wrist where the larger forearm muscle tapers off.

I would bet you find a firm ridge of painful, tight, knotted muscle. They are called 'Trigger Points'. Work on it sadistically, slowly but with as much pressure/pain as you can handle, for about 5 minutes. No pain, no gain.

I would bet 5 minutes of pain makes your wrist feel better the rest of the day.

Knots in the outer-upper forearm cause and show deferred pain in the inner-lower wrist. When the forearm muscle is too tight the tendons in the wrist can't slide properly and get irritated - but it's not the cause of pain or the location of the injury. It's deferred from the upper forearm.

I hope that helps you. ...And everyone. It helped me a ton!

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@Darren,

Ha ha ha, classic.

@Potter,

I wouldn't be surprised if you were dead on. I am quite sure that is the problem I have with my knee - muscle tightness / scaring in my IT band and the surrounding muscle that causes my patella to track problematically. I get it worked on, and it feels better... I even try to to use the foam roller from time to time - ouch!!).

It makes sense that the same thing could / would be happening in my wrist. Once, I got a deep, rather painful massage on my forearm and my wrist felt better for a while. So, that might be case in point what you are talking about.

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I love that rainy sound (I have that and the ocean on my iPod and play them on shuffle/loop when I can't sleep), but I find that if I fall asleep listening to it I have to wake up in the middle of the night to pee... (and no, I'm not being facetious for a change :-)

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@Kevin - very good :-) and yeah I agree about task switching rather than multi tasking ... much, much better all around.

@James
It has it's ups and downs. I especially LOVE it for any freelance work as I can clearly see how much time I am truly spending on things. Certainly helps to focus the mind and get rid of distractions. There is a really useful AIR app called pomodairo: http://code.google.com/p/pomodairo/ which I would recommend.

Cheers
Martin

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... and another useful thing for pomodoro is that the Rainy Mood mp3 is 30 minutes. close enough IMO. When the rain stops, take a break and enjoy the sunshine :-)
btw - is it just me or does anybody else hear music in the background of that rainy day mp3?

Cheers again.
Marty

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I know this is a bit old, but if you have an iphone, check out the ER Ultimate app (Easy Relax Ultimate). It lets you create customized whitenoise. There're about 25 base loops from various storms to ocean tides to assorted soft music, with adjustable volume; then you can layer that with up to 3 different ambient noises (anything from a hairdryer to a wolf howling to a campfire to a gust of wind to a train in the distance), which each have their own adjustable volume, interval (up to 2 minutes), speed, and randomization factor (up to 2 minutes) so it never repeats exactly or gets predictable.

And if you're using headphones, you can add binaural beats into it as well. (see my old article on forevergeek for some basic information on what binaural beats are if you're unfamiliar: http://www.forevergeek.com/2004/05/hack_your_brain_with_an_ipod/ ) Options there range from "deep dreamless sleep" to "headache killer" to "concentration". Useful not just for a power nap, but for working, too. :)

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I realy had a good laugh reading this while listening to the rain and thunder! Do things in batch as Tim Ferris (4HWW) recommend! It frees you a lot of time to schedule email-, blog-, reading etc and also cooking batches of healty food.

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@JC,

I downloaded a White Noise app for the iPhone a while back. It had some cool stuff - I love listening to rain and train tracks.

@Göran,

I've tried to start doing some stuff in bulk. For example, responding to blog comments I've started to do in bulk... but I have not been as good about it as I would like to be.

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