General Update #7623519

Blogger

After reading an entry by Mr ron_broxted on Livejournal, I’ve decided to syndicate this Blog on to Blogger as well as Livejournal. I’ll also be starting an on-off Web-stuff blog where I’ll be keeping a record of things I’m doing with jQuery, CSS3 and other web/media technologies, which I’ll be feeding via RSS on to my website.

I still have no plans to use Twitter or Facefriend, and no amount of hectoring, cajouling or ‘everybody else is’ stuff is going to change that, unless I actually find a use for it. Meantime, the ever-illuminating Stanford.edu site has some interesting stuff on Facebook:

Stanford: The psychology of Facebook

Sleepless

Thanks to work being done on the bedroom, and the fact that the walls still need plastering, I’m still sleeping in the Living Room on the Futon. It’s a bit like sleeping on a pile of logs with a thin blanket thrown over it. Poor old Ms Rhapsody has had exams, and so we’re both rather stressed, and as a result neither of us are sleeping particularly well.

Worse, she gets twitchy in the night and keeps me awake. I get narky and kick her back. I can’t sleep in the Spare Room, because the noise of the boiler and fridge in the kitchen next door keeps me awake, even with earplugs in (other things that keep me awake are things like the mains hum of rechargers that have been left in, and the butterflies in the garden – that’s how much of a light sleeper I am). The Bedroom’s out because of the state it’s in, and that leaves the Study, which from Monday will be functioning as an impromptu kitchen.

Around 6am the upstairs neighbours get up. They are both lovely, and I couldn’t wish for friendlier, nicer folks upstairs, but one of them is a ‘heel walker’, who feels the urge to walk endlesslessly from one end of the flat to the other, many many times each morning between six and seven with accompanying ‘stompstompstomp’ sound effects.

Ms Rhapsody gets up shortly afterwards, and the shower makes a loud whining noise like an old dog.

Ideally I’d have my very own special, soundproofed room with blackout curtains. *sigh* Maybe one day.

Dealing with the aftereffects of insomnia

I know a fair bit about insomnia (on an experiential basis anyway), having suffered from it on and off since I was young. what I’ve always struggled with however is coping with the after-effects: that tired, shivery, brain-dead, emotional feeling you get for most of the following day. This was depicted beautifully in Fight Club, and many a day I’ve spent in that dopy, unresponsive state.

Unfortunately, I need to work during the day. I have websites to build, bugs to fix and meetings to attend in which I must be alert enough to be able to discuss said websites and bugs.

What to do? There are many websites, articles and books about preventing insomnia, but being advised to take some valerian root before going to bed isn’t much help when you’re staggering around like Keith Richards the next day. I had a look at the physiological effects of sleep deprivation in the hope that something there would give me a clue.

As it turns out, lack of sleep increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol contributes to oxidative stress in the body, impairs memory and general functioning, as well as making you feel awful. At least, that’s what I found out after a bit of Googling and Wikipediaing. On this basis, drinking a pint of coffee seems somewhat unwise, because too much caffeine also increases levels of cortisol too.

Eventually I hit upon the following, counter-intuitive combination of measures:

  • 1 x Revive! Effervescent vitamin and mineral supplement drink thingy from Sainsbury’s. Not Berocca, because that’s got Aspartame in it, and Aspartame is the Devil’s Talcum Powder.
  • 2 x Kalms tablets (these contain Valarian and Hops in a sort of sugary shell, like herbal Smarties)
  • Lucozade (the original), or some other glucosy drink
  • Some porridge, or a flapjack (for the slow release carbs)
  • Loads of water
  • Camomile Tea
  • Open the window

…And I kept my head down and took my time over things.

I also took the step of warning my colleague that I hadn’t slept, and so would probably be a bit slow on the uptake. I rearranged my workload to deal with some simpler, more routine tasks as well.

It worked splendidly. I got through the day without any major disasters, without going to pieces, and with a vaguely normal blood pressure instead of the ‘thud thud thud’ of a stressed blood system.

For the avoidance of doubt, the above stuff probably won’t help with the shocking catalogue of cognitive impairments listed here:

Wikipedia: Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance

…But at least I managed to get through the day feeling vaguely human and comfortable.