Mapping out the anticipation

Although I am a firm believer in not overplanning anything, I do like to make sure I don't miss out on experiencing the very best of what a destination has to offer.  For my upcoming European adventures, I have decided the best way to do this is to make maps.  I don't want to live with my head buried in a travel guide, but I don't want to obliviously drive right past amazing places.

Blank outline of France...yes it is blurry...bad camera skills!
 So I plot all the sights that I think would be worth a visit onto the map, then if I find myself in that area, I will know to be sure to stop off at the places marked on the map.
A completed map of Spain...even blurrier but you get the idea!
Also... I am a bit of a cartography geek if I am honest, and I find making maps hugely satisfying.  They are beautiful and oh so inspiring.  Maybe once I have started to visit the places on the maps I will add more detail to them to make them into my ideal travel memento.  I'm not sure yet, I just know I cannot wait to get started.

Going biphasic - the experiment is complete

Well the experiment is now complete, and it is time to analyse the results.  If you are interested in seeing how I felt during the experiment, take a look back at my initial thoughts and my experiences during Week One, Two, Three and Four.

Did it work?

I used to sleep for 7.5 - 8 hours per night, and I now sleep for 6.

Are the results sustainable?

I would say on balance yes.  There are days when I am tired and need more sleep, and there are days when a biphasic regime doesn't fit with life.  But there were days before when I needed more than 8 hours per night, and there were days when an 8 hour sleep didn't fit with life.

On average I don't really feel significantly more tired than I did before, although I do feel like my life revolves around the idea of nap time!

Is it worth it?

On the surface, this seems like a stupid question.  I am awake for hours more per day, why wouldn't it be worth it?  But I think to answer this question I have to compare the difference in how I spend my time in the evenings.


5.00 - Prepare evening meal
6.00 - Open University work
9.00 - Work out
9.30 - Shower & prepare for the next day
10.00 - Watch TV/Personal development - blog, learning Spanish etc
11.00 - Sleep


5.00 - Prepare evening meal
6.00 - Open University work
8.45 - Work out 
9.45 - Shower
10.00 - Nap time! **
11.45 - Prepare for the next day
12.00 - Personal development - blog, learning Spanish etc, perhaps some more OU work if necessary
1.30 - Watch TV
2.30 - Sleep 

**This schedule is kind of variable, as depending on how tired I feel and what my evening plans are I vary my nap time between 6.00 and 10.00 pm.

So what's changed?

I get an extra half hour's workout time.  This is good.  I get an extra half hour's personal development time.  This is also good. I get an extra hour's TV chillout time where I don't have to feel guilty that I am not doing something more productive.  This is ok, I would rather be doing something more worthwhile but by 1.30 am I usually can't face doing much more than just sitting around.  Sometimes I work around this by getting up at 6.30 am instead of 7.00 am so I can begin my core sleep a little earlier.

Will I continue a biphasic pattern?

I want to be able to say yes, but there is a nagging doubt in my mind which needs to be answered first.  And this is - 

 "would it actually be any harder just to adjust to a single 6 hour core sleep?" 

I would still have just as much time in the day, and wouldn't have to do the dreaded getting out of bed in the middle of the night thing.

So I think I may try spending at least 2 weeks taking a 6 hour core sleep (at the risk of undoing all my biphasic work I know!) to see what happens.  If this proves to be no harder, I have to admit I would give up on the unnecessary complexity of biphasic sleep and never look back... 

Watch this space! 

Picking up worms

When I was a child, I used to laugh at my dad when he picked up worms.

After the rain falls, the worms come to the surface.  Sometimes they get lost and stuck on the tarmac, where they are killed under the unforgiving sun's rays.

My dad, farmer's son, countryside warden, used to quietly pick up any worms he found after the rain and return them to the soil.  I used to think this was a pointless endeavour, after all, they were only worms.  And who was to say they would return to the soil even if given the chance.

But now, I think I get it.  Respect for this world runs through this man's veins.  It warms his heart, shapes his mind and guides his hand.  He has no moral theory which forces him into picking up worms, he probably doesn't even particularly like worms.  He perhaps has never even really considered why he picks them up, because it as natural as breathing to him.  They are there, in this landscape, and their continuation is part of the flow of the land.  

Pick up worms?  What else could he do?

He certainly never picked them up to try and teach me anything, but I learnt nevertheless.  And now as an adult, I too pick up worms after the rain.

Going biphasic - Week Four

Day Twenty Two

Just as I thought I was getting the whole biphasic thing cracked, I have found another difficult element to taking nap-time in a world which is decidedly against nap-time... it's very unsociable!  This week I am sharing a house with a friend, and I seem to be spending a lot of time feeling either irritated that they are up and about (and making noise) during my nap-time, or guilty that they are exhausted and ready for bed while I insist upon staying up for just one more hour... 

Day Twenty Seven

Well I think it's safe to say the entire plan has now been floored by a kidney infection. 

Sleep is constant, feverish and fitful.  Maybe this is not so much of a setback as it feels like as it is not like I have adopted an alternative sustainable schedule, but in all honesty life itself feels like a setback right now :) Damn these mortal bodies and their abilities to claw back control at a moment's notice! 

Magic markets...Istanbul

Hey guys - Apologies for over-dosing on the market topic, I currently have a kidney infection and the only blog post I could write would be entitled "Ow my kidney hurts"... and this was the only scheduled post that was suitable to be brought forwards.  Hopefully this is forgivable.


So having dragged your travel-hungry eyes through the markets of Manchester, Cappadocia and Tanzania, I thought it only fair to end our market meanderings in the ultimate market experience - the infamous bazaars of Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar is the most famous of all the bazaars, and it is not for the faint hearted.  I suggest making your first trip in the evening... to avoid the crowds, and with no avoid the endless sales patter.  Though of course the mayhem and the haggling is all part of the fun, but perhaps best saved for a second trip.  Another good tip is to get off the main thoroughfare - I don't care how scared you are of getting lost (you will!) and never finding your way out ( might not!), it's totally worth it because you get to see the less polished and shiny stalls and the more interesting merchandise.  I loved the old antique jeweller stalls with their stunning silver pocket watches, ornate weaponry and all kinds of pretty trinkets.

The welcoming glow of the Turkish lamps entice you to take a closer look
The handpainted pottery tiles and dishes make for inexpensive presents that friends and family are sure to love

There is also the smaller (and less manic) Spice Bazaar, which is definitely worth a look as well.

Funnily can find spices there...
...herbal teas...
...and sweets and dried fruits, the stallholders are usually happy to let you try before you buy which I love!
And of course what trip to Turkey would be complete without some Turkish Delight?

Going biphasic...Week Three

Day Fifteen

Overslept! Argh! Well I say I overslept, in reality I woke up at 11.00 pm, hit the alarm...and fell straight back asleep.  Now I'm not so worried about the fact that I overslept - after all everyone has a lie in every now and then without it messing up their sleep schedule, but I am a little bit worried that I was so tired after 2 weeks of my biphasic schedule that I needed to sleep for 10 hours straight!

I did go for a mountain walk that day though, so I'm going to blame it on that and move swiftly on!

Day Eighteen

I have to say...this biphasic thing has really surprised me.  I am shocked how hard it is!  When I decided to trial this, I seriously considered whether it was worth writing about at all...sleeping 2 hours less a hard can it be!


I am hoping that this current feeling of exhaustion will ease when my body adjusts to entering REM sleep faster, thereby maximising the benefit of my nap.  Currently, getting up after my nap is incredibly difficult and not at all enjoyable.  My productivity late at night is very low and I cannot help but question the value of having 2 more waking hours per day if all I do is spend it wishing I was asleep! 

Magic Markets...Tanzania

Yes...looking through my travel photos I think perhaps my obsession with markets is perhaps a little odd.  Hey ho, here's some more market photos, these ones are from Iringa in central Tanzania.

Buying the flowerpot!
Check out the neatly stacked potatos and tiny dried fish in the background, how these mini-mountains never collapsed is beyond me
Fruits, fruit, fruits...and beautiful woven baskets

Going biphasic - Week Two

Day Eight

Today I feel like all the progress I have made in the last week has been undone today.  Dog agility training got rescheduled last minute, meaning I wasn't able to get my evening nap until after 9.00 pm.  I felt as if I had really missed having my nap so would be able to take it at 9.00 pm and then have a couple of hours awake later on.  In reality, that time proved to be simply too late to take the nap as my body got confused between nap-time and actual bed-time and I was unable to get to sleep.  Now I'm feeling super tired and really desperate to go for a lovely 8 hour sleep!

Day Ten

One downside to the biphasic thing, is that some days just don't fit around nap-time.  When I go to my krav maga class I leave at around 5.30 pm, and don't get home until 9.00 pm - which means I can't have my usual nap from 6.00 - 7.00 pm.  So after my setback on Day Eight, I was desperate for a new solution.  Sleeping in my car at work at lunchtime?  Not ideal.  And then it hit me - why do I need to fight my body in order to try this out?

Why do I need to try and break over 20 years of not sleeping in the day?  I think it will take a lot longer than a month to learn how to take proper daytime naps, and this limitation means I won't really have been able to give the biphasic thing a proper trial.

So why not run with what my body wants to do?  Go to sleep around my normal time at 10.00 pm, then awake 90 minutes later and return to bed at around 2.30 am.  This way I am guaranteed to get a proper nap.

I tried it out tonight and it seemed to work really well.  Feeling quite happy with myself and my super-logic!  If I want to, once I am into the schedule I could always slowly move my nap earlier bit by bit, though to be honest I think this might be a more socially acceptable option anyway. 

Day Twelve

Well the 10.00 pm nap thing is going well, I am actually managing to take a real 1 hour nap now.  However... I am jussst starting to question whether this thing is really for me - can I really manage on this little sleep!  I am so tired.  Tonight it was very tempting to roll over and go back to sleep when my alarm went off for the end of nap-time.  But realistically, I have only actually been managing real naps for the last 3 days, whereas I have been undersleeping for almost 2 weeks, so I think I need to give it a little longer before I really consider giving up...   

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