Waterloo School of Architecture (Erica)

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    "I woke up in the Hudson River in a SACK!"

    By Erica
    Nov 14, '08 4:20 PM EST

    I guess this is SORT of about architecture school. Sort of.

    For those of you who didn't immediately recognize that Seinfeld quote, it's from the Friar's Club episode where, among other things, Kramer decides to polyphase. This is the sleep cycle that Da Vinci, Lord Byron, and Thomas Edison were on. There are many variations to it, but the one that is most familiar (and also the most ballsy) is one where you take a thirty minute nap every 4 hours, which amounts to 3 hours of collective sleep in 24 hours. Watching this episode was a dangerous thing for me because I'm known to have a rather potent case of curiosity. You can tell me to not touch something because it's hot and that it'll burn me; I'll have to find out for myself. I'm the kid that stuck a wet finger in a socket.

    In my first month of architecture school, I found myself--much like everyone else--needing more hours in a day to really get something done. So I started to polyphase. Most everyone were rather supportive over it but, in retrospect, they were probably a bit scared of me and curious as to see how it would all play out. The first 3 days were okay. I was really committed to the system and napped in between classes under my desk, in the library, on a bench--really anywhere. All was well.

    By the end of that week, I was going crazy. I had screwed up many of my naps, oversleeping by a half hour to 2 hours. The articles (okay, BLOG entries) that I've read have said that the first 2-3 weeks will be the adjustment period where your body will get used to the new regime. I expected it to be tough, but not a frothing-at-the-mouth kind of tough.

    In the end, I stuck it out for another week or so and then epically failed by sleeping for 30 straight hours. I think my downfall came when I started skipping some of my 30 minute naps and then compounding it to the next. Consistency is key to success in a lot of things, I suppose.

    I also suppose that it would surprise you to find out that I've started to polyphase again-- BUT with adjustments. It's really DUOphasing. My day is split in half with two separate naps of three hours, not thirty minutes. 6-9, both am and pm, followed by 9 hours of school/work/eat. It's my 10th day today (tonight?) and it's actually been fantastic. I am still getting 6 hours of sleep a day and I'm awake for long enough before I start to slow down and run on caffeine. I suppose I could still be in the honeymooning phase right now and that everything will start getting blurry and my drawings will start talking to me next week. At which point I will update, but probably after I sleep for thirty hours straight.

    But for now, here are some pictures of my sleeping antics from last year. It would be an understatement to say that I am not discerning over where I sleep... but, on second thought, perhaps sleeping in an office chair at Staples was one step too far.







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      I did catch the quote...It is a hilarious episide.

      And i would never have the balls to try it.
      Although i suppose architecture students already are used to mad sleep cycles anyway....

      Nov 14, 08 4:49 pm  · 

      A Seinfeld fan!

      That's what I've been saying. Since our sleep cycle is already so messed up, I'm only just trying to harness it and systematize it so that I am not dead-tired all the time. It sucks that I can't just CRASH, though. Yesterday was our interim crit and after I was done, I had to try *very* hard to stay up until 6am.

      Oh. How was India?

      Nov 14, 08 5:02 pm  · 


      It wasn't so much a vacation as an experience. There were so many dichotomies..
      My favorite example was driving by on an autoriksha in the morning and seeing a man talking on a cellphone while shitting in a field..

      I particularly loved the Himalayan foothills near Hrishikesh..

      If your interested my Flickr set is here...

      Nov 14, 08 9:07 pm  · 

      Wow Erica, Staples? Ha ha that's amazing. Your sleep schedule reminds me of my roommate's performance/life art project years ago where she ate only junk food and documented her poo. So, you should consider documenting your insane sleep experiences and becoming an art star. Even if that doesn't sound appealing, let us know how the new schedule works out; it sounds like you get more sleep than I normally do on it, but are probably still more productive than I am!

      Nov 15, 08 6:08 am  · 

      I've flirted with many a ways to maximize work hours in a day in the last 2 years:
      simply not sleeping - longest I've gone was for 7 days straight. I lost 20 pounds... to put it in context - I'm 5'7" normally oscillating between 145 and 150 pounds

      polyphasing - same as Erica, but slightly more concerned with where to sleep (find a nice couch, domesticate it kind of a process). Lasted a few weeks

      UBERpolyphasing - work untill vision blurs or knees get too weak to hold you up, sleep for 20 minutes, spend 10 minutes aimlessly wandering and wondering where and why you are, resume work once mental capacity is restored. Stretched this one into about 9 days at the end of last year, capping off over two weeks of minimal sleep (typically no longer than 4 hours a night) - sort of a mad dash for the finals topped off with a plunge into an abyss to get work ready for my BFA grad show in the largest on-campus art museum in western Canada (no pressure, right?).

      summary: all of these work to an extent, and regardless of the method, when sleep deprived I am initially uninhibited and mentally meandering (say after a single all-nighter), subsequently a surly bastard, blunt on the edge of rudeness (say after 3 days and 6- hours of sleep), and eventually complacently nihilistic verging on the edge of a madman in conversation (every line of thought spoken is a trainwreck). HOWEVER, I find that when occupying the latter two states, not only am I able to produce work, but the shift in the mentalscape leads to unexpected development in the work. There are a few projects that owe their conecptual complexity to me being an incosiderate rambling mess for a few days, making it totally worth it.

      in the end, I'm really interested to see if the 9 hour cycle works well...

      Nov 15, 08 12:26 pm  · 

      wanted to add, that regardless of the circumstances 20 minute powernaps are great. I remember reading somewhere that your body slips into REM 20-25 minutes into sleep, and I've personally found that 30 minute naps leave me really groggy/disoriented if I'm running on very little sleep to begin with, whereas with a 20 minute time-out my mind clears out much quicker. So my otherwise totally unsubstantiaed theory is that if you wake up right after you slip into REM, you still get some of the benefits, without having the mental lag time to deal with as your bodily processes accelerate...

      while 'UBERpolyphasing' those 20 minute naps seemed like eternal voids in the otherwise nearly continuous process of work...

      Nov 15, 08 12:35 pm  · 

      cool. i read one technique where you sleep between 4-7 am/pm everyday, and that is supposed to give you the most benefit. apparently it has something to with yawning and the need for more oxygen??

      here's another thing, i did this to good effect, drink OJ, eat a banana, and a bagel after you wake up, good stuff for sleep deprivation.

      Nov 15, 08 7:26 pm  · 
      Featured Comment

      ditto on the banana. I cycled from undergrad to sleep 4-5 hours every night with an hour of idle time inbetween, usually with my feet horizontal and my eyes either closed or unfocussed. Throw a cup of coffee before or after you wake, and a glass of water each hour you are awake, as well as the subsequent pee break and I found I was focussed and felt rested. I went hardcore before that but found I'd get the shakes

      Erica a chair in Staples...hilarious

      Nov 16, 08 2:02 pm  · 

      you are my hero, and at the same time i'm a little concerned for you... like i want to suddenly act all mom like, and kidnap you and force you to sleep 'properly' - while at the same time secretly i also want to try this. maybe not the hardcore but the current version. do keep us updated but be careful where you sleep!

      Nov 16, 08 11:43 pm  · 

      A studio mate and I tried this in October. Neither of us lasted a week.

      We both still talk about trying it again with a different approach.

      Love the pictures!

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      The School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo is a leader in design education and research. All students gain valuable paid co-op work experience and the program has been rated the greenest architecture curriculum in Canada

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