Mr. Trump, Please Get Some Sleep

sleep

Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. It helps us heal when we need healing. I went to bed very early last night, and got all the sleep I need to do well at work today. I wish to suggest to our president that he do the same.

At least eight hours of sleep a night is healthy and helpful. Also, especially for a man in his seventies who is under a great deal of stress, long naps during the day can be a literal life-saver. In Mr. Trump’s case, the number of lives saved can be very large indeed.

To free up time for sleep, I have one more piece of advice for the president: limit yourself to one tweet per day.

The Inverted Popularity of This Aspie’s Phobias and Philias, Part I: An Explanation

phobias and philias

The image above contains three colors: white, black, and red. The words appear in red because I see it as a color denoting positive or negative intensity, and phobias and philias are both certainly intense. To “see red,” I have learned, does not usually mean what it would mean if I said it myself. Consistent with Asperger’s Syndrome, which I have, I tend to be almost completely literal in the words I use, while the non-Aspie majority often uses words in confusing (to me) non-literal ways. Over the years, I have figured out that this phrase means, when non-Aspies say it,  that they are extremely angry. (I, however, would only say “I see red” if I was actually seeing light with the wavelength-range, ~620 to ~740 nm, which our species has labeled, in English, as “red.”) On the other hand, red roses and Valentine’s Day hearts are popularly used to symbolize romantic love, which is an intensely positive emotion, while extreme anger is extremely negative. White and black, the other colors above, in much of the world, are commonly associated with, respectively, positive and negative things. I, on the other hand, view these colors the opposite way: I have avoided sunlight for much of my life, and continue to do so (to the point where I need to take supplements of vitamin D), while also reveling in darkness, in much the same way that I revel in my “Aspieness.” Right now, it is daytime here, and I am writing this inside, in a dark room, with the only artificial light reaching me coming from computer screens.

It is a common misconception that Aspies (an informal term many people with Asperger’s use for ourselves) are non-emotional. After all, two well-known fictional characters from different incarnations of Star Trek, Spock and Data, are based, in my opinion, on Aspie stereotypes. Stereotypes, I have observed, are usually based on some real phenomenon, and in this case, that phenomenon is that many Aspies experience emotions in radically different ways from the non-Aspie majority — so differently that we are sometimes perceived by non-Aspies to be emotionless, although that is not the case. This causes a considerable amount of tension, and no small amount of outright hostility, between the community of Aspies and the non-Aspie majority. When I write on the subject of Asperger’s Syndrome, I try to do so with the goal of explaining and understanding our differences, in order to reduce Aspie/non-Aspie misunderstanding, which is both common and unhelpful — in both directions. This is the reason I use the factual, non-hostile term “non-Aspie,” in place of the unhelpful and perjorative term “neurotypical” (a word in common use within the Aspie community), one of three unfortunate words discussed in this post.

Explaining my choices of colors in the image above was a prelude to a personal, mathematical analysis of the inverted popularity of my own phobias and philias. I have long observed that I have an intense, inexplicable affinity (in many cases, reaching the level of a “philia,” an often-misunderstood word and suffix, for reasons I will discuss below) for things which the majority, in my part of the world (the American South) hates and/or fears. Examples include spiders, cats, the number thirteen (and all other prime numbers), mathematics in general, geometry in particular (strangely, even many people who like mathematics still dislike the subfield of geometry), being different from those around me, darkness, the color black, night, the physical sciences, evolution (which happens, like it or not), enclosed spaces, heights, flying on airplanes, women, and Muslims. I have also struggled with phobias, working (with professional help) on eliminating them, one by one, but they tend to be less common. Examples of targets for my current and past phobias include light, especially sunlight, to the point where I actually have to take vitamin D supplements; as well as voice calls on cell phones (human voices coming out of small boxes freak me out); death; the life sciences; insurance; sports (and related events, such as pep rallies); loud noises; efforts to control me; and, since my mother died, last November 16, the 16th day of any month, especially at, and after, six months after her death.

I’m a teacher, and it’s the 16th of July, and I simply do not have the option of falling apart on the 16th of every month when school starts again next month, at a new school, with new students, for, as the saying goes, the students will arrive — whether I’m ready or not. That’s no way to start a school year.

I have much to be optimistic about, for I will be teaching in a different building, but on a much-improved schedule, with far fewer different subjects to prepare for each day than I had last year. When I fell asleep last night, after completing four full days of training to teach Pre-AP Physical Science for the first time, starting next month, some part of me knew that mental health improvement — before the 16th hit again, today — was essential. Was that something about which I was consciously thinking? No. I apparently rewrote my mental software (again) last night, an ability I have worked on developing for over thirty-five years. When this brain-software-debugging process first became evident, a few years back, it was happening in my sleep, just as happened again last night, and it took some time for me to figure out exactly what was going on, and how my ability to rapidly adapt to change had improved. 

In Part II of this post, I will analyze, mathematically, the inverted popularity of my phobias, compared to the most common phobias, ranked by incidence among the population. First, however, it is necessary for me to explain what I mean — and do not mean — by the word “philia.” There is a serious problem with this word, in English, when it appears as a suffix, and that is due to an unfortunate linguistic error: the incorrect application of a Greek idea, and word, to the horrific, disgusting, and criminal behavior of child molesters, as well as those who have sex with corpses. The ancient Greeks, as is well-known, used four different words for different kinds of love, and “philia” (φιλία) referred specifically to fraternal, or “brotherly,” love. This was not a word the ancient Greeks used for any type of sexual act. The words “pedophilia” and “necrophilia” are, for this reason, historical anomalies. Both terms are misnomers, meaning, simply, that they are messed-up words, and their existence creates the potential for misunderstanding. A philia, properly understood, is simply the opposite of a phobia. Phobias are better-understood, of course, and require no detailed explanation. 

One example of what I mean by my own philias should suffice. I have, for many years, had an abnormally strong fascination with spiders. I like them — a lot — so much so, in fact, that I actually have a tattoo of a spider, and often wear a spider necklace, to express how much I like this one biological order, the largest within the class of arachnids. Despite my strong affinity for spiders, however, I have zero sexual interest in them. It is accurate to call me an arachnophiliac, which is the opposite of an arachnophobe.

It is now near 9 pm on Saturday, November 16, and Friday night’s sleep therapy gave me the energy to work on the needed improvements to my mental health during the day today, by using reflective writing as a therapeutic technique. I also have a new appreciation for sleep, which will come soon. Part II will be posted soon, but it will not be written until after I have enjoyed a full night of sleep — starting, hopefully, in a few minutes. Goodnight, and thank you for reading Part I.

[Update, July 17: Part II is now posted here.]

Constructing “Nightday” — An Experiment Involving Sleep

Waning-Gibbous-Moon

The last workweek having left me rather tired, I went to bed early Friday, after work, and then, having slept all I could sleep, I then woke back up quite early Saturday morning, before sunrise, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was tired all day Saturday, but not too weary to think. What I thought was simple: as tired as I am, it sure would be nice to have a three-day weekend this weekend. Next, I thought, yeah, this would be nice, but that won’t make it happen. Finally, I realized that I actually could, perhaps, come up with some hopefully-clever and effective way to get the three-day weekend I want . . . and, having had an idea to do exactly that, I’m trying it right now.

I’ve tested the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle before, trying to find ways to lengthen that period of time. (Ever wanted more hours in the day? Well, I actually tried to make that happen, once, but the results were less than successful.) This time, however, I’m not trying to get extra hours in a day, but an extra day in the weekend — by simply using shorter “days,” and thus making “room,” temporally, to add an extra sleep-period and wake-period into the weekend. So, Friday, I fell asleep around 5:00 pm, and did so without the prescribed medication (which includes sedatives) which I usually take at bedtime, since it wasn’t that late yet . . . so I simply fell asleep because I was tired.

Without the sedatives I am used to taking, of course, I didn’t stay asleep anything like a full eight hours, and instead “popped” back awake at around 9 pm, which was less than an hour ago, as I write this. Rather than sedating and returning to sleep, however, I took the other medication I am prescribed for this time of the day (such as that needed to regulate blood pressure), and then made my “morning” coffee, which I am enjoying now . . . to begin the extra “day” I’m attempting to add to this weekend, between Saturday and Sunday. My hypothesis is that I can deliberately alter my sleep/wake cycle in such a way that I have three (shorter) sleep/wake cycles in two calendar days, thus giving myself a three-day weekend, of a sort, and enjoy the benefits of a three-day weekend as a result. If, come Monday, I feel like I’ve had a three-day weekend — in that I feel unusually well-rested — I will consider this experiment to “create” a working illusion of a three-day weekend, without any actual extra time, to be a success (subject to the opinion of my doctors, to whom I will describe all of this).

I plan to stay awake until roughly dawn on Sunday, and then go to sleep until, well, whenever I wake up. I’ll then have a shortened post-sleep Sunday wakefulness-period, go to sleep at a reasonable hour Sunday night, and get a good, full night’s sleep then, before going to work on Monday.

Right now, therefore, I’m having the middle “day” of what feels, subjectively, like a three-day weekend, and having it at night, between what seems, now, like it was yesterday (the shortened Saturday), and what I anticipate as my shortened Sunday, after I sleep again, tomorrow. Since it’s easier to talk about this extra “day” I’m having tonight if I give it a name, I’m doing so: I’m calling it “Nightday.”

Some readers may object that I’ve merely come up with an overly-convoluted way to analyze a four-hour Saturday-afternoon nap. I’ll concede that they do have a point . . . but if my calling this “Nightday,” and telling myself that I’m enjoying a three-day weekend, actually turns out to help me feel and act more rested next week, then I’ll take those benefits and run with them, regardless of what any critics tell me (unless, of course, my doctors are among those critics). If this experiment has only beneficial results, and passes medical review, then I’ll likely use more Nightdays to get additional three-day weekends in the future, whenever I need, or simply want, them.

~~~

Important disclaimer: nothing in this blog-post should be taken as any form of medical advice, for I am not medically trained. I have taken the precaution of discussing my practice of occasionally inventing and conducting experiments such as this with my own physicians, and will continue to do so. No one should attempt to replicate this experiment without first consulting their own physician(s).

[Image credit: the photo of the Moon shown above was found here — https://photographylife.com/moon-waning-gibbous. It isn’t identical in appearance to the current waning gibbous Moon, having been photographed quite some time earlier, but it is close.]

On John Lennon’s 1971 Song, and Song Title, “How Do You Sleep?”

This is one of the most vicious, cutting songs ever written. Here is a video for it, so you can hear it for yourself, and see the things to which the song refers.

It was, of course, written targeting one specific person, but it isn’t difficult to listen to it, and think of other people to whom this question could — and perhaps should — be asked. In other words, there is no reason, in today’s world, to limit this song to merely being an “attack song” against Paul McCartney, although that was certainly John Lennon’s intent when he wrote it.

When anyone does horrible things — far worse than anything McCartney ever did — this song’s title makes a good question one could ask them: how do you sleep?

After thinking about it, I have come up with five possible answers.

  1. Some people lack a conscience, and so are untroubled by guilt — ever — no matter what they do.
  2. Delusional people can do horribly evil things, but be convinced that they are moral, righteous, and doing what they should be doing. If you have never encountered such behavior, consider yourself fortunate.
  3. Sometimes, people are simply ignorant of how harmful their actions have been. One cannot feel guilty over harm one does not know one caused.
  4. Even those who are tormented by their own consciences, and past actions, can still sleep with the aid of sedatives, whether over-the-counter, or prescribed. This is risky, of course, and should only be done under the care, and following the instructions, of a physician. (Yes, I am aware that illegal drugs — or legal ones that aren’t considered medicines, such as alcohol — can also be used for this purpose, but that’s even more risky, and I wish to make it perfectly clear that I strongly advise against doing that.)
  5. Narcolepsy.

If you can think of any others, please leave them in a comment.

A Hypothesized Method for Washing Away Anger

washing away anger

This particular method is simple: sleep. Eight hours usually does it for me, >90% of the time the anger originated on the previous day. For others for whom this works, I expect the amount needed will vary from person to person.

Relevant medical research comes from many sources I have read, speculating on the (still unknown) complete list of the purposes of sleep, which includes (in lay terms) “washing away” junk the brain doesn’t need any longer. I am of the opinion that anger qualifies for that category.

My evidence: repeatedly observing this happening to me, hundreds of times.

Replication of experiments, and creation of new ones, to search for more evidence, is obviously needed. While this is a testable hypothesis, I certainly have not conducted a definitive test. For one thing, this lies outside the fields I have studied, formally, the most, and my sample size (one) was far too small to count for much.

An important point, in case anyone is wondering: no, I do not think this ability is limited to any one segment of the population, such as those with Asperger’s. If “Aspies,” like myself, have any advantage at all in this area, it’s limited (in my opinion) to the fact that many of us spend an unusually-high amount of time studying our own minds, and how they work. However, my hypothesis does not require that one know what the hypothesis states, which is no more than this: in a majority of the human population, the activity of sleep reduces levels of anger. Clearly, more reliable results could best be obtained by double-blind studies.

If I’m right, chronically sleep-deprived people, as a consequence, will be more likely to be angrier, on average, than is the case, overall, in the general population. This offers another avenue for testing.

Comments are welcome, especially regarding other research on this subject.

Also, please comment if you know of a good method for anger-elimination, or anger-reduction, which does not require sleep — for I may wish to try it myself.

Revise, and Re-install, Unconscious Mental Subroutine

tess chiral 2012

Sleep eventually takes your awareness from you, and, at the end, you don’t even resist.

Asleep now. Initialization of nREM startup program in progress.

Stop. Evaluate time elapsed since last sleep-reprogramming. Identify areas of concern.

Rank items of concern in priority order,

Schedule upcoming REM cycle to allow the “playing out” out of necessary “real-word” drama to address the top priority concern. Maintain focus on that concern until it is replaced by another one, new, and of more importance. Keep an eye on all areas of past conflict, while watching for new ones, hoping for early detection.

If unavoidable, implement “the best you can fake it” multitasking coping-mode.

Realize that memory of this sleeping activity will be fragmentary at best.

Know also, nonetheless, that you are the one one writing the program, at both ends of the consciousness-spectrum, the autism spectrum, and any other spectra I find myself standing on.

To answer the obvious question: yes, this blog-post is deliberately being written in the grey zone between sleep and wakefulness. If parts of it make no sense, that’s the reason.

~~~

Note upon waking: I found this, written but not published, on my computer, when my alarm clock went off. I guess I’ll post it now!

My Impressions, Upon Wearing a CPAP Machine, at Home, for the First Time

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. As a result, I now have a CPAP machine, on me and running, for the first time at home. The headgear reminds me of the uniform Alex Summers wears, as Havok of the X-Men, except that his nose isn’t covered, as mine is. I also have shown no ability to focus the energy from cosmic rays at targets of my choice, or anything remotely like that . . . at least not yet.

Alexander_Summers_(Earth-616)_0001

Others seem to think I look a tad more ridiculous, however.

As far as how I sound, I literally have to keep my big mouth shut for this thing to work, so my wife (without whose help I couldn’t have gotten into this contraption) always gets the last word now. (Also last snicker, etc., as she just pointed out to me, happy that she can talk, without risk of interruption, for a change.) As she was putting it on, though, I talked as much as I could, until she reminded me that I’m not supposed to talk while, um, “CPAPping.” However, my last bit of chatter for the night sounded like Darth Vader doing an impersonation of Stephen Hawking.

Darth_Vader