Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

[Polyphasic Sleep] Tired, Dreams, Sunrise, BSG


After today's core, I feel tired. Not sluggish or droopy (yet), just a vague sense that I might rather be asleep than awake. It probably doesn't help that my naps yesterday were mixed up and haphazard, or that I went to bed with too much on my mind (which likely increased the amount of time it took to fall asleep. Of course, it's entirely possible that the higher-order bit is that I'm tired because I'm still not getting enough SWS.

Though, it's suspicious that I often feel very much better after my 8am nap. Perhaps it's simply circadian.


I've noticed a recent change in the subject matter and timbre of my dreams. Warning: extreme pointless navel-gazing ahead.

Typically, I'm used to abstract, 'feeling-focused' dreams, where real people that I know appear as characters only when my brain needs to put a human face on something -- people I know tend not to appear as reasonable models of themselves. The scenarios, in general, are unrealistic, often fantastical, and perhaps deeply symbolic (though I've never been one to lay much stock in trying to interpret my or anyone's nighttime mental gymnastics).

Recently, though, I've experienced a string of 'concrete-feeling' dreams, where, so far as I can remember, I've been interacting with real(ish) characters in realistic(ish) social situations (e.g. X meets Y for the first time in a classroom, Z is having relationship trouble with A at a study group, B feels happy/sad/stressed and wants help at a nonspecific local restaurant), both from current life and past contexts. It appears that people that I have strong emotional responses to (positive or negative) tend to appear frequently, but that characters who I meet in everyday life are less frequent.

Some people say we dream to practice for social interaction, and, if that's true, I'm mildly curious as to what to make of the fact that I'm beginning to dream of things that make more sense. I've no particular reason to suspect that any of this is correlated with my polyphasic experiment, though the timing is perhaps suspicious. Hypotheses I'm bandying about:

  1. There is no higher-order change in my dreaming; this is a noisy artifact of small sample size, or other biasing phenomena
  2. Two or more of the below effects, in conjunction.
  3. Something else that's not apparent to me at this time.
  4. Polyphasic means that I'm REM-sleeping more, so my brain now has REM time to do concrete dreams that it didn't have time for before.
  5. Polyphasic means that I'm REM-sleeping less, so my brain now does not have enough REM time to do the abstract dreams that it had time for before.
  6. Other changes in the distribution of REM cycles caused by polyphasic (e.g., REM napping during the day brings the dreaming experience closer to certain social contexts) are causing a shift in subject matter.
  7. Social stresses (I'm thinking of some in particular, though I'm not sure any are new) are signaling to my brain that certain social situations need to be better understood, and it's responding by addressing them in dreams more.
  8. More generally, I'm becoming more social, so my dreaming-brain is spending more time on social-practice.

edit: As of my August 1 post, I've learned that humans dream in SWS as well as REM sleep. Wikipedia notes, however, that "study participants' reports of intense dream vividness during REM sleep and increased recollection of dreams occurring during that phase [compared to] dreaming … during NREM sleep." It seems likely that the above effects are related to REM sleep in some way.


Watching the world light up in color over the top of my laptop screen as I compose this post is a fantastic use of morningtime hours, in my opinion. Why doesn't everyone—oh, right. They're all asleep.


The Battlestar Galactica reboot. Holy hell, how had I not encountered this before? (Context: I and a few friends commandeered a physics lecture hall to watch the 3-hour miniseries intro yesterday night.) Wow.

Yes, I'm behind the times. No, there isn't new BSG, I'm just discovering it now. In related news, I only just played Portal 2. Obligatory xkcd strip. SPACE.