Concha nasalis

Day 51 – Sleep, turbinates and the nasal cycle


Adaptation to the Everyman polyphasic sleeping schedule continues after the short break while traveling last week.  Here are some things I learned this week:

[fact_quote]Have you noticed that your body has a preference for falling asleep on one side?  Or perhaps that you feel compelled to flip over to the other side before falling asleep?  If you pay close attention you will probably find out that you fall asleep on the side which has your nostril least open or somewhat blocked.  Actually the nose has a natural oscillation (every 60 to 200 minutes)  where it opens one airway and closes the other one thanks to a changing supply of bloodflow in the nose’s erectile tissues [1].  If you are lying on your left side, after around 12 to 15mn  the right nostril will open up (while the left one will close a little) [2].  It may be that we roll over to improve the flow of air in our sleep, but the ultimate reason for this oscillation is currently not fully understood.  One hypothesis is that slow acting chemicals we want to smell need a slow airflow, but fast acting ones a fast one.  That way, our nose would adapt each nasal cavity to perceive a wider range of smells [4].  Another observation is that the open airway stimulates the brain hemisphere that it corresponds to [5].  Apparently yogis and taoists have described the effects of single nose breathing for hundreds of years (empowering a hemisphere over another for meditative purposes) … however I have not found any sources.  Links are welcome! [/fact_quote]

Concha nasalis

A CT scan showing evidence of the nasal cycle. The more patent airway is on the right; the swollen turbinates congesting the left.

[1] Richard Kayser: Die exakte Messung der Luftdurchgängigkeit der Nase. Arch. Laryng. Rhinol. (Berl.) 8, 101 (1895)

[2] Michel Jouvet: Pourquoi rêvons-nous? Pourquoi dormons-nous? (Odile Jacob) 21,22 (2000)

[3] Wiki Article  [4] ABC-net science  [5] A chaotic systems analysis of the nasal cycle, Behav Sci. 1994 Oct;39(4):285-92.

And below are the last 4 days of Everyman sleep adaptation:

25 April,

No exercise … too much work.  12h of work recorded.

26 April,

I feel tired again in the Early morning. Is it because I woke up in Light sleep? or is it because my last nap yesterday was only 12mn light, 9mn rem, 3mn deep? Or is it simply that I’ve been doing Everyman for a few days and my missing sleep and normal cyrcadian rhythm is catching up?

27 April,

If you have ever gone without sleep for a whole night you have probably noticed a moment when you seem to recover and wake up feeling like you can continue normally with your day.  This occurs when the body secretes the cortisol hormone (around 7 – 8am).  Generally when you skip a night the tiredness catches up with you in the hours following your lunch.  This morning I was supposed to go to bed at 6:00.  However in spite of some tiredness I persevered to finish some work.  The downside is that cortisol kicked in around 6:35 and made me feel wide awake.  I still went to bed to match my girlfriends wake up time, but as you can see in the third hypnogram below it was only light sleep followed by a desperate snooze to try and catch some extra REM and deep sleep.  The consequence?  A less than optimal nap and a less refreshed me.  The 18h nap which had been troublesome for two days was great thanks to some prior exercise.

28 April,

I couldn’t stay awake this morning, nodding off constantly … just made my nap happen earlier as I couldn’t stay awake anymore. Not sure why.  I also tried to nap at 20:30 but was too excited or awake. 25mn in bed, one line of light sleep, but it got erased from the zeo log.


hypnogram showing light, deep and REM sleep in a polyphasic everyman schedule

April 25th to April 28th Hypnogram

(2012/04/25, (4:10,7),(6:00,7,”good concentration”, (6:15,6),(7:30,7))

(2012/04/26, (3:43,5),(3:55,6),(4:14,5,”sleepy again”), (4:33,4,”nod off”), (4:35,5,”get up”), (4:37,6,”offload dishwasher”),(4:40,7,”back to work”))

(2012/04/27, (3:35,5),(3:40,6),(3:45,7),(4:50,6,”a little tired”), (4:52,5.5,”get up, do chores”),(5:00,6),(5:15,7,”back to work”))

(2012/04/28, (3:35,4),(3:50,5, “very itchy eyes”),(5:00,4,”nodding off”),(5:10,4,”too tired to wait for nap. go to bed”), (6:00,6,”get up, do chores”), (7:10,7))

Author: alvaro

A scientist, entrepreneur and wannabe polyphasic sleeper

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