Sleeping Like Superman: I Sold My Soul For Alf Pogs

Sleeping Like Superman: I Sold My Soul For Alf Pogs

I was aware of it in the beginning, but somehow I forgot. I was aware the night before my last eight-hour sleep, when I curled up beneath my sheets. At that point I remember specifically thinking to myself: “tomorrow you can’t do this”. Or the night after that. Or the night after that.

I was aware when I woke up the next day. I understood that, the minute I left my bed, it would be a very, very long time before I would allow myself that same feeling — curling up beneath a blanket, getting warm. Waiting for sleep. Proper, deep, indulgent sleep.

But somehow I forgot. I forgot how much I loved that feeling. I forgot how much I enjoy the act of sleeping. Of being asleep, of waking up satisfied and lucid.

Now it’s so strange, like I’m constantly in search of a full stop that never comes; like a run on sentence sans punctuation. Nothing feels like it ends, or begins. There is no closure. There is only the next cycle and a throbbing brain behind eyeballs lodged in their sockets.

Deep into my second day exhaustion is palpable, and it’s a sad, desperate feeling.

I went for a walk because I felt like I had to do something.

I had gotten home just in time for my 6pm nap, I slept a light sleep and woke up with a start. It was at this moment that the reality of my situation became concrete — I would not be sleeping like a normal human being. Not for a very long time. My day would not have an end. It would simply blend into the next. All I had was this short four-hour cycle, and I would have to deal with that.

Instantly I felt an overwhelming weight pounding in at my chest, and I knew I had to go for a walk.

I was in full blown zombie mode. My wife had gotten home and tried to engage with me, but I found it really hard to respond meaningfully. I said the words I thought she wanted to hear, enough to make it look as though I was a functioning person, but she didn’t look convinced, following me around the apartment as I stumbled in strange circles, looking for something to do.

“Promise me you’ll stop if you feel really weird,” she had said. And I nodded as I walked out of the door. I needed to plod forward, towards some aimless goal, like the zombie I had become. So I walked.

I came home transformed, engaged. Ready to communicate with words instead of grunts and nods. I’m amazed at how quickly I can swing from feeling like an empty shell, to feeling like a regular person after a full night’s sleep.

All I have is this cycle, this four hour cycle, and the extra time it grants me, but is it worth it?

It feels like a parody, a weird Faustian pact. I sold my soul for Alf pogs, for minutes that fritter through my fingertips like grains of sand I can’t clutch. Hours spent gawking at the filtered glare of a laptop screen, mindlessly tapping out the words you read now, completely alone in this harsh artificial light.

My wife lies sleeping in the room next to me. At this precise moment I desperately want to be lying next to her. It suddenly occurs to me that, given the right circumstances, time spent sleeping can be far more valuable that time spent awake.

But here I am, awake, until the end of yet another cycle.

Follow Mark’s adventures over the next month in the Sleeping Like Superman series on Lifehacker.


  • I work full time with two kids under two years old. Your experiment isn’t as tough as many people’s reality. I would kill for the scheduled and predictable sleep you now enjoy! Additionally, your situation would be greatly more challenging if your wife was also constantly tired 😉

  • I would have traded my soul for Sonic Tazo’s, but each to their own… Good luck with the experiment Mark, I am taking bets you will get through this unscathed. Well, physically unscathed anyway…

  • Glo Caps were worth far more of my soul than Pogs or Tazos.

    I’ve never tried the routine you’re trying, but I can imagine how you’re feeling with immense clarity. Boredom would be your biggest foe in all of those. Download a ton of varied games from Steam or find something stimulating to engage your mind. There have been late nights when I’ve been tired even before my usual bedtime, and getting up and doing something instead of sitting at the computer refreshes me more than a powernap could.

    But keep it up. For science!

    • Be careful with the games. If you’re anything like me you don’t blink as often while gaming which puts extra stress on your eyes, and without being able to rest them while you sleep that could get out of control pretty quick. Plus there’s the whole sitting thing. Don’t want to fall asleep at your desk.

  • “At this precise moment I desperately want to be lying next to her. It suddenly occurs to me that, given the right circumstances, time spent sleeping can be far more valuable that time spent awake. ”
    That crushed me, man. It does get better, but the first week or so will push you!

  • When your wife has the baby you’re going to be the go to guy for coping with sleep deprivation! She’ll be looking to you for advice, support and to keep her company during the long sleepless nights. Aren’t you glad you’re getting this practise in now?

  • Am interested to see how this works for you. It seems like something good to do for a few months for some intense productivity. But then go back to normal sleeping when things aren’t so hectic. Kinda like a reverse holiday 🙂

  • I don’t know who your medical advice is from but the worse thing you can do is deprive yourself of sleep. I really recommend that you stop this silly experiment. All sleep deprivation experiments have resulted in terrible outcomes for the subject. All of them.

    I’ve known more druggies then most and i have to say that psychosis is not the result of the narcotics but rather the lack of sleep that stems from all night benders on speed and such.

    Countless times I’ve been called out to help a friend who hasn’t slept for 2-3 days who is losing it and i have to say its the scariest thing ever as a friend talks to you about events, people and things that are happening next you when in fact its 3am and its pitch dark.

    worse still i doubt Allure is insured to cover the inevitable accident.What happens when you cut your hand open severing a nerve due to your lack of sleep? I’ve done some pretty crazy shit in my life, hell I went through sleep deprivation (its called having a child) where i was lucky to get 4 hours a day sleep. It took me 6 months of sleeping 12 hours a day to reset my body back to normal.

    • I’m glad you’re not a doctor… I’m glad you can’t diagnosis psychosis in someone because dear god that’s the worst five minute internet diagnosis ever.

  • Did you have any dreams yet, and then realize that you were in The Real? What about actual dreams? From everything I’ve read dreams help your mind make sense of things. I do worry that your experiment will be bad long term but I’m also excited that you’re trying it out.

    I agree with everything chugs mentioned and feel it would be wise to get someone in a professional medical capacity to check you out at least every two days to make sure you’re alright.

    You might have adjusted ok after 3 weeks, but you’re going to have to figure out how to enjoy your stay in Zombieland until at least then.

    Good luck man!!

    -studotwho, concerned citizen of The Real.

  • Your behaviour sounds like me when I used to work a 24/7 Helpdesk. Graveyard shifts and my difficulty sleeping during through the day made some interesting behaviour from me, like nonsensical rants to my wife and almost crashing my car into highway guard rails

    I suggest you don’t drive while you are doing this experiment! You risk yourself and others!

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