Most of you who know me well are familiar with my bizarre sleep habits. I’m a night owl. Always have been. It’s a highly productive part of my day when the chatter of email and phone calls die down, the “checkpoints” of meetings and social engagements on my calendar come to an end, the sun no longer makes its inexorable march across the sky, and my sense of time dilates. The passage of each moment is not so acute and keenly felt. I can finally take a deep breath and sit down to think. It’s lovely.
Anyhow, I have often wonder how my sleep schedule has evolved over the years. I would assume that I don’t stay up quite so late as I did when I was a freshman back at college. Surely not! Well… I just recently ran across a potential answer to this question in the form of a set of statistics on my soda consumption during freshmen year. You see, we used to have a soda machine on our hall called SodaLord that stocked the usual Coca-cola, Mountain Dew, and (the dreaded) Fresca & Orange Soda. This soda machine was wired up to a computer system that would keep track of your soda consumption, and credit you account whenever you purchased a soda. (You had to pay into the system periodically to ensure that you had credits available to spend.)
Like any computer system in our dorm, SodaLord was connected to the Internet, where it would (helpfully) serve up soda statistics on its users. I just ran across it again the other day, and amazingly I’m still in their system. Here are my stats:
This data show a strong trend of sleeping from ~6am to noon every day, with some shifting on either side. My most active hour was 1am, and it tapers off slowly from there. There are small peaks in the late afternoon and late evening. All of this is more or less in line with what I remember of my habits from those days.
Now zoom forward to 2009. I don’t drink soda anymore, thank goodness, but other statistics are now available to help suss out my daily habits. Google just released a new service called Google Dashboard, which lets you see all of the personal information that Google has stored about you in its many, many services. It’s an awful lot of information. Among other things, it has a complete log of your search history, including some aggregate statistics. Log in and scroll down to “Web History,” and then click on the “Web” link. This brings up a search history page. Click on “Trends” on the left side of the page, and you will be presented with some cool graphs like this one:
This is the time distribution of my search activity for the past year. Once again, there’s a clear rhythm to my day. Sleep most often happens between 5 and 10am, and there’s still an activity peak between 1 and 2am. There’s still the same peak in the late afternoon followed by an evening lull… I guess the evening isn’t a popular time for searching or sodas for me. It doesn’t look like I get much more (or less) sleep than I did back in college, though maybe I do get to bed a little earlier. It all looks amazingly similar overall.
So, not all that much has changed in the last ten years. Reassuring I suppose, and proof, as if any was needed, that I’m a total night owl!