I once read a biography about Francis Galton (Charles Darwin's half-cousin, tropical explorer, all-round over-achieving nineteenth century nerd, etc.).
Invented the system of finger printing, he did, as well as a few other tidbits like created the first weather map and came up with the phrase 'nature vs. nurture' (as well as pioneering the concept of eugenics - whoops).
Despite this last monumental lapse of good manners and shocking disregard for those of us more on the dysgenic rather than the eugenic end of things, Galton was a rather interesting chap, and I am, despite his less charming characteristics, a bit of a fan.
Why? Because Francis Galton had a foolhardy determination to prove his scientific hypotheses by conducting experiments on himself.
Amongst his more endearing experiments were his investigations into whether you can change breathing from an involuntary to a voluntary process (yes), and whether you can read the newspaper for long under water (no).
Why you would do these things, I don't know, but I thought tonight I would try a Galton-esque experiment of my own.
My hypothesis: That it's possible to change the need for sleep (involuntary) to a voluntary process.
My method: To drink enough coffee and slap my cheeks enough times to stay the hell awake (with the larger purpose of finishing four pieces of work due Wednesday and to study for an exam on Thursday).
1. Lying down on the couch at 11pm "just for 10 minutes" is not conducive to finishing work.
2. Waking up at 2:30am and finding no work has magically been completed while you slept is disappointing, and surprising.
3. Plaiting, un-plaiting then re-plaiting your hair will not aid in the process of idea generation.
4. Wishing you were somewhere else doing anything else will not make it so.
5. Vegemite toast tastes 63% better between midnight and 4am than at any other time of the day.
And what erudite conclusions can I draw from these vigorous investigations? That:
1. Messing with sleep is bad,
2. Going to bed is good, and
3. Galton was a very silly man.
Revelatory, I know. I've certainly learnt something today.