What a Difference Some Sleep Makes…

I used to say, “I’m a night person.” And, well, I stayed up far into the night working (sometimes grading papers as late as 2 or 3 a.m.), so I figured that being capable of such feats proved that I was, indeed, a night owl. These days, since I am on sabbatical this year working on my book and not teaching, I’ve gotten in the habit of going to bed the same time as my husband, about 10 p.m. Lo, and behold, I can and do get up much earlier than I had heretofore thought possible, like, say, about 6:07 a.m. and I prefer going to sleep at a reasonable hour. In fact, I would rather get up early than stay up late.

What the heck is going on here?! I thought whether one is a morning or night person was something … er … inviolable. I mean, aren’t you born with such inclinations? Isn’t it just who you are?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been thinking a lot about my schedule and wondering if I might actually be able to create and sustain a more balanced work/home life by rethinking how I spend my time. So I figured that now would be a good time to try out a written, explicit, detailed schedule and see if this approach might work for me.

And this week is the inaugural week of full implementation of my new schedule. Huzzah.

No, seriously, it’s downright weird to have mapped out everything from time for grooming and eating breakfast to driving and family time. I’ve tried, though, to create a schedule as near as possible to what I’ll actually be doing this fall when I return to the classroom. The idea is that I can then tweek it to get it right before going back in Sept.

Anyway, the thing is that now that I am getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, all of a sudden so many things seem do-able. I’ve even been working diligently on a project that has been on the back burner (scorching slowly and creating an acrid smell in my mind) for many months. If all goes according to schedule, I’ll be done with what I need to do for the latest stage of that project this Friday!

NOTE: I also kinda cheated because I told my husband and son that if I finished my work on schedule, we would all go out to dinner at TGIF’s on Friday to celebrate. Now they are being extra supportive of my getting my work done 🙂

All these years, I always thought that I was just stuck with the pattern I was in. I’m a night person so I might as well stay up … even though I know I’ll still have to get up in the morning and go to work and I’ll be tired but oh, well, this is my life and I have all this work to do. Now I see that change is possible. Why do I see this now? Because I got some sleep! Lesson here? When one is overwhelmed by life’s busyness and the incessant have to’s and should’s, maybe getting some sleep is the first thing one should do. Then, one can think a little clearer about solutions. I KNOW that isn’t always possible, but, come on, isn’t more possible than you say…?

I’m working pretty hard to meet my obligations, but when my alloted time is up, I stop. I can’t tell you how good this feels. And I sleep, too. A full third of my week, yes, eight hours a day, is spent sleeping. I have heard that people from a lot of other cultures think Americans, with their workaholic frenetic activity all the time, are puzzling at best and insane at worst. I always understood, intellectually, their perspective. But in terms of really seeing this and being willing and able to make a change…?

Now, I’m not saying it will be easy. Old habits die hard. The academic life is notoriously boundary-less and all-consuming. But as my Weight Watchers leader says, “If you say I hope I’ll keep the weight off after I lose it, you won’t. You need to say that you will keep the weight off and here’s my plan…”

So I no longer just hope that I’ll find the time one day to get enough sleep. I’ve got my plan and I’m doing it.

G’nite all!

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3 Responses

  1. I’m glad you plan is working so well for you. Great for you that you are getting so much sleep. It makes a huge difference.

  2. Sounds like it’s a pretty easy transition for you and very beneficial. I have always considered myself a morning person, but had to adapt when I used to work from 6:30pm to about 5 or 6 am. My middle daughter is notoriously a nite person, but when she got a regular job and had to be up in the morning, (before noon for her) she adjusted quickly. It totally surprised me. I like you thought you were just sort of “born that way”. Good luck with your new schedule.

  3. Yeh, I guess human beings are a lot more adaptable than I thought!

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