Resolution #3: Sleep 7 hours a night
"Nothing good happens after midnight!" was a phrase I heard repeatedly during my childhood, often followed by, "You should always go to bed on the same day you woke up!" These quotes came at me from my mother, most certainly a woman of earthly wisdom beyond measure. As the astute reader surely noticed from my last post, going to bed at a proper hour has never been my forte. Who would have guessed that the bad habits I established as a child, staying awake until hours usually reserved for the night watchman, would follow me into my high-school and college years, and now into my adult life?
My sleeping patterns in high-school had become something of legend. Rarely did I find the coolness of my pillow before 2 or 3am. I would awaken by 7am in order to make my 7:30 bus to school, return home after my daily dose of sports practices, chess matches, or drama rehearsals, inhale a quick dinner, and pass out until 10pm, when I would awaken and begin my homework for the evening.
I carried a similar schedule throughout my college years. My naps now came earlier in the day, after my morning classes and before my sports practices, but it was still a rare night when I began my assignments before midnight, or finished them before those same ungodly hours in the morning that I experienced throughout the earlier part of my life.
Finally I am into the working life. I had always assumed that it was around this point in "growing up" where someone really could get their life together. Schedules are consistent, activities are planned, and time away from work is your own. I have now come to the conclusion that these lies are propagated for the sole purpose of giving the diligent student a future hope, a light at the end of the tunnel to use as a study lamp while cramming for exams. I would never have anticipated the schedule of my working life to be busier than that of any previous point. Playing 5 sports, becoming actively involved in the church, and working full-time leaves few white spaces on the calendar for that blessed respite.
The health benefits of a good night's sleep have been more than adequately addressed by the medical professionals, so rather than waste the valuable time of the reader, I will share another revelation that has recently come to my attention. Not sleeping enough is stealing. It is stealing from my employer, who expects me to be alert and performing at full capacity while I am being paid a full wage, it is stealing from my teammates, who expect me to have the energy to make critical plays during games, and it is stealing from myself, my future health, and well-being. I never considered myself to be much of a thief, so it's time that this situation is remedied.
This resolution will undoubtedly be one of the very hardest that I am attempting this year, and for that reason, I have spent the last week developing a strategy for better sleep in 2010. There was a time that I delved into studying the fascinating world of polyphasic sleep, and during this period, acquired several tips for more effective rest. One of these methods was to keep a sleep journal, particularly when starting a new sleeping routine. While I won't be writing a full sleep journal, starting next Monday, I plan to start documenting my bedtimes, awakening times, and total hours slept each night, along with naps and duration. My goal is to sleep 7 hours per night on average, with 8 hours being the stretch target. I'll post a summary of the statistics at the end of each month, so that my faithful followers can hold me accountable to my progress. Perhaps I'll also note my alertness level each morning, and together we can discover the if there is truly any value to a more rested world!
Think I should write an exposition on my interest in polyphasic sleep? Wish I would stop posting updates at 1am? Want to challenge me on who can sleep the most? Comment below!