Sleep then

Sunday, 07 December, 2008

Last night I ended going to bed at around 2 am (Rosey came over after we went to the Finders Keepers markets at the CarriageWorks with Bec, and it turned out that Marinka and Fiona came over too, and while they and Ben watched Best in Show, Rosey and I made A6 journals with coptic bookbinding, and then I dropped her home). This morning, I woke at around 10, having slept through my alarm, and felt like hell.

I remembered someone telling me that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight, but I don't think they told me why. A bit of Googling revealed this paragraph at the Centre for Integrated Healing:

From a complementary medicine perspective, an hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours of sleep afer midnight, because sleep before midnight optimizes melatonin production. Remember the old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

I wonder how true that is, and whether that really is the reason. If so, from a time management point of view, then it makes sense to go to bed before midnight so that you will spend less time sleeping (but you'll get better quality sleep) and more time doing other things you want to do. Certainly HowToWakeUpEarly.com takes that view.

(Incidentally, it both amuses and fascinates me that the internet has given rise to a plethora of self-help-style sites like LifeHacker and 43 Folders to aid us in the battle to cope with modern life. How did people do it before? Has the human race always had this anxiety about the practicalities of our day-to-day existence? [I.e. have we always struggled with coping? I read something Paul wrote recently which said that young people these days must make the kinds of decisions of what to do with their time that previously only belonged to CEOs.] Or has it just been given expression now that technology allows us unprecedented communication?)

I recall a link I was pointed to by Greg several years ago—an article in Christianity Today that argued that priotizing getting enough sleep was an important expression of “love thy neighbour”. But according to the sleep literature I skimmed through today, quantity is not enough; quality is also just as important (hence going to bed before midnight).

Is it true, though, that the body doesn't exist the same way in time—that it just “naturally” does things at different times, thereby nudging you towards a specific timetable? I look at Y Graft's (a.k.a. Sleeping Dude's) nine reasons to get up early and note that the only reason that actually motivates me is number 8: “Beat the traffic” (if I leave the house at 7, it takes less time for me to get to work and I get better parking. And I get to gohome early). But if I didn't work in an office half an hour away and I was just at home, I know I wouldn't do that. I'd probably revert to what Ben currently does—going to bed at around 1 or 2 and getting up at 10 or 11. Like many people, my brain seems to kick into gear around the midnight hours—the time of day when the world seems full of possibilities and you just feel like creating something. Is there an explanation for that?

And after all this musing and meandering around the topic, what conclusion do I end up with?

(Incidentally, further to my last post on time, I read this in a Briefing article I put online on Friday:

Most of us have little discretionary time where we are free to choose how we use it. We have fixed priorities that absorb most of the 168 hours in the week. Sleeping, eating, travelling, working, family responsibilities, chores and ‘personal things’ take around 140 hours, if you have anything like a ‘normal’ life. The 28 hours remaining is your discretionary time—time that you can divide between leisure, study, socializing, hobbies, and so on. Christians will devote some of these 28 hours to specifically Christian activity. This will include private Bible reading, prayer and study of Christian literature, as well as service to others. When we look at it realistically, there are only around 5-10 hours per week available for Christian activity with others, and most of this time is taken up with church meetings, a Bible study group or committees. And, as the years roll on, there is even less time at our discretion, with increased family and work responsibilities.

Maybe we need to rethink our ministry responsibilities and withdraw from some tasks in church life in order to read and pray with others.

I am all for Bible reading, prayer, church, evangelism and building relationships with people. But I want to know where creativity fits in all of this ...)


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I still think it is possible to over-schedule, over-plan, over-budget. I find I get more done if I don’t try to break it down exactly (but that’s just me, and I have been known to put one shoe on and then start filing things before finding the other shoe) smile

How did people used to cope? I think a large part of people getting up early was because work was done in the cool of the morning and you went to bed early because it was dark. Now we can stay up comfortably because we have light and warmth and I never do any manual labour so the term “the heat of the day” is largely lost on me.

I guess I am a computer geek. My brain also comes alive at midnight, I stay awake and then feel lousy in the morning so repeat the pattern. But when I can be bothered to get out of bed early, go for a walk around Centennial, I have a productive day and feel wonderful (and then crash early that night). Now just to motivate myself to put down the laptop before bed and get out of bed the next morning before 10am!

Posted by Boyto on 24 December, 2008 7:00 PM


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