If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you’ll know I struggle with sleeping consistently for sufficient hours, at times that are best to be asleep. You’ll also know I encourage thinking about problems from as many different perspectives as you can. Sometimes we might have found an answer …to a different problem than the one we are facing.
Sleep. Every human needs it. And if we can manage, our body are best suited to sleeping when the stars are in the sky. Our bodies know night is a time for rest, to be ready for the giant ball of fire to appear in the sky. My circadian rhythms mean I’m naturally more inclined to stay up later. For more than a decade, through my highschool and university years, I pushed ‘staying up late’ to the limit many times. This further solidified in my mind that staying up is a way to make myself more productive. Now, with paid work that is more or less 9-5, sport three or four times a week, and a lot of writing scheduled in around that, I more often than not feel tired for significant portions of each day.
Something always has to give. Used to be I’d keep burning the candle at both ends until I hit mini burnout. In reality there’s nothing ‘mini’ about any burnout.
Each time, I’d take a few days off work, and try and force myself to go to bed earlier. My hope was this would have the knock on effect of helping me to wake up earlier. Only once has this strategy worked. It was probably the most productive six months of my life. Every night, about thirty minutes before I wanted to be asleep, my body would yawn, and I would listen. I’d clean my teeth, get my gear ready for work, read, and drift peacefully into dreamland. I would get seven and a half hours sleep, get up the first time my alarm went off, and tackle the day. So I know it’s possible.
What happened to that goodness? I left that job, took some time off work, and my bedtime slowly drifted later as I played more and more video games and watched more and more television. There were other factors at play which influenced my mental well-being at the time; preparation for an international sports tournament; feeling lost about my purpose in life, and sadness around the lack of finding a ‘forever-home’ for my life; but I let my sleeping habits slide.
I’ve tried several times to get that routine back, and succeeded for short periods. A few days here, a week there, but I haven’t quite cracked the formula yet.
But what if the problem isn’t when I go to bed, but how much sleep I get? My brother is a strong advocate for naps. After finishing work he would often take a nap to rest to get his mind ready to tackle his PhD thesis.
I haven’t tested this theory over an extended period of time for myself, but the days I schedule a nap after work and keep it to thirty minutes or less, it feels like an energy boost for my mind and body. Afterwards, when I’m playing or writing at my desk, I feel energised.
What about alternative solutions for different areas of life?
I can throw a frisbee well. However, my body shape and level of limb flexibility means I throw a certain way. This may not work for everybody. I learned by watching throwers that move similarly to me, and have a similar body type. And of course, by trying things and finding new ways to do them!
When I write stories I fall somewhere on the spectrum from ‘pantser’ to ‘planner’. ‘Pantser’ being the term for letting your imagination guide completely. ‘Planner’ being the term for putting in a lot of work before writing even one word. Sometimes I feel drawn to plan out a short story, other times the idea sparks the writing. Some longer form stories have started almost on their own, while others have grown steadily through research and discussion. Being flexible has helped.
What hasn’t changed in any situation? I haven’t given up. If the solution isn’t obvious I put in effort to finding it.
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Have you come across a problem in your life that is difficult to solve? How have you been trying to solve it?
What would happen if you came at the problem from a different angle?
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Keep on keeping on being awesome. You’ll get to where you want to be. PEACE.