Thursday, January 17, 2008

Investing in sleep for personal and financial returns

Okay, so I don't have no idea about my next steps to better align my life with my priorities. I have one idea (so far)-- get more sleep.

See, there are a lot of things that are important to me but which I don't spend enough time on. But really, it's not that I don't have enough hours in the day. It's that too often (in the evenings especially, but weekends also) I'll think "I should get together with a friend" or "I should do some creative writing" but then follow it up with "No, I'm too tired, I'll do that tomorrow." And then tomorrow becomes the day after and the day after that...

Now, part of that tiredness really is from the long hours and stress from work. But I have to admit that part of it probably is from just not getting enough sleep. I typically get somewhere between 7 and 8 hours, which works fine for other people but I don't think it's quite optimal for me. So I'm trying to increase that by a half-hour. This cuts down on my evening free time by a half-hour-- but I hope it actually increases my productiveness and energy. I think I can get more out of one rested, energized hour than from two hours at the end of the night where I only feel up for wasting time online or watching whatever's on TV.

And I bet it will pay off financially, too. I cut all sorts of corners when I'm tired which have financial implications. I decide not to pack lunches for the next day, or forget them, and have to pay. I use the quickie, more costly dinners in the fridge or pantry or pick up food on the way home. I have a paid gig writing for a blog as frequently or infrequently as I like-- but when I feel tired I keep putting it off rather than earning $40 for a couple hours of creative, productive work.

I've only been trying to change my sleep habits for a couple of weeks so far, and haven't stuck to it 100%, so I can't report results yet. But I'm pretty optimistic. And I know that before I take a big step like quitting a job I enjoy, I need to do my best to cut back on my own silly time-wasting.

How about you? Do you stay up using the computer (or doing something else) into the wee hours, even though you know you shouldn't? Or did you used to but have now beaten the habit? How do you stay disciplined about getting to bed on time? Has being tired cost you personally and/or financially?


Anonymous said...

Oh my god! This is the resolution I make and break every single year. As you can see from when I'm posting this comment, it's 1am PST, and I have several more hours before I'll go to bed. I get about 5 hours of sleep, if I'm lucky. I'm ALWAYS tired. Unless I sleep all weekend long to "catch up." I know I'd be more productive if I had a regular sleep schedule, but you know what? Everyone else in my family is the same way. Maybe we're just genetically predisposed to stay up and be tired all the time. I'm 43 years old. Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

beth said...

In the past I've found that I sleep better and feel better if I'm also getting exercise. I know, it's one more thing to add to the to-do list, but it might be something to consider!

I've recently taken up knitting and I have to fight the urge to do x more rows before bed.

chosha said...

I agree 100%! I am at least three times more productive when I've had regular, adequate, unbroken sleep. I also find I'm much more creative. The mystery is why I don't get enough sleep every night when I know full well how much it benefits me.

As yet unsolved...

vh said...

When you're young you can choose to sleep or not to sleep at night, but when you reach the grand fullness of maturity, insomnia comes with...well, with freedom from reproductive worries. It's a trade-off, y'know.

I sleep a lot better if I avoid watching the television at night. Something about that stream of violence and angst is disturbing at a subliminal level. It may not cause bad dreams, but it certainly can interrupt your sleep.

Another phenomenon that affects our sleep as we progress further into adulthood is that with age your body metabolizes chemicals more & more slowly. "Chemicals" include caffeine and OTC drugs like Sudafed, which can give you a buzz. To my dismay I've learned that a few cups of coffee -- my favorite potable! -- before 10 in the morning can keep me awake after 10 at night. Try going off coffee for a week or so and see if it makes a difference!