Today, I thought about everything I’ve blogged about lately and realized that while it’s good to focus on the things which are going well, there are a number of things I need to change in my life. The whole point of the blog is to improve my life over a period of time, and hope that the tips and tricks which worked for me are of some value to you. So, I tried to look at some of the things which have been bothering me lately. One of them was obviously my sleeping habit.
What was the problem?
I was no more an “early bird”, I was a “night owl”. Let me explain where this is coming from. When I was in college, I used to wake up by 6 AM, I was one of the first students to be in the cafeteria for breakfast, and I was also one of the few who didn’t have to sit through a four-hour long class on a hungry stomach. However, with my working lifestyle, it’s all changed. Nowadays I head to bed after midnight and it is a struggle to wake up. So, I look back wistfully and tell others how I used to always be up on time during college. However, it’s been almost three years since I graduated. What is the point of basking in that glory anymore, and seriously who cared if I woke up early at some point in my life? Most people woke up early when they were in school too. So what? If I wasn’t doing it right now, then there was no point unless I could make history repeat itself.
So, what was the matter with me? Over the last three years, I had googled enough about this, I knew exactly what I had to do based on numerous online articles. So, why couldn’t I implement this in my life? Apart from the glaring reason that I’m not able to follow basic instructions, I honestly couldn’t think of anything else. I know old habits die hard. But, this one had to die now. At certain points over the last three years, I had been able to follow a good bedtime habit, but it somehow always derailed after a while. For instance, currently, my excuse for not being able to wake up early is “the cold”. Before, I lay out how we can go about solving this problem, I had to ask myself why this was important to me.
Why do I want to wake up early?
Being more productive: I am way more productive when I wake up early. I am able to get a head-start on my work and by mid-day I get a significant amount of work done.
Being less sluggish: I’m also more alert when I sleep on time and wake up early. I also hated having to drag myself out of bed. It just wasn’t an efficient way to start the day.
CEOs do it: This one’s a little embarrassing to admit. But, from recent articles it seems like all CEOs wake up early. Now, people might say that whatever a CEO does may not always be correct. However, I like to believe that any CEO would be getting some things right in their life. So, this was a big enough motivator.
Not being grumpy in the morning: When I am wake up early, I’m generally happier in the morning. I’m pretty grumpy, when I need to hit snooze multiple times before getting out of bed.
How do we solve the problem?
Randomly approaching this problem from time to time hasn’t helped so far. Hence, this time, I decided to follow a systematic approach to solve this problem. This meant the following approach:
- Define my problem
- Figure out possible causes of this problem and see which ones applied to me
- Carry out research on the topic and gather data points
- Speak to experts
- Apply the learnings to my problem and set up a plan to solve this
Sounds, simple enough? Well, let’s get started:
Step 1: Define my problem
Not being able to go to sleep early, and hence not not being able to wake up early.
Step 2: List down all the possible causes of the problem and see which ones applied to me.
Working till late: Since my day started late, I was obviously working till late to complete my tasks for the day. This was a vicious cycle. One way to solve this would be to set a deadline and follow it no matter what. For now, I thought of setting this as 11 PM. I really couldn’t imagine going to bed before this.
Continuously being on electronic devices: Texting on the phone right before going to bed had become inevitable. I think the only way to deal with this would be to be off WatsApp and Facebook and all other social networking sites and apps after 10:45 PM. I was also guilty of being on the laptop till I stepped into bed.
Watching mindless TV: Thankfully, this didn’t apply to me. I am not a huge TV fan and never have been. However, I was guilty of reading news articles on my phone till I slept off. And, I wouldn’t say all of this was relevant news which I needed to know: news about celebrities, what they wore, where they were holidaying and what one celebrity said about another. I didn’t need that to eat up almost an hour of my time before I slept.
Eating dinner too late: Another problem which didn’t apply to me. I always had dinner by about 8:30 – 9 PM.
Too much caffeine: Guilty! I have numerous cups of tea daily, and maybe this has to stop in the evenings.
Too much light in the room: Though I had sun-block curtains in my room, phones and laptops were also emitting a lot of light throughout the night. This had to go.
So, basically, I just needed to complete my work by 11 PM, shut the laptop, put my phone away, make sure the room was dark enough and I was good to go. Wow, that seemed easy.
Wrong! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
All of my above bad habits had led to the inevitable conclusion: I didn’t feel sleepy anymore at 11 PM! So, even if I put everything away, I just didn’t feel like going to bed at 11 PM. My body was used to being on high-alert till about 12:30 PM, after which it would shut off. I needed to move that back by about an hour, so that I would feel like sleeping at 11 PM. Also, habits are very very very difficult to change. And, this was why I had been failing continuously and something I needed to tackle this time.
That takes us to the Step 3, which is to gather data on this and speak to experts. No surprise here about which expert I was planning to talk to. It would be my grandfather. For as long as I remembered, he had been going to bed at 10 PM and waking up at 5:30 AM.
So, let me do some research now, and I’ll get back with what I find, in my next blog post.
You can now check out my next post in the series right here: https://whythezen.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/why-cant-i-sleep-on-time-series-post-2/