Are you an owl or an early-bird? Or maybe you’re a nice balance in-between? On one hand I envy owls because it makes socializing a breeze. It seems we live in a culture where there is the perception that you can’t have fun unless you stay up late. Why eat dinner at five when you can get reservations for eight instead? Why not go to a pub after dinner? Who needs sleep?
Uh… I do. Me, over here [hand waving in the air].
For the past few months I’ve been really focused on sleep. Mainly because it’s eluded me for the past thirty-some years, and also because sleep is nice. Isn’t it? As a natural early-bird I’ve finally found my groove – go to bed around 8pm and wake up at 5am. This pattern presents a challenge though, because it doesn’t align with um… pretty much everyone and everything. The hard part is saying NO to any activity that goes later than 7pm, which, aside from reading a book on the sofa, is basically everything.
Considering I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to standing up for my needs lets just say I haven’t been able to maintain that schedule – at all. Every night there is some unusual circumstance that throws off my good intentions. So now I need to get tough. I need to defend my sleep the way most of us defend our work. Yeah, I just noticed that yesterday – the way we brush off sleep as though it’s not that important but won’t let anything interfere with our work.
I’m so sorry but I can’t make it to your cousins’ daughter’s baby shower because I’m just swamped with work. I have something due on Monday. Maybe next time?
When we tell people we have work to do, they usually nod in that understanding but disappointed way and often don’t give you a hard time about it. But if you were to tell someone you can’t make their birthday party because you need to be in bed by 8pm, they’d delete you from their address book. Why do we revere work but not sleep? I know there are many stories of famous dead people who went to be early and were (obviously) successful and respected but good heavens it takes an iron will to implement it!
After the discrepancy between work and sleep finally sunk into my skull, I decided that I will now put my need for a good rest above all else. I’ve reached the point where I can’t be pushed any further, lest I fall off a cliff. But really, I just can’t look at the dark grey luggage I carry around under my eyes these days. The kind that no concealer can disguise. The kind that make me look like an old mother – I’m not ready to go there yet! The Dalai Lama has some great advice on the matter, as he does with many things:
So the next time I’m confronted with a date that doesn’t gel with my schedule I can simply say:
Sorry! I can’t make it to your wedding because I have to meditate for 8 hours. Best wishes you guys!
It’s going to take guts, gumption and maybe plain old stubbornness, something I excel at anyway. It’s time to tap into those Eastern European roots and dig my heels in. Or rather, tuck myself in, right around 8pm. You know, the time when everyone else is just sitting down to dinner. I’ll be up at around 5am tomorrow sitting in front of my computer, sipping tea and working on my novel. Or maybe working out tension in a stiff downward dog, but either way I’ll be doing what I need to do, no matter what kind of schedule everyone else is on.