Each day I get out of bed in almost the same way, dragging my butt. The ritual is the same most days. I get up, iron my clothes, shower, get dresssed, pack my backpack and head out the door. Some days I make coffee, other days I buy coffee. The problem is that I go to bed too late on most nights. For me late is any time after 10pm. Each day is a struggle.
I started to look at the tasks that I have each day and thought about making them simpler. For instance if I iron all my clothes on Sunday that is one less task I have to complete each morning. If I shower the night before there is another task gone. If I make my lunch the night before and setup the coffee maker then I am ahead of the game there too. Not to mention I save money on $2-3 coffee. All this makes sense, right? Well on paper it is great but what are the real reasons I am getting to bed late?
Just One More Episode
Downtime is a huge preceived need for myself. Through out my day I have all these little computer projects and ideas that I want to take on and I do not have the time during my lunch break to get to them all. So I try to fit them in at night. Which sometimes lead to me going to bed after 10pm. Television is also a big time sucker. When I have a show that I am watching weekly, I can usually watch the episode of the week and then move on. But the invention of Hulu and Netflix with their entire seasons of shows enable me to continue to watch and watch and watch until my brain is in auto-pilot and over tired. This is simply no good for me. In the morning I find myself hitting the snooze button over and over again. Insanity I know. Yet I feel compelled to watch four episodes of whatever I am into this week.
Another factor is the melatonin that my body produces or doesn’t. We produce melatonin naturally which aids our circadian rhythms. The longer we keep the lights on the less melatonin our bodies produce. Lower light levels at certain times aid in the production of melatonin. You can also buy melatonin as a suppliment in the store for use as a sleep-aid. I’ve actually used it many times with great results. But then a few nights of late night TV watching and I’m back on the wagon. Now if I remember correctly, the sun goes down and we could go to bed soon after so we are ready to work when it comes up again. Now that is a novel idea.
We live in a 24hr a day culture that promotes instant access to anything. Just because people agree on something does not make a thing the right thing to do, use or employ. I have experimented with the concept of going to bed when my body is tired and getting up when my body is ready and here is what I have found. If I go to bed around 9pm consistantly, I start getting tired earlier, around 7pm. So, if from 7pm to 9pm, I get ready for bed, I can be in good shape. Assuming I don’t keep myself up while in bed with my tablet or phone shining light into my eyes. The 7-9pm time I need to let be my downtime. I’ll have less “need” to engage in computer stuff if I am not up to use it.
But I Want an Umpalumpa Now!
We need to stop believing that we are going to miss out on something. We need to be OK with what we have and let that be enough. Because all of the things we are doing generate a need for more time than we have, for things we do not need. My time with my wife and kids should be enough downtime. Sometimes that means playing Legos with them or watching a movie or taking a walk. As soon as I begin the believe that my interests outside of God and family are “needed”, I’ve already failed. That doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy them. Of course I can and I should. But they cannot be needs. They should not define me. They should be icing on the cake. We have got to let go of the idea that we are less than because we have not read all the posts on twitter or articles on Facebook or what other media feed we fancy this week.
The Stress Factor
Let us discuss the stress factor in all of this too. How stressed are you when you start your day late? We live in an anxious state as we try to meet deadlines and obligations put on us by others and ourselves. We watch media that causes stress. We eat foods that cause our bodies stress. But we have a remedy… alcohol, sex, gambling, more TV and so on. Its a vicious cycle.
So over the next week I encourage you to examine your life, your stuff, your needs. Could you live simpler, lighter and with less? Could you just dare to really live on your own time?