7 weeks ago, on this blog, I expressed my frustration with a new habit that I was trying to enforce.
Like I mentioned in that blog post from January,
In September of last year, I decided that I was going to tackle my health by a) eating right and b) exercising frequently. I pretty much had that down in two months and now, I eat three proper healthy meals a day and exercise a couple of times a week.
In November, I sketched out a plan for the overall wellbeing of my home because I found myself to be more happy and productive in a cozy and well-put-together environment. Couches that needed throw pillows and comfy blankets were tended to, beds that needed extra pillows for comfort were made whole, bedding that reflected our personalities were purchased, candles that lifted my mood were placed in perfect little corners around the house, the plain and bare bathroom was furbished in little ways to reflect the theme I had in mind, and all the products used around the house were replaced with ones that were safer and better smelling. Moreover, as a bonus in December, I even put up a wall decal that I always wanted, and started caring for a plant that I got as a gift from Shane.
But then I went on at length about the habit I had been trying to enforce for three whole weeks at the time. A habit to rise early. I wanted to be in bed by 10:30 p.m and rise by at least 7 a.m every morning. I found the prospect of being an early riser very glamourous and for some reason, felt that I would have more time to myself if I adopted that habit.
The other habits that I started applying to my life since September of 2016 were relatively easy and I had them down within less than two months each time. So my goal was to have my sleeping schedule down by the end of February. Hence, in the second week of March, I think it's time for an update on my progress.
I tried. I tried really hard. But the only result was grumpy mornings that I survived with the aid of coffee and sugar, and energetic evenings when I failed to fall asleep before midnight. Moreover, since I work with my husband (who has a regular day job) on most of my projects, we get things done together only in the evenings, thus restricting my bedtime. Trying to enforce this habit left me with zero time for myself. Not to mention how tired, grumpy and irritable it made me. Okay FINE, Shane - it made me grumpier and more irritable than usual. But most of all, it made me fucking unhappy.
Over the past three months, I have actually been paying attention to my sleep. And in mid-February, I decided to chuck all restrictions out of the window and let myself be so that I could figure out what my body has a natural inclination to do. That's when I noticed that my average natural sleep time is 9 hours whereas Shane's is 7 hours. No matter when I go to bed, I wake up naturally without the aid of an alarm after exactly 9 hours. Similarly, Shane tends to wake up naturally after 7 hours of sleep. Which is why on a night that we went to bed at 8 pm, he woke up naturally at 3 am and stayed awake for 4 hours until I woke up at 7. By the way, on days on which I'm extra tired (like the one I just mentioned), I can sleep for close to 12 hours. Basically, I'm a big ol' SLOTH.
And what's more? When I don't impose restrictions on my bedtime and sleep late (but at pretty much the same time on most evenings), I'm my father's daughter. And by that, I don't mean that my body doesn't perform gastrointestinal activities but that I'm out like a light the second my head hits the pillow. And in more exciting news, I wake up happy. Ta-daaa!
So here's how I've finally gotten a handle on my sleep: I don't try to sleep or rise early. I've embraced the fact that I'm a night owl and that I'm more productive when I go to bed around midnight and wake up around 9 a.m.
Over the past three weeks, I've established a routine which has been working wonders for me. It gives me adequate and fulfilling rest, time to make and enjoy a proper breakfast every morning, time to clean up around the house before starting my work day, time to write extra, time to grab a healthy lunch, time to work with a medical student and around her crazy schedule, time to workout more everyday for at least 4 days a week, time to cook a healthy dinner with Shane, time to enjoy a TV programme with dinner, time to work after my dinner break, and most importantly, happy time to myself before bed. I have discipline. I have order. I actually have a daily routine.
Three weeks in, and things have improved around here tremendously. This is a routine that even Shane unconsciously fits into with ease and we're both way more productive and happier in general. I want to make a blog post about my average daily routine because these things might change when there's a fresh start in the family, when we might have to figure things out from scratch. But this is pretty much what my life looks like in Spring of 2017 and I feel like I should record it.
Many many many thanks to all of you who helped me through the process and I want to give a shout-out to a special reader Punit Sethi whose advice is what actually worked in the end:
"Hi Ankita, My advice is to relax and follow your own instincts as far as your sleep-wake cycle is concerned. If you can go to sleep soon after setting your head on pillow, if you are not groggy and tired in morning, and if you are not dozing off in day while at work, then you are doing fine. No need to copy others. In any case, this is going to change with time as the demands of life change. With a kid thrown in the mix, it will be drastically different. No day and night then, no sunrise or sunset, one is lucky if one can catch a few winks whenever one can, at least for the first couple of years. Throw in a second kid while the elder one goes to school, and things start looking rather scary. So please, for god's sake, sleep well and enjoy yourself while you can. Read, watch TV , listen to music, and also chat with Shane, to your heart's content. The resolutions can wait a decade or two."
Thank you, Punit!
I'm loving my life right now :)