0117 – sleep

I don’t really care for resolutions but I’m going to experiment with a month of sleeping early. (2014 edit: HAH.) I’m starting now to get a running start. I believe it will make me Fitter Happier More Productive. I believe it has worked for me in the past and I believe it will work for me moving forward. I find that when I sleep before 11pm, I wake up earlier AND more well rested. This was most clearly evident during my NS days and during other brief periods.

I need to write down my processes and make them more explicit. I want to increase my output. I believe that I have been sitting on a large stash of excess capacity that is continually being wasted. I think a large amount of that comes from me having unclear priorities. What is my workflow? If I were to step outside myself and observe myself, what would I notice?

Bad posture, lack of exercise, too many tabs open, too many distractions, constantly just trying to get by. I need more focus and clarity. I can’t conjure that out of nowhere; it starts with sleep. Sleep makes me make better decisions. I remember that I used to smoke more when sleep deprived. The brain just needs rest sometimes. The kind of work that I do especially demands mental acuity.

I realized this in greater detail yesterday when I was doing a pomodoro of work. I work best in short bursts. I should design that into my workflow.

I slept at 12mn last night. I was hoping to sleep at 11, but I was “doing some stuff”. I woke up at some point in the night- I didn’t check but I think it would’ve been around 4am- and I went back to sleep. I woke again at 8am. Lay in bed til 815. Reddited and tumblred till 9, which on hindsight was a bad use of my time. I should not go online until I get a chunk of stuff done. I should probably shower immediately after I get up instead of drawing it out. I’m on the way to work now though, and I’m both fresher and slightly earlier than usual.

The best thing about sleeping earlier, I think, is waking up more naturally. Less abruptly. I know that military folk train to be functional while sleep deprived, but hey. Even Napoleon supposedly took naps on the battlefield. On hindsight it’s ridiculous how little attention I give to my quality of sleep, considering that it directly influences my quality of life. I feel myself less stressed, more alert. I’m breathing more deeply. I feel less likely to want a cigarette.

It’s interesting how we take drugs to alter our consciousness, or we demonize and/or criminalize people who do, when pretty much everything we do has a similar effect. Life is drugs. Exercise is drugs. Sleep is drugs. Sex is drugs. Facebook is drugs. Smartphones are drugs. Food is drugs. Driving when sleep deprived can be worse then driving under the influence. Clearly a lot about life- if not everything about it- is about managing one’s consciousness.

If I could I would mandate that everybody experiments with their sleep and diet and Facebook usage. Since I don’t have the authority to do that I’ll have to do the next best thing: experiment myself, and report my findings. I’ve already found that I’m a happier person when I spend less time chasing hits on social media. I’ve already found that vegetable salads make me lighter on my feet and fast food makes me a little sick- salty fries burn my palate. Coke messes with blood sugar levels. Cigarettes make me snivelly and cough, they narrow my field of vision and they make the world look less colourful- this is something I’ve noticed over and over again. Whenever I go off cigarettes, colours look brighter. My sense of smell improves, as expected, but so does my sense of touch. Even my field of hearing feels “expanded”. What cigarettes seem to do is “tune out” the world.

Here’s a thought I had earlier: we fixate far too much on the people we meet. We allow them to shape our view of how the world is. In reality the world is infinitely more complex. Whatever your experience of the world is, there is more. No matter how outcast you feel, there are others out there who relate to you, your ideas, your experience. You can find a support network for almost any lifestyle you might have or background you might desire.

I’m thinking about the boys who annoyed me in secondary school. I wonder where they are today, what are they up to now? And then I realize that I don’t really care. Why should I? I have a life of my own to worry about, and people and projects that deserve my attention more. I wish I knew this when I was a kid, in a way that would’ve been meaningful to me. I would’ve worried less about their approval or the nuances of our social relations and focused more on the stuff that I personally wanted to do- stuff I sort of lost track of along the way, overwhelmed by adolescence. What do I really want to do, anyway? I want to be of use to others. I feel like that’s the most fundamental insight I have. I want to pursue my curiosity and I want to be useful to others. Or as Neil Tyson put it, learn something new everyday and help people along the way. I think that is a life well-lived.

I want to be a lot more prolific than I have been so far. I’ve written 800+ Quora answers, 15,000+ tweets, 600+ blogposts. That seems okay, but I’m sure I can do better. I’m convinced by the argument that you can’t really boost your batting average, what you can do is bat far, far more times.

My thoughts died around here as I got to work. I think I’m going to have to refactor my blog, change things up. I think I might have to revisit my ideas about scaffolding. I’ll write a separate post about that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *