1.09.2016

sleep more

fallen camellia bloom, Lan Su Chinese Garden (January 7, 2015)

While enjoying a lazy Saturday morning with coffee and my usual media, I ran across this article whose New York Magazine author suggests that the best New Year's Resolution is to get more sleep since sleep affects pretty much everything else. I've never been a big believer in New Year's Resolutions, only in resolutions—or even in a budding impetus to change, burgeoning desires, repeated nudges, an eventual pivot in focus that might bloom anytime during the year. Change is hard and often fruitless.

One thing I need to change is sleeping more when working. My paid job will start up again on Monday after a half-year hiatus during breast cancer diagnosis and treatment that included two surgeries and radiation and for which I am gratefully done. (Cancer treatment is itself a job, but that's another story.) Because TriMet added the Orange MAX line in September, rerouting multiple southeast Portland Metro bus lines, and because I gave up my car three years ago, my work commute up to St. Johns has gotten even longer this school year (thanks, TriMet), meaning I'll need to leave the house well before 6 AM to get to work by 8 AM. And that means getting up at 5 AM, which means that if I want eight hours of sleep, I'll need to go to bed at 9 PM. While that was always the goal with this job, it rarely happened.

Is it just me or does nine o'clock feel like a bedtime for children, not adults? That's why I would usually find myself lingering at the computer or in front of an escapist Netflix show to wind down till ten, or eleven, or twelve, or even one in the morning (gasp!) before hitting the pillow. And then I'd pay for it the next day. Yet four or five or even six hours of typical sleep isn't healthy at all. Lack of sleep is linked to all kinds of health problems, including weight gain. When I don't get enough sleep, I feel guilty—among other negatives. And what I don't need as a cancer survivor is more guilt on top of poor sleep.


branch buds, Lan Su Chinese Garden (January 7, 2015)

My acupuncturist has been gently suggesting I mirror the earth's natural cycles to increase health, saying human bodies respond chemically in circadian rhythms to have more energy in the morning that tapers off later in the day as the sun wanes, and that our bodies pay a price for contradicting the cycles of the sun. I quoted him reports that creative people tend to be night owls. He said that may be true, but there is a trade-off in health. Well then!

For my health, at least while I have this job, I aim to be in bed on work nights at 9 PM. That means no more falling asleep while watching a British murder mystery and dragging myself squint-eyed and cranky into the bathroom to brush my teeth. It means the bedtime routine of cleansing and lotions will need to start by 8:30 PM and become more intentional, more ritualized. It means I can treat myself to a cup of herbal tea and extra reading in bed, to nuzzling my cat, and maybe adding in a little meditation, yoga, or journaling. I expect imperfection but also know if something isn't working, one must try something else to get different results. (It also means I'll be saving up for a car again.)

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