There are a million things I want to change about myself, to do better. Every time I think about my sleep project, I am so tempted to throw just one or two more vows in there: I'll sleep and I won't eat sugar. I'll sleep and I'll never check Slate.com again when I'm supposed to be working. I'll sleep, and I'll be so much neater this year.
But the truth is, I'm 50 years old, and I've never thoughtfully, intentionally changed a habit and had it really stick. I've gotten fired up about projects, for months or even years, and have pursued them because I was excited about them. (See: link to SharonCTDailyPhoto blog.) And maybe I'll get to what has really motivated me to do those things later on. But it was never because "I should."
Hmmmm. So what will be different this time? I want to get more sleep because "I should." "It's good for me." "I'll be a better person." I'm sleepy already just thinking about such dreary reasons.
On the other hand, I have a theory: if I work hard at changing this one thing, and address all the reasons that sleep is hard for me, everything else will be easier. It will all just all into place. I'll exercise more, lose weight, get to work on time, keep my house clean, and, much more important, figure out what I really want to do, and do it. I'll find a deeper purpose if I'm not so damn bleary and tired all the time.
It will be easy!
So starting today, I'm going to find and follow all the advice that may help me get 8 (or more) hours of solid sleep. I've already taken the first step: I bought an alarm clock. That takes away my biggest excuse for bringing my iPhone to bed with me - I need it for the alarm. But someone with my insomniac tendencies will stay up far too late randomly clicking and reading things rather than try to go to sleep, or grab it at 5am when I wake up for even a few minutes.
So: Rule 1: No more iPhone int he bedroom
Rule 2: All electronics off by 10:30, lights out at 11. Alarm set for 7:15.
This is going to be hard. And I'm going to have to confront all the things I struggle with as I try to sleep: congestion (so I'm stocking up on breathe-right strips) and allergies; constant itching; dogs and cats and kids (not so much with the kid interruptions anymore since they're older, but kid worries for sure); asthma or whatever is going on that makes my chest feel heavy (and the worries that it's Something Serious); noises, lights, and every other ache, pain and did I mention worry.
|copyright Roz Chast / The New Yorker|
For the first little while I'll just focus on Rule 1 and Rule 2. No new resolutions for at least a month, either. No exceptions for the first month - not for The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live, not for helping kids with homework. (Sorry honey.)
And one more thing: I'll keep a journal next to my bed and before I go to sleep, I'll write down a few things: did I exercise, what did I eat, what did I drink, how much, when. In the morning I'll report on how my sleep was. Maybe I'll discover a correlation that will help.