Monday, October 9, 2017

Staying Up Late Is My Kryptonite

I've been a night owl all my life. Everyone who's ever shared a living space with me, from my college roommates to my husband, have all marveled at how little sleep I need to function.

Sure, it comes in handy when I'm writing to a deadline or a baby is teething, but on ordinary days I still want to stay up late doing something, anything besides sleeping.

Quitting whatever I'm doing and heading to bed feels like walking The Green Mile. I might as well brush my teeth to a funeral dirge.

According to this Business Insider article, that makes me a sleep procrastinator.

I think normal people actually want to snuggle up in the covers at the end of a long day and spend the next 6-8 hours comatose in bed. To them, it sounds luxurious and delightfully cozy.

To me it sounds like something for which science should be desperately seeking a cure. Like polio, or smallpox. Why are we not organizing 5k's for this?

Quitting whatever I'm doing and heading to bed feels like walking The Green Mile. I might as well brush my teeth to a funeral dirge.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Whether I like it or not, though, humans currently need to sleep every night, and I'm trying to work with it. All my adult life I've been trying to get to bed on time.

I've tried recording in a notebook what time I went to bed every night.

I've tried setting a bedtime alarm on my phone.

I've even tried to create some accountability for myself by doing a nightly check-in on the blog's Facebook page.

And nothing has worked.

I abandoned the notebook when it quickly became more depressing than helpful. When my phone goes off every night, I say rude things to it and then ignore it until it silences itself. Facebook doesn't care if I stay up until 2 AM.

I've improved over time, but only because I'm getting older, and I feel as tired now after 6 hours of sleep as I once did after 4. On paper it might look like I'm mending my ways as time goes on, but I'm the same level of tired as ever.

It sounds like a simple self-control problem, but I don't think that's the whole story. I've overcome bad habits before.

As a kid, I regularly bit my nails so far down I used to wrap my fingertips in band-aids to ease the throbbing. You'd never know it today though, because I haven't chewed a fingernail in years.

Over the summer I noticed I was eating too much junk food and decided to just stop for a month. I turned down dessert, walked by the refreshment table without a second thought, and didn't have so much as an M&M for 30 days. It wasn't even that hard.

I'm no stranger to self-control in almost every other area of my life, except for this one.

This post probably makes no sense to most people, who love going to bed. What are you complaining about? They're saying to their computers right now in exasperation. If you hate sleeping so much, then just stay up!

But let me ask you something: Do you enjoy cleaning your toilet? Then why do you do it?

Sleeping isn't something I get to do, it's something I have to do, and to me it's every bit as unpleasant a chore as scrubbing the commode in the kids' bathroom. Actually, I would gladly stay up to do it if it meant putting off bedtime for another 15 minutes.

Staying up late is no doubt my worst habit. But how do you break a habit when doing the right thing is less appealing than the toilet bowl brush?

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Michelle said...

I’m literally reading this while lying in bed under the covers.

We have the opposite problem. I adore sleep. There’s nothing I’d rather do and I’m always tired. However, my body won’t let me nap. No matter how tired I am, I can’t sleep in the middle of the day. I can’t even sleep at night that often. This post partum insomnia is going to be the end of me. Trade? At least insomnia would give you a reason to be up at night!

Lyndsay said...

Yes! Yes to all of it! It's so hard to go to bed.

PurpleSlob said...

Jenny, that's what I do when I'm manic. When I'm depressed, I want to sleep 23 hrs a day.
Sorry, I don't anything for ya. :(

Becky said...

I like to sleep. I just like to start my sleep at 2-4:00am. Then I sleep until I wake up (an advantage of having grown children). I am currently using all methods you suggested but none work for me either.