For years, I’ve been fighting sleep. I’m not a morning person, and although I can be exhausted by 6 p.m., once 9 p.m. comes around, I’m wide awake and eager to work.
Phoenix is an early town, and I’m not serving myself by going to bed at 2 a.m. I might get work done at night, but I usually exercise in the morning, and by the time I do my three-mile walk, eat breakfast, and get ready, the prime morning hours have a serious chunk out of them.
I’ve tried going to bed early, but I simply don’t want to. I want to finish something, start something, read, but not sleep. Even though I’m sleepy enough to drop off in about 15 minutes once I go to bed. I’m still fighting sleep, even when I’m tired.
Warm milk, chocolate, no TV–all for nothing. But I’ve finally hit the right note.
Part of the success in getting to bed and to sleep is the same way I get to my work in the morning: ritual. If you do a set of actions, the rest of your body knows what to do. At 10 p.m., I stop working on whatever it is, no matter how wonderful. I’ve had to set an alarm to do this, but luckily, my iPhone helps with that. At 10 p.m. I pick up my latest hobby–knitting–and put on an audio book. It’s not a educational book, just easy fiction. I call it “the potato chip of the mind.” It’s distracting and interesting enough so I want to listen. For half an hour I knit and listen, literally, to my bedtime story. At 10:30, at a pause in the CD, I get up, mark down where I stopped listening, and go to bed.
I’ve made the ritual a bit easier as well. After supper, before I start my evening work routine, I take off my makeup, wash my face, and brush my teeth. This part of the routine usually wakes me up if I do it too late at night. And brushing my teeth keeps me from snacking our of boredom.
Listening to a story and knitting something without a complicated pattern helps me wind down. Like a kid fighting sleep, I’m not ready for bed, but with the ritual, it’s much easier.
–Quinn McDonald is a night owl in a lark’s world. She is working hard on adjusting. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2009 All rights reserved