Necessity of Sleep

When I”m overloaded with work, the first thing I do is cut short my sleep. Waking doesn’t require an alarm clock, I have cats who believe that first light means food.  The earlier the sun comes up, the earlier I get up.

6a0120a55c9cd1970c015436657463970c-320wiTrouble is, I’m a night person. I can easily work till past midnight, but not if I am up at first light, now happening around 5 a.m.

I cannot burn the candle at both ends any more. Sure, it makes a lovely light, but a lovely light is no longer enough. I need combustion to fuel the day. So, I’m forcing the discipline of an earlier bed time. It’s much harder then I imagined, but it’s necessary.

Self-discipline is rarely amusing or fun. But it is the heart of success, whatever your success might be. Without a good rest, without rich and complex dreams, we become sleep-starved and snappish. It’s harder to think, to plan, to appreciate, to imagine the future. It’s impossible to concentrate, or do good work.

Unfortunately, I simply can’t live on five hours of sleep. I need seven, and eight is welcome.

Knowing what you need and giving it to yourself is not self-indulgence. It is a discipline. And it sounds strange to give yourself what you need and call it discipline. Discipline sounds like denying your self something you want.

What discipline do you need to nurture yourself with?

—Quinn McDonald is deeply glad it’s Friday. It’s been a long, tough week.


9 thoughts on “Necessity of Sleep

  1. I’m with you Quinn, I need seven hours of sleep every night and prefer eight. I’m also a night owl and have been working on getting to bed by midnight, the problem is I just can’t get to sleep and sometimes get back out of bed. It’s a tough cycle to break, that’s for sure!

    I’m finally disciplining myself to get back on a regular workout schedule. I’m usually so good with it but 2014 has not been a banner year for me, so far. I know I feel better, physically and mentally, but I’ve sure been struggling with it lately. Here’s go giving ourselves what we need!

    • One of my problems is the “just one more thing” that I want to do before I go to bed. I go to sleep easily enough, and I sleep through the night. But then the cat nagging starts early. . .

  2. My cats wake me up early, too. Luckily, I think better in the morning. Sometimes when I’m sleep-deprived, I take afternoon naps — is that an option for you?

    My self-nurturing discipline is saying “no” — or at least not saying “yes” too quickly.

    • A siesta in the afternoon is a long tradition (from another generation)–sleep through the worst of the heat. On days I teach, it’s not an option. I’ve not done it because I’m afraid I won’t sleep at night, but my discipline has to be getting to bed at a reasonable hour. That’s a choice I have, and getting up is not. If I’m teaching across the Valley, I have to get up at 4:30 am (we start at 7 am in the summer) so my discipline has to be at night. But an hour nap on some days sounds mighty tempting.

  3. Another night owl joining the conversation. The problem arises when what we need is not what we want. Every morning I say I´ll go to bed earlier that day. Every night I don´t. <– Ok, I´m being a bit over dramatic with the e-ve-ry. Blame it on the short nights these past couple of days.

  4. Same as yours. 8 hours of sleep is what I need. A couple days without it and I am overwhelmed and depressed with everyday living and see it as a struggle. So I make sure that I get to bed on time. Besides I am so much more effective that I get the same amount done well as I would have if I spread it out over the extra non-sleep hours. It’s been that way since my early 50s. Can’t beat the body into submission after that.

    • “you can’t beat the body into submission after that,” –So true! My body wakes up more fully after 9pm and doesn’t want to go to bed. But at 5 am, it sure does want to sleep. This morning, I threw the cats out of the bedroom and closed the door. When I got up at 7a.m. (late for me), thy were lined up in front of the bedroom doors, waiting.

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