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I probably shouldn’t jump the gun and claim I’ve conquered sleep, already. It’s only been 2 nights, but I might be onto something. Here’s what I’m doing…
Step 1: Planning a bedtime, sleep time, and a wake-up time that gives me 7.5 hours of sleep.
Step 2: 1-hour before my pre-determined bedtime, I stop looking at laptops, iPhone or iPad screens. I will watch mindless TV, however.
Step 3: I bought a sleep mask to create “total darkness” in my room.
Step 4: I make sure all devices are out of my bedroom and the only “glow” comes from the two bedside alarm clocks. But I think I’m going to remove mine because my Casio wrist-watch is sufficient to wake me up at my wake-up time.
Step 5: Drinking tea during my 1-hour pre-sleep ritual.
Step 6: Get into bed a minimum of 10-minutes before my pre-determined bedtime. Do some reading, meditating, praying, or close-up magic.
Step 7: Lights out. Sleep mask on. This happens at my pre-determined “sleep time” (which is different than “bed time” …yes, I’m a 4-year-old, again).
Step 8: When my alarm goes off in the morning at my pre-determined “wake-up” time, I’m getting outta bed without hitting the snooze bar and I immediately exercise for 30-minutes.
I have to say, friends …the first night, I awoke twice (not sure the times because I didn’t look at my clock) yet was able to get back to sleep. Last night, I woke up once, but got myself back to sleep. And yesterday and today, at work, I felt like a 25-year-old with boundless energy, clarity, focus, and an addiction to Instagram. Truth be told that Instagram addiction isn’t new because I felt younger …I love Instagram whether I’m a sleep-deprived 40-year-old who feels 50, or a well-rested 40-year-old who feels like he’s 25, again.
You were all waiting to hear this, right? Well, some of you could probably care less, but I’ve spoken directly with 12 dudes since my initial blog post, by phone and in person. Some offered advice. Some simply said, “when you figure it out, tell me.” Another guy (M.M.) said, “I thought that’s why they invented AMC or The History Channel …I drag myself down to the couch, flip on the TV, and sleep there.” Wise sage W.K. said he flips the TV on in his bedroom and sets the sleep timer while watching old sitcoms and that’s how he gets back to sleep. Then, there’s been at least another dozen dudes who’ve exchanged emails with me about this, or shared articles and links, so I know I’m not alone.
I share because I care. I share because, well, when I blog, it’s writing and I like writing and as weird as this sounds, when I don’t blog for a few days, I stay inside my own head mulling over idea after idea saying, “I should write that” or “that might make an interesting blog post.” Just explaining why I’m blogging about this and, essentially, airing out my oddities and problems, it helps. I wouldn’t blog about this, probably, except that when I initially emailed a few close friends, the response was overwhelming.
Turns out sleep deprivation might be a combination of turning 40, having a family you’re responsible for, dealing with and waking up to a little bit of your mortality, noticing you don’t have much in your savings account, and having to deal with the fact you (I) don’t have a vast fortune and sprawling estate like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, or that Facebook guy. But W.K. said something else (I mentioned him above) …he said to count my blessings, realize how much I do have, to practice completely clearing my mind, and to look at it this way …how many unproductive years and days and hours did I waste in my 20-something years? Same question regarding my 30-something years. And then do the math and think about all I didn’t do, yet all that I did do, and I was doing these things at a snail’s pace in my 20s and 30s as if I had a million vampire years ahead of me. Now, he pointed out, I can take this opportunity to find clarity and looking at the next decade, or two decades, if I vow to stop wasting time and focusing on the useless and pointless stuff I did in my 20s and 30s …just think how much you, me, and he can pack into 20 years.
Seriously. Think about it. But not if it keeps you awake at night. I used to play in 3 simultaneous Fantasy Football leagues. I played video games like it was my job. And all these years later …whether I had or hadn’t spent the time doing those things, I’d be right in this same spot. Now, think about if I had spent the hours I used drafting players and researching free agents to, oh, write a spec script for a sitcom and then figure out where to send something like that? Would I be happier? You bet your Emmit Smith for Michael Irvin trade deal, I would.
40 isn’t old.
Losing sleep is actually bad for you …this Mens’ Health article says too many sleepless nights can cause brain damage. Gulp!
Oh, and I’ve mixed in 30-minutes of exercise each day.
It’s been a good day. Lots of support. Lots of sleep (for two nights, anyway). And lots of time ahead of me.
And because I’m a hypocrite, I’ll still Tweet my random thoughts, cool articles, and links to things I’ve written, which is in stark contrast to W.K.’s advice. But, oh well …that’s the part of life I really, really like. I’m at @donkowalewski if you care to ‘Follow’ me.