When I was in college, my Arthurian Literature professor — a former military man — tried to convince my class that the body doesn't need much sleep. "Four, five hours and you're done," he told us. "Do you know who wants you to sleep? The government. Think of all the things you can do when you're awake!" When I'm tired and on deadline, I think of his words, and I think of all the things I could do if I just stayed awake.
Back in college, I got no sleep. I worked full time in a nightclub, I commuted the hour and a half from Hollis to the Upper East Side, and I was hard at work on my fantasy novel, which just so happened to be inspired by that Arthurian Lit class. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. But I was 20-years-old, and my body hadn't yet figured out how to betray me, as it has now.
Working from seven at night to five in the morning five days a week for eight years disrupts any semblance of normal routine. When I had a personal trainer, he always reminded me between power lunges that I needed sleep. Even after I'd quit the nightclub job, I kept similar hours. I did not resemble anything like a functioning person before noon, and I always stayed up into the late morning hours, fighting sleep until I was truly exhausted. This past year working from home, making my own hours, and living #DatFreelanceLife (no one calls it that), has changed the way I manage my time in all aspects of my life.
For a long time the answer to a good night's sleep was staying out late partying with friends, binge-watching something on Netflix until I was too tired to stay awake, or finally result to some sort of drowsy medication. But this month, I challenged myself to try something different. I gave myself a schedule and allocated reading time every night. I tried for a minimum of 30 minutes of reading fiction, but sometimes, the book was too good. Still, I didn't let myself go past midnight. I used the Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band to keep track of my sleep, and used iPhone's Bedtime feature to set my sleep hours. I aimed for eight hours a night.
Here are the changes I've noticed since this new routine on Feb. 1: