A Fundamental: Sleeping Well

Sometimes, you run into situations that have a cascading effect on all the other parts of your life. Sometimes, you face problems that, though pervasive or large, have a very clear fix. Sometimes, you have solutions that are fairly easy to implement.

Rarely, you have all of these things in one.

I’ve been noticing my productivity and mood dipping ever lower lately, and it’s only just begun recovering. What started it? Going to bed earlier and getting enough rest. It seems incredibly simple. It really is, and yet I slip up quite often on doing this.

There have been more than a few occasions in the past few months where I was pondering the challenges I currently faced, and said to myself, “Going to bed earlier would solve most of this, and make the rest easier.”

So I did. Things got better. Then I’d fall off the wagon again, and start getting stressed, lazy, and prone to procrastination, which compounded the problem. The cycle repeats.

The pattern only crystallized into a clear insight in the past few days before this post was written. Since then, I’ve been sleeping better and the steady descent into an unproductive, stressful haze has reversed.

Now that I think about it, as I write this post, sleeping well is one of those fundamentals that you should immediately look at when your day-to-day vibe goes awry.

When you get the feeling that something has changed, or that things are taking a turn for the worse, check if it’s anything you have control over, before you start looking at factors outside your control and blaming them.

Now that I’m sleeping better, everything else has improved. It’s been said over and over, but sleeping well is a huge part of doing well.

Things that I’ve learned about sleep you can use:

  • You sleep in cycles of ~90 minutes; try to sleep in increments of these during the night.
  • Light and sound have an effect on your sleep. Don’t hesitate to drop $10 for a facemask, and less than that for earplugs.
  • Alcohol and other drugs also affect your sleep. For example, a nightcap may help you fall asleep, but lowers your quality of sleep.
  • Oversleeping can affect you, just like undersleeping. Find your magic number. Me, I sleep nine hours, more if I’m especially tired or sick.
  • Caffeine has a long half-life. I personally cut off all caffeine after noon.
  • Artificial light absolutely wreaks havoc with your sleep schedule.
    Use f.lux for your computer, Twilight for your Android phone, and keep the screen brightness down as night falls.

If sleep is a key factor in your performance, as it is for a majority (and don’t Dunning-Kruger it), then I hope these factoids help you out, or remind you of what you already knew and gave you inspiration to keep doing.

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Post half-written mid-September 2015. Just cleaned it up and got it out there. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and happy holidays!

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