Tranquility By Tuesday #1: Give Yourself A Bedtime

Tranquility By Tuesday #1: Give Yourself A Bedtime
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When I started reading Tranquility By Tuesday* book, I almost gave it up on the first rule: give yourself a bedtime. I have had an adversarial relationship with sleep for most of my life, and in spite of multiple tries to fix it, I didn’t think this could possibly do anything.

I was wrong.

Calm the Chaos

The book is divided into three sections, and the first section is called “Calm the Chaos”. The rules were selected and order to make the most of the building of the rules.

She landed on this order through her own experience and from the participants in her study.

Addressing The Fundamental Need For Sleep

The first rule is addressing the fundamental human need for sleep.

The chapter is subtitled “Going to bed earlier is how grownups sleep in.” This is interesting, because I can tell you “sleeping in” became 7 am – if I was lucky – once my daughter was born.

The book mentions that time logs often show that people are getting the quantity of sleep. So why are people tired?

Laura Vanderkam points to what she calls “disorderly sleep”. She points out that on the average, there is a sufficient average quantity, but the schedule itself was all over the place.

How To Put Yourself To Bed

As a parent, I found the next section that outlines how to put yourself to bed hilarious…and not. As a parent, I knew that a consistent bedtime and routine made things easier for putting my daughter to bed. And why would I be any different?

The Obstacles

As I read this part of the chapter I felt like I could have written it. I often stay up too late because I have too many things left to do. Or I find that it is the only time I get to myself. In fact, reading past my bedtime (often 3-4 hours) became such a problem that I bought myself a timer that shuts off the lights.

And I get resentful if I don’t get that time to myself.

She gives ways to deal with the resentment, too.

My Difficult Relationship With Sleep

For years I have struggled with difficult sleep. I am a light sleeper at times, and once I am awake, I am awake for hours. (Parenting a newborn was very difficult from this perspective)

I tried having a consistent bedtime, but there was always a little more to do.

I tried to cut out those last minute tasks, and then would get sucked into a leisure activity (primarily reading). It wasn’t unusual that I would be up to 3 or 4 once a week reading. The problem became so bad that I tried using a paper book and a light that shut itself off. I’ve heard this called “revenge procrastination” but it was just exhausting.

I tried using a software that would monitor my sleep cycles and wake me at the correct phase. That just led to too-early wake times

I did the tests for my chronotype*. I am a dolphin, someone who struggles with sleep. (And I did the tests again…and again. Same results.) And we’re not even going to go into the details of what perimenopause has had on my sleep.

So when this was the first rule, I thought, “this is never going to work.

It Worked, Though.

I really worked to make this happen. I decided I wanted to be up at 6 every day. That gives me adequate time to do my calm-inducing morning routine before I have to be anywhere else. I need 7.5 – 7.75 hours of sleep to feel well-rested (and wake up in the correct phase of my sleep cycle). That means bedtime is between 10 pm and 10:30 pm. I set an alarm on my phone for 9:45 to ease my way into the cycle.

The thing is, by the end of the first week, I felt much more awake, and I had stopped waking in the middle of the night. I was able to get up with more ease, and I had stopped oversleeping and hitting the snooze button.

End Result

In spite of my heavy skepticism, this rule worked for me. And it continues to work. I am getting the tasks done at the end of the night, and still having 10 minutes to read before falling asleep. It’s been amazing.

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