“Sleep” is the ghost that haunts me endlessly – but for good reason.
For a long time I’ve shrugged it off completely; getting enough sleep, getting quality sleep, and having a consistent and regular sleep schedule. “It’s not for me,” “I don’t need to be awake at that hour,” “I’m a night owl,” etc.
And as true as some of those reasons may be for my situation, they might NOT be true for my internal, biological systems.
I’m reminded of this from reading Jordan Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
In one of the sections for Rule 1, he talks about some of his clinically depressed patients and his first question would be about their sleep, and the second about their breakfast.
Both of these are very, very weak and unstructured areas of my life at the moment – and is now a prime target for my attention.
There are parts of me that scream against “getting up early” or “having a normal wake time” or “being consistent with my sleep” because, I argue, it would mean not getting to stay up late to play games with friends, or having to stop working on personal development when I’m “in the groove” late at night. Or it would mean having to figure out what constitutes a good breakfast for me, since I don’t usually eat breakfast at all – and some foods make me feel worse off (but only shortly after waking up).
But it’s quite possible (and I think a deeper part of me has known this for a while) that waking up early (or at the very, very least – waking up at the same time every day) would have a ripple-effect in other areas of my life.
I’ve said before that I think my mind and nervous system has a hard time conceptualizing how much time I actually have within a 24 hour timeframe – because of how out of control my sleep and day is (staying up long stretches of time + going to bed and waking up at different times every single day).
Getting my sleep consistent would be a big first step in normalizing that “concept of time” within my nervous system and normalizing my sleep will likely help me “calm” myself, physically and mentally, to feel less anxious overall. Not having to deal with that stress or anxiety would go a long way in building internal stability with myself so that I can move forward on other areas of my life.
But it’s not an exclusive thing – waking up at the same time isn’t going to fix everything. I still have to do all the other work, still have to make the other changes, still have to work on the other habits. But it’s a first step and it will need to work in tandem with the other changes and improvements.
But I will take this first step as I do that other work and develop those other changes and habits. And if I stick with it for more than a few days, then it could be the snowball effect I need to get the rest of my life in order, too.
So my intent is to wake up at 8:00 AM EST every day.
Period. No special or complex “system.” 8:00 AM EST every day from this point on.
Until I either decide that I want to wake up earlier or later – but the focus is on the consistency of wake-time, not the time itself. But for as far as I’m concerned, it is my intent that 99% of my remaining days are going to be waking up at the same time every day. With exception to special occasions and rare occurrences, but then to normalize back to 8:00 AM (or whatever the chosen time is) immediately after.
I’m not paying much attention to sleep-time, although that’s still an area I’m being aware of. Peterson expresses that the time you go to bed matters less than the consistency of waking up at the same time. I’m sure that as I wake up at the same time every day, it’ll get easier to feel tired to fall asleep at an appropriate time. But there will be things I can do to optimize my evening to fall asleep more effectively and get better quality of sleep.
But for now: waking up consistently, seeking the dawn of every day, is the first major step towards creating Order From Chaos.