Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ending the Endless Summer, Step 2: Reasonable Bedtimes

Wife and I are still trying to battle the endless summer. Some days we fight the battles better than others. Lately, we've actually slipped back into old habits of watching TV late-night, and this has led to me being very tired in the morning. Heck, last night I passed out around 10, and still woke up with the sun (actually, I snoozed for a while and really got up at 6:30).

Despite the nearly 8 hours of sleep, I am exhausted today.

I need to follow Mickey's example and use candlelight more frequently at night.
The blue-light TV waves are messing with my sleep mojo.
So what gives?

The issue is quality of sleep, not quantity of sleep. While the number of hours my head is on the pillow is in the "normal" and "healthy" range, the depth of sleep, the restorative effect, is just not there. And it hasn't been for a few weeks now.

One change since January has been with the TV, computer, and phone. Since we started being mindful of shutting down the screens earlier and earlier, my rest has been rejuvenating. I've had energy, been restored, felt rested, and been in an overall better state of health. But alas - movie nights have crept back into the weekly routine. Sure, one late night movie a week isn't going seriously disrupt a sleeping pattern. But missing deep sleep for four nights a week surely will.

With my morning farm chore routine, I have been getting up early, but still lack a good handle on the first step of rising with the light. I've been slipping lately, snoozing more often than I should. I admit that I am not rising with the sun. I am waking up with enough time to get stuff done before I report to work.

Yes, there is a "Link" between artificial light and bad sleep.
I need to re-focus on turning off the lights in the evening to sleep better.
It was really nice for those several weeks when Wife and I would put the kids to bed early, light some candles, read, talk, and just otherwise shut down the noise. In addition to the peacefulness of the evening, we also experienced more restful sleep. We got more done since we woke up earlier in the day fully rejuvenated. It was a period of NOT slogging out of bed, grudgingly, to do chores. It was rising with the light to experience the fullness of a day.

Having passed in, then back out of, that restfulness, I can say that I miss it. We were full of energy, we weren't tired at all during the day, and we were in great health. Since we stopped consciously ending the endless summer, we've been in and out of having a cold, we've been tired, feeling like we've needed naps, sleeping in later and later, and just generally feeling worn out. I don't like these non-rested feelings.

My new focus is on the evening - shutting down the artificial lights and getting the rest I need. I'm getting up early anyway, and I want that experience to be better than it has become.

It is very difficult, though, to change a routine and stick with it for the long term. Popping in a movie to relax to is extremely easy. It's comfortable. It's a familiar option. But it's been chipping away at my health, ever so slowly. And this week, I can feel it.

It is vain for you to rise before light, rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat the bread of sorrow. When he shall give sleep to his beloved. -Psalm 127:2

Even in the Scriptures, the Lord blesses us with good sleep. Excessive waking times is a vanity, says the Psalmist, and the Lord gives sleep "to His beloved." Good sleep, then, is a gift from God. A gift we must use wisely and according to its nature, much like the gifts of food, sex, and time.

Not that I recommend sleeping ON a Bible.....
"The bread of sorrow" here is an interesting choice of words, given that the stress of being tired does inhibit feelings of happiness and completeness. I have been lacking the joy and child-like cheerfulness lately that accompanied my time of good, long, restful sleep. I feel worn, beaten, deprived of something. The scratchy throats and colds, too, have brought their fair share of sorrows. The Lord in His wisdom provides what we need, even in sleep. He, after all, made sleep, made us to feel so comfortable and warm and cozy in bed. This is good, and something we should not be eschewing in favor of ongoing wakefulness.
I suppose this is all a long way of saying I need to discipline myself more. I need to focus on doing what I KNOW to be healthy and for my better well-being. These things often conflict with my desires in the moment, so it is an ongoing battle for sure.

Maybe I'll start with a post-writing nap.

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