Do You Find It Hard to Turn Off the Light, Even When You Need the Sleep?

Because I’m working on Before and After, my new book about habit-formation, I constantly talk to people about their habits, and as I heard about people’s sleep habits, something puzzled me.

For me, sleep is a self-reinforcing habit; I feel so much better when I get enough sleep that I find it fairly easy to respect my bedtime.

Often, however, people tell me that they’re painfully, chronically exhausted–yet when I suggest that they go to bed earlier, they become angry and resentful. Usually, these folks desperately need the sleep. So why do they get so upset at the thought of moving up their bedtime?

As I talked to more and more people, I began to understand. In most cases, these are folks who schedule very little time for themselves. They race around, weekdays and weekends alike, without a break, and their only open time comes at night, when nothing more can be expected of them.

Some use that time to try to catch up on work—to knock off a few emails, to read through a report. For many people, it’s the only time they can work without fear of interruption, and they want to get a jump on the next day.

Other people use the time not for work, but for play. The kids are asleep, the trash is out, office emails have stopped, and they can finally relax.

People don’t want to lose that precious slot of time, even to sleep. It feels like a deprivation—and people hate to feel deprived.

A friend said, with surprising vehemence, “I work at my law firm from morning to night. If I don’t have that hour or two at the end of the day, to read, to relax, I have nothing for myself.”

“So what are your hours?”

“I get home around nine, I never go to bed before midnight, I get up at 6:30 a.m.”

“You might work better and more efficiently if you got more sleep.”

“If I went to sleep earlier, in order to feel sharper the next day, that would just seem like a work-related decision, too. That would mean the firm is getting more of my time.” He shook his head. “No way.”

This it’s-my-only-time-to-myself phenomenon is a big habits challenge. “Rest, relax, and enjoy” is #4 of the Essential Seven, and many of those who cling to that last outpost of open time are reluctant to trade it for the restorative repose of sleep.

Do you find it hard to turn out the light, even when you know you’d feel better if you got more sleep? How do you think about that trade-off?

(If you have trouble getting enough sleep, here are some tips. If you want to be notified when my habits book goes on sale, sign up here.)

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  • Melissa

    I bought my husband and myself, and my daughter a white noise machine from Amazon. It is so much easier to go back to sleep in the middle of the night when I turn the machine on…it has 6 settings. I particularly enjoy the ocean waves, babbling brook, and falling rain ones. :)

    • Courtney Hunt

      There is also a great white noise app on the iPhone (called “White Noise”). There are dozens of choices but we always use the ocean waves one.

  • BKF

    I feel this way. I already wake up at 5 so I can’t get any extra time by waking up early. It’s very tempting to stay up after the kids are asleep to get some “me” time and read for fun or watch Netflix. I have to force myself to go to sleep so that I am not tired the next day. Sometimes I don’t – it feels like a treat at the time- and then pay for it. Sleep deprivation makes a huge difference in how I feel the next day.

    I love my eye mask, by the way. I only started using it a few months back but it has improved my sleep a lot.

  • Allison Ruth

    Yes! I was just relating this exact problem to someone yesterday. As a single parent, the only “free” time I feel like I ever have is late at night, even though I need to be sleeping. It doesn’t matter if I am completely exhausted, I still have a really hard time convincing myself to turn off the light and go to sleep when I know it is my only chance to have time to myself. It seems easy to say I “should” schedule free time during the day so I can get enough sleep at night, but as a single parent it just really doesn’t play out like that for me.

    • Kate

      Holy moly, I do the same thing and it’s turning me into a lunatic! There is hope for us, after all!!

  • Diana Cherry

    I have a hard time going to bed, too. And, actually, the main reason is because I have 4 small children, so my only time with my husband is after everyone is in bed. We’ve talked about this a lot and tried to at least increase the amount of evenings where we do go to bed early. Sometimes, it helps if we say we’re going to go together. At least we’re cuddled up together, even if we’re not spending time actively chatting or going out.

  • Lauren

    I have this problem big time (it’s 1am now!)…. sometimes I think it’s beyond deprivation and may even have to do with being an introvert who is somewhat forced into social situations all the time- work, kids, even interacting with a chatty spouse. This is ok, but after 14 hours of it, I feel too compressed to go to bed and I need some alone time. It’s terrible – I’m constantly sleep deprived.

    • BKF

      i agree! i am introverted too, and love to be alone after being forced into social situations all day at work, home….i need the alone time to decompress but alas, it leads to sleep deprivation…

    • Courtney Hunt

      I completely agree with this. As a very introverted person, working in an office, dealing with a five year old, and a chatty spouse is very draining for me. The only free time I can carve out is after everyone else is in bed, which often equates to less sleep for me.

      • gretchenrubin

        It’s interesting that a few introverts have made this comment.

        I’d never thought about that, and really something to ponder.

        I do believe that in general, people are starved for solitude – and this is a great example of how it shows up in everyday life.

        • BKF

          I just realised it myself too after Lauren’s comment. It’s a tricky subject for me right now since my in-laws are very gregarious and staying with us for a month. Even though I love them dearly, after a stressful day at work, and dealing with small kids, I just want to be alone and they see it as me not liking them or wanting their company. Extroverts don’t seem to understand the craving for solitude and take it as a personal affront.

          • Molly

            I think this is interesting coming from introverts, as well, since I take introverts to be those who are more careful about carving out private time But of course, when you work and have kids and family, that would be an issue, in particular, for an introvert. My friend was like that when her daughters were young, and in fact, the only time she got a good night’s sleep was when she laid in bed with one of her daughters and ended up falling asleep and staying asleep out of sheer exhaustion. Best wishes to the introverts to getting a good night sleep!

          • BKF

            Thanks, Molly! :-)

          • Molly

            BFK…just one more thing. I would definitely test as an extrovert, though I suppose not an extreme one. I actually do need solitude, crave it, and grab it when I can. Not that you were making such a generalization, but not all extroverts are like your in laws. (But again, if they are at your house during the day and you are out, they may be getting that during the day and feel ready for social interaction at the end of the day.)

            Interestingly, I think the human condition demands some solitude as much as it demands some sociability. How can we process events and make sense of them, be creative, reflect on our own goals, etc? Our culture worships business, and if there is a flip/down side for extroverts, I think they are most likely to get caught in the trap of busy-ness, not allowing themselves much needed solitude b/c extroverts tend to judge the worthiness of their actions so much (for better or worse) by the prevailing social conditions.

        • Gillian

          Gretchen – I don’t recall you addressing the introvert/extrovert issue here or in your book. With your love of lists & categories, it’s a perfect fit. If you haven’t read Susan Cain’s book Quiet, I urge you to do so. It is brilliant!!! I was amazed at how many of what I thought were my personal quirks can be attributed to the fact that I am an introvert. Being an introvert or extrovert will play a huge role in how a person achieves happiness or forms habits.

          • gretchenrubin

            Susan Cain is a friend – I’ve read her book and I love it! Highly recommend for people.

        • Penelope Schmitt

          Starved for solitude . . . so agree.

    • Merry

      I’ve come to realize the same thing about myself. I’m a very introverted, stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschooling mom of two. I wake with the kids (often AFTER at least one kid), spend all day with them, and when they go to bed, my spouse is home and up until at least midnight. There is no such thing as time to myself. It’s definitely one of the hardest things about the life we’ve chosen, and I too am constantly sleep-deprived. I don’t have an answer either.

    • Susan Cain

      Hello all! As an introvert, I feel exactly the same way. I used to be so disciplined about my eight hours of sleep. But these days, with two small children in the house, I can’t tear myself away from the peace and quiet of nighttime — even though I love the days, too. Thank you Lauren for bringing this up!

      • BKF

        I signed up today for your newsletter and plan to read your book next! I always thought it was a personal defect, especially since the family I married into is so extroverted. Can’t wait to read Quiet! It’s definitely hard balancing motherhood and a career with your spiritual “wholeness” as an introvert…

      • Molly

        I read your book a few months ago and absolutely loved it!! Dog-eared so many pages…and I am an extrovert! I am sure others have told you, but many extroverts are intrigued by introverts and cherish their quieter more reserved qualities. My husband is an introvert and so are many of my friends! Thanks for your great book on this subject! So neat to see you on Gretchen Rubin’s blog.

        • Susan Cain

          Thanks Molly!

          and yes, Gretchen is wonderful.

  • Bailey Olfert

    I am a night owl, so turning off the light is difficult. I try to go to bed at the same time as my morning-person spouse, but it is a fight against biology!

  • http://www.positivelydreaming.com/ Sarah

    I’m actually having the opposite problem right now. Where before I used to stay up way too late in order to accomplish the things I wanted, in the last few years I’ve started to make eight hours — more, if possible — a top priority. It feels great to get consistent sleep, especially now that I’m a mama on top of everything else, but it’s also frustrating. I’m currently trying to transition my career, something I predict will be an arduous, years-long process, and I’m now looking at that eight-hour rule as something of a roadblock. So far I haven’t sacrificed sleep, especially as I’m expecting my second in only a few months here, but it sure is tempting to burn the candle at both ends. Luckily I just picked up “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” by Vanderkam. We’ll see how that goes. :)

    • Molly

      Congratulations on your baby! I wrote something similar above. I feel like it is against the grain in our society to carve out time for yourself and sleep, and I almost feel guilty for making this a priority.

      • http://www.positivelydreaming.com/ Sarah

        Thanks very much! Yes, it does seem to be that way. It’s funny, because when I first transitioned to sleeping a solid eight hours, I felt so superior. Now I watch other people making strides in their careers and, as you say in your comment above, wonder if I shouldn’t be sacrificing a bit of sleep NOW for success and the chance to get it back later. On the other hand, “getting it back” won’t happen easily either, but will rather be a wrenching process of reclaiming time I’ll definitely be able to put to use. It’s such a quandary, and one I’m tired of dealing with.

        • ChrisD

          Is it possible this is a false choice (as Gretchen has discussed). Are these people REALLY getting ahead due to the extra hours spent not sleeping, or because they are in the middle of their careers, while you are taking time out to bring up your children and are starting from scratch in a new career, where these strides ahead won’t happen without the upfront work that you haven’t started yet.

          • http://www.positivelydreaming.com/ Sarah

            Chris, I think you’re probably right. It likely IS a false choice, and tempting to blame the career frustrations on something I “can’t” change instead of accepting how difficult it is to get started on things that are truly just difficult. An important reminder to try to see a third option … such as finding more time in my day. Probably time to start reading that book.

          • phoenix1920

            If it is a false choice, I would be completely open to suggestions on how to get both without making a choice between them! I stay up late to make our family’s travel plans, do bills and balance the books, make family scrapbooks, etc. These are all things that completely fell off the radar when the kids were super little and I was sleep deprived because I was waking up with kids a few times each night. (Husband wanted one of us to walk kids back to their beds if they came into ours in the middle of the night.) At that time, I didn’t stay up late because I was so tired from middle of the night interlopers.

            Now that the kids finally stay asleep in their own beds, I am less sleep deprived but don’t get 8 hours. I can get to these personal things I find necessary when they are finally down. However, I can’t work on personal items while at work, and getting elementary children to do homework, eat dinner, take baths, etc, takes supervision.

  • http://www.theklarichter.com/ Thekla Richter

    I think overcoming this hurdle often involves a multi-pronged approach. One is scheduling more peaceful + uninterrupted time for yourself that *isn’t* coming out of sleep. Another important piece is making sure that most of your non-sleep rest + recharge time is truly rejuvenating… things that truly give you deep fill-you-up pleasure rather than things that primarily numb you out and distract you (social media and TV can be big culprits here). Lastly I’d look at whether there are stressful aspects of life that need to be handled because sometimes needing a lot of downtime every night night can point to being overstressed, period – it can be the symptom of a larger problem.

    This is a tricky problem – I love that you’re writing about it!

  • Jennifer Bellini Burns

    I have such a hard time going to sleep at night. I think one problem is the TV in the bedroom. I like to watch TV at night –it helps me relax and not think about anything stressful. By the time the kids are in bed, dishes are done, dogs are fed and taken out I am so tired yet instead of just going to bed I put the TV on (it is almost like a mind numbing activity). I know that I should just pick a bed time and stick to it but I can’t seem to motivate myself to do it. It doesn’t help either that I am going through a divorce and I am up most of the night with running thoughts.

  • Kimberly

    I used to burn the candles at both ends, and I have had years when staying up late seemed to be the only way to get “me” time. I even spent 43 years as a designated (first by my mother, then by myself) night owl. Now I am firm believer in early to bed and early to rise, and my body follows along just fine. It took months of transition and sleep deprivation, but is one of the best health habits I have ever made.

  • lsawyer

    As a school teacher, it is a must that I get enough sleep each school day. It would be very unfair to all concerned if I were to show up to work in a grumpy, sleep deprived mood. So, during the work week I stick to a strict 9:00 bed time and 5:00 wake up. The weekends are another matter. I love to sit up late and read, then read some more. I sure do feel the difference when I stay up late, usually after mid-night, and have to get up early for church on Sunday. Summers are the worst for staying up late. I know better and have no one to blame but myself. But, I sure do love staying up late and reading a good book.

  • http://www.NatThompson.com/ Nat Thompson

    I’ve come to the harsh realization that I am not a creative person at 10:30 at night. After two hours commuting(an hour each way) and a full day of work my creativity is exhausted. I crave the extra hour of sleep each morning that waking up at 6:00 means but I am sacrificing the time I know I have the most energy to put into my creative pursuits. Night is more productive if i use it for networking and administrative tasks. Things that have more of a routine give me more success at night.

  • Andrea

    I litterally do not function without enough sleep. I go to bed at 10 and wake up at 7 every day. I don’t even need an alarm clock. The feeling of waking up and beeing fully rested is priceless and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

  • Nicola

    For a number of years, I worked as a shift worker with a twelve hour (ish- sometimes more sometimes less) shift that I would do for 12 days followed by 6 days of break. During those 12 hour work days, I would go to bed as soon as I could, and I would get up as late as I could., prioritising sleep over me time. Unfortunately, I still never got enough sleep and the mental drain of never being able to do my own thing eventually forced me to revise this habit to make sure that I spent at least just a little time each day doing something for myself that wasn’t work related. I would say that having “me” time is an essential stress reliever to people who work such long hours like I did even if it does cut into sleep time. (The overall outcome for me is that you should really avoid having to do that much work, putting company productivity over your own health is destined to have a bad outcome).

  • Mimi Gregor

    This SO sounds like my husband. He is a bartender, so he gets home pretty late. Although some nights he can hardly keep his eyes open, he stays up for a few hours because it’s the only time he has to relax and just “be”. Sometimes he even falls asleep at the computer. He never gets a full eight hours sleep because he gets up around 9 so that he can do stuff around the house, run errands, or exercise. However. We both take an hour and a half long nap after lunch; it is sacrosanct. Even then, he seems to be fighting the lure of the computer in order to just go lie down. This thing is very useful… but so insidious as well. He used to sleep a lot more before we got one.

  • Allie Smith

    Fortunately, I don’t have trouble falling asleep. I do have trouble turning the light off. I’m one of those who feels that I finally have time to myself when everyone is asleep and I stay up, even if I’m tired:).

  • youonlylawonce

    I have this problem too. Mostly it comes from needing reassurance–if I go to bed, will the world end or will I wake up refreshed? Unfortunately it is a vicious cycle where the less sleep I get, the less I am able to properly realize that I can usually take my hands off my work, step away and GET TO BED. It takes practice for me to overcome this anxiety.

    The point about having time for myself makes me wince too because I’ve done this as well. What I’ve realized is that at least for me the longer I go without taking a mental break for myself throughout the day, the longer it takes me to “recover” afterwards. Sometimes it is near impossible. So I try now to take mental breaks, however small, during the day to prevent myself from going over the mental cliff.

  • http://www.sarahmia.co.uk/ff sarah mia

    I stopped doing this in November – I challenged myself to go to sleep before midnight 6 nights out of 7 for the whole month in an attempt to reset my clock. Now I wake up early still, but I’m not tired or drained so I’m happier to get up and work :)

    I’ve *mostly* managed to keep it up since then – I think setting it as a target really helped in that first month, because I really didn’t want to fail! :)

  • Joyce Oxfeld

    I live in a hostile and drug invested area. Opening the blinds is not an option. My lighting in my bedroom is poor and I have no nightlight for safety in trips to the bathroom etc. During my religious Sabbath lights cannot be turned on or off. I do not have a low level Sabbath lite for either my bedroom or my Kitchen. My TV I’d like to move into my living room next to my PC and out of my bedroom without disturbing the wire connections. I refuse to order cable or any subscribed TV plans. I do have an older VHS combined with the capability of also playing DVD format in my living room. If it can still function I have the manual for it and it worked with my TV and digital converter. That would be great, because I don’t trust my recent PC to play the DVD;s I already have.

  • Joyce Oxfeld

    I am still a night person and winding down to sleep is still a problem. Socially for transit and other reasons, I am isolated and the internet is my out reach to everything including most of my music, opera, and other things I used to attend in person.

  • http://www.needleandbrush.blogspot.com dsaiia

    When I found myself getting groggy at work and almost nodding off, I started going to sleep an hour or two earlier to get in about eight hours in all. I hated giving up my free time in the evenings, but after a while, I became more alert and efficient and discovered that I actually gained more down time because of it. Now I am more protective of my sleep time and have more time to do the things I like to do. Who knew?

  • Molly

    It’s funny you just posted this. I almost feel guilty b/c I see others who will burn the midnight oil, and I wonder if I’m being too easy on myself. I’m not negligent in my duties, but I wonder if I could get further in my career (and financially) if I WERE a little like the lawyer who will sacrifice life from dawn til dark, then sleep for a bit of personal time. I look at it as me instilling good habits in my child by getting the house calm and under order by 6:30ish, then him to bed by 7:30 since he has to be up at 6:45. (Admittedly, I think I’m okay on the night-end, but wish I could get into Gretchen’s waking up b/f everyone habit.)

    Last night, I had to stop at someone’s house to pick something up and the kids were still running around at 8:30 in the evening, not getting in bed until 9:30 according to the mom (getting up at 6:30). Their lives were the “typical” American lifestyle of go go go from dawn til dusk, etc., and even the kids seemed frenetic. I don’t judge, as it isn’t my style. I actually left wondering why our society almost demands that sort of life, and why someone like me is left to feel guilty b/c I need (much) more organization, solitude, and structure in my life. I know some of it has to do with financial obligations, and that is why we cannot judge. Many people just don’t make enough on one salary to live in a decent house and school district. But frankly, I know many people who could make it on one salary or one salary and parttime if they gave up some of their lifestyle, but they don’t see it that way.

    • PolarSamovar

      I file this under “people are different.” Some people truly only need 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. What feels frenetic to me – TV on, everybody talking and moving around at 8:30 at night – is an enjoyable level of stimulation for them.

      I think what must be tough is if a person like me (need 8 hours of sleep, easily overstimulated/overwhelmed) has parents who like to live higher on the activity scale. I am sure that if I’d grown up in such a family, I would have been a very difficult child and teenager to live with.

      But don’t feel guilty. I think there are ton of people like us out there. At least, many of my friends get 8 hours of sleep a night. But since we never have people over at 8:30 in the evening – it would cut into our wind-down time – who would know? (grin)

    • phoenix1920

      From a person whose life may resemble more like your friend’s (I don’t get home with the kids until 6:15 and then have to cook dinner and get homework done), I don’t think people who have kids in bed by 7:15 are lazy or are not demanding more from themselves. And I can tell from your response that you don’t think others who have a different life are bad people or have bad traits, either. Yet, it’s so easy in our high-tech society to compare our lives to another’s, which leads to a form of judging where we question whether we are doing the right thing or if we made the right decisions.

      I wish with all of our communicative technology, there was a place where we could offer insights to each other in a non-judgy forum. I would be open to hearing from others who have a different experience and may have excellent advice in how to keep a certain habit or how to juggle or may have a different POV.

  • PolarSamovar

    I find this thread weirdly reassuring. Getting enough sleep is one of the only healthy habits I feel like I’ve really gotten down. I get so emotionally volatile and lose so many coping skills that I can hardly function at all if I don’t get my eight hours. So I have wound up building a lot of my life around getting sufficient sleep and down time. (If I don’t get enough down time, it eats into my sleep time the way Gretchen describes, and if that happens, I become a BASKET CASE.) This never felt like something to be proud of — yay me, I sleep enough! I breathe enough, too.

    But, reading these responses makes me understand that we all have our challenges and some of us have found solutions to them. It makes me optimistic about my ability to implement other positive changes in my life. Sleep was the first one I had to tackle because it impacts my well-being the most. I have so much experience now with how much better my life is when I routinely get enough sleep, that I’m never tempted go back to the days of alarm clocks and doing just one more thing before bed. So maybe I can meet the next challenge (getting enough exercise) too.

  • Jennifer

    My problem, is that I like sleep too much. My friends say I have a kids bedtime – 10/11 pm most nights. And I have a real problem making myself get out of bed in the morning. I will set my alarm early, in hopes of having extra time before work, But then I hit the snooze for an hour plus, and end up being late for work. Any tips on this?

    • PolarSamovar

      Several. I spent my late twenties and early thirties in this mode and it was *awful.* The advice below is what I did; maybe it could work for you.

      First of all, ignore your friends. You need more sleep than they do; that’s not a crime, and you have a right to take care of yourself. (This was the absolute hardest thing for me – I hated to feel like I was missing out on things.)

      Second, go to bed crazy early – 9 hours before you need to wake up in the morning. Don’t set an alarm (this is scary – start on a weekend to make sure you don’t sleep through work at first). Take the clock out of your bedroom. Turn off TV and other electronics an hour before you go to bed to allow your body to wind down. Don’t do anything exciting starting an hour before bed. (Well, sex is okay. Nothing else exciting though.)

      Sleep until you wake up. If you have a window, the daylight should wake you up when you’re sufficiently rested. Since there’s no clock, you will have to get up when you wake up, because you won’t know whether you have sufficient time to possibly grab 5 more minutes (which can turn into an hour and leave you groggy).

      Do this for a week or so, until the amount you sleep has stabilized. Note how much sleep this is. It’s how much sleep your body needs. Then play around with adjusting your bedtime until you feel confident that you can live without an alarm clock (except for exceptions here and there – early flights, early race times, whatever).

      The reason that’s important is when you don’t wake up naturally but are interrupted by an alarm, you lose the benefit of your last sleep cycle (cycles average about 1.5 hours). So even if you sleep for 8 hours, if you get woken up halfway through a sleep cycle, you actually got 7 1/4 hours of sleep – the last 45 minutes didn’t count. The snooze thing you’re doing now – interrupting cycle after cycle – is killing your sleep quality.

      Of course the whole scheme only works if your job start time corresponds to a wake-up time that matches your circadian rhythm. Clearly you’re not a night owl if you are sleepy at 10, so I’m hoping you will be able to fit in enough natural hours before you need to get up for work.

      I know this sounds radical, but it has changed. my. life. I will *never* use an alarm clock again.

      Good luck!

      • Jennifer

        Thanks for the suggestion, I will certainly try this out. It makes a lot of sense. and I am the creative type, so maybe that is why I feel like I need 8-9 hours a night and feel off if i get any less than seven.

      • MariaLunsford

        I think this is such great advice, and I aspire to wake up that way, too. I snooze at least 2 or 3 times before waking up. The unfortunate part is that I have to wake up when it’s dark (between 5 and 5:30 AM) and I never, ever feel rested. Even when I go to bed around 9:30, it’s painful to wrench myself out of the bed in the dark. I bought one of the alarm clocks that is supposed to simulate daylight as you wake up, but it didn’t feel like daylight at all- just a lamp on in my dark room. What’s odd is that I don’t feel sleepy throughout the day- it’s just that first part when I have to initially get out of bed that’s awful. I wish it could get better but I’m doubtful.

    • PolarSamovar

      One more thing – some people’s bodies truly need as much as 9 hours of sleep a night. It sucks but it’s just the way they’re made. As some compensation, these long-sleepers tend to be particularly creative.

    • PolarSamovar

      If you try this and it’s a disaster – you can sleep 10, 11 hours for days and still not feel rested – see a doctor. Sleep apnea, narcolepsy, depression, and other medical problems can cause excessive sleep.

      • Nicola27

        Wow, that’s what I was just writing about (in a somewhat rambling manner, I fear).

    • Soundsleeper

      I am right there with you- but I go to be at 9pm! Getting up by 7am is torture for me, but I must to get to work on time. Then all day I am so tired I can barely function. On the weekends, I go to bed around 10pm and wake up (naturally, without my alarm) usually after 1030am.

  • Nicola27

    The timing of this in my RSS feed is interesting; I just powered up the laptop, and thought I was gonna check my email confirming something I just saw on Facebook. This after I just woke up from a nap of sorts, because not only did I keep the light and computer on an extra hour or two (1:30-ish), I THEN woke up nearly every hour this morning, until 5:25, when my alarm is set for 6 am. And yes, it does impinge on my productivity, for example: there’s no way I’ll get laundry sorted and into the car, to the laundromat, etc, before I have to meet my 3rd-grade neighbor at the bus in a little over 2 hours. (A running joke is that it’s a good thing I don’t have a ‘real’ job.)

    I’ve always been a nightowl, and one teenage summer, without school or alarm clocks, I discovered that my body requires 9 hours of sleep. Nowadays, even when I sleep several hours in a row, I never feel rested, so I –craving sleep–go back to bed most days. I know some of this is due to health issues, which just adds to it.

    Anyway, I felt some echoes resonating with what many commenters wrote before me. (Maybe this babysitting job could, if I let it, help me form a new routine)

  • Eme

    Hi, I’d like to nominate you for the Liebster Blog Award.
    http://mothersandmaidensaloud.org/2014/03/11/the-liebster-blog-award-my-first-blog-award-d/

  • nielmalan

    It’s not a trade-off, it’s pathological. I would love to turn off the light early, but I just hate to disconnect. Of course I commit the serious crime of taking the laptop to bed with me, and the later it gets the less self-control I have to turn it off. I know I should just turn it off before I get ready for bed, but there is always something that I quickly need to do.

    Also, the the payoff for getting to bed early is not immediate. It takes some time to recover from the chronic tiredness. Conversely, if you’re rested but have a naughty late night the next day is not too hard, so there is no immediate consequence, opening the door for a bad habit to form.

    It would help if had a signal that it’s a good time to go to bed, like feeling sleepy. But at least when I’m online, I very seldom get sleepy.

  • Amelia

    I think this is related to the same thing that happens to people on medicine that helps them feel better, either mentally or physically. Most of us know that taking the medicine makes us feel better but sometimes once we’re on the medication, we start to feel better so we think, I don’t have to take the medicine now. But it’s the medicine that makes things better! Sleeping is such a passive, non-stimulating activity that those of us that strive on stimulation find it hard to go to bed even though we might believe it will make us feel better later. We want gratification, stimulation now and sleep doesn’t reward until later. It has taken me some time to form a sleep routine and I still don’t follow it all the time. When I do the rewards are wonderful! When I don’t, I might not feel it right when I wake up but before the end of the day the side-effects from lack of sleep start to creep in – lethargy, mood changes, fake hunger, loss of interest.

  • Peninith1

    NO! I am so hard wired for a good sleep in a dark room that even this week, traveling for a sewing retreat with a previeously unknown roomie at the hotel, I am turning in early and the first one up in the morning. I stick to my routines even when others are up stitching until 3 a.m. I would not do good work after 10, so I go to bed.!

  • phoenix1920

    Your observations are completely accurate as to my situation. I don’t have very much personal time at all in my life for me. I use the time after my children are in bed to do laundry, make photo books, make travel plans, and all the tasks I can’t get to at home while kids are needing help with homework and dinner needs to get ready. It’s not necessarily me time, but additional obligations that need to be done. If I didn’t have that time, where would these necessary items go?

    I completely see the point that going to bed on time will help one to be more productive in the day, but that additional productivity wouldn’t provide me with time to do personal tasks. My job as a judicial clerk is very mentally draining and rewarding all at once and the hours can be long. Then, coming home, sometimes I feel like getting dinner ready while helping kids with homework is a second job–rewarding but tiring. I have one hour a week that is committed to just a “me-activity” where I am learning Irish dance. The rest, I have to juggle me-time into everybody else’s schedule–at least until my kids’ bedtime arrives!

  • lisa d

    Wow! This is likely my worst habit! My job is fairly emotionally draining (but fulfilling).
    In addition to having that time for me –usually to read or watch a show, I really feel sometimes that I just don’t want the next day to come so soon! It just takes so long to get the emotions and stress out of my system that I just stay up until I eventually doze off on the couch. Nearly every day…. Not ideal for a marriage that is in pretty good shape. I know it could cause tension, but I just cannot lie awake in bed! I really do hope to break this habit, but how…that’s the question.