Tag Archives: sleep

Daylight Saving Time: A Potential Way To Get an Extra Hour in Your Day.

For Better Than Before, when I talk to people about the habits they want to change, they often mention that they lack the time for a new habit.

To clear time to schedule a new morning habit, many people try waking up a bit earlier, but this can be tough for people who struggle to get out of bed.

One trick? Use the autumn end to Daylight Saving Time as a painless way to add an extra hour to the morning. (Obviously this only works if you live in a place that follows DST.) Getting up earlier is a great way to make time for something important to you.

We all love to “fall back” and to get that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. It’s a great boon to get a little extra sleep. In fact, car accidents and heart attacks are more common in the week after Daylight Saving Time starts, because losing that hour puts stress on people’s bodies.

But while you may love that extra hour of sleep, consider not sleeping in, but instead get up after your customary amount of sleep. Your body is getting up as usual, but the clock will say that you’re up an hour early.  And there’s a lot you can do with that hour–especially if the people around you are still sound asleep.

Remember, when it comes to habits, it’s easier to change your surroundings than to change yourself or other people. It’s easier to get in the habit of waking up earlier by getting up at the same time, when the clock changes, than to train yourself to get up earlier.

A reader commented: “A couple years ago I decided not to reset my clock at the end of daylight savings. I had thought of myself as a night owl, but suddenly had writing/exercise time.”

You could use that time to do something like exercise or work on a project–or maybe you want to use it for pure pleasure. I have a friend who wakes up early to read for fun.

The morning is a great time to form a regular habit, because self- control is high, there are fewer distractions, and it’s highly predictable.

Now, this system wouldn’t work for true “owls” who stay up late and sleep late. But for many people, it’s possible to make a very satisfying use of that hour.

NOTE: If you try this strategy, you must also go to sleep earlier! It’s so, so, so important to get enough sleep, and if you lose an hour in the morning, you need to gain that time in sleep. (Here are some tips for getting yourself to go to bed on time.)

The question is: where would you rather have the hour? At the end of the day, or at the start of the day?

Most people would use those slots in very different ways.  The hour of 6:00-7:00 am looks very different from the hour of 11:00-mindnight. Which hour would contribute the most to your happiness?

If you suddenly had an extra hour in your day, how would you use it? Have you ever used this method–or any other–to shift your waking time?

“A Rush of Superiority Which Afflicts All Those Who Are Astir Earlier Than Other People.”

“He looked up at the grey house; all the blinds were down, and he instantly despised his guests for being still asleep, in a rush of that superiority which afflicts all those who are astir earlier than other people.”

— Vita Sackville-West, The Edwardians

I’m an early riser, and I love getting up early — and I also definitely feel a bit smug about it. But I’ve also noticed that people who stay up later also feel a rush of superiority.

Perhaps this helps to explain why people are so reluctant to turn off the light earlier. I talk to people who are chronically exhausted, but who reject indignantly the notion that they might go to sleep earlier.

Partly this is because for many people, the last few hours before bed are their free time, and they hate to give up their free time.

I hadn’t realized it until I read this passage, but I do think there’s also a feeling of superiority, or of getting away with something, of getting more life out of the day, or having a secret world that most people don’t see.

How about you? Do you feel a “rush of superiority” if you’re awake while others are asleep?

Suffer from Insomnia? Try This Counter-Intuitive Trick.

I’ve been on a bender of reading Josephine Tey recently. I don’t like mysteries, usually, but I just discovered her, and for some reason I’ve really been in the mood for her books.

In The Singing Sands, I came across a counter-intuitive trick for falling asleep. I’ve tried it now, myself, a few times, and it really works.

He put the light out, and resorted to his own cure for insomnia: pretending to himself that he had to stay awake. He had evolved this long ago from the simple premise that human nature wants to do the thing it is forbidden to do…He had only to begin pretending that he was not allowed to go to sleep for his eyelids to droop. The pretence eliminated in one move the greatest barrier to sleep: the fear that one is not going to, and so left the beach clear for the invading tide.

Some people don’t get enough sleep because they don’t turn off the light, but some people do turn off the light, but then lie awake — which is horribly frustrating.  If that’s your issue, look here for more, but fairly conventional, tips for falling asleep.

I’m a crazy sleep zealot. Sleep is so important. It’s a key to happiness and energy, and is also one of the crucial Foundation Four for maintaining good habits generally. (The other three? Eat and drink right; move; unclutter.)

Have you figured out any other unconventional tricks for helping yourself drift off?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. You can ignore that RSS business.

Video: For Habits, the Strategy of Foundation.

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the various strategies that we can use for habit-formation.

Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. If we have habits that work for us, we’re much more likely to be happy, healthy, productive, and creative. My book describes the multiple strategies we can exploit to change our habits. To hear when this masterpiece goes on sale, sign up here.

Last week was the Strategy of Scheduling — one of my favorite strategies (yes, I do have favorites, I must confess.) This is an Upholder favorite, and one of the least favorites of Rebels.

This week is the Strategy of Foundation.

 

To sum up, from my observation, the four Foundation habits are:

 

How about you? Do you find that when your Foundation is strong, it’s easier to stick to other habits?

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. You can ignore that RSS business.

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.)

If you’re reading this post through the daily email, click here to join the conversation. And if you’d like to get the daily blog post by email, sign up here. (You can ignore that RSS business.)