Published: Thursday March 26, 2015.
About three months ago, somewhere around the new year transition, I decided to stop using my smartphone as an alarm clock. I have gone as far as leaving it in my office, so when I’m upstairs resting, it’s downstairs in silent mode. I try to be either in bed proper for 10pm, or at least be heading up around that time. I’m still not great at 7am starts, but the morning light is making that a little easier to manage each day. Part of my 2015 evening ritual is to avoid checking my email past about 7pm. I have my computer screen go slightly orangey after sunset, too, which means I’m not staring at a white light until stupid o’clock.
The effect these actions have had on my sleep quality is profound. I use sleep to medicate my stupid brain. I consciously don’t take prescribed pills or potions because I know the root cause of my mental situation is a small number of longtime bad habits. They include:
The first step in my recovery this year was to accept that I wasn’t sleeping well. I would check my phone late at night, often losing track of time and have pangs of guilt after the fact. Getting more sleep, and most of the time it’s also better sleep, has given me some clarity to recognise that I need to change some more stuff.
I don’t exercise often enough.
I used to walk every day, a habit that was borne out of months of early starts, and now I don’t. That dry spell needs to end, and the clocks changing on Sunday will be my trigger to start again.
I don’t move away from my sitting desk often enough.
I converted my IKEA JERKER desk to a stand-up desk back in 2012 and I was standing for far more hours per day. Again, for a short period of time a good habit (standing and moving) was more important than a bad habit (sitting for hours), but I relapsed. I don’t intend to start using my desk as a stand-up, but I’m exploring the possibility of switching to a combination desk that can move up and down with my whims. Anecdotally, I know I feel much better when I move around more.
I don’t drink enough water.
This is genetic, I think. I go through phases where I drink more tap water, and I even went as far as to get a couple of Nalgene bottles for my desk each day. I fell out of practice on that habit, too. For shame. It’s especially important that I drink more water around here because of the relatively high salt content in the air from the Atlantic.
I don’t get enough fresh air and sunshine.
This is less clear cut than the other three, though again it’s something I can talk about from personal experience. I like sunshine, and I like being outside, and the elephant in the room is that I don’t get enough of either. There’s partly a background nagging that I should be inside working all the time (forget your Protestant work ethic, this is damned near a disease for me). My beach cleans were the first step in getting more of both, and that’s the good news I’m going to end on. I’ve removed kilos of junk from the beach down the road, and twice a week (sometimes more) I go and scoop some more up.
There’s a lot to do in the coming month. I’ll be writing here less, but that’s a good thing because I’ll be doing more elsewhere
And so, here’s to April. May it be my best yet.