I am exceedingly well pleased with the first month of my Foundations 2013 project.
The first foundation stone was a regular, 10 p.m. bedtime, and I’m happy to report success for the first month: an average of 10 p.m. with a few deviations each way, but not many and only one as much as an hour.
I’m even happier to report how much better just a month of this practice has made me feel, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m getting all that much more sleep, as I’ve been waking up earlier, but it’s generally better sleep. How lovely it is to fall asleep within a few minutes of turning out the light, instead of lying awake with my mind whirling, being unable to avoid the thought that if I can’t sleep, I could at least be up accomplishing something, but staying in bed because I know I’m really tired and need the sleep.
I suspect there are several factors involved here, only one of which is the hour, though I’ve discovered through experience that 10:00 really does work best for me. Another is the sheer regularity of the time: as the month progressed, both my body and my mind learned to recognize when bedtime is approaching and begin, unconsciously, to prepare.
Unmeasured and undocumented, but significant, is a deliberate effort to “wind down”—usually reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to a course lecture—in the later evening hours. I found out the hard way that rushing around trying to finish last-minute jobs and beat the 10:00 deadline does not work: the one time I did that, I was so hyped I lay awake for two hours.
My general practice, though it’s not honored with any rigidity whatsoever, is to have the computer off by 9:00, and I find getting away from the close screen helps a lot. If I’m watching something, as opposed to reading, I will bend the rule and keep my computer on my lap. Without it, I will more often than not fall asleep, or get frustrated—I seem to need to do something else when watching television (and I don’t knit). That seems to do less harm—as is true of the movie itself, though it also is "screen time"—than the intensity with which I usually work at the computer, and allows me to do small, tedious, but important jobs that take time but little attention. (For example, there are tasks that require a few clicks, then a wait, then a few clicks, then a wait—and doing them while distracted by a movie keeps me from being frustrated to tears by the delays.) It also helps to get ready for bed (both myself and the house) before doing the winding-down activities.
This Foundation Stone is a keeper, and I am so grateful to my husband for supporting it. When you're married, making a significant change is nearly impossible if your spouse is opposed, and passive resistance or even indifference can quickly derail all but the strongest commitment to a difficult project. But encouragement is the lubrication that keeps the whole enterprise from seizing up. Thank you, Porter!
There's a lot more to cover in this first-month review, but I'll take a break before moving on.