For the past 15-20 years, I have been an occasional insomniac. It happens at least twice a year, but never lasting more than 3-4 days consecutively. I’ll just lay there; awake, unable to get to sleep. Typically my brain will go into overdrive and won’t shut down long enough to let me fall asleep. Other times, I just have this feeling of discomfort in my own body and I can’t lie there any longer. While I haven’t really had a full blown occurrence of this in some time, earlier this week I lay awake in bed for a while, struggling to fall asleep.
During that restless period, my brain often starts wandering, shooting off in a million different directions all at once. One of the directions my mind went this past week was to the number of hours I sleep. I have long been a 5-6 hours per night kind of guy. Give me a good 5 hours and I’m rested, energized and ready to go the next day. Over the course of this past winter, I had fallen into my wife’s sleeping patterns and was sleeping more in the 8-9 hour range. I’d go to bed at 9:30PM and get up at 6AM. But over the course of the winter, I started noticing that my energy levels were dipping. I’d be tired more easily; I’d have no drive or energy. That’s when I made the link – I was sleeping too much! As a test, I started returning to my old routine. Once I was back to my 5-6 hours per night, my mood improved as did my energy levels.
This all lead to my considering how much time we sleep. Let’s say a person sleeps 8 hours a night on average. Over 365 days, this equates to 2920 hours asleep; or in more easily understood terms – 121.7 days. A full one-third of your year is spent sleeping. When you look at it in that context, it seems high (or at least it does to me). By contrast, if I sleep 6 hours a night on average, I’m sleeping 2190 hours – 91.25 days. That means I have a full 30 days more of “active” time in a year than someone sleeping 8 hours. I just gave myself an extra month of time to do thing!
Now I only have to begin putting that extra month to good use. Maybe I’ll name the month and make it concrete in my mind. Then I can start thinking about how to use the time more productively. Writing? Reading? Learning something new?
Who knows – maybe Christober will catch on. In the meantime, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.