I am waking up at 6am these days. 0600.
For a guy who has an average wake up time of about 0800, this is a big shift. I have worked west-coast hours my entire adult life. It is a coping mechanism for the oppressive traffic patterns that come with living in the DC Metro area. To my body, it first felt like waking up at 0300. Now it's the new normal.
Lights Out at Sunset
Starting last week, Liz and I are trying something new. We are shutting down all of the lights and screens in the house shortly after sunset. No artificial lights if we can help it.
This usually happens around 2045 or so. The house is pretty dark by then. We light a couple candles, sit and talk. And then we go and brush and floss by candlelight in the bathroom and then we lie down in bed and talk for a bit before we get tired.
It used to be that I would get tired and go brush and floss and get ready for bed. I would read for a good while before falling asleep.
Now, when the sun has set we turn the lights out as well. There is no reading myself to sleep. At first I missed it. But I find that I feel tired and fall asleep after lying there for a bit. And the book is always there waiting for me in the morning.
I have to plan to get my reading done during the daylight hours now. Often this is in the morning before work and just a bit after dinner before lights out. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure reading fiction early in the morning but it makes for an unrushed feeling about each day.
Mornings At Sunrise
Waking up early hasn't made me efficient. I imagine that I will be able to squeeze in all the things most mornings: Coffee and breakfast. Exercise. Reading. Writing. Music.
In practice, the exercise, writing, and music don't always happen on a daily basis. Some mornings I spend too much time reading the streams of the BookFace. I can pretty much tell you that I always have to drop one of my morning activities because I run out of time.
I used to work 1000 to 1900... but dinner is pretty close to lights out if I get home at 1930, so I intend to start and end work earlier. This will also cut into morning time somewhat. Maybe I will get more efficient over time.
Weekends are especially challenging. It's hard to tear away from the party... hard to get home early enough from evening visits with friends and family to do our shutdown right around sunset. So we pushed into the night a little bit. We will have to find a way to adapt. Maybe by flexing our own rules, maybe by being disciplined about leaving on time.
Changing The Flow
Overall, this has the feel of an experiment to play with the flow of life. In our culture we celebrate being busy and efficient as if it's a good thing without qualification. Sometimes it is good. For instance, if you are holding depression at bay. Slow meandering action is better than no action in this case.
I tend to struggle with something other than depression: the feeling that I don't have enough time for everything I want to learn. I struggle with wondering whether all of the busy I inflict upon myself will add up to contribution and achievement which matters to me in the longest of runs.
Now that the night enforces a routine of rest and quiet upon me, I feel like I have just a bit more mental space. Nothing to read. No devices. Just my own thoughts and talking with Liz while we snuggle.
Last night, we got to talking about work and Liz could tell it was a topic that was going to make it harder for me to sleep. We decided to drop the topic and she stroked my back gently to help settle my mind until she fell asleep. That was really, really nice.
I suspect this sort of practice would break just about any couple out of a rut of feeling like they don't talk to one another enough.