And the word of the year is …


(it was going to be “poetry” but “hygiene” pipped it to the post.)

My focus so far has been “Sleep Hygiene”. This was actually kicked off around New Year by my wife Sara, who decided she was wanted lights out by 22:30 from now on. Initially I chafed at this (but knew it would be a bad idea not to play along). Planning to go to bed so early has gradually affected the shape of the whole evening, so now:

  • I clean up the kitchen soon after dinner (instead of putting it off as long as I can). This makes the evening a single clear time.
  • I have forbidden work, or anything mentally taxing, after 21:00. This gives my mind time to wind down.
  • I have two regular “last thing” activities:
    1. I spend 15 minutes writing on my laptop. It’s kind of a journal but I have rules: I have to write fluidly without stopping to think; it has to be “about” something; it has to be positive. I have to touch-type (this is kind of a diversion mechanism, but it also means that I am getting a lot of typing practice).
    2. I spend 10-15 minutes reading poetry. Poetry is so different — almost like music. This underlines the day and puts my mind in a different state.

I’m impressed with myself how well I’ve stuck to this! Effects are already showing:

  • I seem to have a lot less time in the day! But I feel less rushed. That has led me to make efficiencies (e.g. prompt kitchen cleaning). The day is calmer.
  • Embracing, and thriving on, a constraint that chafed at first has been instructive. It has changed how I experience and respond to constraint. I am applying that pattern successfully to another area.
  • I am spending more time doing things with Sara — and she is driving this time (making the advances), which is a good sign in itself.

Next steps:

  • Actually getting to sleep is still a frustrating challenge, so I need to work on actively pursuing sleep rather than waiting for it to turn up.
  • I am regulary waking up before the alarm goes off (which is nice for Sara, who gets up an hour later). That is starting to open a bit of time for a short yoga session before breakfast.
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  1. Well, this certainly didn’t go in the direction I was thinking! Lol!

    I also try to avoid doing anything mentally stimulating later in the evening, though my threshold is 7 (19:00)–much earlier than yours. When I don’t stick with this rule, it almost always interferes with my sleep. And as far as poetry is concerned, have you ever written poetry? It seems like something you would be very good at.

    I’m glad you’ve allowed this new request to stretch you a bit in what seems like a good direction, David. I am a routine-loving girl. So I can relate to the progression of good that these small shifts are making in your life. I hope you stick with it!

    • Dear Beth, thank you for your comment. I try not to be entirely predictable ;) The sleep anchor is proving to be a foundation I can build on so let’s see. I’m too much of a dabbler to polish something into poetry. I’m spending more time with poetry thsi year so some writing may come of it.

  2. I go back and forth with this myself. There are times I try to strictly turn off screens by 9pm but other times I think, what difference does it make? But, overall, I know it does make a difference. Your example is inspiring. I’ll try to do better about my sleep hygiene too. I definitely need my sleep patterns to be better.

    • Dear Lisa, thank you for your comment. It’s interesting how it’s affecting the rest of the day — rearranging everything around sleep.


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