Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Tired

“Insomnia” by _Jer_ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

So I have been reading a lot about how there is a brewing fight between management and labor over physically returning to work when remote work has been not only navigable but successful for many. Although I welcome my returning to a full-time in-person classroom (and laud my school district for creating a separate virtual high school for students who thrived while on Zoom classes), I also welcome this battle in our culture at large because it’s long overdue. Workers are tired of having to physically change their situations because of management’s whims. Workers are tired of being held to traditional office-based standards that should have been left behind in the Mad Men era. Workers are tired of their value being tied to “presence.” Above all else, workers are simply tired.

One thing making so many of us tired is what journalist Daphne K. Lee has referred to as “revenge bedtime procrastination.”

The idea is nothing new–we put off sleep so that we can get back the “me time” that was denied by work at the office or chores at home. It’s why we aimlessly scroll and stream at 11:00 p.m. when we should be winding down. Sleep is just another obligation and we are going to fight that because it’s an obligation we actually have control over.

This has kind of been kicking my ass this week. I have done this as a habit for so long that I’ve been finding myself literally snoring at 10:00 at night while in the big chair. Monday night, it happened at 8:00. The snoring is really embarrassing, too, and something I have developed a complex about. In fact, I think I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years.

And here’s the kicker, by the way–I have a CPAP machine. You know, something that is LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO HELP ME SLEEP. But I get so keyed up about whether or not I am going to toss and turn and knock the mask off that I really don’t sleep soundly. Then, I will wake up in the middle of the night and won’t be able to get back to sleep because ALL I CAN HEAR IS THE CPAP MACHINE AND IT KEEPS ME UP. I hate that damn thing, but I need it to not snore.

So yeah, no sleep for me and I’m constantly battling with it. Plus, the effects of this lack of quality sleep–mainly weight gain and increased anxiety–have clearly manifested themselves. I also think that it contributes to my lack of focus during the day, which still happens despite the quality of my meditation each morning. I guess mindfulness can only help you so much.

An article in today’s Washington Post has some items of advice:

  • Carve out time for yourself–and maximize it
  • Prune your schedule
  • Have a frank talk with yourself
  • Be firm
  • Set an alarm for an hour before bedtime
  • Turn off autoplay on streaming services
  • Practice breath work

All are good pieces of advice, but I wonder if the cause of this (at least for me, anyway) goes much deeper than toxic work culture. Think about how staying up later as you got older was “cooler” and how people who had early bedtimes were somehow seen as “lame” when you were in college or your twenties. I can point to a number of times when I succumbed to the “close it out” pressure when I was at a bar or a party. It’s the same sort of pressure that i feel when entering the collector’s realm (to bring this back to the purpose of the blog), which is the “you’re not going to measure up” pressure … all of which really is another version of the “you’re not going to be cool” voice. This all sounds incredibly lame, but I don’t think it’s too far off to say that we all deal with residue from our formative years for much longer than we’re willing to admit.

The solution to the problem is obvious–fight the sleep procrastination and actually go to bed at a decent hour. And yet, this is a habit that has roots that simple advice for new habits or routines might not actually fix.

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