Simply put, all of my problems stem from trying to jam too much into each day. Partly that’s from my having too many ideas. But mostly that’s from insufficient self-awareness to let things go. Over a few decades I’ve steered away from the typical schedule (and it was never anything like a 9-to-5 job.) But I’m still on a strict sleep schedule, with strict light hygiene practices, and no alarm clock. I sleep in utter darkness, and I awake as the room lighting slowly comes up to full brightness—a mimicked sunrise. But I’m still clinging to set times.

Sometimes I break routine by staying out, or up, past my usual bedtime. Sometimes I’m traveling and staying with others. In either case, I don’t seem to have trouble bending my sleep schedule. I’m often the first person to “crash”, but other than that, with a bit of balance-the-total-sleep-time over-sleeping… I feel pretty normal the next day.

All humans, animals, insects and birds have clocks inside, biological devices controlled by genes, proteins and molecular cascades. These inner clocks are connected to the ceaseless yet varying cycle of light and dark caused by the rotation and tilt of our planet. They drive primal physiological, neural and behavioural systems according to a roughly 24-hour cycle, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm, affecting our moods, desires, appetites, sleep patterns, and sense of the passage of time.

~ Karen Emslie from, https://aeon.co/essays/why-broken-sleep-is-a-golden-time-for-creativity

Except for how much I can get done. On those “next days” where I’ve been off my rigid sleep times. I get vastly less done, and not just because there are fewer hours in the day when I sleep longer in the morning. In fact, the more I glimpse that other world—went to bed whenever, slept until the right amount of time… and then face a less-productive day. The more I realize, that is the better amount of things to attempt to accomplish: Sleep on a healthy, light-driven cycle, and do half as much in the day.


I should take a break

Taking a break is really difficult. A short break is often easy enough if you’re comfortable simply ignoring everything… for 10 minutes. But if you really want to take a real break, the difficulty escalates rapidly. I recently spent a long weekend camping a short, walkable distance from the beach. Each of the three full beach sitting days I tried to lengthen the stretches of time I literally sat in a beach chair without getting up. By the third day I was feigning agitated exasperation, and making jokes like, “That’s it! Today I’m getting serious about holding my chain down in the sand. No more standing up for me!” But in reality, I was bumping up against bodily functions, sun exposure (even under a magnificent umbrella), and peer pressure from my beach pals warning me of deep vein thrombosis. (I hope you never know what that is.)

I’m only half kidding. Everyone talks about taking a day off from work, and about looking forward to the holidays (for family and experiences, sure— but we all mean for the break we pretend we’ll get, but never do.) We even have a dedicated word, staycation (a word so legit it even passes my spell–checker) for suggesting some days we’re taking but not even going anywhere, just because we need a break. Our phones ring, our apps go bee-BOOP! and it’s ping! notification this, and ding! notification that. And an email arrives, and the dog needs walking, and the children need this, and the housemate that…

The hard work is actually prioritizing, pruning and putting one’s life in order. The impossible work is getting sufficient duration, and premium quality, sleep.

Taking a break isn’t lazy – learning to recharge is a skill that will allow you to enjoy a more creative, sustainable life.

~ Alex Soojung-Kim Pang from, https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-rest-well-and-enjoy-a-more-creative-sustainable-life

What’s that? How long did I manage to sit in the chair? On day three I managed a transcendental 5-and-one-half hours of literal sitting, toes in the sand. And I was on a roll, no where near needing to arise, having perfectly judged my fluid consumption, sweating, and kidney function up to then. I was foiled by my beach mates forcing me out of the chair (and at least part way into the ocean.) Which, all things considered, was very nice of them.


Time for bed

The sensations of physiological sleep-pressure are deeply unsettling. To begin to lose the ability to control one’s body… To begin to lose consciousness… To begin to lose stretches of time…

Lately I’ve been trying to pay attention to the tiniest hints of sleep pressure. The other evening I had a thing to do… and I was struggling. I wanted to do the thing, but I was unable to do it. As soon as I realized I was struggling with sleep pressure I was off to nap knowing sleep pressure is not a thing I can avoid, only post-pone. Better to sleep now then to continue wasting my time struggling.

The idea that getting adequate sleep is a crucial ingredient for good health – as crucial as good nourishment – is one that many societies have been slow to embrace. The pressures and pace of modern lifestyles certainly don’t encourage healthy sleep practices, whether it’s from the pressures of work or the ubiquitous increase of anxiety-induced insomnia.

~ Van Savage and Geoffrey West from, https://aeon.co/essays/a-quantitative-theory-unlocks-the-mysteries-of-why-we-sleep

Yikes. I think I’ve gotten anxiety-induced insomnia just reading that. So on the off-chance you’ve not yet realized that sleep is—literally, without exaggeration—the most important thing in your life, I’ll just say: Sleep you should, and perchance to dream.


Not forever

At some point in our lives we realize that we aren’t spring chickens anymore and we become a bit less interested in looking good naked and more interested in feeling better and making the most of the rest of our lives. It’s a hard thing to slowly realize you aren’t going to live forever.

But once you accept it, you can start to address it.

~ Jarlo Ilano from, https://gmb.io/live-forever/

I talk a lot about movement, and the people over at GMB are top-notch. If you’re looking for something (to inspire you, get you moving, solve a specific issue, etc.) then go there.

I also talk a lot about sleep. In recent months I’ve decided my mattress is done. I’ve been refusing to spend the insane amount to replace it (and yes, I’ve heard of that brand you’re considering telling me about.) Instead I chose to lean into sleeping on really hard surfaces.

I’ve been sleeping on a 2-inch-thick air mattress, on the floor, for a week. Thoracic extension— delightful. Hip extension as an antidote to desk-sitting— delightful. Even lying on my side requires new adaptations— delightful. As it happens, I already have a platform bed with Tatami mats. Based on my week’s experiment (and countless nights sleeping on my air mattress on host’s floors) I’ve shoved the western-style mattress off the platform and ordered a traditional “floor mattress” which goes atop tatami mats. We shall see.


Go to sleep

In the military they speak of sleep discipline–meaning it’s something you have to be good at, you have to be conscious of, something you can’t let slip. We only have so much energy for our work, for our relationships, for ourselves. A smart person knows this and guards it carefully. A smart person knows that getting their 7-8 hours of sleep every night does not negatively affect their output, it contributes crucially to their best work.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/go-to-sleep/

Sleep. sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep. Sleep? Sleep!

Know that old trope about if you could go back and tell yourself something, or send yourself a letter? …and most people—including me!—say something like: No I wouldn’t because I’d not be who I am now without those mistakes! Yeah no ima take that back. Note to past self: Yo! Go the f*<k to sleep.

And maybe… just sayin’ spitballin’ here… try gettin’ up early if you really want to jump back on whatever it is you think it’s worth staying up for tonight… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ what do I know.


Oh crap now I think I have insomnia

My dad used to suffer from insomnia, holding imaginary meetings in his head late into the night. I’m the same way.

~ “AllAmericanBreakfast” from, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/JK7KF9AWBpjbZqTDn/mental-nonsense-my-anti-insomnia-trick

I read that short article and now I think I have insomnia. Sometimes, anyway. Clearly I’m a hypochondriac though. But in all seriousness, the author suggests something that—dare I say it?—I almost hope I have trouble getting to sleep tonight so I can try it.


Evening routines

It was one of Seneca’s observations—that nearly everything in life is circular: there’s an opening and a close, a start and a finish. Life, he says, is a collection of large circles enclosing smaller ones. Birth to death. Childhood. A year. A month. “And the smallest circle of all,” he writes, “is the day; even a day has its beginning and its ending, its sunrise and its sunset.”

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/night-time-routine/

In there, among several other great points, is, “going to bed at a set time.” Which it turns out is just about now.


A synthesis of sleep

I’ve written a lot about sleep. But when I found this “article” about sleep from 2016— well, at 361 pages, it’s definitely not an “article.” Now that I found this article, I feel comfortable that in recent years I’ve not been writing about sleep. This topic is already well-covered.

And you really should go look at the PDF. Eight-hours a day? —wrong. Same time to-bed/to-rise each day? Wrong. Single-phase, biphase, … it’s all so complicated!

I hope that this article compiles all the basic ingredients of knowledge that are helpful in accomplishing refreshing sleep. As for the sacrifice, it is important to begin with the understanding that one cannot eat one’s cake and have it too. Healthy sleep may be incompatible with some modern habits, some cravings, or some lifestyle choices. At worst, refreshing sleep may be incompatible with one’s job or even long-term goals.

~ Dr Piotr Wozniak, May 2012 from, https://www.supermemo.com/en/archives1990-2015/articles/sleep




[…] enter the real world as soon as you can. […] I mean for you to get off of social media, to get out of the big cities, and to re-connect with what’s real: Nature, your soul, your inner child. Respect yourself. Most of the world is asleep today, playing a small role in a gigantic illusion. You don’t have to be. You can choose a different life. It’s all within. You will know the answer when you take the time to find yourself and trust yourself.

~ Jérôme Jarre


Chaos and disorder

During my recent road trip my finely-tuned pattern of sleep was annihilated. It’s one thing to have simplicity forced upon you; That has some benefits. But once my sleep was off the rails, everything fell apart. It wasn’t quite Escape-from-New-York-level chaos. It was close though. On one day, I wasted an hour, driving all the way to an entirely wrong address because, the night before I didn’t feel I had 2 minutes to spare to doublecheck.

I’m often viciously critical of myself if I’m still up even a few minutes beyond my desired go-to-bed time, or if I’m still in bed after my get-up time. None the less, for the 10 days of my trip, my sleep times were all over the map. On the one hand, I didn’t die and things got done. On the other hand, it was reminiscent of the old days before I got my sleep sorted out.

Sleep, (when, quantity, and quality,) and daily planning, (what am I doing, when and where,) are related. Back in the day, I cut the Gordian knot by setting a consistent sleep schedule. In a return to Primary School days, I gave myself clear and unchanging go-to-bed and get-up times. Then, arranged around those times I can schedule a specific “plan the day” session. (I’ve tried both “plan for tomorrow” just before bed, and “plan for today” fairly soon after getting up.) With improved sleep and some basic daily planning—which can be literally to simply sit on the beach all day—my life took a serious turn for the better.

But after my recent experience I’ve given this another prolonged bout of thinking and I’ve had a new [to me only, I’m sure] idea: Sleep and planning are not just related, they are circularly dependent on each other.

Here’s a sample pass around the circle: Today’s been busy, and I’ve some things I’d like to finish before sleeping. What time should I go to sleep? What time do I stand up and excuse myself from the current goings on? I need to know how much sleep I’d get if did that at different times. So what time do I have to get up tomorrow? I don’t know. What am I doing tomorrow? I need to spend some time planning for tomorrow, but that’s best done as part of my “alone time” as I’m winding down to sleep… And I cannot simply leave it to luck tomorrow morning. If I have to drive an hour, be some where at a certain time, a shower would be smart too…


Forced simplicity

I’ve talked previously about simplicity. In particular, the idea that imformed simplicity, following from a beginner’s mind which has moved through understanding the complexity of a topic, is the hallmark of mastery practice. But forced simplicity is an entirely different animal.

Occassionally, I really need to stretch out and tear into some hard work. This week I did 8, long-form recordings in 5 days. Driving, sometimes eating, more driving, arrive, set up, record, drive, sleep, and on and on. At night I’m trying to quickly come up with a plan for the next day; I have to be where, when? …drive time? …traffic? And before I can be comfortable I have the next day under control, I need to get to sleep. Small bits of online work need to be done here and there—

I’m literally sitting by a campfire. My Mac is wifi’d to my iPhone’s cell service. I’m uploading a 90mb audio file to Movers Mindset’s project management system, as I type this blog post.

—then it’s time to sleep. Then jump up and leap into the next day. Organize the van. Is there time to shower today? (This is a real decision, and the answer was not always, ‘yes.’) Can I do my journaling? …not this week? My usual reading? …not this week. Everything I did for 6+ days was laser focused on what happens between when I press “record” and “stop.” Arrive at the location and bring my A-game. Under- or over-caffeinated, sleepy, prepared or not, … game. on.

Forced simplicity can be brutal. But, I got the good tape.


It’s about sleep

The general sentiment here is that everyone else is sleeping so you’re not missing out on something important and you can spend time taking care of yourself, which generally leads to a positive impact on your productivity throughout the day.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2014/01/what-the-most-successful-people-do-before-breakfast/

The reason successful people are found doing their important work in the morning—working out, reading, writing, … whatever it is that is important to them—is because it’s right after when they have rested.

I’ll repeat: Sleep is the most important thing. Good sleep. Learn about sleep. Your life is already arranged around sleep, although you may wrongly think you’re consciously in control—you’re not… your body is in control. Fix your sleep.

Then use the time just after resting—that’s probably “morning”—to do what you want to actually get done. All the things that you think interrupt you from doing your real work? …you’re enabling that, and you can change that too.


How to die sooner and get Alzheimer’s

Sleep is primarily seen as a neurological phenomenon, and yet when deprived creatures die, they have a puzzlingly diverse set of failures in the body outside the nervous system. Insufficient sleep in humans and lab animals, if chronic, sets up health problems that surface over time, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. But those conditions are not what slays creatures that are 100% sleep deprived within days or weeks.

~ Corey Brickley from, https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-sleep-deprivation-kills-20200604/

I’ve said it many times here, and I will keep saying it: Sleep is the single most important thing. In your life. Literally. If you are not sleeping well, and long—like, 8 hours per night, long—you have a serious health issue; not sleeping well, and sufficiently is a serious health issue.

Listen to this podcast, Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part I of III: Dangers of poor sleep, Alzheimer’s risk, mental health, memory consolidation, and more.

Yes, insufficient sleep—not, “I don’t feel sleepy,” but not getting sufficient sleep—if you don’t feel sleepy… if you are not sleeping 8 hours… you have other problems which are affecting your sleep. Insufficient sleep has direct causal relation to Alzheimer’s. Scared enough to fix your sleep yet?

Listen to the podcast, then buy the book, Sleep Smarter. It’s an easy introduction to how to fix your sleep. Or, don’t sleep well, die sooner and get Alzheimer’s; it’s your choice.



There are exceptions, such as when I travel, where I end up unconscious on some other horizontal surface, but it’s as sure a rule as any that no matter what kinds of wild or unpredictable events happen during the day, the conclusion is quite predictable: me, horizontal and comatose.

~ David Cain from, http://www.raptitude.com/2012/03/were-quite-different-but-we-cant-help-but-sleep-together/

Elsewhere, I’ve written specifically about sleeping. Sleep itself is fascinating, and a critical component to—well, everything; Life, quality thereof, the ability to think, and so on.

But until I read David’s piece, I’ve never had the vertiginous perspective of millions of people laying out horizontally and slipping unconscious. A rolling wave of countless people passing into unconsciousness as the world rotates. It’s eery, a third of all people are unconscious right at this moment. Also this moment. And in a relatively few more moments, I will be unconscious again.

I’m not certain, but I think my perspective upon first awakening may have shifted a little towards the, “oh! This is interesting,” end of things.


A doorway from hell into your bedroom

If the devil were to create a doorway from hell straight into your bedroom, it would look a lot like an email app. While email is a valuable tool, it’s also a giant funnel into my consciousness. The single biggest change that helped me resist insomnia was to ignore work email when I get home.

~ Gabe Weatherhead from, http://www.macdrifter.com/2018/12/fighting-the-insomnia-machine.html

I banished the phone (and everything else) from the bedroom about a decade ago. If you have a television, your phone, your computer or anything else in the space where you sleep, I believe you are making a grave error.


Sleep, part ga-zillion

Ample and quality sleep is one of the most important, and sadly neglected, elements of a sound mind and body.

~ Jarlo Ilano from, https://gmb.io/sleep/

(Emphasis mine.)


Sleep is the most important part of my life. No exceptions. No equivication. No weasel words.

Sleep. Sleep? SLEEP!

Despite my issue with his characterization of the degree of importance, Ilano’s article is a good overview of some basic sleep ideas.


Hard surfaces

The assumed paradigm is that a mattress is essential to good sleep just like a chair is essential to sitting. But why did mattresses become mainstream? When did the buffalo robe and pile of leaves go out of fashion? Could a good night’s sleep be had if, for instance, we slept on a sandy beach or the equivalent? Why did ‘they’ start saying a firm bed is best, and still provide a two to three foot thick ‘system’ of mattresses just to get you to that ‘firm bed’ effect?

~ Patrick Clark from, https://zafu.net/sleep-therapy/sleepergonomics

I wish I’d found this 12 years ago. It took me forever to figure out a lot about sleep. I’m still working on the shoulder range-of-motion required to side-sleep without a pillow. (I still wake up feeling like I’ve dislocated my sternoclavicular joint.)

…anyway, yes, harder and flatter is unquestionably, always better for me. If I’m having trouble sleeping, I sometime get up, and get out my favorite, 1-inch-thick, inflatable air-mattress on the floor—so so comfortable . . . with my fave silk-cotton-blend sleep sack . . . and my fave little pillow . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz every time.


Sleep smarter

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has now classified overnight shift work as a Group 2A carcinogen. This means that staying up late repeatedly, and working overnight, is a strong enough cancer-causing agent to be lumped in with lead exposure and UVA radiation. That might sound crazy, but there s now a ton of scientific data showing exactly how this happens.

~ Shawn Stevenson, pg 43 of Sleep Smarter, https://www.librarything.com/work/17512525/150336148

Shift work that involves circadian disruption? Carcinogen.

A while back I wrote a piece on Sleep. It turned into three parts and after writing it, I felt I had only scratched the surface. Then I stumbled over this book.

I read the book and it’s really good! I blasted through it agreeing all the way. If you know everything about sleep, you’ll still enjoy seeing it all laid out in an approachable fashion. If you have NOT YET MASTERED SLEEP — wait, what is wrong with you?! Sleep is the single most important thing in your life. It is the activity you spend the most aggregated time doing. Remind me why you have not spent time studying sleep and improving yours?