This morning I'm paying for the fact that last night I was up late. Passed midnight. Into the single digits that technically counted as today. It's my kryptonite, staying up late after the kids are asleep and the house is quietly breathing, to write, or wander the internet reading (un)remarkable things. Those uninterrupted hours sing a siren song in my head. But on a hike with a friend today I mused out loud: what would happen if we all just slept more? There are plenty of studies that prove that we need more sleep than we're getting, and that enough sleep make us more imaginative, innovative, not to mention better lovers, friends, and parents. But as my friend put it, she too stays up late to do uninterrupted and often aimless and unimportant after her little ones are in bed, because it makes her feel more human. Still, she admitted, on the other, waking up after only 5 hours of sleep inevitably results in feeling even less human. A terrible conundrum, really. A tumbling domino effect. This too-little sleep situation. Hormones, sex drive, creativity, intelligence, athletic performance, curiosity and patience all suffer from diminishing returns as we night-owl it, hunched in front of screens, soaking in the quiet, or creating, or letting our minds wonder where they will. But what if we got more sleep? Like, radically more? Eight hours instead of six; nine even? I can't put my finger on why I'm so resistant, except for the fact that after 8 straight years of parenting little ones when sleep was never something I could control, staying up is almost a defense mechanism. And also, there is a childish part of me that wants to run out of the room yelling with my ears plugged at the mere thought of earlier bedtimes--to admit that I should be going to bed earlier would mean, in fact, that I am getting old. It would also mean that my mother was right. It turns out my mother was right about many things, and it's like she's right about this in particular. "One hour before midnight is worth two after" she'd always admonish. Ben Franklin backs her up. "Early to bed, early to rise...." I'm considering doing a week of radical sleep experimentation. But before I do, I need you to weigh in.
How much sleep do you get on average every night? When do you typically go to bed? Do you think you'd benefit from more sleep?