I start out most evenings with some resolve to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. The resolve gets chipped away by any number of circumstances and/or stimuli:
- Getting home later than usual. I need at least 2 hours to putter around both before and after sleeping, I am a delicate flower.
- TiVo (Shocker.)
- Eating dinner too late. I recently waited an hour and twenty minutes for take out to arrive! How is a girl supposed to get to sleep at a reasonable hour when she doesn't have dinner til after 11pm?
- Internet (Reeling from that revelation? Of course you are.) IM is a particularly egregious offender in this regard. Signs of a grave situation: my West Coast buddies are heading off to bed. Even graver: Friends in Europe are chatting with me from their offices, well into their next day, wondering what the fuck my problem is.
Signs that I'm actually heading into the zone come to me electronically. Sign one is if I've made it through that evening's TiVo'd episodes of Jon Stewart and Colbert. Hope is not entirely lost at that hour, however. At slightly past midnight on a school night, it's still early enough to sleep the sleep of the normal.
The first sure sign of danger appears in my Inbox. It's the MIT Technology Review daily newsletter. I never read it. I think I read it once and found something interesting. Usually it gets deleted immediately, unopened, because it's a sign. It arrives at approximately 1:05AM. My heart sinks a little bit when it shows up and I'm there to see it. It's confirmation of the very obvious, yet otherwise ignorable - I'm in front of my computer, past my self-imposed bedtime of sometime before 1am.
The useless yet guilt-inducing Tech Review is followed in short order by A Word A Day. Then, a barrage of Google alerts I've got set up to come in once a day. (Me and all my other favorite people are as-it-happens alerts.*) I know I'm in deep shit when Daily Candy NY shows up. Critical? Daily Candy LA, Today's Headlines from the NYT, hurtling towards me from tomorrow.
TV-wise, it's looking bad if staying up for a slightly buffered re-run of The Shield starts to seem feasible. (That hasn't been a problem lately though, as I ultimately deemed Vic Mackey too dark for my inner-Pollyanna to bear. I have since returned to the tamer arms of the anguished and misunderstood Vincent and Criminal Intent.)
Lately I've had some success at combating the insomnia, thanks to an amazing innovation: the alarm clock. It turns out that over-sleeping makes me feel worse than being sleep-deprived.
My walk of shame is the bed-headed shuffle to the coffee shop at *cough* 11am on a weekday. Say it's Tuesday, coming up on the noon hour, and you see happen to see a blonde-haired, light-sensitive fashion don't struggling across 2nd Ave, a stubborn dog of the most unlikely proportions in tow. That'd be me.
There is some small part of me that delights in my ability to do this - I'm pretty sure it'll always feel like I'm being bad because I'm not sitting at some desk somewhere like everyone's supposed to. But the fact is that sheet-marks across your face in the near-midday sun usually feels more bad-bad than better-than-everyone-else bad.
So, yes: the alarm clock! Lately I've been setting it for 7:15 and have actually made it out of bed by 8 most days, a record I am most proud of. (Someone laughed at me, hard, when I said this. You know you are. Shut up.) And the shuffle is so much less shameful at that hour - sure it's still a little late for the 9-5 suckers, but there are still many puffy-eyed dog walking comrades at this hour.
Even if I get to bed at 2am and don't actually sleep til close to 3, which is how it's looking for tonight, I've got a way better chance of making it through the day in reasonable spirits with an 7:30 wakeup rather than a 10:30 one. And after a few days of that, lo and behold, going to bed at midnight actually works. It's better than drugs!
*This is an awkwardly constructed sentence, the true sign of an insomniac. I have just spent my waking moments working through several alternatives to the clearly wrong "me" and the internet has been of no help:
I and all my other favorite people are as-it-happens alerts.
I, along with all my other favorite people, am an as-it-happens alert.
Myself and all my other favorite people are as-it-happens alerts.
I think the middle option is most correct, but sounds utterly nonsensical. Certainly my initial attempt above was wrong wrong wrong, as "Me am an as-it-happens alert" sounds like caveman talk. Still stumped, but also still too sleepy to come up with an appropriate alternative. My point is this: I have as-it-happens Google alerts set up for all my favorite people. I happen to be one of them. How's that? (Aside from astoundingly narcissistic?)