How Can I Get More Sleep?


A couple of years ago, Arianna Huffington gave a TED talk in which she exhorted women to get more sleep. I’ve been thinking about that talk a lot lately, because I’m tired.  All the time.

I recently bumped my alarm forward from 5 a.m. to 5:15, and that has made a tiny difference.  But I still find myself unable to be productive after I finish teaching at 10.  I can’t talk myself into grading anything, and end up wasting any time not spent in the classroom.  (My ability to teach doesn’t seem to be much affected; it’s my self-regulated activities like planning and marking that suffer.)  Therefore, grading is relegated to Wednesdays and weekends, when I can linger in bed until I’m truly ready to get up (usually around 8 or so).  My sleeping patterns throughout the week end up being wonky, and I know this is bad for me.

There are a few things I could do.  I resist them all.

  1. I could request a later schedule, so I could begin teaching at 10 instead of 8.  The problem is, I’d likely also end up teaching during the dreaded 4-6 p.m. slot.  Teaching at the beginning of the day is great: most students are alert, and those who aren’t alert are asleep or absent.  Teaching at the end of the day is not great: students are wound up and unable to concentrate, and weaker students with few self-management skills tend to take later classes.
  2. I could get to sleep earlier.  I do try to be in bed by nine, but even when I succeed, I often lie awake.  More often, I put off bedtime because I feel like I haven’t had any fun all day, and knitting a few more rows of this sock, or watching Top Chef Masters, is a happy indulgence.
  3. I could streamline my morning routine and get up a bit later.  I know there are people who can roll out of bed, splash water on their faces, grab a granola bar and go.  I wish I were one of these people, but if I don’t have at least an hour and a half to ease into myself before leaving the house, I feel resentful for the rest of the day.  I even hate getting straight into the shower out of bed, although there’s really no way around it.
  4. I could learn to nap.  I’ve been trying to nap my whole life, and I almost never succeed.  There must be tricks I don’t know.

Does anyone have any advice?  I’m not battling true insomnia or other sleep disorders; I simply seem unable to regularly get a good, solid night’s sleep when I have to be up early.  Do you have a routine that ensures that you get enough rest?  I’d love to hear about it.

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