As we get near the winter solstice here, shortest day of the year, I’m thinking about the daily rhythm of life.
It seems like, of all the rhythms of time, this is one that we simply can’t get away from.
Of course, there’s the yearly rhythm, which I love to really bring out and feel it moving around the circle of the year.
But it’s almost like an optional thing, really, in many ways.
Unless you’re working outside, you can often ignore a lot of what’s going on with the seasons.
And well, you could say that with electric light, you could decide to just ignore the whole day/night cycle.
But that seems to get really ugly really fast.
Whenever people leave the cycle of the sun and try to ignore the sun, basically get no sun, it seems to go badly.
And even if we choose to live under pure electric light, for whatever reason, we still can’t get away from the cycle of needing to sleep.
And that is such a basic cycle built in to the way we are.
We will, at some cycle, roughly and typically of a day, we will get tired and sleepy, and we will need to sleep for many hours in a row.
And once again, such an obvious thing, but it’s such a basic part of the rhythm of our lives, so it makes me think about how we can really bring that out and use that rhythm in a good way.
Because I find that often it’s difficult for me to wind down at night.
It’s difficult for me to stop being awake and stop working or whatever and to just accept that this day is over and it’s time to sleep.
It often feels like I’m forcing myself to do it, because I look at the clock and see how late it’s getting, and I need to allocate enough hours to sleep before my designated wake-up time.
And so I make myself go to sleep, when I really am not driven by an intense need to sleep.
I just feel that I should do it.
It’s often hard for me to cool down in the evening.
So I’ve even imagined: I find it fun to imagine an alternative sleep cycle, where imagine I could stretch out each day to be 28 hours.
And then I would have six of these days and it would fill up a week, and then at the end of a week it would wrap around to the original schedule.
Now, if I did that I’d be awake for four hours longer every day, and maybe then I would be tired and ready to go to sleep by the time I got to the end of such a day.
I’d be able to have a nice concentrated stretch of work without having to constantly say “Oh, there’s the time again.
I got to shut it down.”
So I’d be starting by waking up in the morning.
I’d wake up four hours later every day.
Eventually I’d be waking up in the evening, waking up at midnight, and then back again in the morning.
So as much as I find this fun to imagine, it seems like it would be terrible, because I would be separated from the rhythm of the sun.
I’d be ignoring the rhythm of the sun.
I’d be constantly pushing and pulling myself away from that built-in cycle.
And wow, as much as I want it to work, it just seems like whenever people do that it leads to- you know, they talk about shift work, talk about non-24 sleep disorder, and it seems to lead to a lot of bad effects on physical and mental health.
But I still think it’s a fun idea, and I would love to hear if any of you try it or have any other kind of alternative sleeping schedule.
There’s ones where you’ll have a nap every four hours.
All this kind of stuff that I find it interesting to imagine, and yet none of it seems to replace the simple “sleep many hours at night, and time your wakefulness with the sun”.
That still seems to be the best way to go, although I’m still open to hack these different possibilities.
But this leaves me to think that OK, no matter even if I do some alternative pattern or whatever, or even just the conventional pattern, whatever.
No matter what, we have this rhythm.
We wake up in the morning or whenever, we start to build up, go through the routine, build up to be ready to fill our day with content, to do work, to do useful and good things during the day, and we build it up, and then by the end of the day – maybe it’s the evening, maybe it’s whenever is designated in your schedule – but then at some point after many hours, we have to bring it down again and then rest.
And we just repeat this cycle over and over and over again.
And I know I’m not the only one that finds often in the morning it’s “Why do I have to get up?”
And in the evening it’s “Why do I have to go to bed?”
So something’s off there with the way of- like we’re kind of rebelling against this basic cycle, like we don’t want to accept that we have to get up when we have to get up and that we have to sleep when we want to sleep.
So I would love to hear any ideas about how do you manage this daily rhythm?
And what do you find helpful?
And how do you embrace this rhythm and use it to our best advantage?
#dailyrhythm #dayandnight #rhythmoflife