When “What’s the time?” is the Most Complicated and Painful of Questions

Sorry, long time no sleep. No, that’s not what I meant. I meant, long time no posting in this sleep category. That’s what I mean. Which, considering, can be a good thing, right? If I’m not analyzing, reflecting, probing for sleep material, does that mean I’m not thinking about it, and just, plain old Jane, sleeping? Wow. Damn. Well, whatever bliss I had, just being in the moment, is lost, cause here I am again, thinking about it.

Thinking about time, clocks, and alarms. If you happen to get up in the middle of the night, or early morning, do you take a peek at your bedside clock to alleviate the anxiety in not knowing what the time is? I know that when I was young, I always looked and felt such a giddy joy, relief, and satisfaction when seeing I still had more time left to sleep and then instantaneously my dreams picked up from where I last left off.

Today? I’m not so sure. To look or not to look, which is better for sleep satisfaction? These days, more often than not, I find it more effective to not let those time digits even get within vicinity of my peripheral. Why? Because I want to trust. If I just let go of time, and have a trusting mindset that the alarm will do its work, then should I not be more at ease and increase the chances I’ll settle back nicely into sleep? In addition, these days contrary to my youth, I dread and fear looking at the clock to see that I have a lot more time remaining to sleep. My reaction is usually: “Oh my God, I only slept 5 hours so far and I’m awake already! That means I’m only guaranteed 5 hours of sleep, and these next 2 hours…who knows what’s going to happen? What if I waste 2 hours trying to get to sleep?”

Because I don’t want these thoughts intruding when seeing the time, I try to avoid time all together. It does result in some fancy footworkand nimble agility to go to the washroom in the middle of the night with my neck strained at an angle to avoid the clock while the rest of my body tries to avoid tripping over things in the dark.

Obviously, choosing to not look at the clock is not unequivocally effective. Sometimes the effort it takes to avoid is quite strenuous and makes me too alert. However, at other times, it is quite humorous, and laughing allows sleep to come. Then there are times when after putting off looking at the time, my mind is constantly curious about what time it actually is. Should I try to sleep? Is it worth it? What if there’s only 15 minutes left until the alarm goes off? So just when I fall asleep, and start dreaming, I get rudely aborted? But, often, in this latest scenario, I look at the clock to see that I have 2.5 hours remaining. Damn!!!! I shouldn’t have looked at the clock. Now that other kind of thinking will kick in.

You know what? Do you think I would have been better off not writing this post? Or maybe pull the plug on all the clocks and rely on nature. Sunset, sunrise. Just go by feel? This may work if can get to sleep early, at more or less exactly at the same time every night. Do I attempt this but have a clock as a backup for the first month to see how accurate I am in predicting time by light? Keep a journal collecting data of bodily predicted time vs actual time? And if I’m close enough, totally pull the plug and live the rest of my life only using natural time?

Boss, sorry I’m late for work today. For some reason the sun didn’t come up this morning.

-Patrick Law




Filed under Sleep

5 responses to “When “What’s the time?” is the Most Complicated and Painful of Questions

  1. I have been waking up at the same time every morning for the past month and a half. Not even setting my alarm….but then… about a week ago I started getting up earlier.. and earlier… and at 4am I realize — this is not good. I too avoid the clock at all times.

  2. Hello Gina,
    Thanks for visiting this blog.
    Did you suddenly start waking up earlier each morning, just naturally, or do you think there was a cause for it? Change in live events? Change in time in getting to bed? Change in emotions? Change in thinking?

    I find once I wake, the mind automatically turns on, and if I am unable to limit the arousal, then it’s tough to return to rest.

    What have you tried to get you back to your normal body time waking mode?

    Hopefully that week of non-rest is just a one week thing….

  3. Zal

    Hey Pat,

    Very interesting post! Personally, I must have a digital clock within eyesight of my bed (even when I’m on the road at a hotel). I cannot sleep without knowing that I can always take a peek to see how much more time I have left before I need to actually get out of bed.

    If I didn’t have a digital clock next to my bed, I’d be getting up and checking the time manually numerous times a night.

    Having said that, the body’s internal clock is sometimes the most effective alarm, as it’s tough to hit the snooze button on the internal clock.

  4. Zal,
    I’ve always admired your abilities in handling time. A lot of us procrastinators here could use a session or two with you where we get to live a day of your life.

    When you travel, you take not much more than a gym bag. When you move, it’s done in a couple of hours. You just don’t allow clutter, hehehe.

    I think your response above shows your strengths. Instead of avoiding time, you look at it, use it, and deal with it head on. YOu know what? I may try that! Get aggressive with time…not fear it…you don’t seem to make it to be more than it is…simply just time. You dictate it on your terms, not the other way around.

    I like that last line about no snooze on the internal clock. I think I can use that theme, maybe rephrase it for some workout, motivation quote, hehehe. Something like this…we’re playing on my time, baby, my time! And on my clock, you can’t press snooze! My alarm is constant, baby! You can’t shut me down!

    Hehe…well…good luck for me getting to sleep tonight, right? Hehehe…I’m too pumped…

  5. Zal

    Thanks Pat… I’m glad that I could be of a bit of assistance to you. Also, thanks for the kind words, but I think everyone has their own unique and personal ways on how to deal with the concept of “time” and “deadlines”.

    As you correctly point out, it’s good to deal with time head-on, as opposed to avoidance.

    One final note… another ideal that I live by is “working smart is much more effective than working hard”. By that I mean you can actually SAVE time by working smarter as opposed to harder. This is parallel to the old adage “quality not quantity” that many students abide by when writing term papers, etc.


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