Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Of owls and other birds

As I said I am an early bird as opposed to night owls, who get productive in the evenings. These are two types or rather two poles that researchers use to classify people's sleep behavior. This post is going to cover the benefits of rising early, though, and I encourage night owls to read it as well.

What's the difference between going to bed and rising early on the one hand, and on the other hand staying up until late and sleeping in? From a scientific point of view, it is our biological clock that either runs a little fast and gets adjusted by the setting of the sun, or it drags behind and adapts at dawn. It is good advice for people on the outer ends of the spectrum to expose themselves to sunlight as soon as possible (for night owls) or to stay outside as long as the sun is out (early birds). Light is a key factor by which our body regulates sleepiness.

That being said about the facts, here's my opinion: When you go to sleep early, it means you do it on purpose (especially as a night owl). It means you do not just wait until there's no point in staying up any longer. The same goes for rising with the intention to do something, which gives you an instant boost of productivity. Sleeping in - or worse: hitting the snooze button - let's you start your day with a feeling of aimlessness. While sleeping in is certainly appropriate for recovering, the snooze button is the most futile invention that I ever came across. It diminishes not only the time you are awake, but also the time you sleep properly. As if this wasn't enough, hitting the snooze button becomes a symbol for your reluctance towards the day and furthermore gives you the impression of having failed to comply with undertaking. Stop it! Never do it again!

If you are a night owl, rising early may mean something different to you than for me. I love to get up a 6 a.m. and next summer I will probably experiment with 5 a.m. or even earlier. In winter it is hard, though, because waiting 4 hours until sunrise seems unnatural to me. For night owls 8 a.m. may do the job. The point is not to get up at a specific time, but to go to bed deliberately some time before your body tells you to. As an inspiration define a most important task for each day and view the night before as a preparation.

Finally, what has this got to do with living a minimalist lifestyle? A lot. Firstly, sleeping too little is just a sign of doing too much during the day. And secondly, minimalism is about reducing clutter (in your place as in your mind) and living a life of integrity and fulfillment. I hope my thoughts on sleeping habits inspire you to take action and follow your purpose.

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