Why don’t I sleep?

The truth is that I do sleep; I just don’t sleep well. My relaxation techniques help me get things off my mind before I go to sleep, and I fall asleep quickly at night. It’s when I’m asleep that the trouble starts.

slpn metro
Inessa Akhmedova
via Compfight

The trouble starts because during the day I’m a guy on a mission. I have periods of time that I waste, but most of my days are spent doing things. I’m either creating something or fixing something or learning something; I even market sometimes. I’m at my desk from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, except for those periods of the day when I’m walking to try to get some exercise in. When I’m out of town, I spend my time at the job site, find something to eat, then stay up the rest of the night on my laptop in a hotel room, trying to fit more in, squeeze more in, before I finally go to bed.

Before I decided it was time to stop reading the news back in November, every night I’d check all my news sources, just to make sure the world was doing okay. I’d check news first thing in the morning, and I’d check news throughout the day. I’m always researching something, sometimes for a writing assignment, sometimes just to be in the know.

It all impacts the sleeping part. I tend to dream most of the time about what I did during the day. I thought the relaxation techniques would end that, but all it does is get it off my mind until I go to sleep. When I sleep, which is mainly restless sleep (Fitbit doesn’t even count it as sleep), I think about things over and over, recurring dreams, reliving, learning, feeling. Sometimes I figure out problems because my subconscious mind knew I was on the brink of it, and when I wake up, I go to the computer and put it into practice. Other times I forget what was on my mind, which means at some point during the day it’s going to come back and I have to start all over.

In other words, I’m working almost all the time. Even when I’m not getting paid I’m working. I take time here and there to go do something else, thank goodness, but otherwise, I’m working. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? It depends.

Michael Masterson once wrote that most people waste time trying to reach their goals, yet are always saying they don’t have enough time to do things. It went on to say that when one adds up those five minutes here and there, as well as the time eating lunch, the time traveling back and forth to work or to the store, the time sitting down and watching TV, that each person probably actually wastes 3 to 4 hours of productive time each day, which equates to 20 hours during the week. He asked if you can imagine how much more you could accomplish if you actually worked those extra 20 hours, or used those extra 20 hours to learn more.

Some of those things are ridiculous of course. We have to eat. We might have to travel back and forth to work, although if you really wanted to you could learn something along the way by listening to recorded books on subjects you’re interested in (although I tried that with Spanish; failed miserably). I only listen to audio books while driving, but these days it’s more for entertainment; I have to decompress sometimes.

seminar rest break

So, I don’t know how to relax; am I stressed? Probably. I recall a conversation I had with a psychologist I met at a seminar on the subject of stress. She said that stress didn’t mean you were worried about anything, just that you were exciting yourself to a point where it was hard to come back down to earth and feel at peace.

What is the cost of trying to attain perfection? Rather, what should the cost be? I read as much as I can on a subject because I want to know it inside and out. I don’t want to make mistakes. The best thing about it, if there is a best thing, is that I only put pressure on myself to succeed. If I make mistakes, I’m the only one who usually sees them, and then I can correct them. Most of the time I forgive myself for those mistakes because I understand they’re part of the learning curve; even I can’t be perfect, right? How often do you give yourself a break, roll with the punches, and tell yourself that it’s okay because corrections can always be made?

I’m wrong sometimes. I’m wrong because I don’t always plan my days, giving myself time away so that I can refresh my brain and not get consumed by one thing or another. I’m wrong in trying to squeeze in all that extra time of learning or doing or creating. I’m wrong in not learning how to relax as much as I should, even on the weekends.

I come by it honest, though. My dad never took a vacation in his entire military career, and only started taking time off when his health started to deteriorate; pretty much after 60 years of nonstop action. I didn’t take my first vacation ever until I got married in my late 30’s. Even now, I can’t say that I’ve ever taken a real vacation longer than a week (visiting relatives in another city).

Are goals really worth trying to reach if, once you get there, you can’t learn to enjoy some of what you’ve attained? Is perfection ever really attained? How well do you work under constant pressure?

Do we really waste a lot of time, or is it the pause we need to be taking? I think it may be misused every once in a while, but time is what it’s supposed to be. It’s up to us to decide how we’re going to use it, and how we’re going to allow others to use it. Do you agree?

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