Do you hate bedtime time as much as I do?
It’s a given that kids hate going to bed, but many adults with ADHD also loathe it. Especially those who have kids. When evening rolls around and the sprogs have finally drifted off to the land of nod, those precious few hours nestled between:
- working at work
- working at home and
- working at getting to sleep
… they may be the only time we get to spend time doing things we truly want to do. The fun stuff, the meaningful stuff, the stuff that fulfills us and makes all the other stuff bearable.
So it’s no wonder most of us drag ourselves to bed kicking and screaming, way past the hour sane people nod off.
We know we need more sleep: for health, mental health and mental clarity. But that doesn’t make us WANT to go to bed any earlier than we already do. It just makes us feel like we have only two options:
- More sleep and less time to ourselves or
- More time, less sleep… and all the nasty side effects
Point in case:
When I go to bed earlier I feel much better the next day. My head is clearer, I’m in a better mood and I’m much more focused.
But here’s the catch: I don’t get enough time to read and write if I go to bed early. Those are the things that fill my soul. But they take time. Quiet, alone time. Usually, that’s the time when the kids are in bed. So that means later nights.
Or does it?
I’ve figured out 5 ways to get to bed earlier, without fear of missing out on the stuff that I really want to do. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Figure out what feeds you the most
I’m not talking about food. Decide on what activity makes you most feel like you’ve had “me time”. We often waste our evenings watching TV or getting sucked into the Internet vortex, not because that’s what we really want to do, but because that’s all we really have the energy for. Usually, though, it conveys an unspoken message of pointlessness to our subconscious. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those activities, but doing them night after night makes us feel like we’re wasting our lives.
Not sure what you value the most in life? Try out this exercise to figure out how you could be spending your free time.
2. Steal time for your values
Night time isn’t the only time you can have to yourself. Sometimes, our lives are structured in a way that means we have to think differently about the time that we do have, rather than just focusing on the paucity of it. Do you get a 15-minute coffee break at work? What about a lunch hour? How about the time when you’re walking the dogs?
Make more out of free-time chunks when you get them, even if they’re not in the evenings. Read a book on your break or listen to an audio book while walking the canine. Crochet on the train as you head off to work. Listen to music while making dinner. Whatever your thing is – find a way to sneak in some time for yourself during the day, and you’ll have less of a need to exploit every second of the twilight hours.
3. Let stuff go once in a while
I have an obsessive need to get everything done as soon as I can. For example, I can’t cope with the visual clutter of last night’s dishes when I wake up in the morning. But sometimes, particularly when I’ve had a hard day, I recognize the fact that I need to let something go, in order to get some much-needed me-time in. Often, it means that I do those dishes – but I leave the laundry to another day. That’s what the space under the bed is for.
4. What? When? Where? How?
I can’t write when my kids are around. They interrupt – a lot, and that only frustrates me. But I want them to interrupt me, because that’s what I’m here for. So I write when they’re at school (if I have a weekday off) or when they’re in bed. That means the other stuff gets done when they’re around – the stuff I don’t really need to concentrate hard on. Usually, I try to incorporate them into that activity, by getting their help in trade for spending some time with them doing the things they love. Together we’ve built an entire Minecraft world based solely on this barter system.
5. And remember your Why…
Going to bed earlier isn’t about being a good boy or girl. It isn’t about doing the “right thing” or doing what you’re “supposed to do”. I used to hate sleep. It feels like a waste of time, and I can probably only say this because I’m someone who doesn’t seem to need a lot of it to function.
I have noticed that I do function much better when I’ve slept well. Generally, the quality of my sleep increases when I get at least some of it before midnight. So, while I’ve had to sacrifice some of those all-to-myself minutes in the evening in order to get to bed earlier, I no longer have a fear of missing out.
The reason for this is simple: when I sleep better, I have more energy to do the things I really want to do, rather than flaking out in front of a box because I’m exhausted.
Try this for 2 weeks (I dare you…) How much better is the quality of your “me time” when you actually get a better sleep at night? Share your experience in the comments below.