My name is Brian. I am 37 years old and suffer from Structural Resistance & Advanced Consequence Denial. Which of course is an imaginary diagnosis. The first phrase helps explain that I believe structure is important to life and yet I do not often live with structure. The second is a very common malady which explains I have the intellectual capacity to understand the basic idea of cause and effect or as we know it: “practicing wise decisions typically results in positive consequences.” As well “unwise decisions typically result in negative consequences.”
Let me give an example. I’m 37 years old and I’m still learning their are positive results from going to bed at a time we in our culture call “early,” but 100 years ago would have just been called “bed time.” I starting tracking my sleep in the fall using a Fitbit device. I found the time I actually went to sleep varied greatly, from 9pm to 1am depending on the day. My total hours of sleep ranged from 4 to 10 hours. As the calendar turned to 2016 I started to really turn off the TV or iPad at 9pm so that reading was the only option. (Somedays I still made an exception and I would feel the results of that decision for at least two days: poor sleep, sleeping in, waking up feeling behind already, less energy, generally feeling less joy.)
I developed a great habit that mirrored Laura who goes to bed at basically 9pm every night no matter what. I’d be up before 6, meeting with God in his Word and prayer. My mind was sharp and my days productive.
But as often happens I recently made a decision in the moment, a decision which was easy to convince myself was a fine decision, despite it going against the well thought out plan, which was get to bed at 9 something, read until you fall asleep.
What I did was hang out with students after RUF, I had a great time laughing and hearing stories. But it was midnight before I headed home and now it’s two days later and I still feel the results of getting off of a set sleep pattern. I’m tired, my mind is foggy, I didn’t get up and read Scripture or pray, I have stuff to do and I don’t want to do it.
It’s like this: people tell me a consistent early bed time is good for me. Science supports this, limited experience supports this and yet in practice I act as though I’m the exception. Yes, I agree that’s good for people, but really I’m a night person. Really? What does that even mean? I’ve said that phrase so many times speaking of myself and really what I mean is I don’t have enough self-control to go to bed when I could be hanging out with people or watching TV or surfing the endless internet. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t recall people telling me they are up late being productive (unless it’s a result of backing themselves into a corner on a project that is due the next day). I just can’t remember anyone telling me they love to sit and read scripture at midnight and then sleep in the next day.
Obviously there are exceptions to this, but go with me here, as my life is not one of the exceptions.
I know from experience my late night engagements are vegging on tv, or reading news or Facebook. It’s never anything in the category of productive. So here is the deal. I’m not convinced there is such a thing as a morning person and a night person so much as a person with self-control and a person who lacks self-control. I’m only ok saying this and not feeling self-righteous because I clearly belong to the category of person who lacks self-control.
Today I’d like to begin to change my category. I’d like to learn to develop this fruit of the Sprit that God has given to us as we are his children. So knowing there will be failures I am making a new effort to go to bed no latter than 10pm, preferably 9pm. Going to bed means in bed, reading something of substance, a novel or Christian book, but not a blog or Facebook. So if you see me laughing on your couch at 10pm send me home and I’ll thank you in the morning…or at least by afternoon when you finally wake up 🙂