Trying out a new work schedule

A later wake-up time and later bedtime has been doing wonders for my mood and energy

Trying out a new work schedule
Photo by Jordan Whitt / Unsplash

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Hello friends,

For the last week and a half, I’ve been trying out a new work schedule. At the four-week mental health check-in with my primary doctor, she told me that the new anti-anxiety med is not supposed to have a sedative effect. I had just explained that for quite a few days, I would wake up at the alarm and then immediately pass out for 15 min, repeating this for an hour.

She suggested that I follow my natural sleep rhythm more closely: move the bedtime and wake-up times a little later. The fact that I was waking up without an alarm at 11 am on the weekends was an indicator that I had sleep debt. Apparently, we humans are supposed to get 8-9 hours of sleep, which is news to me. I don’t know anyone who gets this amount of sleep; it sounds like a dream goal (haha, unintentional pun).

I have tried later bedtimes before and failed. Somehow, if a medical doctor tells me I should do something, I’ll listen. But I won’t do it if my body tells me the same thing.

So, I’ve been trying a new schedule and listening to my body more.

If given the chance, my bedtime is usually 2 am, though I’ve also gone to 4 am. I’m not out socializing or anything, but I’m also not working (to be honest, I’ve been playing Zelda). I’ve always been a night owl, and in high school, I would survive just fine on 6 hours of sleep.

I’m still figuring out the best schedule arrangement, but so far, bedtime has been 1-2 am. My wake-up time is at 9:30 (but should be later if I go to bed at 2 am). It’s been difficult to internally combat the social norm and cultural expectation shame that I’m “lazy” for having a late wake-up time. People really hammer in the whole “early bird gets the worm” thing.

It’s also a shift in thinking for me. A minor change in wording has made a big difference because it moves from me being ashamed to a fact.

  • Instead of “waking up late,” I “have a late wake-up time”
  • Instead of “going to bed late,” I “have a late bedtime”

Overall, I’m happy to report that I’ve been feeling better in terms of mood and energy.

Last week, I took Zoey to a cafe and journaled around noon. I worked through story ideas and wrote in my head during the walk. I’ve also worked a few hours on the weekend—not because I had to, but because I wanted to. On Monday, I worked 11 am-5:30 pm and 8-10 pm. I got interview questions and admin stuff done in the later time block. And when I reached a good stopping point, I felt good. I still had energy, my brain wasn’t mushy, and I didn’t feel like I had worked a long day.

There have been some hiccups that I need to figure out.

The downside of this divided schedule is that my mealtimes are pushed so far that breakfast is around lunchtime, and “my lunch” is too close to dinner that I’ve skipped it a few days.

I’m also at the computer when my boyfriend gets home from work, so we don’t have much time to catch up (he wakes up at 6:30 am). He says it’s been weird to see me working later at night, but has been very supportive of the change. I cannot emphasize enough the value of having a supportive partner; I’ve had exes who made me feel guilty about my late wake-up time. That wears you down over time.

Yesterday, I stopped working at the computer around 5 pm. But I wrote this essay by hand on my back patio at 7 pm. And today, I edited this and will be sending it around 8 pm. I don’t think I’ll do a divided schedule every day, but I know it’s been working surprisingly well so far!

The next paid subscriber send is on June 28 and will be a photo missive from Porto, Portugal! I’m looking forward to sharing my stopover and photos.