Banking sleep

I can’t remember the last time in my life I felt this well rested. As I wait for the arrival of junior, I’m taking the advice of basically everyone I have ever talked to about parenting and banking as much sleep as I can.

I’m in this weird grey zone, where I don’t have an infant to take care of, but I’m not exactly free to enjoy my weekends either. Aside from the feeling of guilt about going out while my wife stays at home because she is too tired / uncomfortable to go out, I also don’t really want to go have a big night knowing that I could be massively hung over for the birth of my child. I think the best thing I can do is bank sleep.

With that as preamble, I thought I’d provide the best tips I’ve read on getting the best sleep possible. I recognize some of these will be impossible once Junior arrives. But at least I know what they are and can try to incorporate as many of these as humanly possible.

This is a long list. I think of it as more is better – I’m not likely going to get all of these right, but the more I do the better my sleep will be.

  1. Sleep in a dark room. Pitch black is best, to the extent possible. If you don’t have blackout blinds they are well worth the investment.
  2. Sleep mask. If there is any light left in the room, or if your significant other has a habit of opening the door and letting in light, this will help.
  3. Avoid TV or phone screens for at least an hour before going to bed.
  4. Read fiction. The more nonsensical the better. Basically as far away from non-fiction as possible, to put the rational brain to sleep.
  5. White noise machine or fan. Anything that drowns out the noise around you.
  6. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.

If you’ve never focused on the quality of your sleep before, I strongly encourage you to try it for a week. Make an experiment out of it. I’m continually shocked at how focusing on improving the 8 hours a day you sleep makes you more awake and productive for those 16 hours a day that you’re not sleeping.

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So it begins

Heading home from work in an uber a few minutes to 10pm. Sadly a 12+ hour workday isn’t unusual, and the 20 minute ride home is typically my first taste of freedom all day.

My life over the past decade has been mostly a blur of work, with a short “break” for a one year MBA. I can’t say I totally regret the way I spent my 20s – it has given me options to take care of myself, and now my family. But I am quite mindful of all the events, festivals and simple time with friends I’ve missed out on because I was in the office.

My little guy or girl could be here anytime now. While the due date is August 1st, the healthy, normal window is plus or minus two weeks of that. So it could be tomorrow. Or tonight! Crazy. It still doesn’t feel real.

One of the interesting and totally unexpected side effects of expecting a child is the way it encourages you to reflect on your own life. Part of it is a realization that your youth is now, without a question, 100% over.

But another big part of it is that you start to talk to your child (I keep saying child because we don’t know if it’s a girl or boy). And you start to think about what wishes and dreams you have for them.

I keep saying (in my head, to my unborn child) “forget money – do whatever makes you happy” and “travel and adventure more while you still can.” And that process is forcing me to reflect on my life. And ask some real tough questions. If I am saying that to my child… is it not fair to assume that my parents wish the same for me?

I’ve heard that one of the side effects of being a father is that it makes you a better person – more empathetic, supportive, etc. I’m learning that it might also make you a better person by forcing you to reflect more on your life, and where you need to make changes to better align with your values.