Monday, 25 January 2010


Anyone who knows me well will know that I am obsessed with schedules and routine. I often ask other people intrusive questions about their sleeping hours and how long someone takes to do a certain task.

It turns out I'm not the only person interested in this sort of thing either.

There is a whole site dedicated to the topic, which can be seen here:

n.b. this is not the main page; there does not seem to be a main page, so I have just posted a link of one of my favourite schedules found here.

Of course, like most things we obsess over, it's something I know I'll never really be able to have. And if I do get it, I'm sure the experience will be awkward and desperate.

Or will it? Since may week in the North my sleeping hours were generally between 4am and 11am. Obviously this was to adapt to the rigours of student life. Now that I am back home, I should probably get back to normal.

But what is normal? What are my natural sleeping hours? Does such a concept exist?

For some reason I have the rough times of "1.30am to 9.00am" as my normal hours. Yet at school, for ten years, it was 10.30pm to 6am. Did I spend all that time fighting nature? Or are we able to adapt? Perhaps I should take consolation in the fact that, in both cases, my body seems to agree that seven and a half hours is probably optimum.

Many might suggest that the phenomenon of jet lag shows that we are able to adapt to any sleeping hours we like. After all, though the first days are difficult, eventually you get into rhythm with the local definition of 'day'.

But what are we adapting to, exactly? If, for instance, I went to stay in Peru for twenty days, would I only really be happy if my natural sleeping hours were, relative to the longitude, the same as they were in England?

Perhaps we adapt to what is practical. But is there anything practical in schedule at all? I appreciate that doing things by the clock is an essential component of modern industrial society, but what about someone like me? I can set my own hours, for the most part. Is there really any benefit to me getting up at sunrise?

I am not sure if my desire to get up at dawn comes out of some irrational lust for self-discipline or out of a simple desire to be at one with nature. It's probably just an ego thing, actually. I like the idea of getting up early, it's something I can aspire to, seemingly a way of improving myself.

But I have discovered in the past that it is something that we must slide into gradually. And that's the task I have ahead of me. Having got up somewhere between ten thirty and twelve on all but one of the last ten days, I feel it is time I slid into a more sensible routine. But how to achieve this. Naturally, or through alarms?

Well, I shall find a hybrid. I shall make my waking hour earlier, but not to a strict pattern with a strict aim. I shall find out as I go along. I shall set my alarm earlier each day; not by a fixed, predetermined amount, but by my instincts.

This blog post asks more questions than it answers. You can help by answering some of them yourself.

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