For a full week, I didn’t read, go online, watch any TV, or listen to any CD or radio. I didn’t read a single book or magazine, or play a game on my cell phone. (Though I did catch myself mindlessly starting a few times.)
I could write pages about how wonderful a media deprivation is. It’s pretty uncomfortable at first – now what do I do?– but gradually you come to realize you don’t really need Facebook, e-mail, or NPR. Without the constant chatter of the outside world, you hear the quiet voice of your best intuition. I always come back to the external world with a greater sense of what matters, and of what is worth my attention.
What was most shocking for me this time was how I started going to sleep really early. I would go to bed around 9 – 9! – because – well, what else was there to do? I would write in my journal and – without a book to read – decide to lay down and close my eyes. I would think, “Oh, it’s far too early to fall asleep, I’ll just lay here and meditate.” Invariably, however, I would fall immediately and deeply asleep. I would wake at 6 a.m. – always within five minutes before or after. I would feel well-rested, and my energy levels would stay constant through the day.
What’s even more shocking is …. it stuck. Even on nights when I am watching too much television, it’s early to bed, early to rise. Last night, I was watching a suspenseful episode of House when, at 8:53 p.m., I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went to bed and fell into a sound sleep.
I can’t believe this is my natural sleep cycle. 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.? Who knew?
I have always valued sleep, but I value it even more now. I have a renewed, clear sense of energy, and even feel clearer in my sense of self and purpose. I don’t think I truly understood how much my brain needed that downtime to process my life and prepare me for every day.