Sunday, September 23, 2012

The 10:30 rule

I haven't been sleeping well lately.

The last few nights have been good, but for ten days before that, I was waking up at weird hours of the night -- and sometimes, an hour before my alarm was set to go off, even if the rest of that night's sleep had already been terrible.

I'm sure it's most accurate to blame the fact that I've been waking up at ten past four for work on each of the past two Monday mornings. That's got to have its residual effects.

But it's also fair to blame my decision to start watching a movie at all hours of the night -- and nap my way through it (pausing it of course) until I finish.

The worst example of this was last Friday night. I started watching the Amanda Seyfried vehicle Gone at around 11 p.m., and didn't finish until 2. That included about four naps, but those naps couldn't replicate the sleep I would have gotten if I'd just gone to bed at midnight instead of wading my way through this shitty movie.

But I still have to carve out time to watch movies, and one of the best ways to do that is to start a movie after my wife goes to bed.

I just need to set up some ground rules if I want to keep my sanity. I mean, the price of watching a shitty movie like Gone was that I was in a foul mood all day last Saturday, and got into a stupid fight with my wife. That's no way to live, especially for a one-star movie.

So, new rule: I can only watch a late-night movie if I start it by 10:30. It also shouldn't be longer than about 1:45, but I won't be so strict about that.

The idea is not necessarily to finish it before midnight, but so that at least more of the movie gets watched before midnight than after.

My first test of the rule was Arbitrage on Thursday night, which I bought on VOD for $7.99. I actually started it around 10:35, but they're my rules, and I can stretch them however I want. I find it useful to adhere to the seven-minute grace period we get for clocking in at work. (Yes, my job requires me to clock in. At least it's on a computer rather than a punch clock.) As long as I clock in by seven minutes past the hour (or half-hour, or quarter hour), my time punch rounds down to the most recent quarter hour past. So my 10:30 rule is really a 10:37 rule.

Arbitrage was 100 minutes, and with pauses, I finished up at a very manageable 12:30. I was still tired during the day on Friday, but at least I didn't snap at anyone. Besides, Thursday night is the honorary first night of the weekend, since most people figure they can wade their way through a Friday at about 60%.

What remains to be seen is if I can stick to this rule, and how much I bend it. What if my wife turns in at 10:45? What about 10:40?

But any rule is only there to correct a perceived problem. If I can start a movie at 10:40 or 10:45 or even 11, and not spend the next day as a zombie, then maybe I'll be okay. I can test it and play with it and make it work for me. But it's nice to know it's there, to remind myself of the possible consequences of breaking it.

After all, you never know when being only 60% of who you want to be won't be good enough.


Travis McClain said...

If I had it to do over again, I'd have just gone to bed and tossed and turned, rather than send my wife to bed alone.

Thaddeus said...

We've all faced this, but we didn;t have as many responsibilities or complications as children. The math becomes harder, as you show, when you're a real adult.

That said, if you're having problems sleeping enough, it's not too good to stimulate your mind with keyboards, decisions, or videos. Doctors recommend you give yourself a 2-hour cooling time from all "bright" (read: screens) stimulation before going to bed.

Managing the problem is good, but you should give yourself time to recuperate, too. Movies aren't everything anymore, are they? Unless you're actually paid by the industry, of course - sigh...