aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Discoveries in retirement, an ongoing adventure

I have always been a night owl. From adolescence onward, I would stay up late into the night, usually reading. When we had children at home, I found that I couldn’t really get certain things done, couldn’t really relax either, until the whole house was quiet. I was always the last to bed. This meant that I shorted myself on sleep for years. Instead of getting more sleep, I ate. Up to a certain point, you can trade sleep for food, since the energy from the calories will keep you going.

My schedule was over-busy, my calendar stacked with must-dos. Every few days, I would write out my to-do list afresh, in at least six or eight columns, as I worked across multiple goal areas headed Personal, Office, Venturers, Whatever class I was teaching, People to see, Wilderstead, etc. When the last meeting of the evening (and at least half my days had meetings in the evening) was finished, I would wait for the house to get quiet. And then I could finally relax, clear my brain, amuse myself, even organize the next day. And then it would all start up again.

I wondered if, when I retired, I would get my nights and days mixed up. Without anything in particular to get up for, would I simply stay up all night, then sleep till the afternoon?

The actual result has surprised me. Without the stressors of my schedule (imposed by both self and others), I find that I go to bed earlier. I don’t have to stay up in order to get “me” time. And I like to get up early, even in the dark. I get more sleep, and better sleep, than I did throughout my working years. If I can’t sleep at night, I just get up for a while, or change from bed to chair. I give myself permission to nap during the day when I feel like it – and having done so, I find that I don’t always need to. Unlike my last several working years, I don’t feel tired all the time now. And when I do feel tired, my tiredness is more a function of age than of exhaustion. Part of aging for me means I feel more the effects of dwindling daylight, which didn’t use to bother me. I was really starting to shut down in mid-September, but I started some new medicine that has helped tremendously. All in all, then, I feel pretty good.

And I am finding new joy in greeting the dawn from the right end (getting up rather than going to bed).

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