J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Tag: 30 day experiment

30-Day Luck Experiment — RESULTS

Richard Wiseman, aka Dr. Luck.

During the month of June I conducted a 30-day experiment; I tried to “be more lucky.” I based my experiment on the research of Richard Wiseman, who has studied lucky people (and what makes them lucky) for a number of years.  Wiseman discovered that lucky people tend to have the following qualities:

  • They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities.
  • They make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition.
  • They create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations.
  • They adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Based on these findings, I created and resolved to practice five customized exercises everyday for the month of June.  I’ll discuss my experience of each exercise in turn.

Exercise #1: Discuss and tweet favorite three experiences of the day (focus on the positive)

Discussing the “Top 3” with Kia and Tesla Rose was an easy and fun thing to do in the evening.  Sometimes it was surprising which experiences made the list.  For example, one evening we were walking in the evening on a beach trail, in near-total darkness (it gets dark very early in Costa Rica) when we began to hear scurrying and rustling on either side of the narrow trail.  The noise intensified; soon we were threading our way through a surround-sound mosh pit of horror movie sound effects.  The experience was harrowing, but it made Kia’s Top 3 list for that day.  She has written about the experience here.

Simple activities, like playing in the surf at the beach, often made the list.  So did experiences with nature … hearing or seeing howler monkeys, for example (we were on a working vacation in Costa Rica for the entire month of June).

Early in the month I tweeted the top 3 experiences of each day, but this started to feel obnoxious, and I abandoned that part of the exercise.  People don’t necessarily want to read about how precious your day was.  Nobody complained, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t the kind of thing I want to tweet about.  I would rather share interesting links or facts … provide value of some sort.

Did it make me luckier?

This exercise certainly made me feel luckier.  It’s an effective method.  Even though the exercise was very focused — picking out three discrete experiences — the overall effect was to make me consider the big picture.  Here I was in Costa Rica, with my loving family, in good health, and so on … so yeah, it made me feel like a lucky man.

The grapevine is an important source of information.

 

Exercise #2: Talk to everyone — strike up a conversation at every opportunity (expand opportunity)

This was the hardest exercise!  I’m not naturally a chatty person, and I had to overcome extreme reticence in order to make myself strike up random conversations with strangers.  My limited Spanish contributed to the problem.

I ended up compromising; I struck up conversations with people who I perceived to be interesting in some way.  Also, if needed information (directions, when a store opened, etc.), or help, I made myself ask someone nearby.  Asking for directions or help comes quite easily to some people, but for me it’s challenging.  A combination of 1) pride, and 2) not wanting to impose usually conspire to make me to tough it out alone.  Could be a guy thing.

Interestingly, sometimes this exercise contradicted Exercise #3 (“follow your gut feeling”).  Sometimes my gut instinct directed me not to talk to somebody — to avoid engagement.  In those cases I always went with my gut instinct … definitely the easier choice.

Did it make me luckier?

Somewhat.  I just wasn’t that good at this one.  It was good to overcome my reticence about asking for directions or help, and that proved helpful in several situations.  One afternoon I asked a random construction worker if he could spray some WD-40 on my crusty bike lock, and I bought him an ice-cream cone for his trouble (he was working right next to CariBeans).  I also had some short, interesting conversations with a few random people.

Kia is quite good at talking to strangers.  She actively sought out people with young children (Tesla Rose had a dearth of playmates during most of our trip), and cornered The Dellingers one morning at the beach.  Tesla Rose had a great time playing with the Dellinger girls (Eli and Annika) for the remainder of our trip, and meeting them definitely enhanced our experience.  A stroke of luck, you could say.

Exercise#3: Consciously consult “gut feeling” at all significant choice points (follow intuition)

The intuitive path.

This one was easy to do, and felt effective.  Significant parts of our brains are processing information at a tremendous rate before our conscious minds are aware of the data; the calculations are subconscious (as Malcolm Gladwell discusses in Blink).  While intuition is inferior to cold, conscious calculation in some situations (evaluating financial securities, for example), it’s a perfectly adequate way to navigate a Costa Rican workation.

Whenever I had a moment of doubt or confusion regarding the ever-present question “what to do next,” I consulted my gut instinct.  What felt like the right course of action?

Did it make me luckier?

I think it did, but it’s hard to prove.  The evidence is invisible; bad things that didn’t happen.  We stayed out of trouble, avoided crime, didn’t get (badly) injured, etc.  Is this a good beach to hang out at?  Correct choice = fun times, no sunburn, and not being mugged.

Perhaps the main benefit of “trusting your gut” is that it provides a way to move forward in life, with confidence, and without excessive, time-consuming analysis.  Unfortunately there is no way to do a controlled experiment; once a choice has been made you can’t go back in life and try things the other way.

Another benefit of following one’s intuition: it provides an easy way to maximize the return on the expenditure of limited personal resources (such as time, money, willpower).  If you find yourself with a spare ten minutes, what’s the best way to use it?  Send an email?  Relax and stare at the trees?  Read, or read a book to your kid?  If you had to consciously calculate what the best way to use that time would be, the decision-making process itself would probably take you ten minut
es.

Exercise #4: When something “bad” happens, consider possible upsides, and refuse to be demoralized (resilience)

There’s always an upside.

This exercise was moderately difficult, but extremely effective.  When I was feeling down, for whatever reason (usually mosquito bites, or Tesla Rose throwing plates on the ground, or having internet connectivity problems), it wasn’t always easy to find “the bright side.”  Usually the “opportunity” in the situation was to change my own perspective or behavior.  Mosquitoes?  Part of the Costa Rican equation — avoid as much as possible, but don’t focus too much on the bugs or the bites.  Two-year-old acting out?  What’s going on with her psychologically?  What’s she feeling, and what are her motivations?  Internet problems?  Find something else to do.

Did it make me luckier?

Our biggest piece of “bad luck” was renting a house that wasn’t an ideal fit for our family.  This exercise helped give us the fortitude to do something about the situation; we moved from the jungle to a beach house.  There was a financial hit, but not a huge one.  We found ourselves much happier closer to the beach — the double rental cost was well worth it.

Following this exercise made me realize the absurdity in the “I’m having a bad day” attitude.  You can always turn it around.  You can always use your imagination to find a course of action that will improve your situation.  To paraphrase Lt. Gen. Harold Moore: if plan B doesn’t work, go through the entire alphabet.

Exercise #5: Observe and record (journal) at least three anomalous details every day (expand opportunity)

I failed miserably at this exercise.  Part of the problem is that I created too many exercises for myself — I couldn’t keep them all in my mind at once.  The other part of problem is that my natural observation skills are dismal; this one was just too much to bite off.  I basically gave up after a few days.  This would probably be a good 30-day experiment on its own.  I’ve read accounts of people dramatically improving their powers of observation; I believe it’s possible.  But it was too much for this time around.

Did it make me luckier?

N/A — I didn’t do the exercise.

Conclusion

Maybe I’ll actually buy Wiseman’s book and see what “make yourself luckier” experiments he proscribes.  I wanted to start with making up my own exercises, but I think mine might have been too ambitious.  Three out of the five I created for myself really worked for me — the other two more or less flopped.

The three exercises that I was able to practice did all seem to have a positive effect.  They made me happier, if not luckier.  There’s a reason those two qualities are often paired, as in “happy-go-lucky.”  Focusing on the positive leads to both luck and happiness.

Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you ignore problems, or that you have any less awareness of evil, injustice, wrong-doing, bad feelings, or bad situations.  It simply means that you focus on what is good in your own life, and build on that.

I’ve never had a victim mentality; at least in adulthood I’ve always seen myself as responsible for my own fate.  But these exercises had the effect of moving the personal responsibility dial from 8 to 10.  What “luck” I would like to have befall me — it’s just a matter of doing the work, meeting people who can help me out, and cultivating an indomitable spirit.  There’s nothing magical or mystical involved (though the subconscious is heavily involved, and one’s path through life is ultimately unpredictable, which can make it feel mystical).

Lucky Events

Catch some falling coin.

June did contain a couple “extra lucky” events.  One night I went out to dinner, and by the time I returned a lucrative Loöq Records music licensing deal had been offered, negotiated, and closed by the time I returned.  That same evening I received an email notifying me that there were some uncollected music royalties in my name — would I like them to be collected?  Why yes, I would — thank you!

On a less tangible note, June was filled with creative inspiration.  Ideas (mostly for stories, blog posts, music) sometimes came faster than I could write them down.  I attribute this mostly to being in a different environment, with a high degree of novelty.

What About “The Power of Intention”?

I completely believe that we have the power to “manifest” our desires (or preferences, as I prefer to call them) by imagining them.  That is, as long as we’re willing to do the tangible work in the world that brings us to that reality.  Bringing something into reality always starts with imagination (or visualization, if you prefer), but it must be followed up by action, by work.

But what if I’m wrong?

What if all you really have to do is imagine what you want, to completely believe that reality will manifest, and then, well … kind of sit around and wait for it?

Back in April, Steve Pavlina put up an interesting post.  He suggested that if you don’t believe in the power of intention, you can put a “tracer” on your intention so that you’ll be able to distinguish an intentional manifestation from coincidence.  One example he gives is manifesting $100, somehow related to a lime.  Yes, the fruit.  The more random of a tracer, the better.

Are you my lucky lizard?

What’s the opportunity cost of trying something like that?  Zero, I thought — I’m going to manifest $15,000, somehow related to a lizard.  Kia hates it when I try kooky stuff like that that doesn’t align with my beliefs about reality, but I don’t see what the harm is.  We all know that some of our beliefs must be wrong — we just don’t know which ones.  So since early April, I’ve been “trying” to manifest $15,000, somehow related to a lizard, by believing it will happen.  That’s all I’m doing.  I’m not starting any lizard businesses, or writing songs with lizard names.

When I receive my $15K, somehow related to a lizard, I’ll be sure to let you know.

30 Day Experiment – Be More Lucky

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like? - Jean Cocteau

Today launches a new 30-day experiment, during which I will try to be more lucky. I’m basing the experiment on the research of Dr. Richard Wiseman, who, starting in the 90’s, conducted a series of experiments investigating the nature of luck, and whether or not being lucky was a trainable skill (he concluded that it was).

This article by Wiseman explains his experiments and results succinctly.  Wiseman’s “lucky” subjects would probably would fare no better at games of pure chance than the rest of us, but they have better fortune in life.  Opportunities fall into their laps, they seem happier, they know all the right people, and so on.  Who wouldn’t want a bit more luck juice to sprinkle on their fate?

From his research, Wiseman concluded the following about his lucky subjects:

“They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”

A nice cake, if you can bake it.  But how do you get from here to there?  How do you turn an unlucky person into a lucky one?  Wiseman prescribed various exercises to help his less fortunate subjects develop the necessary attitudinal traits.  After following the simple exercises for a month, the less-lucky subjects reported dramatically better luck; fewer mishaps and more happy coincidences.  Wiseman’s exercises were along the following lines (in his own words):

  • Listen to your gut instincts – they are normally right.
  • Be open to new experiences and breaking your normal routine.
  • Spend a few moments each day remembering things that went well.
  • Visualize yourself being lucky before an important meeting or telephone call. Luck is very often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other articles, like this one from Forbes, Wiseman focuses on the social side of luck; luckier people have larger social networks (and keep them active, staying in touch with people).  He also notes that luckier people are far more observant than their less fortunate brethren; they are more likely to notice details outside of “what they are looking for,” and this serves them well.

If you view all the things that happen to you, both good and bad, as opportunities, then you operate out of a higher level of consciousness. - Les Brown

Self-Analysis

Where do I currently stand, on the luck spectrum?  I consider myself fairly lucky, with room for improvement.  I tend to have a good attitude and look on the bright side, but I’m not immune to occasional bouts of self-pity or gloomy pessimism.  I have a decently large social network, but I’m horrible at striking up conversations with strangers; I tend towards minding my own business (and even shyness at times).  I trust my gut more often than not, but sometimes plow ahead despite “having a bad feeling about it.”  I’m open to novel experiences and breaking my routine, but I’m spectacularly unobservant at times.

Customized Exercises

Every day in June, I plan to do the luck-building exercises below.  I’ve designed them to addresses my particular weaknesses, build my strengths, and be easy and fun enough to do every day.

  1. Principle: Focus on the positive / Exercise: Discuss and tweet favorite three experiences of the day
  2. Principle: Expand opportunity / Exercise: Talk to everyone — strike up a conversation at every opportunity
  3. Principle: Follow intuition / Exercise: Consciously consult “gut feeling” at all significant choice points
  4. Principle: Resilience / Exercise: When something “bad” happens, consider possible upsides (and refuse to be demoralized)
  5. Principle: Expand opportunity / Exercise: Observe and record (journal) at least three anomalous details every day

I don’t know if these exercises are perfectly designed, but I don’t think it matters.  They should get me going in the right direction.  It’s worth noting that the opportunity cost in each case is low; none of them take very much time or involve much risk (the possibility of initiating an awkward conversation seems real, but bearable).

Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. - Thomas Edison

So far, the experiment is going well.  Hacking away at a coconut this morning, standing on slippery leaves in bare feet, I managed to not hack off my foot, and while stabbing at the inner shell with my Swiss Army knife, I miraculously avoided cutting off my finger when the blade suddenly jackknifed closed (I escaped with only a laceration, easily staunched with direct pressure and a number of Band-Aids).  This resulted in an opportunity to provide a safety lesson for my daughter, and elicited a tender outpouring of concern from both my wife and daughter, making me feel both loved and needed.  I’d say the day was off to an excellent start!

Sleep Experiment – A Month With No Artificial Light

In an earlier post, I mentioned how my family (it’s not something you can do without your whole household participating) went without artificial light (including all electric lights, TV, and computers) after sundown, for all of June in 2009.  June, being the month of the longest days, was the easiest month for such an experiment.

“Full of Ideas” by Cayusa

Soon after writing that post, we decided to try the experiment again, but this time for the month of February — a month with much shorter days and longer nights.  I was traveling during the last week of February, so it was effectively only a twenty day experiment.  Still — both the effects and the experience itself were dramatic. In a nutshell: more sleep, better sleep, improved mood, and an entirely different rhythm to both waking and sleeping life.  There were some downsides too, which I’ll also discuss.

WHY

The first time we tried the experiment, in June 2009, we were primarily interested in catching up on sleep.  Our daughter was born in March of 2008 — after more than a year a full night’s sleep was still elusive.  As someone who had always been a night-owl at home, but never had any trouble going to sleep by 8:30 when camping, I already suspected that artificial light (as opposed to firelight, starlight, or moonlight) was what was keeping me from going to bed earlier.  Reading this article by Verlyn Klinkenborg in the New York Times confirmed that suspicion.

An even earlier, unrelated 30-day experiment (I’ve done over a dozen at this point), during which I resolved and attempted to go to bed earlier, had failed miserably.  On average I’d gotten to bed 45 minutes earlier; say quarter-after-eleven instead of midnight.  I just found it impossible to go to bed when I wasn’t sleepy (which I distinguish from tired — just because your mind and body need sleep doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel sleepy).  Just trying — willing myself — to go to bed earlier didn’t work very well — it certainly didn’t result in the kind of radical sleep improvement I was looking for.

On the other hand, the June experiment with no artificial light was a huge success.  Kia and I immediately started going to bed between 9 and 10 instead of around midnight.  We quickly caught up on sleep, sleeping ten or eleven hours a night at first, then normalizing around eight hours.  One thing we both noticed was a huge boost in mood — moments of unexplained, unreasonable joy would strike us at random times during the day.  I’m not talking about the calm sea of serenity — I’m talking about bursts of goofy delight — the kind that’s really obnoxious to the moody people around you.

So … we wanted to try it again.

THE RULES

Compared to June, February was a whole different ball game.  Some days in June the sky was light until 9:30pm — in February we ended up lighting the candles as early as 5pm.  I was concerned about not being able to get any work done, so we set 7:30pm as a cutoff for computers getting turned off.  Here’s a list of the rules we decided to live by:

  • no artificial light, including overhead lights, lamps, and the refrigerator light
  • candles allowed
  • computers allowed until 7:30pm
  • TV not allowed after sundown (except TV on computers until 7:30)

THE NEGATIVES

Anger
One thing I experienced during the experiment was anger and frustration at not being able to f*cking see anything.  Stepping on toys on the floor, bumping into table corners, searching for matches by moonlight — none of it fun.  Cooking by candlelight can also be difficult.  After a day or two I gained some awareness around what was happening emotionally.  I did choose to do this, after all.  The key to dealing with the anger was to conduct my actions more carefully, and with more foresight, during the long evenings.  Light the candles before it gets totally dark.  Make sure to light a couple candles in the bathroom.  Be vigilant about cleaning up toys (and getting our daughter to clean up her toys) before it gets dark.

Drip drip drip.

Wax
Wax is pollution.  Little wax drips, everywhere, are hard to avoid when you’re walking around (or stumbling over things) while holding a candle.  Scraping hardened wax off of tables and floors is a drag.  Kia was reading a book — it might have been a George Elliot novel, in which people who stay up late are called wax-drippers.  This seems to imply that, at least in pre-Industrial England, most people didn’t even bother lighting candles; they just went to bed when it got dark.

The pollution angle; it made me think about how entire classes of pollution can disappear, practically overnight.  In the horse-and-buggy age, major cities were covered in horse shit.  It was a serious problem, with no end in sight.  Once the car came along, the horse shit vanished.  Wax drippings similarly disappeared as a major problem with the advent of the electric light.  This book review in the New Yorker talks about the same idea in more detail.

If we’d had proper candle-holders with wide bases this problem could have been avoided, or at least attenuated.

Less Productivity
Sometimes getting in a couple hours of work (in the broadest sense, including creative work and “fun” work) after the kid goes to bed can make a day feel more productive.  Feeling productive, while not important for everyone, is important for my own mental well-being.  I don’t really buy into the idea of the Protestant Work Ethic (nobody works harder than Japanese salarymen, and they’re pretty far removed from any Calvinist cultural heritage), but I do feel better at the end of the day if I’ve created wealth, whether it be in the form of billable hours, progress on a music or writing project, fixing up the house — anything with a tangible, observable result that has at least a chance of positively affecting my own (or someone else’s) future experience.

It’s hard to be productive by candlelight.  I took to writing longhand in a notebook, which I’m still doing, but in the evenings I couldn’t work on music production (computer needed), clean the house (more light needed), work on programming projects (computer needed), work on artwork, contracts, or email correspondence for Loöq Records (once again, computer needed), or most anything else that results in feeling like I got something done.

No TV
This is more of a wash than a negative.  I didn’t watch any TV during the experiment — there just wasn’t any time.  I like TV — at least good TV — and I missed it somewhat.  It wasn’t that it wasn’t allowed — I could have watched my favorite shows during the day if I’d really made it a priority.

Now that it’s March I’m all caught up on Lost.  Thank you Hulu — the motives of the smoke monster are slowing becoming clear.

THE POSITIVES

Sleep
Going in, I wasn’t as sleep-deprived this time, but we immediately started going to bed earlier.  Sometimes I would sleep straight through the night, 10 to 6 or so.  Other times I would go to bed really early, like 8:30, and then get up around 2:30am.  This was alarming at first, but then I remembered that this sleep pattern was quite common in pre-electric light days.  When this happened I would end up reading or writing by candlelight for an hour or two, then going back to bed.  This is apparently called bimodal sleep, as noted in the Verlyn Klinkenborg New York Times article where he describes an experiment conducted by sleep researcher Thomas Wehr (Wehr ‘s volunteers have subjected themselves to to 14 hours of darkness each night):

What Wehr found was remarkable. The first night the volunteers slept 11 hours, and in the first weeks of the experiment they repaid 17 hours of accumulated sleep debt — i.e., they slept 17 hours longer than they would have called normal for the same period. It took three weeks for a sleep pattern to stabilize, and when it did it lasted about eight and a quarter hours per night. But it was not consolidated sleep, and it was not just sleep. Over time, Wehr explained, “another state emerged, not sleep, not active wakefulness, but quiet rest with an endocrinology all its own.”

Each night the volunteers lay in a state of quiet rest for two hours before passing abruptly into sleep. They slept in an evening bout that lasted four hours. Then they awoke out of REM sleep into another two hours of quiet rest, followed by another four-hour bout of sleep and another two hours of quiet rest before rising at 8 A.M. This pattern of divided sleep, separated by rest, is called a bimodal distribution of sleep, and it is typical of the sleep of many mammals living in the wild, which is to say that it is atypical of humans living in modern Western society. Yet in a forthcoming article, to be published in a volume called “Progress in Brain Research,” Wehr concludes that “in long nights . . . human sleep resembles that of other mammals to a much greater extent than has been appreciated.” Bimodal sleep, punctuated by quiet rest, was a pattern to which modern Americans reverted almost as soon as they were given the chance.

“In healthy people,” Wehr remarked, “this bimodal pattern of sleep would be called a sleep disorder, although the resemblance to animal sleep confirms its naturalness. And as people get older they revert to this pattern of divided sleep. Perhaps it gets harder to override it.”

I asked Wehr whether any of his subjects had gone crazy lying in the dark during those long nights.

None had. “Anyone could do it,” he said.

In addition to getting enough sleep each night, the quality of my sleep was definitely better.  We’re still co-sleeping with our daughter, now 2, and any restlessness tends to affect me most.  On bad nights I sometimes prefer the couch to our overcrowded bed.  However no couch for the month of February — when I was sleeping, I was out cold.

Illuminated.

Our daughter also got on an earlier schedule.  In January she’d gotten in a bad cycle of staying up until 9 — no fun for anyone.  She would get overtired and overstimulated, and falling asleep was getting harder and harder.  Immediately — by Day 1 of the experiment — she was fast asleep by 7.  What a huge relief.

With no artificial light, there is definitely more time in bed, half-awake.  Wehr refers to this state as quiet wakefulness.

Living year-round on midsummer time, with long days and short nights, “has obtained,” Wehr writes, “for so many generations that modern humans no longer realize that they are capable of experiencing a range of alternative modes that may once have occurred on a seasonal basis in prehistoric times but now lie dormant in their physiology.” While humans worry about how much further we can compact our actual sleep time, we’ve already jettisoned six nightly hours of quiet winter rest. In a most meaningful sense, those are transitional hours. Once in the night and once in the early morning, Wehr’s volunteers woke out of REM sleep, which is strongly associated with dreaming, into a period of quiet wakefulness quite distinct from daytime wakefulness. Perhaps as we’ve learned, over time, to sleep a less characteristically mammalian sleep, we’ve also learned to sleep a less human sleep.

Quiet wakefulness is great, especially when you’re not worried about not being asleep.  In other words, if you’ve already slept seven or eight hours (because you went to bed at 9pm), then being awake, or half-awake, in the middle of the night isn’t accompanied by fears of being tired the next day.  In this state, which sometimes persisted for more than an hour, I would let my mind roam … sometimes just watching my dreamlike thoughts, sometimes directing them a bit.  What will a character in my novel do next?  What color should I paint the garage?  It’s a great time to ask your brain questions which require creative answers.

Alternative Activities & Entertainment
During the long, candlelit evenings, without computers or TV, we found other ways to occupy ourselves.  We read by candlelight, we had friends over for after-dinner drinks and snacks, we played board-games, and, well, use your imagination.  The evenings were long and enjoyable.

Adventure Fantasy, Imagining The Past
The experiment gave our evenings an adventurous flavor.  We were roughing it (a little).  I would sometimes imagine we were living in the woods, far from civilization.  The experience made me consider how each generation lives differently, and that with new technologies we both gain and lose certain types of experiences.  It’s valuable to step out of the current technological zeitgeist — it changes the way you think and perceive the world.

CONCLUSION
The convenience of being able to flip a switch and have instant illumination can’t be overstated.  But the downsides of cheap light may be as serious as the downsides of cheap food.  Artificial light disrupts our circadian rhythms, prevents the production of melatonin, increases the risk of certain cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer, and can generally wreak havoc with our health.  My guess is that artificial light is causally linked to obesity, depression, immune disorders, and cancer, not to mention daytime tiredness.

Candle time.

After the experiment I see artificial light as something like sugar.  We’re drawn to it, but too much is bad for us.  In fact, it seems to be bad for us in many of the same ways — sleep deprivation reduces insulin sensitivity in the same way excessive sugar intake does.

For me, gone are the nights of having every light in the house blazing.  The refrigerator light is back on, the bathroom light goes on when I’m in there, but otherwise it’s candles and maybe a mood light here and there.  Even with this limited artificial light, the glow from my laptop is keeping me up later.  Last night I slept from 11:45 to 6:15 — not bad but nothing like the solid eight hours I was getting most nights in February (one night I even slept eleven hours — I was tired and there was nothing preventing me from catching up).

I can function with as little as five or six hours of sleep as night.  But with that little sleep (especially for more than one night), I’m not at my best, or my happiest, or my most creative; I’m just grinding through life.  Since the only thing we have in life is quality of our consciousness, and sleep deprivation so obviously and negatively affects the quality of our consciousness, it makes sense to prioritize sleep.  Most people would agree, but almost nobody does dedicate enough time to sleep.  Why?  The ubiquity of artificial light.  It’s like going to a cake store, buying every delicious-looking cake, coming home and arranging them on your dinner table, and then resolving not to eat any sugar.

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