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A Month Without

Nechama Grossman

Thirty days. That’s how long researchers say it takes to change a habit. Five intrepid women share their monthlong journeys toward upgraded lives

Monday, October 02, 2017

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T

he Night Owl

At a Glance

I’m a speech therapist in the Brooklyn public school system. I have a career, a part-time tutoring job, and a busy social life (and by that I mean actual friends, not just dating).
My Goal

I’m the type who really does need seven hours of sleep for optimal function, but I need to wake up at 5:15 a.m. to get to work on time. Getting to bed by 10:15 is an almost impossible challenge.

I also keep pushing it off — somehow, bedtime seems like a huge chore, between the toothbrushing, makeup removing, face washing, contact lens removing, etc... There’s a reason kids hate it; as adults, those reasons still exist, we just don’t have anyone forcing us into bed.

This month, I am committing to getting into bed on time and turning myself into a functional human being.

Week 1
The first night, by the time ten o’clock came around, I was already bombed since I’d stayed up pretty late Motzaei Shabbos in anticipation of being “forced” to make up my sleep. I shut my cell phone at 10:15 p.m. — for some reason, I always get the juiciest phone calls after ten, so I was trying to avoid that — and went to bed. The lights were off by 10:20 p.m.

That first night was a raging success. I slept straight through the night, and, for the first time in forever, must have actually hit REM sleep because I had a dream: My (non-Jewish) boss redt me to a ger tzedek from the Ivory Coast, currently the best boy in Brisk.

 

Tuesday and Wednesday nights were fine too; both nights I turned off my phone around 30 minutes before I’d planned to crash for the night, and that seemed to help. It’s not that I’m such a major phone person, but incoming calls and texts are a distraction.

Thursday night didn’t work at all, and that’s when I realized that every “rule” needs an exception. I went out to eat with friends, one of whom had come in from overseas, so it was pretty much unavoidable. We didn’t leave the restaurant until 11 p.m., so I was already late, and then we got into philosophical arguments on the corner of 48th Street and 12th Avenue until after midnight. We covered Satmar versus litvish hashkafos, censorship, girls learning Gemara, and the Mishpacha rabbinical board. I didn’t get home and into bed till almost 1 a.m., got a little over four hours of sleep, and crashed Friday night.

Week 2
This was the week when I realized that Life takes over whatever good intentions I might have. Literally, each night I had an airtight excuse: A friend’s wedding one night, going out to eat (again) with a friend who’d come in from England another night — someone had to show off Brooklyn’s dining scene, right? I went to sleep early on Friday night only, and that was just because I could barely keep my eyes open by the time the meal was over.

Week 3
At the turn of the century, during the Boer War in England, a huge percentage of the men eligible for the army draft were turned down because of overt nutritional deficiencies and their resulting stunted growth. The English government’s solution? To lower the minimum height requirement from five foot three to five feet.

Taking a leaf from their book, I lowered my standards. I saw that a 10:15 bedtime wasn’t really working, so for week three, I postponed my bedtime goal to 10:45. That seemed to help. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 562)

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