April 29, 2013

Discover Your Few Hours Of Magic


Yesterday I was just casually dipping to the New Scientist for a light read (as you do). Russell Foster had published an article claiming that teenagers “really do need that extra hour in bed”. This is what I have been telling you all along – I thought.

Actually my first thought was how unfair that would be if it was to actually be put into practice.  After all those painful blurry mornings in the classroom stabbing my arm with a pencil to stay awake. And all those mornings of my mum threatening to put a wet towel on my face as my eyes were slammed shut (later I learnt that she never did go and get a towel – it was just sound effects in the bathroom, as a threat). I was making everyone late. Bed is such a glorious place. Any way, I could see where this Russell fellow was going: why do we insist that everyone must be wide awake at ridiculous o’clock in the morning ready to cease the day?

Contrary to popular belief: I don’t think the early bird actually does catch the worm. I reckon it’s an old wives tale. But that’s just me.

I’m not slagging off early-risers, I promise. I’m merely pointing out that human beings are different and we are not all wired to be crazy 6 am dog-walkers. I am most definitely not this person. As I’ve got older I’ve realised that it’s becoming more “cool” to be that person up brewing the coffee early in the morning bright eyed and bushy tailed with not an ounce of a red-wine hangover despite drinking co-ops finest Merlot. Again I am not this person. I am in love with sleep and can happily lie horizontal until 2pm.

So, this little study intrigued me. Russell concludes his article with the following:

“It is my strongly held view, based upon the evidence, that the efforts of dedicated teachers and the money spent on school facilities will have a greater impact and education will be more rewarding when, collectively, teenagers, parents, teachers and school governors start to take sleep seriously. In the universal language of school reports: we must do better.”

I have to agree with him. I also think this thought process is universal. Who says it’s just relevant to schools? Not to say that we shouldn’t start the working world early, we’d never get anything done. But just to understand people’s “best hours”. For example, I come alive at night (not in that way) but I am awful in the mornings, nodding in the corner of a meeting room hugging my coffee, and by 7pm I am buzzing. I always write things at night. Obviously by then I am pretty knackered from getting through the day but I often wonder if I’d had an extra hour in bed I might be that little more productive in the evenings. Obviously it’s awkward for big corporations to give people special treatment, but what if there was a little test people could take where they find out there sweet spot? For example, I know plenty of people who have baked a cake, walked the dog, slow cooked a roast and painted their nails all by 6am on a Monday morning. These are usually the best type of office goers. These same people are also in bed early, normally face planting a book by 9pm. But what about us night owls? In the words of Michael Jackson: They don’t really care about us.

What do you think? Do you have a better time of day that works for you? If so, would you rather your working day catered for your “magic hours”?

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