Reading More

posted on 09/23/10 at 06:48:23 pm by Joel Ross

When our oldest daughter started first grade, one of her biggest adjustments was actually going to sleep at a reasonable time. She's apparently a lot like me in her night owliness (that's a word, right?), and would be up until 10 or 11 at night, while needing to be up at 7:00 AM the next morning.

That just wasn't sustainable, and someone gave us some advice: An hour before she should be going to sleep, have her play in her room for the first 30 minutes. After that, turn off all the lights except for a small lamp at her bedside and have her read for the last 30 minutes. It's been about two years since we started doing that, and it's been amazing to see how well it continues to works for her. She used to pop back out of her room 30 minutes after "going to sleep" just about every night. Within a week of using the new process, that stopped completely.

I'm sure you're thinking, "Um, Joel, this isn't a parenting blog now, is it, because that's not what I signed up for!" No, I'm not turning this into a parenting blog (but that tip above is golden!). No, I bring this up because I've started to use this technique for me.

Well, not the playing in my bedroom part.

No, I'm talking about the reading part. I started to notice that I'd go to bed a bit too wound up, and end up laying in bed with ideas running through my head for a good 20 minutes before I'd finally drift off. Now, I didn't come out of my room complaining I couldn't sleep, but the symptoms definitely sounded familiar. So, I decided to give it a try. I changed my routine to shut down what I'm doing around 12:30 and read for 30 minutes. I forced myself to do it for the first few times, but once it became a habit, I started looking forward to it. I've been doing this since Memorial Day, and I've read more this summer than I have in the previous two years combined.

I've got a routine down: I grab a spot on the couch, and four or five nights a week, I'll read a book, usually on my Kindle. I rotate back and forth between technical books and fiction books. So far this summer, I've read 5 technical books and 6 fiction books, which is pretty good for me, since I'm a slow reader, although now that I'm reading regularly, my speed has increased quite a bit. I've also stopped reading articles when I find them. I used to read it right then, but now, I'll send the page to Instapaper, and the nights I don't read a book, I'll read through that queue on my phone (using InstaFetch). I'm reading more articles than I have in the past now as well.

The best part? At the end of the half hour, I'm completely relaxed and my mind is cleared. I head up to bed and am asleep within 5 minutes.

The worst part? A few times I've woken up at 3:00 AM lying on the couch with the Kindle on my chest.

Categories: Personal