Do you ‘let your body lead’ when it comes to sleep? If no: have you ever had the opportunity to experiment with this way of living?
At the age of 36-years-old, I had (what was for me) a radical idea. I thought, What if instead of fighting against my body every morning – trying to force it to get up and out of bed at a certain time – I let it ‘take the wheel’ and guide me? For the entirety of my working life, I had snoozed snoozed snoozed my alarm when it would go off, doing anything I could for one more minute of sleep. My body seemed to never be ready to get up when the alarm went off. I had always assumed there was something wrong with me – that my body wasn’t cooperating as it should – until this day when I flipped the script on my thinking and entertained the idea that it was me who wasn’t cooperating, not my body.
I promptly asked my boss at the time if she would let me experiment for a year with my sleep. “Would it be OK,” I asked, “if I work the same amount of hours, but instead of working 9:00am – 5:00pm, I start work whenever I want?” “No problem,” she said. I was off to the races…
What ensued was a year of me experiencing a bliss that I had not previously experienced. What I discovered, was that my body LOVED being slow in the morning. It preferred to wake up naturally (no alarm), and then take a shower and get ready at a leisurely pace. I would head over to my neighborhood coffee shop (I lived in Twickenham, Greater London) at the time; there I would nurse a coffee and read the paper. (!) Often, by the time I showed up at work, it was 11:00am or 12:00pm. I would then crush it in the afternoon and evening.
My body was SO HAPPY living this way. And my body LOVED ME for giving it what it wanted.
Let me take you now east – across the European continent – to Romania, where our Community Growth Manager, Maddie Musculescu, used to set two alarms in the morning – each alarm set to play a different rock song. These rock songs, together, would create an atypical sound that she had discovered her brain would react to – resulting in her being jolted awake from her deep sleep. When these two alarms wouldn’t quite do the job, she would at times enlist family members to call her – to ensure she woke up, so that she would get to work on time. “I have an extremely deep sleep,” she shared with me. “Ever since I was little, I knew my sleep was different than most.”
Earlier this month – on Tuesday, 15th March – both Maddie and I showed up for ‘part 3’ of the ‘Energize Your Life’ challenge that is being run throughout the month of March in Growmotely’s Circle Community. These sets of challenges are on offer free-of-charge to all remote professionals who have been hired through Growmotely’s platform, and this particular challenge was entitled ‘Deep Sleep Routine’. Amazing! Run by an affable, not to mention knowledgeable, bloke – based in Austin, Texas – called ‘Dr. Dave‘, all of us attendees were super keen to absorb any wisdom Dr. Dave was going to throw at us.
Dr. Dave kicked off his challenge by dropping a couple of bombs. “The two things,” he said, “that are the most helpful when it comes to improving the quality of our sleep are (1) going to bed (but not necessarily falling asleep!) at the same time every night – weekends included, and (2) eliminating all the sources of light in your bedroom – small LED lights included, for example, a light on your laptop or on your Wi-Fi router.” Mind blown.
Dr. Dave then went on to give the floor to Maddie and her sleep challenges. As Dr. Dave asked specific questions in an effort to fully understand what was happening in Maddie’s ‘sleep life’, he at one point exclaimed, “This is a beautiful conversation!” Why was it beautiful? He shared with Maddie that she surely was part of a small percentage of the population whose ‘clock genes’ are set later than the average person’s. He explained that this small percentage of the population is meant to go to bed later – between 2:00am and 3:00am – and they do best, then, when they sleep until 10:00am. For these people, it is essential that they don’t fall into society’s trap that says: “All successful people wake up early.”
Instead of trying to align herself with the rest of the world, thanks to Dr. Dave’s advice, Maddie is now working on embracing the uniqueness of her sleep and allowing herself to wake up later. “I work remotely and I work flexible hours. Why do I insist on traumatizing my body by waking up in the middle of my sleep cycle?” She has decided that her “sleep needs more love” and we are excited to check in with her in a few months’ time to see how her new approach has impacted her life and her work. We’re rooting for you, Maddie!
Here at Growmotely, we recognize that not everyone’s bodies are built the same way and that many bodies have needs that fall outside of the societal norm. This is one of the reasons why we embrace fully-flexible working hours. For us, the Future of Work is a place where anybody who feels compelled to experiment with their sleep schedule can find a job that gives them the flexibility to do so. We envision a future where we work in harmony with our bodies, rather than in conflict with them.
We would love for you to join us – and Dr. Dave – in exploring this aligned-with-our-bodies Future of Work.
Written by: Vanessa Kettner (Growmotely’s Creative Writer and your Remote Work Cupid)
Dedicated to: Our inspirational teacher on the sleep front: Dr. David Heitmann