The single most important thing I’ve learned in 25 years of life.

Today, I’m seeing a ton of Thought Catalog links and “Things I Know At Age XX” stories on Facebook. So, just two weeks after my birthday, I suddenly feel inspired to share the single most important thing I’ve learned after 25 years of life: sleep earlier and sleep more.

sleeping-panda

This isn’t a secret to success (or grown-up life) by any stretch of imagination, but, like all good advice, it’s easier said than done. I feel like I can claim to have finally “learned” this lesson because I’ve been sleeping before midnight consistently for the first time ever.

The results are fabulous. Going to bed earlier naturally means that I squeeze in more sleep. Platitudes about how wonderful mornings are aside, I love that I can actually have breakfast. I can even catch up on a little news while I have my breakfast. I’m no longer rifling through my closet, dashing around the apartment, and generally making a huge, harried mess to get out the door ten minutes after I roll out of bed. (The ability to do this is both a blessing and a curse.) I’m so much more productive at work–and so I’ve been going home at a godly hour. I even have time to write a brand-new blog post, not to mention bake three dozen madeleines, in the middle of the freaking week.

In other words, for the first time in three years, I finally feel like I’m getting my life back.

Considering it’s only been a few weeks, I’d like to think that blogging and baking are only the beginning of it. All those things the say you’re supposed to do from time to time? Like thinking about your hopes and dreams and what you want out of life? Smelling the roses? Painting the town red? I’m learning to get the time and energy for all that. By sleeping more.

Is it hyperbolic to claim everything in a healthy lifestyle and frame of mind stems from sleep? Maybe. But I still feel obligated to share a few things I’ve picked up about sleeping better–but I’ll keep it short, because I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read and then promptly ignored about sleep hygiene.

  1. Don’t work, read, or watch TV in bed. There’s a reason they all say that. Admittedly, I was doing this up till two weeks ago–until I went home to Taipei, where my parents don’t have WiFi and where my internet cable was all of three feet long on the other side of my room from my desk. Whatever gets you there, right?
  2. Invest in an eye mask. If you’re light-sensitive.
  3. Invest in ear plugs. If you’re noise-sensitive. See why sleeping is a problem for me?
  4. Invest in noise-cancelling earphones and Relax Melodies. If you have loud neighbors who like to stomp around and plop things (instead of place them) on the floor at all hours of the night. The app has soothing instrumentals that help drown out the sounds without being too distracting. Thanks for sharing, Mary!
  5. Avoid looking at the time at all costs. If I fall asleep in 20 minutes, I can still get 8 hours of sleep. If I fall asleep now, I can still get 7 hours. OK, if I fall asleep now…

Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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