This is turning out to be an epic year.
Some of you already know this strange fact about me – For the past 15 years, I have been 100% nocturnal. I go to bed at 7 in the morning and wake up at 3 in the arvo. Have my breakfast around 4pm. Lunch at around 10pm. And dinner is usually consumed in front of my computer at 3am.
Yes, you didn’t read those timings wrong. My bio clock was completely screwed. For over a decade.
There were a few reasons I did this. I enjoyed the undisturbed creative flow I experienced, which lasted a solid 7-8 hours from 11pm onwards. No phone calls. No meetings. No social obligations. Just me deep in my work with peak performance. I get so "into the zone" that time flies past and I only get lulled back to reality when I hear my neighbours up and about, getting ready to start their day.
I also run a remote team with members from different time zones. Most of them sit on the other side of the globe so for ease of communication, I like to “coincide” with their time zones.
Finally, I hated the sun. This was in part due to the years of photo-sensitivity I had. I was on strong rounds of Roaccutane for my severe cystic acne outbreaks and I had to stay away from sun exposure, otherwise I will get burnt.
I was pretty much like a vampire.
My bedroom has double-layered blackout curtains. There are no blinking LEDs from electronic goods. This is so I can have a good sleep when the sun is high up and mighty.
The Chinese believe that it is important to hit the sack by a certain time as our organs repair themselves at specific times. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a Chinese “meridian clock” is used to show the times of day when each organ system is most active.
As such, I’ve been told countless times that my sleeping pattern is highly damaging to my health. Cortisol levels are known to be high in midnight shift workers. And we all know what high cortisol levels can lead to. Ack!
Which brings me to my major announcement:
I am nocturnal no more.
I made the big decision after my recent Bali retreat.
The truth is I had tried on several occasions in the past to correct this pattern but to no avail. The good intention usually surfaces after an overseas trip which forces me to follow the time zone. It would last a couple of weeks at best before I reverted to my old ways.
So what’s different this time? I believe the answer lies in the sobering question I was asked by my new friend Ivor. When I exclaimed to him at the end of the retreat that I had decided to stop being nocturnal… he asked
“do you really want to this time?”
His question stopped me in my tracks. I let it simmer and stir inside me for a while. And then a strong commitment welled up. Yes, I really want to. This time.
Anyhooo, I have the same question for you. For the times you said you were going to do something and you didn’t. What held you back? What was the cause? Chances are you didn't want it bad enough, right?
If I were honest with myself, the reason why my past attempts to correct my sleeping pattern failed was because I didn't want it bad enough. Because if I did, I sure as hell would see it through.
So wish me luck and conviction, my friend. Part of the reason I’m putting this down in writing is so I can be held accountable. Shit just got real. Please hold me accountable. Or I will give you a million dollars.
Before I wrap this up, I’d like to share with you some findings I have regarding the Chinese “meridian clock” and the corresponding active organ system.
There are 12 principal meridians, each taking 2 hours:
1am - 3am – Liver
3am - 5am – Lungs
5am - 7am– Large intestines
7am - 9am – Stomach
9am - 11am – Spleen & pancreas
11am - 1pm – Heart & mind
1pm - 3pm – Small intestine
3pm - 5pm – Bladder
5pm - 7 pm – Kidneys
7pm - 9pm – Pericardium (this is the membrane enclosing the heart)
9pm - 11pm – Triple heater (related to metabolism)
11pm - 1am – Gallbladder
Sleep is an essential part of our lives. It is not only a form of rest, but a physiological function that helps the body to recharge and perform at its best the next day.
In TCM, sleep is part of the natural rhythm of Yin and Yang in the body. Yin represents passive forces while Yang represents active forces. It is said that “when Yang is depleting and Yin is abundant, one’s eyes are closed. When Yin is depleting and Yang is predominant, one is awake.”
Qi flows through 12 principal meridians within the body in a 24-hour cycle. When Qi flows through a specific principal meridian, it takes around 2 hours to vitalise and strengthen the organ system associated to that particular meridian before continuing to the subsequent meridian.
If there is one takeaway I want you to have from this week's newsletter, it's this:
The ideal time to sleep in accordance to the meridian clock is from 11pm to 5am.
I think my organs are going to be soooooo confused. I can feel them reorganising themselves as I am typing this.
Sleep up and sleep well.
To healthier living and working.
“Best thing since luncheon meat + egg sandwich!”
- Dan's Grandma
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