I travel a lot and subsequently often suffer from a jetlag. As someone with an internal belief that problems can be solved, I have started shifting the rhythm before a long flight, eat light, run, walk, do yoga or go to sauna before and/or after the long flight… Well, they are all probably good for me, but have no effect on my internal clock.
Lying in the bed, doing meditative breathing exercises and trying to calm my mind just does not work either. Either I start counting my worries that grow many and huge; or start getting ideas what could be done differently/better… Both way, in the middle of the night, my mind is driving with the high speed, and only my body would like to lay still and rest.
Through time, I have given up trying, accept the situation and just wake up. I make some tea, open my laptop and start working. If it has been the worries and to-do list that has kept me up, it actually helps to tackle those things and make the to-do list shorter. I evaluate students’ exams, continue with a journal paper review, work with a paper, or just write that longer email that I didn’t manage to do during a busy day.
What is strangely alluring is the all-pervasive silence, and the feeling as if the time would go slower. After the couple of hours of sleep the mind is also focused and clear. In the busy life full of interruptions this time in the middle of the night may become even precariously enjoyable. However, in the long run regular night shifts can have severe health consequnces, especially if there is no chance to sleep in, or to have an afternoon nap to get some rest. Finnish start-up Valkee shoots for this problem and proposes to prevent jetlag by beaming light to brain through earplugs.
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health is already measuring the stress levels during the work day, and apps like Jawbone are trying to identify the optimal time to wake up. We also have apps for mindfulness and measuring various aspects of one’s health.
Could we also have an app for knowledge workers trying to identify the ideal time for creative work? And when it pays off to start working on wicked problems may be requiring a negative affect and worrisome mood, or small positive improvements requiring a positive affect and optimism?
Anyone working with these applications please tell me. I may have some new features for you tomorrow, when I have worked through my next night shift.
Picture: At 3 am, only my cat and me.