Nothing Undone

A weblog, by Peter Jaros.

A Reason to Go to Bed.

Have you seen the keynote from this year’s WWDC? There’s some exciting stuff coming to the mac and to iOS, but that’s not what I want to talk about. Right at the end (1:52:10), Tim Cook says,

The products we make, combined with the apps that you create, can fundamentally change the world. And really, I can’t think of a better reason of getting up in the morning.

It’s an inspiring way to kick off Apple’s developer conference. But getting up in the morning? That’s not my problem. My problem is going to sleep.

Getting up is great, but what I need is a good night’s sleep so I can make awesome things in the morning. Without that, I’m a zombie. Even if I don’t feel like a zombie, even if I’m caffeinated and awake and acting like a normal human, I’m still thinking like a zombie. I’m craving satisfaction. All my brain wants is dopamine1.

So what do I do? I read Twitter and Facebook. I check my email. I respond to things. I don’t have room in my brain for creativity. Even this post is a little forced because I’m sick and only getting 7-8 hours of sleep.

Why don’t I get enough sleep? Because it’s boring. Because I’m doing something. But if I’m really honest, it’s because I’m going to die some day, and that scares the crap out of me.

Bedtime, if not sleep, is one of those things that happens regularly. When it arrives, I remember that time keeps going with or without me. I could spend the day on the couch or single-handedly curing AIDS, and the sun would still go down, and I’d still need to go to sleep.

But if I haven’t been awesome for the day, I don’t want to go to sleep! I haven’t been awesome yet! I haven’t had a day yet! Hold up, there, world! What gives?

The same is true for meals. Breakfast is easy, because I don’t expect to have done anything yet. But then lunch comes along, and I’ve been reading Tumblr all day—because, dopamine—and now I’m supposed to be done with the morning? What happened? If I’m not careful, the same thing happens at dinner.

So I procrastinate. I put off dinner. I put off lunch. I put off going to bed. Until I’m useless. Until I can’t make anything I’m proud of. And the cycle continues.

I trust my alarm clock to get me up in the morning. I need a reason to go to bed.

  1. Dopamine? Is that accurate? I’m no brain scientist, but I know there’s a common chemical satisfaction response here.