This week has required me to make major changes in my sleep habits. As the summer unfolds, I gradually go to bed later and later, and wake up later. When I am free to establish my own cycle of sleep, I have a creative/alert block of time later at night. I often spend that time writing, or reading (attentively!) or working on something, possibly creative, that makes time meaningless. It’s not that I’m up until the wee hours of the morning, but it might be midnight or so when I finally hit the pillow, and I’m up anytime between 7 and 8:30.
But during the school year I can’t do that. Teaching 13 and 14 year old middle school students requires a LOT of energy and I have to get that full eight or so hours of shut-eye in order to maintain my sense of humor and enjoy the day. Consequently, it’s a 9:00 bedtime, at least most of the time. Then my alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., and I struggle to get out of bed; two cups of coffee later I’m usually ready to get started. I’m also usually the first person to arrive at school, at least on my side of the building. I like that, and I can slide into my favorite parking spot with no competition. I have a whole hour before the kids arrive to pull things together, use the photocopier before others get there, and think about how the day will be.
This week has been a little tougher than usual to make this sleep adjustment, perhaps because it’s the last time, or perhaps because we had a full moon. I’m feeling less willing to give up my late night state of heightened awareness. I’m feeling like I need to build a dam inside my head, to hold stuff back until July 1st, 2011, when I can begin to do what I want at whatever time of day I want to do it.
Has teaching prevented me from pursuing these creative projects, or has it given me a view of the possibilities? When I ask my students to be creative, I tell them there are few if any rules, that they are in charge of what they create, limited only by their own imaginations. I keep an abundant supply and variety of materials on hand. Then I say,”Go!” and let the amazing projects pour forth — and I have been amazed often.
Maybe this year I’ll let my sleep times manage themselves if I feel a burst of creative energy. Maybe this year the natural high from creating something I feel good about will balance the occasional lack of sleep.
I’ll let you know.