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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

my thoughts on sleep

Sleeping was one of my few skills in life that I thought I was naturally gifted at (amongst eating, slightly witty jabs and Uno) - I'm sad to admit that recently I've been questioning this self-assumption. I actually don't recall the last time I've slept for more than 6 hours straight comfortably, without a single dream or restroom break. I've put a lot of thought into what may be causing this along with general thoughts on sleep itself - hope this post gives you some much deserved rest tonight.

I have always been a man of routine and knew myself to be a morning person from a very early age. It wasn't until junior year of highschool (when I ventured into the world of Facebook and talking to girls) that I stayed up past 10:00pm. I rarely had trouble sleeping, woke up sharply at 7am (fun fact - I have never relied on an alarm clock in my life) and felt ready to go. Of course, this largely depended on what activity I had going on in the morning for my mental motivation to be fully there. During 9th grade, I resented waking up for morning lift as neither lifting nor being surrounded by dudes who had to overly express their masculinity was my forte. Regardless, the mere action of going to bed at a certain time and waking up at another was never an issue for me and I never understood people who struggled with sleep or waking up. Even during college, I was amazed if not puzzled by those that could somehow go to bed at 2am and wake up after lunch time and go about their day understanding that they just burned off the most productive part of the 24 hour cycle.

Of course habits broke loose as I entered college and had no mom checking on my door if I was sneaking in a game on my Nintendo DS at 10:30 pm, and while I was definitely better about going to be at a reasonable time, most days I prioritized my in-person interactions with people on the hall, the Facetime calls I had with people on the opposite end of the country, and the Youtube deep spirals I'd fall into. As with many of you, and as hard as this may be to admit, most of my night time was in a laying on my side position on my Twin XL dorm room bed, scrolling through the endless feed of videos and pictures across all social media. I actually don't think I would've made it this far in life if I didn't make a conscious decision to quit Facebook right after high school. Amidst all these poor sleeping habits, I still managed to get 6-8 hours regularly - many times supplementing with 2-3 hour naps during the day. Thinking back, I probably could've been a lot more "successful" (whatever that means) if I used those nap hours to read or learn a skill instead, oh well.

My last "semester" at school, which was 24/7 free time as I graduated a semester early, was the initialization of my current sleep status, at least in reflection. There was zero control over my sleep during this six month period, especially as I traversed through a different time zone every other week and had no morning priorities. It's at this point in my life that I realized I am extremely externally motivated, with nothing internal that is explicitly driving me to be successful (or wake up early) - this can be a dual edged sword. If my external motivations are well aligned, it allows me to push strongly and get whatever that is necessary to get it done; otherwise, there's nothing stopping me from going to bed at 4am everyday. The biggest issue is that my body's "clock" doesn't adjust whatsoever based on when I sleep. Even if I sleep at 5 am, I can't help myself but wake up at 7am. In some ways, this could be perceived as healthy (or youth!), but I'd ideally love to be able to control when I wake up.

As I've mentioned before, investment banking certainly did not help with my sleeping schedule. Outside the obvious like the irregular times I'd go to bed (often times with the anxiety of something coming via email after I've mentally decided to hit the sack) and every morning including weekends I'd wake up to anxiety (and a filled inbox), I think the biggest issue was the overall sense of insecurity that derived from my role that overtook what was supposed to be the most "protected" time in someone's day cycle. I often think that there's only two instances of "alone time" that I genuinely want to be alone (being the extreme extrovert that I am) - being on a flight and sleep. In both "activities," there's not much that can occur that involves others, and in this day and age of intenses connectivity, it's the only times I can truly disconnect from the world and be alone. Having an overpowering sense of insecurity and anxiety is a companion of its own, and it's someone I'd rather not have around during the 8 hours of my recharging time.

Fast forward to now, as I live comfortably with my family back in my hometown along with a not overly stressful job and many cornerstones of my life back to stability, I'm not entirely sure what is keeping me up at night. I actually don't have any issues falling into sleep - it's just that I almost consistently wake up around 2am (maybe this consistency is a good thing haha) falling back asleep and waking back up at 5am. I've just resorted to using the 2am wake up to briefly check my phone and get a quick prayer in and the 5am wake up time to hit the gym. While the anxiety has definitely come down from my investment banking days, there's still an everlasting sense of insecurity that comes from some form of desire to be successful and on top of the game. As I've noted in my work anxiety video on Youtube, I am trying my hardest to view this as a positive and what has driven me to be where I am and where I will be. However, I do miss the days when I was 13 that I was able to close my eyes at 10pm and magically open them at 7am with no pause or disruption. Perhaps my bluelight glasses aren't working.

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