A thing about my sabbatical and sleep

I am back to work, after three months of paid sabbatical. I should probably write more about it at some point, but until then here’s something I noticed early on.

I have a thing where I wake up overnight and ruminate, often about work. I worry about something from the day before or the next day. My brain keeps me up thinking instead of sleeping like it is supposed to.

So what do you think happened when I went on sabbatical and literally didn’t have to worry about work for three months? Did I sleep through the night? Or did I wake up and worry about work?

Neither.

I still woke up sometimes, but without work to worry about I was just… up. For a long time I have blamed the waking-up-thing on work, since that’s what I would think about. But it turns out that the work worry came after the waking up part.

That was really interesting, because it turns out the effect was the cause, and the cause was the effect. I was worrying about work because I was up, not up because I was worrying about work.

I have found that, for me, the best way to handle waking up is to make sure I get enough exercise. Sadly, doing 30 minutes of cardio 2 or 3 times a week seems to be the key to sleeping through the night. My brain lets me know when I’ve been slacking off by waking me up, even if there’s absolutely no work to worry about. Just a pandemic, kids, house, pets…

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