Giving myself a bedtime

Giving myself a bedtime

A lesson from Tranquility by Tuesday

Late last week I read about Laura Vanderkam’s new book Tranquility by Tuesday, which is subtitled 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters. I took one look at what the book was about and immediately pre-ordered the Kindle version.

Pre-ordering gives you an advance excerpt of the book and a couple of other little freebies.

The cover of the book Tranquility by Tuesday with nine tiles summarising the contents of the book
Tranquility by Tuesday (from

The book explains Laura’s nine rules for “achieving tranquility even when life is complicated, challenging and occasionally chaotic”.

Ignoring the fact that Laura calls them “rules” (I don’t like rules), they seem like self explanatory ideas that I could possibly do without having to read the book any further. But I’m glad I did read the rest of the excerpt, which is the introductory text for the first section and the entire text for chapter 1, Give Yourself a Bedtime.

I know this bedtime stuff pretty well and I’ve been doing a good job of getting myself to bed consistently at a reasonable time. But it’s a good idea to review my habits every so often to make sure they’re still working for me and make any tweaks I need to make them work better.

And this book comes at a great time for this!

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know I’ve also been working through the 30-day Creative Writing Bootcamp from the Australian Writers Centre. Having completed 28 days now (this was week 4), I’ve been working my way up to being able to write for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, at 6.00 am every day. But I have other things I want to get done before I do that, which used to be my morning walk but now revolve around my posture and healing my shoulder.

I need to get up before 6.00 am to do that. And that means I need to go to bed earlier, which is where Laura’s book comes in because it reminded me that I needed to tweak my ritual a bit.

I don’t think Laura’s steps to working out what your bedtime are any great secret. But here’s my version of it.

  • Decide when I want to get up (5.30 am)
  • Know how many hours of sleep I want (or need) (seven)
  • Figure out what time I have to go to bed to get that many hours sleep (10.30 pm, but I need to go to bed earlier so I actually am asleep by 10.30 pm)
  • Work out what time I need to shut my devices down that will give me enough time to do “wind down” things before I go to bed. That includes showering, brushing my teeth, doing the work on my shoulder and reading. It had been 9.30 pm, which gave me an hour of screen-free time, but after reading Chapter 1, I decided to push it back to 9.15 pm to give me a bit more time and make sure I’ve finished reading by 10.15 pm.

9.15 pm feels very early to be packing up for the night, and 5.30 am seems very early to be getting up, but if I want to be writing at 6.00 am, it’s what I need to do.

Chapter 1 offers strategies for dealing with not wanting to go to bed “on time”, and other things that might prevent you from doing it, and Laura notes that people who participated in her trial of this strategy felt well rested, more energised and more able to do the things they wanted to do in the morning, such as exercise.

This was week one of the 9.15 experiment and so far I’ve only missed one day. Getting up at 5.30 am, well, that’s a different story.

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