February 23, 2015

Career SuccessThis week I’d like to share with you an area with which I still struggle, and I suspect that a lot of you might, also: restful sleep.

You’ve got a great job now, and you’re productive and doing wonderful things. But if you’re anything like me, your sleep schedule has a natural tendency to invert: you find yourself wanting to sleep during the day and put your mind to good use at night.

And boy, do I have it bad. I’m writing this now at 2:15AM, less than 24 hours before publication. It’s not because I’m procrastinating. It’s not for lack of creative inspiration. It’s because I stay up into all hours of the night every night exercising my brain. I read, I write, I create art, I write poetry. All of these things tend to get really started in earnest for me around the time that most people quit working for the day.

Truth be told, there was a time when I worked for IBM during the day as an engineer, and at night I worked as a bouncer in a night club. I wouldn’t get home until 3:00AM most nights, and then it was off to IBM in the morning (with very little sleep in between). I did this, in part, to pass the time, to stave off the parasite known as boredom.

So here I sit now, writing an article for Autism Daily Newscast, only starting it after 2AM. But I’m wide awake. In fact, I just finished retouching photographs from a model photoshoot that I did tonight. Tomorrow night I’m going to be interviewing musicians for another creative outlet of mine. I’ll probably spend other nights this week staying up late and working on my screenplay.

Two to four hours a night. That’s all the rest I’ll get before the alarm goes off and it’s time to tend to my career. I only really get much more than that if I’m feeling under the weather and get to bed earlier. Otherwise, the brain won’t stop thinking, won’t slow down enough to let me sleep.

There’s research that shows that sleeping problems are all too common in autistic children. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those problems commonly convey into adulthood, as they have for me. Some have found their balance with low doses of melatonin. In states where it’s legal, some advocate the use of marijuana to help manage sleep cycles.

Television can be a problem that prevents sleep for many of us. The common advice you’ll hear is “don’t have a TV in the bedroom“. Though, in the case of people like me who can’t shut their brains off enough to sleep at night, some doctors advise to watch something mundane to help lull the mind to sleep.

For me, I seem to have found a balance where I can enjoy a productive day job and still be very productive with my creative endeavors at night. From time to time, this does catch up with me, though. If I’m not mindful about getting enough sleep, by whatever reasonable means I can muster, it can hurt my performance at my day job.

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you able to stop thinking enough to get the rest you need to do a good job? Tell me in the comments below about your sleep, and what you’re doing to get enough of it. As for me, I’m going to lay down, close my eyes, and hope for the best just as soon as I submit this article to my editor.

Have a good night’s rest, and may success be yours!

About the author 

Magnus Hedemark

Magnus has been in the IT industry for over 20 years, and a technology enthusiast for most of his life. He’s a verbal autistic professional, father, and husband. In his spare time, Magnus enjoys photography and riding motorcycles.

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