My work days kicks off
The dawn breaks in an apartment in Denver, Colorado. A woman sits up, luxuriously stretches and rises out of bed, ready to seize the day.
That woman is not me.
Here is me when I am in the U.S. The cell phone alarm goes off. I swipe at it blindly until I knock the glass of water over on the bedside table. I then sweep the phone off the table to fall apart on the floor.
Still moaning, it rises, like a scene cut from Dawn of the Dead, doing the stiff-legged somnolent shuffle that all zombies do until it finally reaches the kitchen to put coffee on. It takes one last blank look at the bed then continues its march toward the light.
It lurches toward the bathroom, almost misses the toilet seat, and with the dexterity characteristic of the living dead, it unwinds half a roll of toilet paper on to the floor. Grasping the towel rod, it launches itself into the shower in a last attempt to save itself.
2:00 a.m. in Mexico
Judging by all the articles I see, many of us have “a sleep problem."
What we really have is a work problem. The U.S. work schedule is completely unnatural. No happy, sleeping country keeps our unhealthy schedule. The dawns that are like being torn from a womb. The catatonic post-lunch stupor. The going to bed when you just beginning to relax.
But happier days were ahead of me. One of the things about Mexico that I didn't anticipate was the later schedule.
I had the luck of construction going on near by at both my place in Mexico and my place in the U.S. The noise from construction workers in Mexico didn’t start until a ludicrous 9:00 a.m. as opposed to 7:00 am in the morning the construction sites kick off in Denver.
Week-end evening get to-gethers start later and go later here. Even in my age crowd, they show up to go out after 9:00. My friends in Denver panic if they are not in bed by 10:00, even on week-ends because they don't want to get off-cycle from their work nights.
Just this difference of two hours between what I have to live with in the States and Mexico's time-schedule makes all the difference in my productivity groove.
I am convinced that individual are wired a certain way. If your wiring doesn’t happen to match society’s grid, you spend most of your life trying to mash yourself into an acceptable sleep schedule for the convenience of others.
At home, I stopped telling people what time I woke up because they would make me feel lazy, “Must be nice to sleep in!” they say, regardless of the fact that I usually work until one or two in the morning. In Mexico I rise later, work until time for a Mexican lunch at two, take a few hours break, and work late, sometimes very late, without feeling guilty about it.
But I, and maybe you, are far from alone. Many celebrities themselves have bizarre sleep patterns. Insomnia is epidemic. To address it, some smoke pot. Some take Ambien. One person I know, if she can’t sleep by 2:00 a.m., goes downstairs and throws back two shots of vodka.
I have tried everything; nature sound tapes, exercise, anti-depressant drugs, religious podcasts and herbal teas. I would love to be one of those people on the right clock, the respectable clock, getting up at dawn. I simply work better bathed in the glow of lamps than in the harsh light of day.
Is the "normal" schedule more natural?
Our forebears, before the invention of artificial light, woke up in the gloaming hours to meditate and pray and then returned to bed. From what I have seen of Shakespeare, they wrote many soliloquies at all hours of the pre-dawn, so those hours would appear to have potential for productivity.
As long as you work in the United States and are nocturnal, you have to conform to society in a fitful, miserable struggle against yourself. For me, that all ends every time I come back to Mexico.
5:00 A.M. in Mexico
If you are a nocturnal person and living and working in Mexico, you won’t be constantly wide-awake and on the upswing while the rest of the world sinks into a sofa. You can listen to your own circadian rhythms once again.
Coming up: Residents both Mexican and expat in coastal zones keep a sharp eye on electricity. Here's why.
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About the author, Kerry Baker
I'm a partner with Ventanas Mexico which provides insight and resources to those considering expat life in Mexico, including the book "If Only I Had a Place on renting luxuriously for less.
I am also author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web. It takes years to be able to converse in a second language. Start today and be prepared to live Mexico at its fullest.