Hungry, angry, lonely, tired

puppy crashed out on floor

Most acronyms make me cringe a little, but from the first time I heard it, I loved the 12-step acronym used to help keep adherents, well, adhering: H.A.L.T.

Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. As in, when you're struck by an urge to use (or drink, or use, or what-have-you that you shouldn't), STOP (or, you know, HALT!) and see if maybe you aren't one of those four things.1 I am not sure if the next step in the protocol is to do what one can to edge one's way out of whatever state one is in, or to call one's sponsor, or both. Or neither. The main thing one is supposed to do is a not-doing; however you accomplish that I'm guessing is fine and dandy, provided you're not breaking any laws or hearts in the process.

I'm not in the Program, but that doesn't mean I can't fall into some bad, bad habits when my level of awareness dips, or my basic needs are left unmet. Food was and is the easiest fix; between the abundance of good-for-you snacks readily available when I'm being good and the abundance of horrible-but-delicious fast foods available when I'm not, it's almost impossible to get hungry anymore. Anger is less of an issue than an effect when hungry or tired kicks in; loneliness is even less of an issue, as it's almost impossible for me to get enough time alone anymore, and rare that I feel lonely when I do.

Tiredness is my thing. Tiredness is probably every workaholic's thing, because there is always, always, always more one can be doing, and almost never anyone to order you to sleep. Not that you'd obey, anyway.

This past trip to Austin got me thinking deeply about the need for rest. When else do you dream of water but when you're in the desert? Even with the Nei Kung to bolster me (I was worlds better off this year, all things being equal, thanks to Nei Kung), I could feel myself slipping further and further into the Dark Place as I got more and more tired. Or rather, I was keenly aware of the additional effort it took to keep myself up, to stay buoyant and lively, to prevent my brain from racing to the judge-y, lowest-common-denominator, knee-jerk awfulness it will when I am tired.

For a while, I even toyed with the idea of changing Goal #1 for the year, to get back on SCD 100%, to "Get 8 hours of sleep per night." When I am deeply rested, not only am I at my gracious, nimble-thinking best: I actually like doing all the other good-for-you stuff like eating well, exercising and giving traffic nimrods the benefit of the doubt. (Believe me, in L.A., where 3/4ths of the population drives like crap and the other 1/4 is loaded for bear, it's a highly salubrious act.)

Then it occurred to me that I can fold that goal rather neatly into the SCD goal, thereby gaining two bangs for my buck. In addition to helping me create a strong foundation for resisting tempting treats like, oh, everything, increasing my nightly sleep load from six hours to seven hours to eight hours is a much cleaner metric than "avoid bread more often" or "try not to hit the drive-thru window for 99¢ tacos at Jack in the Box."

More on this as I sort it out, but for this week, my goal is "lights out by 11pm." For now, anyway. If you've successfully adjusted your own sleeping/waking hours to include more of the former, I would love to hear how you did it, and what the payoff has been.

Oh, and for the record, this entry was set to post automatically just after midnight, a full hour after Me-of-the-Future (who will be known as Me-of-the-Past by the time you read this) went to sleep...


1Or some combination, I suppose. These four things, they mix and match very well.)

UPDATE: Just read a great piece by publisher Michael Hyatt about the sources of work creep (as it cuts into sleep/rest time).

Image by corrieb via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.