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The psychology behind ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ (bbc.com)
359 points by sebwi 51 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 267 comments

Everyone is talking about shifting time around by doing things like getting up earlier, but that doesn't get around a fundamental problem of not enjoying the working part of your day. You still have the same amount of time, just shifted to a different end, and maybe you're a bit better off that way, but it's still the minority of the day.

The real solution is to figure out how to love a larger percentage of your day. A lot of this has to do with cultivating the right attitude and not getting exploited by others. At work, don't allow your employer to work you to the bone; work at a steady and enjoyable pace, take lots of breaks to socialize with colleagues, get coffee, go for walks, eat a long lunch in the park, etc.

I get that some of you have draconian bosses and this won't work, but there are many on here that it will work for that aren't taking advantage of it. I also bet you might find that you start doing better work, because you feel better and have more creative energy and mental stamina. Now, you have to figure out how to enjoy other parts of your day too. What about that crappy commute, can you move closer and bike or walk in?

I've lived the majority of my life (mid 30s now) waiting for "my time". I remember growing up I just loved to lay in bed at night and think. This was well before smartphones, I'd literally just lay there and think for hours, because that was the most "my time" of the whole day and I loved it. But as I've gotten older I've realized the entire day is my time and it's my responsibility to make it as enjoyable as I can.

The thing is for many other people it's not about enjoying work or not. I enjoy my job a lot, it's the best one I've had in the past decade. I also have a toddler. After I finish work promptly at 5 (sometimes before, and I work from home), it's a non-stop series of "work" bathing for the kid, either playing with the kid (while my spouse cooks) or I cook (and she plays with the kid, so either way it's busy work for both of us). For anyone with a 2-year old, you know that dinner time is not relaxation. It's trying to stuff food into your mouth as quickly as possible while being busy either feeding her, picking up her toys, or calming her down. Then it's dishes, maybe a little bit more toddler play time, then it's the whole routine of diapers, brushing for her, changing into pajamas, and trying to put her to sleep which takes another 2 hours.

I love both my work and my family (and my kid). But the fact is, I have no personal free time until about 11pm. If my spouse has household matters to discuss with me, that takes us to maybe 11:45pm if I'm lucky. And if I don't go to bed before 12am, I pretty much automatically get a migraine the next day. You know what? I still stay up late anyway. Sometimes it's hobby side projects, sometimes it's doing absolutely nothing but useless internet surfing. I can't even help it.

> or anyone with a 2-year old

have been there around 18 years ago. and I think GP's point still holds. time with young kids is special in a sense that I felt it would never end. it was awesome but it was also a tunnel without a light. at least that's what it felt like. all of what you said plus the sleep deprivation, stress with the partner because there isn't enough of "us time" and the constant feeling that whatever you do it won't be enough.

the reason why GP point still holds is that one day you'll look back to all that and very likely miss every moment of that hard time you thought would never end. only in 2 years from now life will be so different that you'll likely feel "wtf did I miss out on? I was only absent minded for a moment now they're in school"

If I could turn back time the only thing I'd change is to appreciate the grind more (all the boring mundane stuff including having my hands up to the elbows in diapers and shit). I would also project a more calm image to my partner and argue less about stuff about the child that anyway sorts itself out (traveling back in time I'd still be unable tochange their stress-level but I can change my reaction to them, but coincidentally that would also reduce their stress).

looking back: these times were the best times ever. my kids are grown up now and I'm proud of them. but those moments will never return. best is that I don't even remember the hard parts. that is I only do if I actively think about it, but usually my focus is just on the good stuff. today all I got left is in my memories so I wish that I've had invested more in living in the moment. cherish the moment especially the bad ones even it friggin sucks most of the time and it seems it'll never end ...

I'm in my 50s, have three now-adult kids. The toddler years have some nice memories to be sure, but do I "miss" them? No. Would I want to go through that again? Also no. Same for all the other ages, newborn, toddler, elementary school, puberty, high school. It was all great, but no interest in a rerun.

Awesome post, thanks. Good to get some perspective from the other side!

> these times were the best times ever. my kids are grown up now and I'm proud of them. but those moments will never return.

I think the complaint is not about having to spend too much time with kids, but rather that "work + kids" is too much. Like, a part-time job would improve the situation a lot. But finding a part-time job can be quite difficult.

When I read things like this, it makes me not want to have children. From friends, it doesn’t sound like your experience is much different.

I’m sure you’re biased and it’s culturally unacceptable (to say the least) to say that you’d rather not have had kids, but I wonder how often you think about that loss of individuality? Maybe it’s that what you’d do were you to have the time wouldn’t be as “productive” in a broad, undefinable “life” sense? Or that intellectualizing “take away this kid” is too emotionally fraught to even consider?

It feels amoral to ask these questions, but as I reach the time when friends are having kids and the biological clock of partners becomes a real factor, I’m not sure how to know.

I experience much the same things GP does and I like to take a stab at replying to some of your fears. It would have been perfectly acceptable to my circle of family and friends to say that I and my wife would not have kids. Having children is not for everyone, especially those that are afraid of losing their personal time. I definitely miss the amount of personal freedom and time I had on my hands before and kick myself for not realizing at the time how much personal time I had, not that it would have changed my behavior, but to just have appreciated what I had at the time more fully. Having said all of that nothing compares to the joy my son brings me every day, and there's no amount of crying and fighting he could do that would make me yearn for the time before his existence. For those on the fence, I would say it is better to not have children if you're uncertain. Having children should feel like a leap of faith that you're ready to take together, not one you feel you have to take despite your fear because of a biological clock or possible regret. Everything in life has a season, and you will go through many seasons. I only get 1 year with my 2 year old. Then I'll only get 1 year with my 3 year old. The seasons of life will come again (hopefully) when I have more free time and my son pursues his own passions in life. The time I spend playing with him while my partner cooks dinner, or that my partner spends with him while I clean the dishes is fleeting as is all of life. I'll blink and he'll be a grown man and I'll have all the free time in the world again. Live for today, and hope for tomorrow. If you want all of your todays and tomorrows to be yours and your partner's to enjoy with each other only, the choice to not have children easy. I chose to experience fatherhood and was privileged to make that choice without pressure either way and with my partner's support. Live life exactly how you want and be kind.

This sounds like a healthy perspective and I appreciate you acknowledging that having kids might not be for everyone, as someone who is leaning that way myself. Thank you.

Disclaimer: I don't have kids, but I have done my share of childcare

I suspect that this is one of the places we've lost out by splitting off to nuclear families with a small number of closely spaced children. Childcare is a job that, while difficult and stressful at times, is not particularly intellectually challenging, nor does it require very much expertise or physical strength. It's also relatively parallelizeable (the added effort of taking care of an extra simultaneous child is sublinear). Those characteristics make it a perfect job for both past-working-age people and older children.

We still utilize this dynamic some through grandparents and babysitters, but it's not nearly as prevalent as it would have been in an earlier era where multiple generations (and familial leaves) lived in a single household, with a wide range of children.

While this sounds nice and good, the removal of generational living was completely intentional. Why? Because of the one thing you left out: it is the women who disproportionately end up taking care of the home and the children.

There is no real feminism with this traditional system in place. Even with the modern setup, women take care of children more _even if they don't want to_, simply because nursing takes a lot of time.

I don't have much of an opinion on generational living, but could you elaborate on how it guarantees women disproportionately end up with kin work? Also I find it interesting that the institution of motherhood is completely removed from the modern day narrative of empowerment. As long as it is fairly left up to the woman to choose, why would choosing motherhood not be empowering?

You choose motherhood by having kids. You choose fatherhood by having kids. Do you feel empowered by fatherhood? What does it even means? If no, then that is the answer of why would choosing motherhood not be empowering.

Empowering means: "make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights". Having child does not really make that and I dont see how it should make that.

I have found fatherhood empowering but did not go into it with that expectation. Fatherhood has opened me to new emotional expression and capabilities that I lacked beforehand and I now speak for more than just me when I look for new work or increase my responsibility at work, since any pay or benefit improvements go directly to the family. Fatherhood added more responsibility to my day, which ends up feeling like I have more power, even if I traded some of my personal freedom in order to obtain it. I'm not sure if that means I actually have been disempowered; if so, my more powerful life before marriage and childhood felt less fulfilling.

I don't think multi-generational households necessarily need to put a heavier burden on women. In fact, my argument is exactly that households like that do a better job of allocating labor to those who are less able to earn.

I don't think there's a real argument to be made that the nuclear household developed because of feminism. The New Deal and post-WWII policies that gave returning vets and their families cheap mortgages in sprawly suburbs appears to have had more to do with it (an era that was notably accompanied by an expansion of household technologies whose goals were to enable a single person to care for an entire household).

They do, because many grandparents will expect women to do more of traditional household and will treat her more badly or with more resentment if she does not.

Also, full time childcare is quite tiring for older people, grandparents who are strong enough are typically employed.

> full time childcare is quite tiring for older people

Full-time, sure. But what about flexibly available when necessary?

Also, traditional household provides too little privacy, but living within 10 minutes walking distance is fantastic.

There are all these situations like "grandma, I need to go shopping, could you please take care of the kids for about 30 minutes? maybe later if it is more convenient for you" where having good social infrastructure is awesome, and I cannot imagine how more difficult life would be without it.

Seems to me that as a society we went from one extreme to the other, skipping over the point where things could work really great.

That may be so for the US, but I’m not American nor is America the only country with nuclear family ideals.

Yes, my perspective was perhaps US-centric, but so is my experience of social history. My understanding was that much of the European and Japanese post-war reconstruction operated on a similar (if less supercharged) model, but I'm hazier on the Eastern Bloc. I'd be very interested in alternative processes, if you can suggest them.

The first couple years of a kid's life often really, really sucks for the parents. If you don't just intrinsically adore babies, you've just got a whole lot of work with no immediate payoff. Sleep deprivation has a way of making everything worse, too.

There are fun bits later, and some people will insist childrearing is 'fun', but I don't think so.

It's loads of work, but fulfilling, interesting work, getting to know a new person. It is full of joy. Fun / contentment? Not so much. The amount of work decreases as the kids get older, but the complexities of the problems that present themselves increase, too.

In some ways, you could view it as an increased opportunity for individuality. You're not just doing you anymore, but creating your own miniature culture around you. You're choosing who you are and how you're going to pass it on to a new generation. Hopefully, you start to take a really intentional view of the structure of your life at this point, too.

I'm not really looking forward to my kids growing up and having my individuality back. Though I do sure wish there was a chance to take a couple weeks vacation each year. ;)

I mean, there are summer camps for kids who are old enough, grandparents if you have them and they are willing to take the kids for a week or two, but the thing is even the "vacation" is not the same as your life before kids. You're always still thinking about them, always ultimately responsible for them. Having kids is a fork in the road. There is no going back to the old path, even temporarily. The closest you will get is when your kids are adults themselves, but even then it's not the same.

Yah, I'm nowhere near even those levels of taking a break, though. Only one grandparent left and he's not up to take 3 rambunctious boys at once, and the youngest is 6 so there's not great stay-away camp opportunities.

We were going to have two of them go away to Johns Hopkins-CTY this summer, but it didn't happen (for obvious reasons).

Maybe summer 2021 I'll get a week or two partially off :D

My experience hasn't been the same, I have two kids age 4 and 6, and my experience has been more laid back. Most of the time I spend with this kids is fun. Sure, there can be bad times that are stressful and/or exhausting but it's mostly been very rewarding.

My kids are asleep by 830 or 9pm, I'm not sure why this person feels they don't have free time until 11pm, that seems like an exaggeration to me.

Even when they are awake, they rarely occupy both my wife and I full time, unless we're choosing to spend quality time with them. Sometimes just one of us watches them while the other one had time to relax or catch up on work.

It's not like my wife and I were globetrotting before kids anyway. Having kids is far more interesting than the same old, same old routine. I don't really feel like I'm missing out on things I would have been doing before kids.

Ours is 3. He's winding down at 7:30 PM. That leaves 8-11 PM most evenings for my time.

I'm not going to pretend like I don't miss having 5-11 PM for myself, or the fact that weekends tend to be quite busy. But I've done the "all non-work time is _my_ time" for my previous 38 years. And I've also come to understand that the luxury of time I had previously I was also quite adept at BS'ing myself about: "I'll start that tomorrow! never starts it"

If I don't work on a side project, I understand very clearly now it is because I didn't sit down and actually do it.

It's not my son's fault, it's my own.

My experience has been close to yours. The wife and I have a 3 and 5 year old. We did tons of research into different methods of sleep training methods and arrived at practical ways to make sure they understood that bedtime meant staying in their room and in their own beds, even if they weren't necessarily sleepy yet.

The 5 year old is in his "big boy bed" and we use a color-changing nightlight on a timer that is a soft red when he needs to stay in his room and turns blue when he can come out. The 3 year old is still in his crib for another few weeks, then we will transition him to the same setup.

Apart from the predictable times here and there where the older one sneaks out of bed to see what we're up to, it's worked out really well and gives us our sanity back from around 745pm to whenever we go to bed.

I have kids that same age, and our bedtime is 8:00. Usually they're asleep by 9 but there have definitely been days where they are up and fighting until well past 10. Certainly the gp was exaggerating, but just because my kids are in bed doesn't mean it's my time. 8-9 is lost policing actually being in bed almost every day.

That said, I agree more with you, because as much as I like to say, "oh I could be doing x or y if I weren't caring for my kids," in reality, I probably wouldn't be doing much differently. Maybe I'd go out a few more times a month, but oops pandemic.

Bed time used to be 8:30pm but a few weeks ago she just turned the age where she absolutely needed someone to be beside her until she falls asleep. All hell breaks loose if we don't, and I've thought about implementing cry-it-out but looking at her mode of crying I'm not sure that's healthy. Anyway, I'm staying with her for 2 hours until she falls asleep (she does take that long) because my spouse already cares for her all day and is exhausted, besides, she has a part time job she has to do some work in the evening for. 11pm is not an exaggeration and it's how it's been in the past 6+ weeks. I have hopes that things will be different at 3~4 years old, but not right now.

It won't change until you change it. Kids that age don't have a concept of feeling guilty about burdening anyone else. Cry-it-out can seem cruel but it doesn't take long. The other thing about kids that age is they have short memories and adapt to change quickly. Talk to your pediatician if you need reassurance.

That's a totally unsustainable routine for you and for your daughter... I'd strongly recommend hiring a great sleep coach!

Similar story here with soon to be 4yo and a new baby, bed time has been bleeding into later times and sometimes it's easier to sleep together to calm them down. It's a phase and I'm not too stressed about it, but it totally limits me time.

You didn't mention how old, but I want to re-emphasize putting in the investment now. This problem will only get worse and the joys of parenting a child on a routine are vast

Try going in and out with increasing gaps.

Considering that I don't have kids and feel the same, I'm not surprised by OP. Depending on your commute and chores, that's not so crazy. Of course as someone without kids, I have way more time, but if I cook a dinner and do chores... There's also overhead and time spent overwhelmed. You can work harder, and take less breaks, but that's the rub. Being a flurry of constant activity burns people out.

My free time starts at 10pm. But time is 12pm.

If I don't get a solid 2 hours a day I get very unhappy, very fast. So long as I get that, I'm good. But that's about all I can manage these days.

Out of curiosity, what’s the minimum hours per day that you must spend on keeping the kid alive and well? (Minimum hours assuming you don’t get someone else to take care of the kid.)

Every moment they are awake and not explicitly in the care of another for the first few years.

I have three children aged 2-8 and my spare personal time is typically 9pm-2am. Yes, you lose a lot of freedom. Your routine is different, travel is different. But they're priceless and I would give up much more for any little moment with them.

It's worth mentioning that sleep routine discipline for the kids is worth working towards. Not being free until 11pm is just crazy. We have friends who sit/lie beside their kids for an hour or more until they get to sleep - insane.

Our kids are usually in bed at 7:30 and more often than not, we walk out after saying goodnight and don't hear from them until the morning. If the eldest struggles to get to sleep, he goes out to the living room to read for half an hour and then goes back, but it's nothing that would stop us watching TV elsewhere, working, doing dishes, etc. If the youngest sulks about sleep, being responsive/attentive and caving to demands will not help you in the future.

Doing dishes as you cook is worth it. Cooking more so you have leftovers for the next night is worth it. Combining routine with play (kids help cook, help clean, etc) is useful. Those little helpful things add up and buy you time.

Another one is, if date nights are difficult to schedule (or babysitting expensive), work from home on the same day as your partner or work a four day week, and then go out for lunch while the kids are in school/childcare.

I think those are great questions to ask actually, my only real answer here is that, one should be very aware of the fact that this current stage is temporary (both for my sanity, as well as for a perspective of cherishing it). As others have said and you already know, the first couple of years of a kid is the toughest for parents. It gets better from there and I know I'll get more free time back pretty much as soon as she starts school, and I'll have more and more free time as she grows older gradually. By the time she's in high school I'll probably have just as much free time as before having kids.

You'll have more free time than you do now, possibly, but there will be school events, extracurricular activities, meetings with teachers, help with homework. etc.

This is very helpful, thank you! I guess in my mind there wasn't that gradient as they get older.

You will likely never get a parent saying they wish they didn't have kids, for the reasons you stated, regardless of how the "what if"-scenario would look like.

I've always known I wanted kids, but knew I wasn't ready through my entire 20s. I have older siblings with kids of their own, and I'm on the younger side of the extended family, so I was around a lot of kids regardless, watching the different dynamics.

I was conceptually well aware of the hard work it involved, the priorities needed etc, and to the best of my abilities set my own bar for that.

We had our first kid a few years into our 30s, very much by choice. I think it's very difficult to conceptualize it through others kids. I was never really good with kids in general, but I believe (and have no reason not to) that I'm very good with my kids (in general, there will always be bad days behind the photo ops).

I can't shut myself in my office for 8 hours doing a project, gaming, watching movies or just nap.

I obviously miss that on some level, but the reason I can't do that (at least until they're old enough not to want to hang out with me) is of such value that I don't mind really. And that part is something at least I had no way of conceptualizing before having kids.

Absolutely don't have kids if you don't want to. I like to imagine I have a finely tuned radar to spot those families instantly, and it's not about a love thing, because I think most parents do regardless, but about patience/acceptance that this was your choice, and all of the great parts make up for it thousandfold.

I'm not a different person now, I'm just a person with baggier eyes, who frets a little less about things that don't really matter. That can be done with or without kids, I think it's merely that the latter forces the issue.

But I still binged Queen's Gambit with our youngest using me as a glorified crib.

Not sure this rant had a point, but try to shut out friends, society, biology and just ask yourself whether you want kids. If you do it'll be great, and if not that'll be great too.

Thing is - not kids are the problem. The problem is 9-17 work so many companies force us into.

I can finish my work in 2h of my 8h workday. Just let me leave at 11am. I’ll have plenty time to learn new things, play with kids, get enough sleep, maintain a healthy social life.

TBH current covid situation is like a blessing for me. I don’t have to “be there”, my work is still done and I can finally spend some time with family.

Yeah. In the office, when I look around, I see people browsing web, watching YouTube videos, socializing at coffee, taking long lunch breaks, and I suspect that many meetings are actually just an excuse to chat. And that's all okay. Only leaving sooner and being with my family is not.

Working at home, instead of wasting time socializing at coffee with the same people every day, I can use my breaks to go shopping, cook, have a lunch together with my family, do the dishes, exercise, pick up kids' toys, etc. I am not taking more breaks than in the office; I just do something useful during the breaks, and it probably makes me relax better than reading web.

I wish we could have 6-hour workdays, or 4-day workweeks, or both, in the 21st century. The productivity is supposed to be so much higher than 100 years ago that we really could afford a bit more free time.

Until then, I will enjoy the benefits brought by the COVID situation, and dread the moment it will all revert to the usual 8-hour prison time. (Or even worse, business trips, when you have to be 24 hours a day without your family, just because someone couldn't explain something over video.)

When "work + family" is too much work, the proper solution isn't to give up having kids. That's insane.

> It feels amoral to ask these questions

Nope.. It's great that you are making an informed decision and really thinking about it. People have different experiences. Mine is that as a baby you are just really into it, the whole baby thing and don't really worry about individualism. As they get a bit older you think about that again - your career, maybe travel etc. and realize it is constraining having kids, and 90% of that is because of cost of living (IMO). I.e. if I had millions that'd fix it, ha ha! (maybe it wouldn't!) but money does help - you can buy time with it by getting help like cleaners, working less, and can afford holidays etc.

I feel very similarly to you. As time goes on I feel myself becoming more and more of an Anti-Natalist, especially as I reflect on my childhood. It seems like having kids is just a very instinctual/romantic thing that people don't really try to resist, and oft not thinking about the implications that come with it (and I certainly don't just mean loss of time and autonomy). I find it very strange, and somewhat disappointing in a way. Having a kid just because you "want" to feels kind of perverse to me.

> When I read things like this, it makes me not want to have children. From friends, it doesn’t sound like your experience is much different.

If you're seriously considering the question, you owe it to yourself to seek out parents who specifically enjoy and thrive with parenting.

There's a serious imbalance in conversation about children. Most of the internet comments you read about raising children will sound negative or burdensome. Why is that? It's because they're venting, or wanting to discuss a challenging situation.

Meanwhile, you're likely surrounded by countless parents who simply don't talk about their experience. No one wants to hear endless "I love my children" stories, so we just keep quiet. As you get older, you also realize that many people want children but struggle to conceive, so we refrain from child talk around non-parents out of caution and sensitivity.

Chances are good that the majority of parents in your community, office, or social circle are actually very happy most of the time. There's just not much to talk about because being happy with your family is the boring, normal state.

It also helps to keep in mind that the infant and toddler phases are relatively short. It's only 4 years, relative to your expected lifespan of around 80 years. If you're in your early 20s and just barely out of college, spending 4 years raising a child past the toddler age probably feels like an eternity. When you're in your late 30s and 40s, you realize that it's merely a blip on the radar. 5% of your life.

Look at this way: If you walked into an Ivy League university library around finals time and started asking sleep deprived students cramming for tests if they're enjoying their decision to enroll, you wouldn't get an accurate picture of the lifelong benefits of an Ivy League degree. Ask them if it was worth it in their 40s or 50s and you'll get a very different answer. Asking parents in the middle of the most difficult few childraising years if a lifetime of child raising makes sense isn't going to give you an accurate picture, either.

> I’m sure you’re biased and it’s culturally unacceptable (to say the least) to say that you’d rather not have had kids, but I wonder how often you think about that loss of individuality?

It's actually an extremely common question from my non-parent friends. I was afraid of it myself before having kids. The truth is that your old self doesn't disappear when you have kids. Free time still exists. Time management and efficiency becomes vastly more important. When I first had kids, it would take me hours to handle feeding, bathing, prepping for bed, and so on. We made a deliberate effort to streamline our workflows and now we can get it all done quickly and get on with having fun. Believe it or not, dinner time and bath time can actually be fun.

If you approach everything as a miserable chore that you have to slog through before you can get back to wasting time on the internet, you're going to have a bad time. If you lean into it and make an effort to make things fun, it's way better than messing around online.

And don't forget that after a few years they feed and bathe themselves. After 18 years they're off to college and you're back to you. People seem to forget that children grow up quickly.

Frankly, having kids helped me improve some aspects of my individuality and social life. I'm more likely to take the kids for a hike or schedule a meetup with fellow parents. I meet new friends through community functions. And this won't make sense to non-parents, but I actually enjoy spending time my kids.

> Chances are good that the majority of parents in your community, office, or social circle are actually very happy most of the time. There's just not much to talk about because being happy with your family is the boring, normal state.

Slightly off-topic, but this isn't limited to parenting feedback, it's true of nearly any topic online.

Some forums are full of people venting, some forums are full of people showing off how great their lives are.

It's very difficult to get an accurate view of an average person's experience with X (and maybe it's not even relevant to you—what you really want is a picture of your experience with X, which may depend a lot on your socioeconomic circumstances).

I've found anecdotes from friends to significantly outperform online anecdotes in predicting my personal experience.

Very true. Even worse, there's a significant selection bias that occurs where people pre-filter for opinions that match their pre-conceived notions.

On the topic of children, someone can spend their entire life around coworkers, extended family, and friends who are happy parents without thinking twice about it. Yet as soon as they read some comments online about someone struggling with their children, they have an "I knew it!" reaction.

As a parent, I don't try to push other people to have children. I do, however, roll my eyes at how out of touch the anti-child rhetoric on the internet has become. It's almost as if young people are convinced that all parents are actually secretly miserable but we're all collectively lying about enjoying it out of a sense of societal obligation.

> I do, however, roll my eyes at how out of touch the anti-child rhetoric on the internet has become.

I guess it depends where you look, but here on HN comments seem to lean towards being pro-children - which makes sense, since most people want them and have them.

The most interesting kind of comments, to me, are the ones that try to convey how having kids is great and worth it, and yet - upon reading them - all I can think of is "wow, that sounds horrible". There is one example that is kind of like that in this thread [0].

I know it's because it's much easier to convey in words how annoying or boring something is compared to how it brings this deep, unspeakable (and perhaps, for some readers, yet unexperienced) joy. It's still a bit funny.

[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25271156

"I’m sure you’re biased and it’s culturally unacceptable (to say the least) to say that you’d rather not have had kids,"

Why? I think not having kids is generally seen as the most responsible course of action. I adore my two but the planet is likely to be worse off, ecologically at least, for their existence.

>I adore my two but the planet is likely to be worse off, ecologically at least, for their existence.

Our planet is already on the tail end of its lifespan, in terms of how long it will be able to support advanced life before the sun gets too hot and cooks everything.

Ours is, as best we can tell, the first and only species to arise that has enough intelligence to be able to do something about it.

If we expired as a species tomorrow, the chance of another one rising to the challenge before things wind down is (probably) very low.

We need smart, motivated people to work on the problem, and we need these people to have kids and pass on the same pro-education, pro-problem-solving cultural habits to the next generation.

In my opinion, that's worth far, far more than the extra eco burden one additional human life adds.

To me felt like an 80% loss of my time and a much more restricted life.

Its a unique part of life that no other part of life will really offer you. Its a trade-off in that respect.

I don't think it's for everyone, and that's ok. At hard as it is it also has it's upside.

I'm gonna sound like an asshole either way, so let's just get it over with.

Obviously I feel sorry for everyone who suffers for whatever reason, but I find it really difficult not to feel as if parents have very little right to complain about the suffering they willingly brought on themselves. I mean, it's not like it's a mystery that childbirth is painful and that raising children is a mostly miserable affair. It's kind of like someone who set themselves on fire complaining about the heat.

> it's not like it's a mystery that childbirth is painful and that raising children is a mostly miserable affair

As someone with toddlers I'll take a stab at an explanation: we thought we went in with eyes open, but it turns out we (I?) _massively_ under-estimated how hard this level of sustained effort would be in the long run because there's no real analog for it in your pre-parenting experience.

Everyone says raising toddlers is hard work. You go into it accepting "sure, it's super hard work, I know what that's like, I can do it!". We thought of hard work by drawing from experience, thinking back to difficult degree programs, or working for a fledgling startup, etc. But in all of that experience, after crunch time, you always get to take an afternoon off once in a while, a couple hours here and there, even if it's just an evening of doing nothing every few weeks.

Nobody had "Well, what if there's a pandemic and you just can't drop off your toddlers at a sitter/parent to get a few hours break? For an entire year?" on their threat radar.

We simply didn't know what that child-rearing work looked like if it went on for months without a break. While you're sleep deprived. While your relationships with a co-parent might be frayed by stress, exhaustion, and cabin fever.

It's become very tiresome to use the word "unprecedented" in 2020, but it's still the word that fits.

Yeah, even without families that can be hard. When I was living healthy - cooking good meals, getting ample exercise and sleep, there was essentially zero free time. I was doing every group twice a week, and 2-5 hrs of cardio weekly, which might seem like a lot, but technically that's a pretty basic routine; and what's generally recommended.

I'm totally out of shape now, partially because it winds up being very unsustainable. I'm not working crazy hours at all, but I basically had to eat my meal, do chores, and immediately go to bed. I could probably swing 0.5-2 hours of leisure and that left 5-8 hrs of sleep. There's a ton of corners that can be cut, but there's always a penalty.

I love working out and work. If my body/mind could tolerate it, I'd work for 10 hrs, exercise for 4, a few hours for relaxing with family/friends, and 9 hrs of sleep, but that would take like 30 hrs (technically only 23-25 hrs listed there, but there's overhead, travel, and chores)

For an easy life hack, feed the kids left overs from the night before and enjoy your dinner after they go to bed. They end up eating the same food (albeit a day later) and you get to enjoy both the cooking and eating.

Plus it’s easy to combine it with intermittent fasting as you don’t even get a chance to eat till after they’re in bed!

It takes some practice, YMMV, but we made a rule to have them in bed by 8PM. You get solid 2h-3h for yourself every evening. It was harder with the first kid, but once they start going to kindergarten it changes. Once a week we invite a babysitter and go out :)

My spouse does this for the exact same reason (we have a 3 year old). I feel like a bag of shit when I don't sleep so I just don't have personal free time.

lol this resonated so hard with me - and I work from home and always have even pre-COVID so no commute. I have a 2.4 year old.

It has been getting a bit nicer of recent in that she's talking so much now that I'm really enjoying having conversations and doing things with her in a way that has only really just started last month or two. But she's also "misbehaving" / not listening a lot more so it has it's ups and downs :)

Reading this during my ~75 minutes of time I get to myself daily, and only by having basically no non-parenting conversation with my wife all day.

Part of this is establishing a narrative that you will be less productive when burnt out than you are now, where you disappear an extra 20 minutes a day to be outside.

There was a point where I was worried about my fitness, which reached its apex when I had a long commute and a stressful job. Some research was published that changed my life.

Cardio improvement can be seen with 3x7 minute intervals, rather than the previous wisdom of 20 minutes. To get a 20 minute workout you have to disappear for at least 25 minutes, and already be in a certain amount of shape to go that long. It’s miserable and your coworkers notice immediately.

7 minutes doesn’t even have to get you sweaty, so it’s 7 minutes plus however long it takes you to get where you’re going. It’s like a long bathroom break, and nobody commented on where I had gone. 1-2 of those a day and then another 10 minutes at home (or walking to and from lunch) and I was on my way to feeling a lot better.

Also for me, physical activity tends to clarify concepts and decisions I’m wrestling with. I do less work and do it better once I know what I’m doing. I can often save myself an hour and a bunch of mental energy by disappearing for 10 minutes and coming back. Even if it only worked 20% of the time, my boss still comes out way ahead.

Sharpen your saw.

Ever see the BBC series "The IT Crowd"? There is a great scene that illustrates the class differences when it comes to work and fitness. The boss is giving a speech about stress. He is head-to-toe in spandex having just commuted in on a bike. Everyone else is in office attire. Only certain people in certain jobs enjoy the luxury of mixing work and fitness. Even something as simple as having some free weights at work draws class lines. It means you have an office or a desk. A driver, or care worker, or food service worker doesn't enjoy the stability of having their own workspace.

Reading the first post in this chain makes me laugh, not just at the cluelessness of this person, but that this person could be mid-30s and still think this way.

I have a distant cousin that I see only at family gatherings. She's an injection molding worker for an automotive parts company (IAC). She gets one 10 minute break and one 30 minute break in an 8 hour shift.

The rest of her time, she's picking up plastic car parts off a conveyor belt and inspecting, labeling, and placing them on metal racks.

Tell me how she's supposed to do literally any of what the OP said.

Those suggestions work great if you're like most of us, and lucky enough to be a knowledge worker, working for a Fortune 500 / 1000 / 5000 company. If you're not...

Reminds me of what the Athenians told the Melians, "The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must."

It isn't just the fortune 5000. I'm in the military, an organization where fitness is literally in my job description. I should be able to step away from my desk for a few minutes to exercise, but 10/20/30 minutes can be a long time when the boss needs something asap. And it is always asap.

Ironically, even though I am on a base the majority of my work occurs over phone/email connections to people other locations. Covid has only made that worse as we are to avoid in-person meeting whenever possible. I feel like a remote worker ... one that still has to commute to the office each morning.

Once you hit the staff/command level the stress of the job combined with the lack of time to exercise due to everything being an absolute emergency really takes a toll on your health.

I was never the type to hate being in the military, but stepping away was the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of physical and mental well being.

From your phraseology, I take it you were in the US military. I'm in a different military with a very different culture. We have Americans working with/for us. They are very happy. They never want to go home, always trying to extent their time. Right now, at the height of covid worries, there is no job I would rather have atm.

However, that's an eight hour shift, not twelve as mentioned in the article. Eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, and two hours of commuting and personal hygiene still leaves a full six hours per day to use however she likes. That doesn't sound too bad.

>> Eight hours of work

No. It is eight hours on shift, on the factory line. That doesn't include all the pre/post work getting to/from the line, paperwork to do and meetings to attend. All of that is probably another hour or two every day.

>> two hours of commuting and personal hygiene

We don't all live next to the factory. I'd say two hours just for commuting. As for personal hygiene, I leave it to the ladies here to comment on how much time they need to put in each day. I (military) can shower/shave in under 10 minutes when necessary, but I get to wear the same clothes every day and certainly don't worry much about my hair.

>> a full six hours per day to use however she likes.

Work emails to answer. Kids to cook for. Bills to pay. Paperwork to do. Shopping. Taking the car to the mechanic. Dentist appointments. Elderly parents to support. Carpets to vacuum. LIFE.

>>eight hours of sleep .


I spoke with her recently, and she seems like she's at the breaking point because the company is requiring her to work 7 days a week. About a month ago, they instituted a new policy:

You can't say no to overtime if you're asked, or you'll incur a write-up. Three write-ups and you're terminated.

And because of Texas labor laws, an hours over 60 are not paid at double time as they are in many other states. Meaning by the time Saturday rolls around, were she in California, she'd at least be making double time at some point. Instead, they only get double time on a Sunday.

She told me last week, she had 82 hours. For a job that pays $16 an hour. Yes, she's probably clearing $4000 a month, but she's putting in CEO-level hours to do so. The saddest part about all this is that many people are jumping for the chance at these positions because of the insane amount of overtime this company is offering.

The United States should be better than this.

Then you add cooking, laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, taking care of kids if they have...

Sounds a lot like the McDonalds budget that forgot to mention things like eating, heat, and commuting to work.

And not to mention that some factory work is fairly draining, and you might not have energy to do anything you'd like to do.

And personal fitness.

And (mainly for women, sadly) the emotional labour of communicating with relatives and with friends. Social media have increased the burden here massively.

Another really common real world example of the class difference. In some tech companies work in what is effectively a barn. Senior employees will say they also work in the open space. But really they sometimes reserve a particular meeting room for the whole day when they are in the office. So the barn is for the average employees, senior employees spend their time in a large office, traveling or having meals.



This is great advice and even easier to do when working remote. I have a few free weights that I keep nearby and have worked out a short and simple routine that I don't mind doing. It takes about two songs to finish, so I guess 6-8 minutes. Any time I'm starting to lag or I'm stuck on a problem I walk over and do the routine, then come back to my desk much more alert.

One nice aspect of having one (or a few) regular routines is that it's easy to see progress. Even with just a few very short sessions most days I can lift much more weight than when I started.

> Cardio improvement can be seen with 3x7 minute intervals,

Where do you get those details from? Fitness and nutrition advice seem to change more often that the favoured JavaScript framework of the month.

> Fitness and nutrition advice seem to change more often that the favoured JavaScript framework of the month.

You are certainly right there. I think the problem is that the sizes of different effects rarely get reported. So a just significant study that showed a 4% improvement is reported as the new “truth” of the week.

But the fundamentals are the same and very simple. Almost all of us should eat more vegetables. Maybe raw kale is slightly better than tomatoes, but that effect is dwarfed by the effect of switching your french fries to tomatoes. Almost all of us should move more. Maybe 20 minutes is slightly better than 3x7, but that is nothing compared when you go from nothing to 3x7. And if 3x7 is what you actually have a chance to do, that is what you do.

So, for most of us, move more and eat more vegetables is what we have to remember. The rest is just noise.

See ACSM [0] article and the cited papers for more information.


Thank you for this suggestion!

What sort of cardio activity would you recommend for these short intervals?

> I've lived the majority of my life (mid 30s now) waiting for "my time".

As expected, becoming a father cost me a lot of free time, but when I started working from home I lost my commute (usually walking, sometimes biking) and that was the one that really stung.

It was only a half hour or so each way, but I used that time to catch up with friends, listen to podcasts or music, or just let my mind wander. Now I have to really make an effort to carve out "me time," and with the Covid time tax it's really difficult.

This may seem overly simple, but is it possble for you to start and end the workday with a 30 min walk?

I’ve worked from home for a decade and that’s part of my routine. I go through a local park.

You’d have to negotiate this with your spouse, but you were already using that time before, so in theory it ought to be reasonable. Unless your kid was born this tear that’s a but trickier.

Burning out does nobody any good in the long run and exercise and walking are human needs.

I did something like this once; i had a 30 min walking commute to my office which was perfect (and was lucky enough this was a pleasant waterfront walk). Then I moved cities and went remote - no commute. After about a month I missed it enough that I set up a few 30-60ish minute "loops" and walked one or two of them every day (i.e. 2 short ones or 1 long one) and this worked pretty well.

If I found myself making excuses not to go, I'd mix in an errand that was about a 30 min walk away. Other people I know use a dog as an excuse for this sort of pattern too.

I find the easiest time to do this is at midday. It's a great way to wake you up from your after-lunch slump. The kids aren't around so no one's expecting you to help take care of them. And it's a lot easier to explain to your partner that you have to work 30min more, than it is to tell them you're heading out on your own for a walk :)

Totally in the same boat. I’ve taken to sometimes doing a fake commute walking around the block before I start work.

> The real solution is to figure out how to love a larger percentage of your day. A lot of this has to do with cultivating the right attitude and not getting exploited by others. At work, don't allow your employer to work you to the bone; work at a steady and enjoyable pace, take lots of breaks to socialize with colleagues, get coffee, go for walks, eat a long lunch in the park, etc.

^ This people, THIS. Programmers are in massive demand right now, especially skilled ones. You dont have to work to the bone, there are thousands and thousands of jobs out there. You are harder to replace than you imagine. Those "must do" barriers are largely in your head, and if they are not (they really, really are) then MOVE.

Don’t overexaggerate the facts. Programmers are /not/ in massive demand. Even skilled ones. It’s why there’s essentially no compensation growth for the last few years outside of FAANG. All growth has been through stock. The sheer massive number of people entering the field and how hard it is to get a job as an engineer should make this more obvious. If massive demand were true, we wouldn’t have ever increasingly difficult interview practices.

There are better jobs out there if you’re getting worked to the bone but it’s not like everyone is going to get $400k and wonderful work. That’s still reserved for the top 5% of engineers.

If you’re in the bay, you have a very slim amount of options unless you got your home 30 years ago.

It's hard to get your first software engineering job, but it is it any different than other industries?

I don't think it is difficult to find a new job once you are established as a reasonably competent engineer. Do workers in other industries get constant messages via Linkedin and email for job opportunities?

> I don't think it is difficult to find a new job once you are established as a reasonably competent engineer.

It's gotten harder every year I've been in the industry. I have a limited set of experience since I've only worked since 2013. But, I've interviewed every single year for the last 7 years and the interviews keep getting tougher. Every time I decide to venture out - I have to prep more than I did the previous year. This year is obviously an exceptional year but I feel it's only going to set the bar for the future. I don't see them lowering the bar since enough people are still clearing it.

> Do workers in other industries get constant messages via Linkedin and email for job opportunities?

This means nothing to me, honestly. Most of the messages I get are spam recruiters. I suspect maybe 5% of recruiters are accountable for 95% of recruiter spam. As me and my peers pretty much all get the same emails.

You've been working for 7 years. Has your professional network started to bear any fruit?

Not one fucking bit. I start from ground zero every time. Doesn't matter, really. The companies I want to work at - referrals don't really get you that far unless you know a very particular person.

Your professional network is not yielding after 7 YEARS!?

If that's the case the problem is definitely you.

They also don't get technical interviews, though.

Most other similarly-paid professions have some kind of standards body or at least far more rigorous formal education requirements. LeetCode interviews seem like a natural consequence of the low formal barrier to entry.

One of the contributing factors here is that many places outside FAANG that hire programmers are not particularly profitable nor do they envision any exponential growth in their future. As such, they can't afford to pay their programmers the "insane" salaries that FAANG companies can offer.

A career where most people are paid $100k+ can be considered in high demand.

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious if you can back this statement up with any facts? Maybe some data from the BLS? Or is this your personal sentiment? If so, could it be tied to your local or regional economy for programmers?

> Programmers are in massive demand right now, especially skilled ones.

From the hiring side: What we're really looking for is engineers who can work efficiently and deliver results with minimal drama. Counterintuitively, it's not always the most "skilled" engineers who get the most work done. It's not even the engineers who spend 60 hours per week at the office. It's usually the above-average people who show up, get down to work, deliver code, and go home on time or even early.

One of the challenges with hiring, especially hiring more junior engineers, is that many of them have this idea that raw coding skill is the only thing that matters. We've struggled with numerous very talented engineers who simply could not deliver work on time. Some simply procrastinate excessively. Others have perfectionist tendencies, spending countless hours rewriting and refactoring code because they refuse to commit anything less than perfect code.

Meanwhile, some of our highest output engineers are the ones who know how to strike a balance between good architecture and taking on the right amount of technical debt at each step. It can upset some of the juniors when they see other people getting ahead by shipping good-enough code that gets the job done instead of something that uses the latest and greatest frameworks and languages. At the end of the day, we're in the business of shipping things to customers, not crafting the picture perfect codebase.

> You are harder to replace than you imagine. Those "must do" barriers are largely in your head, and if they are not (they really, really are) then MOVE.

From the manager side, I'm increasing seeing young engineers who have a chip on their shoulder, believing that they are irreplaceable and therefore can make the company bend to their demands. Ironically, we're not the type of company that squeezes excess hours out of people or is constantly in crunch mode, yet some engineers are permanently convinced that any employment arrangement is exploiting them or that they're permanently underpaid. I've had multiple people leave for "greener pastures", lured away by higher paychecks, only to ask to come back once they realize how good they had it here. It pays to keep your ear to the ground about better opportunities, but beware of recruiters who are experts at telling you anything and everything you want to hear in order to get you in the door.

I actually enjoy my current work, but get distracted super easily, then I exhaust myself doing unproductive things, and cannot get back doing anything useful.

Waking up at 7am and riding the productivity train until I can actually helps with this.

>The real solution is to figure out how to love a larger percentage of your day. A lot of this has to do with cultivating the right attitude and not getting exploited by others. At work, don't allow your employer to work you to the bone; work at a steady and enjoyable pace, take lots of breaks to socialize with colleagues, get coffee, go for walks, eat a long lunch in the park, etc.

I want to add to that: Find work which improves the overall state of the world.

This same phenomenon is seen not just with work/leisure (with time being the limiting factor), but also with food/leisure (with money being the limiting factor). Studies show that people who are malnourished due to living in poverty, still spend money on leisure activities despite not having enough food to eat. Leisure time is important for people.

Even if you enjoy your work, it's still work, and you're still going to need leisure time. The cause is probably different from person to person, but the solution isn't going to be just "work less", but prioritizing, scheduling, and getting the most out of your "leisure time", which also means different things for different people.

Yes, I think scheduling plays a large role in things too. But, the main thing I'm getting at is how to find creative ways to integrate leisure time into your working day. Taking a nap in the sun at lunch time not only gives me extra leisure time, it also makes the afternoon work more enjoyable. This is a huge win for me, so I do it often, yet I've rarely ever had a colleague who did the same.

I do have to remind myself that I speak from a place of privilege with extremely in demand skills being a software engineer. But I feel a lot of people in a number of different lines of work fail to take advantage of the freedom they have.

Leisure time is hard to define recently. People are escaping, true relaxing used to come from a hard day's work that passed on the gift of life to someone else and you could rest easy, then finally throw a joyous festival together.

Today's leisure time is closer to busy escapism than relaxation, for the poor at least.

It’s extremely difficult and requires lots of will power to dispose of your five different devices vying for your attention when you’re feeling “bored”before bed. These are like electronic drugs that makes everything enjoyable instantly available to us at a tap of a finger. However the joys coming out of screen are impulsive and transient, which increasingly makes me long for the simple and enduring fun time of the early days.

For what it's worth, I find that getting up earlier doesn't just shift my free time - it results in a qualitatively different (and better) day. Something about starting the day with "me time" puts me on a nice trajectory, compared to the stressful experience of rolling out of bed and immediately confronting the specter of duty.

> ...not getting exploited by others.

Good luck with this, if you live in a capitalist country.

No mention of how to get out of this unhealthy habit.

I'm struggling with this myself. Some of my conclusions so far:

* When I am sleep-deprived I am less productive. So I spend more time doing "work". Then I have less time for everything else I want to do (family, cooking, sport). So I take more time away from sleep. And the cycle repeats. Sleep deprivation is self-perpetuating.

* What I do at night, when I am exhausted, in 2 hours can be done in the morning in half an hour.

* I get angrier and negative much more easily when I am sleep deprived.

For my particular case: limit the time dedicated to "work" and do the other things in the time it is usually dedicated to it. Stay away from screens past 11. Listen to ebooks for falling asleep. Use the good sleep energy to finish work stuff earlier, do more exercise, etc. Break out of the vicious cycle and start a virtuous one.

I still fail at doing it from time to time. I think this must feel similar to what relapsing alcoholics feel. I try to not be too hard on myself and keep trying.

I'm the absolute opposite. Mornings are for endless procrastination, what can be done in 10 minutes before sleep can be done in an hour in the morning, even if I drink a lot of coffee. This is a really unhealthy habit as sometimes if the activity proves engaging, it keeps me from sleeping, obviously.

What's weird is psychoactive substance rarely seem to change this productivity dynamic. Even if I'm well rested and drink coffee in the morning, I'm still inclined to procrastinate, whereas in the evening even after drinking alcohol or smoking weed, I can be productive even for intellectual tasks. Obviously I do not condone working while under influence, but if it's a friday and I have literally nothing to do (e.g. during lockdown) drinking a few beers, smoking some pot and programming for my side-projects or playing chess around midnight is really fun for me. In the mornings, I just infinite-scroll reddit for at least an hour before I can even leave the bed.

I do the same. It’s typically a symptom that I don’t really care for the job I’m supposed to do. When I do care, I can barely brush my teeth and I’m right at work. When I don’t care, the morning is full-on procrastination; the boring but necessary stuff gets done mid-afternoon, often out of restlessness.

I reckon something happens at the physical level that triggers a tiny bit of adrenaline in the afternoon, so I get sharper. If I skip lunch, for example, I get sharper sooner - the body is actually slightly starved of resources, why am I feeling better? There must be something in me that goes “body tired -> let’s power it up”, probably some sort of small-scale adrenaline deployment.

Note that coffee can take 2 hours to actually work its magic, depending on one’s metabolism and tolerance, so drinking more of that won’t necessarily help your mornings. The only thing that helps me is doing something I actually care about.

Nah, I like my job. I'm equally unproductive on weekends on my hobbies etc. I'm just groggy in the mornings and get better in the afternoon, and after dinner I'm the sharpest and most energetic both mentally and physically.

Logging in to note that these are classic ADHD symptoms, should you want to investigate that aspect of your psyche further.

Created a throwaway to say that as someone being treated for ADHD as of recently, 100% this. Every day at work for years had been doing exactly what the GP describes. If I'm really interested in the work, I'm all in and focused. But when I'm not, I push off every task that can be pushed off as far as possible. And the overwhelming majority of the time, it's the latter. To the point that I've sat at my desk quietly questioning my career choice dozens of times.

Please look into this, GP.

This perfectly describes me as well, although I don't use substances much at all. I have learned to embrace it as well as I can. I accept that my productivity is much lower in the morning and attempt to get the most done after lunch and dinner.

It's pretty clear that the "unhealthy habit", like most unhealthy habits, is a symptom not the disease.

In this article the problem is being overworked. The solution isn't to remove that little bit of extra pleasure from your life so you can sleep better and be an even better, harder worker, but to find a better balance.

If you have this problem is very likely because you have a major part of your life you don't feel like you have control over: maybe your jobs is awful, maybe your marriage is awful, maybe you just feel too stressed about the world.

Treating the symptom and not the root cause will not yield the results you are looking for even if you succeed.

Exactly. The parent comment is missing the point. People are doing it because their life would be an endless unbearable grind of work and basic bodily needs. For my mental health it's definitely a worthy trade-off, I can do the grind for a few days but it really sucks the joy out of life if you can't do anything enjoyable every day.

I think the answer lies in the sentence "people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours". Now, obviously, very few people have complete control over their daylight hours -- we need jobs, after all. But we can still feel like we're in control if we at least agree with the path we're on. If you're struggling with 'revenge bedtime procrastination', consider whether you feel in control of the direction your life is heading, and if not, how you might wrest some of that control back.

I would recommend reading “Atomic habits” it’s a small and easy book to read. It has a lot of “aha” moments were stuff you already know click in your mind on how to develop good habits and remove bad habits, it provides good guidance.

I second this book.

I also think being sleep deprived destroys your willpower. So getting enough sleep for a few nights, perhaps on the weekend, and then trying to keep a streak going.

Additionally I’ve had a lot of success using a habit tracking app (I love way of life but habitica is also great and free).

I would also set an alarm every night.

I would also recommend this app called “Intellect,” it is designed to help individuals beat their bad habits and alleviate their personal psychological problems!

The book is difficult to track down since Intellect is a pretty generic term. Could you post the author?

He said "app", not "book".

Quit - different job.

Its a management/company culture thing.

Burn out, find something healthy. The fact that most wont since they need the money tells us how nasty this is.

Nothing in their comment indicated to me that anyone is making them work too much.

Yes, for many, their job is a matter of survival. There is something really horrific in how a society as technologically advanced and productive as ours has almost eliminated leisure time, rather than increased it.

Its interesting, we have developed several time saving inventions over the past 50 years, only to have that time we saved filled up with more work.

I was reading the book '168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think', and the author mentions how researchers in the past were predicting we would have so much free time in the future.

I think there was a comment about this regarding the speculation that more efficiency in parallel processing architecture would make all the work faster- the retort, so to speak, is that instead nodes would be expected to do more work in the same amount of time as before.

Humans are being treated like this. As technology increases, humans are merely expected to produce more in the same amount of time. There's no law that guarantees humans would have more free time due to increased efficiency.

So, I'm not going to say this is definitely the reason, and there's no way around it currently, but this is partially a function of a competitive work environment. Someone is bound to be willing to put in the time, or the threat of it will keep people from exploring (demanding) progressive things like 25-35 hr workweeks.

On the edges, where people are forced to work 60+ hrs a week there's enough leverage of people simply being unwilling to do the job (though even this isn't as true for some elite jobs). On the other hand, if they're just being asked to clock in from 9-5? There would need to be some outrage and push, but this makes you look lazy. There seems to be some progress made on vacations in corporate America, though.

Also, some roles would legitimately suffer or not work at all at 20-30 hrs. I think the ideal is to normally work 40-60 hrs "busy weeks", but not try to load people down when things naturally get slower and let them dip into the time for personal, so it's usually 30-35, or occasionally a bit less.

People have been wondering where the extra time is for a century, probably more:


I think Keynes talked about it a lot too.

I fall into that habit a lot. For me it largely comes from a feeling that there are a large number of tasks that I have to get done.

The biggest thing I do to overcome that is to take a day off and don't do anything productive at all (easy if it happens to fall on a weekend, more effective if I do it on a weekday). This breaks the first step -- less productive does not mean spend more time working, it means taking time off to recover.

For me it's about "reminding myself I don't have to do things". That voice in my head telling me how vital it is I get all the things done is just one voice. All I need to do is work well enough to ensure me and my family are fed, clothed and have somewhere to sleep.

This is going to sound strange, but the only thing that has ever worked for me was HQ, the live trivia game app. It was nightly at 9PM, so I'd my various daily tasks done and then I'd have to go to my bed to plug my phone in to play because it killed the battery. When it was over around 9:15 I was kind of settled in and would usually be able to fall asleep by 10 which is ideal for me.

So I guess if you can build in some sort of "hard stop" a little before you want to fall asleep that might work, but I haven't really found anything since.

Stop blaming yourself. Even the article mentions that it is the employer to blame. It even suggests that the solution is to show solidarity and put pressure on your employer by talking to him as a group. Otherwise I don't think there is anything you can do.

Watch the sun set!

I recently took a trip to the beach and spent a half hour or so outside in the transition between full light and darkness. It was surprising how tired I was feeling as early as it was. Let yourself experience the transition to night and then limit your light exposure.

Heh, around here (61° N) the sun currently sets at about 3:15 pm or so :D Need a light therapy lamp to convince my body that no, it's not time to go to sleep yet. Paradoxically, once it's actually time to go to sleep, my brain/body suddenly refuses to feel tired! Melatonin helps, though.

Not that far north myself, but the pain is definitely real. During winter it is dark when I get up and dark when I leave work. The sun is a thing that only exists outside office windows.

It's not as bad here at 51° N, but that does not mean it's possible to see the sun set or even be in a bright outside. (Though we were lucky and able to see the sun only the day before yesterday.)

It may raise eyebrows, but with the current WFH culture, I simply take naps during work time. If I feel tired, then it's in my and my employers' best interest for me to nap since I will be much more productive for the next few hours.

I've tested this also by not sleeping, and my code becomes worse and I need to rewrite a lot of it anyway.

In fairness, I do try to go to bed on time, but my issue is that I sometimes only sleep 5 to 6 hours. My body just won't sleep, so I make up for it during work time.

It is what it is.

I do this as well, and long have as I’ve worked from home for close to 15 years. The naps are really only 15-20 minutes, typically before I make or get coffee in the afternoon around 3 or 4. I’ve certainly spent more than 15 or 20 minutes staring at some code during a mental block, reading a random internet link, or chatting with a coworker. This is far more healthy (it’s got to be?) and it lets my subconscious work on a problem or just wander for a minute.

I had another tech friend who didn’t drink coffee, but always took a tea nap where he drank some tea, then immediately laid down for 15-20 minutes. By the time the caffeine kicked in, he got up and was ready for the next push of the day.

I'm not sure I completely agree with this logic because you are saying "if I neglect <X> in personal time, then it is in my and my employer's best interests for me to address <X> during work time (because otherwise I will be less productive)"

However, X could be a wide range of things. To use an extreme example, I could neglect fixing my furnace during personal time, and thus I can do it on my employer's dime so that I don't die of carbon monoxide poisoning while WFH (I would be unproductive if I am dead)...

If you were in an office then your employer - or the building's landlord - would arrange for someone to fix the furnace. But your employer has now commandeered your home as your workspace during the pandemic. It's probably seeing a lot more wear and tear because of this. Are they going to pay someone to come out and fix your furnace? Probably not.

It's the same equation at play in the Uber/Lyft/auto+gig realm. A portion of the means of production[physical space, electricity, plumbing, etc.] has been shifted from being employer-owned to employee-owned while keeping other parts of the equation constant. Rather than employers bearing the cost of purchasing or maintaining these means, employees find themselves paying for these out of their wages. It might be tempting to respond with "yes, but employees have or were going to buy these anyway." But consider effects beyond the surface level, additional wear to heating and cooling machinery because the machinery would otherwise be idle while the employee was away at work, the wear of home office furniture, and the change in monthly data usage w.r.t. data caps. Some employers have recognized this shift in burden, but have most? How does this shift affect incentives?

Keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is really owned, at the end of the day, by capitalists... in the literal sense, by institutions and individuals who command capital. Auto gig workers typically rent or lease the cars, then work to pay them off, living on precarious margins. Sure, they're responsible for maintenance, but at the end of the day, the cars will vanish if they don't make their payments. Most of us rent our houses or have mortgages on them, but they're not paid off.

Which is why people are working so much in the first place! There are payments to be made, on a strict schedule. You could lose your home and burn bridges if you don't keep up. Quite a few people actually do lose their homes and burn bridges. It's common to think of this as being their fault for being lazy.

But this whole arrangement is unsustainable for the people and for the planet.

And this is the whole point of Thomas Piketty's famous book a few years back that caused a big stir but is all but ignored by political and economic leaders in the US.

There are very good reasons why cultures before banned usury. Sure, rent and debt are powerful economic tools, but with great power comes great responsibility, and I'm still waiting for the lawmakers and business leaders where I live (the US) to go ahead and exercise that responsibility by creating sensible countermeasures to protect people from exploitation.

The key to making the parent post make sense is to not think of time as personal/work time. My job is 100% project based so I don’t need to be owned by my job during the 9-5 hours. If I nap all day and work nights and my projects all complete, who cares? I understand not all roles fit this model.

I think I agree with their logic more than I would have thought on my own.

I would be less productive at work if I were stressing out about a personal item that I would normally handle during "personal time". I've had fantastic employees have horrible weeks / months because they refused to take a few days off to deal with personal items.

As an employer, I would definitely say it is in my best long term interest to have an employee who is happy and doesn't have problems at home. If that means someone I'm paying 6 figures needs every Friday off for a few months then so be it. Or in this case, taking a nap whenever they need to, provided it's not a 4 hour nap everyday at 1 PM.

Your example isn't even bad though. The point is that why do we have to eat the personal cost of that? My work follows me home and I don't get compensated. If you aren't structuring your time around this, I do think it's often in the best interest of the company.

But that's not what the comment says. He says he is not neglecting the bedtime and despite of that he cannot sleep enough. It can have a whole range of reasons why someone cannot sleep, many of them out of the commenter's control, so there cannot be any neglect whatsoever in any sense of the word in that case.

Doctors and dentists typically only work during “work time”, so are you saying you would schedule a vacation day in order to visit one?

As non hourly, exempt workers, it’s generally assumed the time is flexible, in the same way you aren’t paid for overtime.

You are making the assumption that people working from home work on a clock, and talking to my friends and coworkers is not common. Although I have one friend who does it pretty religiously, and he seems to be happier for it.

Replace "nap" with any other life maintenance that is an impediment to work.

It is much quicker to just pause work for an hour, fix the problem and then get back to it. I'm not trapped in an office twiddling my thumbs while having to put off the problem for later.

I also find this makes me much more amenable to dealing with work problems on non-work hours. You aren't leeching my life problem solving time during the entire work day, so I don't have to be as protective of it when I'm on personal time.

I do that sometimes, but I found I have to set an alarm, like 20 minutes. If not I end up feeling like my head is made of cement.

Is that really going to raise eyebrows? Google has had over-booked nap rooms for more than twenty years.

Maybe to those amongst us working more traditional 9-5s outside of California... .

Your comment is the first I've heard of that.

>“I was almost depressed,” she says. “I was deprived of all my personal life.” After her shift, which sometimes included overtime, she had a small window to eat, shower and go to bed – but she sacrificed sleep to eke out some personal time. Often, Rao would stay up surfing the internet, reading the news and watching online videos until well after midnight.

Same here. There's not much "psychology" mystery to it, humans are not robots, we need some fun/me/entertainment/wind-down/-time, not just to sleep, work, and eat.

Sleeping feels so fleeting, you close your eyes and poof there go 8 hours(not to say that it isn't beneficial or necessary of course). To work 8 hours, sleep, and then work another 8 hours felt not much different than just working 16 hours with a small break in the middle. So I would stay up for a while to have fun at the expense of the next day...and probably many days thereafter.

It gets worse when sleep isn't fleeting. Waking up every two hours and then struggling to get back to sleep really draws out the misery of working long hours.

Note: Before anyone tries to give me advice, my depressive episodes cause primary insomnia. Whatever you think will work, won't. It's been tried.

A question: why do you personally believe the causality is depression causes insomnia? Alternatively why do you not think that insomnia causes depression?

Personally believe...?

I've been diagnosed Bipolar 1 by a psychiatrist. Primary insomnia is a known symptom of depressive episodes. Uncommon to be sure, but not unknown.

And to prove it really is primary insomnia, let me walk you through the three different kinds of insomnia I deal with.

1. Anxiety-related insomnia. Rare. My brain is stuck in a feedback loop.

2. Manic insomnia. Occasionally. My brain running overclocked and I don't feel tired. Imagine trying to sleep while doing lines of cocaine.

3. Depression insomnia. Common. My body can sleep but brain cannot sleep. I can lay in bed for eight hours, motionless and thoughtless while being fully conscious of every moment while my body rests. I get up with my body feeling great and my mind exhausted.

Sorry, I was just trying to grok how you understand things to help me learn. I hope I didn’t come across as attacking you.

Completely off-topic, but I am interested in the science of psychological diagnoses, because a diagnosis is usually a recognition of a cluster of symptoms, and only sometimes is a cause given.

Funnily enough, before you mentioned it, I didn’t know what ‘primary insomnia’ meant. A definition for others: “Traditionally, a distinction has been made between secondary insomnia, which arises due to another condition, and primary insomnia where a patient has problems sleeping but where there is no underlying medical cause. However, this distinction is now considered less important because:” from https://bpac.org.nz/2017/insomnia-1.aspx

Trying to understand causes is an epically hard road, as shown by the slow progress in non-psych medicine over the last century. Especially hard if your own mind is throwing roadblocks in the way (mental tar pit, manic disinformation, delusions, time 110% dedicated to surviving with no spare cycles).

All the best fortune on your journey.

Ever tried mirtazapine? It’s an antidepressant that’s also a sedative. You take it every night before bed. Works great for me.

What part of no advice... sigh

No. I'd like to avoid my psychiatrist sending me to the ER again.

you close your eyes and poof there go 8 hours

I wish I could say that about myself. Since a few months, I often lie awake for hours waiting for sleep to come along and poof the night away. More often than not, it takes until 3am for me to fall asleep, and I feel as broken as you might expect the next morning.

I don't really have a good handle on what changed, or how to get back into my old sleep cycle. I just know it's annoying as hell.

I often self sabotage myself, as humans are prone to do. I used to get into this cycle of playing video games or watching some show until like 6am and then I would go to sleep for 5-6 hours. I knew what I needed to do to get myself out of that cycle, as eventually it became unpleasant/anti-social/etc... but I just didn't want to take the steps. As can be seen in some of the comments, there is often a chasm between giving advice and taking it.

What I have observed (in my case) is that if 1. I am too tired, it actually takes longer to fall asleep. 2. If I have watched some heavy / thought provoking movie / series etc., those thoughts keep playing out in my head and then it takes longer to fall asleep.

In such cases, I have devised a strategy. I have developed a fantasy of my own which I keep playing out in my head consciously. I am fast asleep before I know it.

Works for me too. Some people count sheeps to sleep, I evaluate cnc machines or some mechanical contraptions.

The first tip a "sleep doctor" will give you is to cut caffeine. Have you tried that?

I just saw a note this week that in cases like this it might be good to ask 'what have you tried?' before giving any advice. Maybe HN should get into that habit.

Why? If they decide to share their personal story online, at the very least they should expect to get replies from people who may relate to it and are willing to share their own experiences for what they're worth.

If they get offended by that advice, the issue is on them, not me.

Also, ironically enough, your comment is actually the unsolicited advice in the thread...

I guess you're right, both comments are, since nobody asked for advice.

I chose this point to invite this discussion, but could have used one of the many others in the same vein as well. What is a good reaction to someone stating their plight but not actually asking for help?

I equate someone stating their plight with asking for advice. Particularly the following

> I don't really have a good handle on what changed, or how to get back into my old sleep cycle. I just know it's annoying as hell.

In my mind, the only point in saying that is for others to empathize and share their best ideas so that OP can have "a better handle" on things. I think it's only human to respond as I did.

I do think we live in an age where people are sensitive over their interpersonal boundaries to a fault. No man is an island, and people will always give unsolicited advice—the listener can simply just choose to ignore it in which case nobody is really worse off.

Advice is almost invariably provided "as is" and with a suggested grain of salt. I don't see how it's offensive, almost by definition, as there's a distinction between being judgmental of someone and genuinely trying to help.

And for what it's worth, I don't even get offended if people judge me and don't think others should either. It's part of what defines life in a society and judging / peer pressure has a net positive effect lest we remain barbarians.

Strangely enough, I drink a large cup in the morning but almost always feel very tired by mid afternoon, and find it easy (recognizing my good fortune here) to fall asleep at night. Amazing how varied biological/psychological responses can be to a single substance.

Of course, what's actually not good for you is having to work twelve hours a day. Leisure time isn't the problem.

The BBC has turned quite a spin in the sub-headline:

"Many young Chinese workers prioritise leisure time over sleep after long work days – even though they know it’s unhealthy."

It's clear even from this formulation that what's really been prioritised (and really unhealthy) is the long work day.

Thank fuck some countries have had workers' revolutions that limit working hours and days - and make employers pay dearly for overtime.

I mean there's workarounds like the gig economy, but for most people things are still pretty good.

Except for all the demanding jobs where you need to unofficially work outside your working hours... I live in one of those countries with a reasonable working hours limit, but I'm an academic, my partner is a doctor, both of us work "voluntarily" outside working hours. I need to prepare clases, request grants, and do research in a hypercompetitive environment where you need better CV than competitors. She needs to be up to date with the latest findings in medicine.

It does work for workers in many sectors, though. I'm not criticizing working hours regulations, far from it - just saying we should probably do more than that.

I need to prepare clases, request grants, and do research in a hypercompetitive environment where you need better CV than competitors.

Not to be unsympathetic, but it's baffling to me why academics, who are mainly smart, innovative people, don't band together across disciplines to reshape their environment and wrest control out of the hands of the administrators who frequently make their life a misery.

I don't know if administrators are what make academic life difficult. It sounds to me like the parent post is saying that it's difficult because there are lots of really smart and motivated people competing at near-maximum effort for limited resources.

That matches my experience in academia. The prof in charge of our lab worked a lot because he was obsessed with the work and wanted to succeed, not because someone was cracking a whip.

competing at near-maximum effort for limited resources

Yes, but why? Most academics I know are miserable and worn ragged by this endless competition. I'm asking why they don't construct a more favorable environment for themselves where they are not constantly being played off against each other. Administrators are part of that system, as opposed to being autonomous villains.

You both are well-compensated for that, though. You could choose to be a mediocre academic and she could choose to be a mediocre doctor. It’s a trade-off.

Higher compensation doesn't increase a day's duration. It also won't provide you immunity to health issues.

If the only way to not be 'mediocre' is to sacrifice one's health, there's something wrong.

I was astonished to see the article treat leisure time as something to be optimized out of people's lives rather than as fundamental to their well being.

It's almost like they're trying to normalize a 6 day/72 hour week for everyone.

I'm also doing this, big time.. Between a full-time job, building a new home, renovating another and having a wife and kid, there's not any "me" time until past wife+kids bedtime.

I only get energy from being alone and doing stuff on my computer, so I trade sleep for time every night.

> I only get energy from being alone and doing stuff on my computer, so I trade sleep for time every night.

I certainly understand the sentiment. But I'd question is this actually true? Have you considered doing a Gwern-style self-experiment to quantify the impact?

Maybe try something like your current routine for two weeks, then rigorously maxing out sleep for two weeks. Take systematic surveys of your subjective wellbeing and energy levels throughout the day. Then compare the two periods.

You might be surprised to learn that what you think is giving you energy, is actually taking it away. I think as humans we tend to have very bad introspective intuition about what actually improves our energy and mood. I know I certainly do. Being scientific about it can reveal some surprising results.

> You might be surprised to learn that what you think is giving you energy, is actually taking it away.

I feel like you are confusing physical energy with spiritual energy. The stuff that makes you feel motivated and driven and excited, versus just capable of doing work.

Nothing beats having some time alone to work on your personal projects. Especially after wasting a full day working with enterprise code that was written by an offshore company six years ago.

You okay?

As someone with a demanding job that often takes the whole day (plus now, a kid) I do this very often. I didn't even know it had a name.

The piece seems to imply it's a wrong choice, because it would be better to just go to sleep. Maybe in many cases it is. For me, that's not the case, because if I don't get some "me time", I just can't sleep well. I'd rather go to bed at 1:30 and sleep well than go at 12 and spend two hours rolling in the bed because I'm still thinking about work and haven't had time to "unwind" my mind. So I don't think it's a bad decision, and it doesn't feel like "revenge" either, just some needed personal upkeep time (like sleeping itself).

Of course, I know it would be best to remove the stress, so as to have time both for myself and sleep and not have to choose the lesser of two evils... easier said than done, though.

I mean, "me time" is not optional. How can life even be worth living if it's just a cycle of work and sleep?

Thank you.

The most surprising bit of info is how any of this is surprising.

OF COURSE I sacrifice sleep for leisure. I would be happy to sacrifice work instead, but guess what?

That's very true.

However, the activities described in the article -- "Rao would stay up surfing the internet, reading the news and watching online videos until well after midnight" -- don't sound like the kind of quality "me time" that makes life more worth living.

I say this as someone trapped in a similar cycle. My wife and I are exhausted after both working from home and pandemic parenting/homeschooling every day. By the time the kids are asleep (10:30 for the older one) we "need" some time to veg on the couch, and end up going to bed at 11:30, when really we would have been better off going to bed 45 minutes earlier.

But the "me time" trap makes us somehow believe that the hour or so we spend on our phones is necessary for us, when in fact it's stupid, wasted time, reading about politics or being on Twitter of whatever.

(Ok, we also have been teaching ourselves the piano, and playing chess and stuff, but many nights we still feel like we "deserve" some brain-dead "me time.")

The good thing about "me time" is that it's for ME. So you don't necessarily need to agree that it is quality "me time" for me to think that and enjoy it. In general I agree that spending time in front of a phone is not the best time spent, but if the goal is for individuals to enjoy themselves then it may best. I know lots of people that live for movies, shows, content from youtube, and more. So for them, spending a couple of hours in front of a phone watching their favorite show works as "me time"

I'm sure some people would love to spend their "me time" in the daylight, outside, or even being "productive" and learning new hobbies or practicing current ones. Unfortunately we have to prove value to society so we can get money for food and shelter.

You can't seriously expect to come to night exausted and sleep-deprived, only to be "productive". I don't want to be productive, I want to empty my mind of responsiblities and serious stuff, even if that means shooting aliens in my underwear for no benefit at all.

Actually, the "no benefit at all" is the entire point.

I'm totally not convinced that surfing the internet or watching videos, however aimlessly, is somehow of lesser quality when it comes to relaxing. Especially given that, as you said, many people simply don't appear to have any mental energy left to do anything more "productive" after a workday, never mind a workday AND childcare. Of course, that's again a problem caused by work, not procrastination, but I very much challenge the notion that it's good for you to worry about whether your leisure time is of high enough quality!

Now, I do agree that social media and other things in the digital world can be actually addictive and psychologically harmful, but given the aforementioned state of mental exhaustion I'm totally not surprised that people should get hooked on things that are designed to continuously give your brain small rewards with minimum effort spent on your part.

I also think in many cases people are doing something that is at least a little worthwhile. If they are idly watching a vlogger/streamer/show it's still a social activity. I often watch content that makes me laugh, and I believe this helps me make my real life friends laugh.

To be fair, a 996 schedule (9am-9pm, 6 days a week, 72 hours/week) doesn't leave a great deal of time for, e.g., hiking, biking, walks in the park. I suspect the trouble is less a paucity of imagination than a paucity of time.

I struggle with this a lot and have been wondering recently what it is that causes it, so it's refreshing seeing such an article today and knowing it's not just me.

Seems that my hunch is at least somewhat correct, that I just want more "me time". I feel a bit bad in that I don't have a tough 12hr schedule like some but still exhibit this behavior. I think its partially due to the fact that a lot of other things I do outside of work, my mind doesn't perceive as restful/me-time. Ex. I enjoy running, but exercise still feels like an obligation more than a privilege. Combine that with other social/communal obligations and certain errands and a lot of my non-work time ends up being for fulfilling the demands of some other authority concept.

Then, I've let my hobbies wane over the years (especially in terms of what I can do inside during Covid) so the easiest thing I go to is just scrolling on my phone. Which feels like its for me but is ultimately really draining.

Trying a couple approaches to this. 1.) Anything BUT mindless browsing. Seriously, no guilt even if it's just a show on Netflix, buying one item at the store even though I "should" just batch shop, whatever as long as its self directed. 2.) Eek out that time and make it a priority, while still prioritizing sleep. Allow certain tasks that I "should" get done today to push out.

I follow a similar pattern, but a major component for me is anhedonia / depression. I don't have anything in my life that is fulfilling or exciting or fun. I delay going to bed, both hoping to suddenly feel that spark of excitement for something, and feeling reluctant to go to bed in this unsatisified state.

Tried stimulants?

Stimulants to work around depression seems like a recipe for more depression. A high is usually followed by a low, not to mention fucking up your brain long-term.

I would suggest seeking professional mental health help. I'd also suggest meditation and a bit of self discovery. If it wasn't 2020 I'd also suggest travelling, break the pattern find some perspective.

Life is too short, find some help, get to the root of your problem. Life lesson for me that I am still trying to embody is happiness is a choice. It's really true. When I dig deep I realize that I actually like to wallow in unhappiness, it gives me an identity. This is obviously not healthy but realizing that is the first, incredibly difficult step. Shaking myself out of a black hole spiral is so hard. But forcing yourself to go for a walk, see some friends, basically break out of whatever negative thoughts you have an choosing to do something positive is key.

You aren't alone feeling this way. Be kind to yourself.

I'm not sure there's a root to discover that I don't already know about. I'm on the autism spectrum, I have some other health issues, I've missed out on a lot of development and experiences in life due to the ASD and mental health issues resulting from it. I struggle to keep up with work and all the other requirements life throws at you, how the world works is fundamentally depressing to me because it's in conflict with my values and I'm helpless to do anything about it.


Lots of things that can't really be changed.

Sorry for my flippant comment. I was actually more serious than I sounded like:

Underlying ADHD can sometimes cause depression and other weird comorbid things. If you treat the ADHD, the depression might get better. (I've seen it happen to friends.)

Yes, in the very short term, stimulants also make you happy directly. But that effect is fleeting and subject to building a very quick tolerance.

> A high is usually followed by a low

I've had both Ritalin and modafinil. They're different.


They both don't have much of a low at low doses. And in any case, you wouldn't be getting a high from either any more after a few days of using them, tolerances to the high build very quickly.

My original comment was a bit flippant. I was obliquely hinting at perhaps treating an underlying ADHD, because that's sometimes cause for depression and something that's relatively easy to rule out (or treat) with eg some over-the-counter nicotine patches.

I haven't done a long-term trial.

The only things that are legally available here are ritalin and modafinil (only if you have narcolepsy). I tried 5mg of ritalin 2 or 3 times, it made me work and think faster and with more focus, but it also felt jittery and I'm not sure it was all that pleasurable.

So based on that and on worries about causing more long-term damage I haven't tried to take it longer. Maybe I should try combining it with something that's supposed to be fun, but I don't know how I feel about doing this without some kind of a plan. E.g. combining with games that are challenging I would be worried about lowering my frustration tolerance.

I was suggesting to try stimulants, because some people have an underlying ADHD that's causing depression or anxiety etc as a comorbidity. And for those people the standard stimulants used to treat ADHD also help with their other symptoms.

I have ADHD, but never any depression. (But I have friends with those combinations.)

Your reaction to Ritalin matches mine to caffeine or dexamphetamine: the dose I get jittery at is lower than the dose were I see positive effects. Luckily, Ritalin/methylphenidate works fairly well for me with rather manageable side-effects.

By the way, I bet you have other options!:

Caffeine is universally available. But has a bad side effect profile.

You can get adrafinil over-the-counter, which is a chemical precursor to modafinil. See eg https://www.gwern.net/Modafinil

Nicotine is a wonder drug, too. Nicotine patches are available over-the-counter. See https://www.gwern.net/Nicotine (Please don't confuse nicotine with smoking. Smoking is still bad for you.)

I am taking methylphenidate, but for long term effects, I am actually seriously considering switching to nicotine patches:

Nicotine protects your brain against parkinson's, which runs in my family.

But in any case, from what you describe, it doesn't necessarily sound like your depression is linked to something that stimulants can help with in the first place?

yes, and watch that stuff. I'll give you that for the first few times you actually were working and thinking faster (i.e. it wasn't subjective), but that goes away after a few weeks, at which point you might find yourself addicted.

They may be good for a short term boost, but they do not provide any long-term gain.

I find myself doing this too. My kids put such a large constraint on my free time that between work and family I only have 3 hours or less per day to do everything, so I am tempted to sacrifice sleep to gain a bit more book reading, side project, or video game time.

Why not include your family in your 'me time'?

I always had my children with me when I was doing 'me things'. Including reading, video games, woodworking, hunting, hiking, and even meditation. For reference, I'm a super introverted person, and really need alone time to recharge my batteries.

It's a nice way to instill values while also enjoying them while they're small.

I mean, they will grow up eventually (really fast actually) and won't want to hang out with you at some point, so even if you "can't" do your 'me time' with them, you will have access to it again, eventually.

I do try... with some success. My kids are still very small though so they get bored after a few minutes if I am reading out loud from anything other than a children's book. We are still in the "high entropy" stage of childhood with most of our kids.

Anything outside I include the kiddos but I'm playing DOOM and Sekiro right now so I can't exactly have a toddler watch me decapitate demons/samurais and I'd rather have a beer etc. after the kids are sleeping. When they get older we'll probably play some Mario Kart/Minecraft style stuff together. My 'me' time is exclusively after the kids are sleeping anyway.

You will get more time once your children grow up, which will in hindsight happen much faster than you think.

From just reading the headline, I thought this article was going to be about little kids refusing to go to bed! I get so frustrated when my toddler won't go to sleep, exactly because it cuts into that precious free time.

As a way of breaking this cycle, I've recently been considering going to bed earlier (e.g. 9-10pm), and then getting up at 5-6am, BUT with the proviso I can do whatever I want between 5 and 8, with no pressure to be productive (e.g. binge on Netflix for 3 hours). I just need to convince my wife to do the same :) Has anyone tried something like this?

I made that switch earlier this year. Huge boost in productivity and happiness.

The tricky part is making sure you don’t pick up the phone before 10am. Too easy to wander over to HN and write about how much this sleep schedule switch helped.

For me mornings are great for deep work (usually) because my mind isn’t full of other people’s crap yet.

I do this (allocate more unproductive time in the mornings) and it's great. I tend to wake up at about 7 and wake up slowly, browse the news and/or play a game until I start working at about 10. I've operated that way since I was a kid (with some exceptions), and find that every day is much better when the mornings contain no stress.

That's sort of how our schedule falls out anyway, bed around 10, rise around 6, first meetings don't kick in until 9. I have a variety of side projects, chores, and just plain entertainments that go in to that 7-9 slot, chosen based on what I'd most like, or need, to do. Sometimes I just sleep in a little extra. One day I'll commute again, I'm sure, but I am really enjoying this instead.

Tried this once. Wife noticed me get up and decided to start her day earlier. Youngest child heard me and ended up on my lap while I was trying to work.

I went back to my usual staying up until 2am or so. Virtually zero chance of getting disrupted then.

That sounds good because I think most people are more likely to "waste their time" at night rather than as soon as they get out of bed in the morning. You just don't get up and immediately start eating cake and watching Netflix.

I am trying the opposite. Wake up at 7, and focus exclusively on productive work until around noon, then if I am successful (I wasn't today), I allow the rest of the day to be guilt-free whatever I choose to do.

Done it for a while and was pretty cool, but killed any wish to work the rest of the day.

I used to work tech support Midnight to 8am.

I'd get home exhausted ... but I honestly couldn't sleep unless I did some 'non work' a game or something at home away from work. I didn't feel stressed by work or anything, it was a great job with great people.... I just felt driven to do something ELSE no matter how tired I was.

Sounds like they're just behaving like parents with young kids.

I routinely stay up too late just to have some quiet, waking conscious alone time after a full day of work and time with the kids (which are now hopelessly intertwined).

>Sounds like they're just behaving like parents with young kids.

That was my thought as well. After the wife and kid (not so young now) get to bed is when I actually get quiet time to myself, which I need to unwind from the day.

It's actually gotten much worse due to WFH. My daily commute (via transit) provided some of that quiet time to gear up in the morning and unwind in the evening.

I'm hoping to do my 90 minute train commute twice a week after this is all over.

We have the option of remote, flex (hot desk), or office (perm desk) when this is all over. Before I was a 3-4 days in the office, 1-2 at home kind of guy. I’m planning on being a 5 days a week in the office guy so hard when this dies down and I can get a shot.

So much worse. I never thought the 45 min spent in the car was actually useful time! Turns out sitting in traffic was basically meditation.

Hah, 45 minutes in the car is VERY different than 45 minutes split between sitting on a bus/train and random waiting in between.

I bet this is pretty common among parents during the pandemic. Between homeschooling/work, the only time a lot of have is late at night.

And during this time slot for oneself, somethings can't be done as it was done earlier. Physical stores are closed, sometimes there isn't enough space to watch your TV in the desired volume, you can't go to your yard and do your wood-working hobby.

Even when you find/trade your time, it's not the same time.

Even without the pandemic, i just need 2 hours of me time when the kids are all sleeping. As most parents know, they often don't go to sleep as easy as one wishes so my own shedule gets moved further back.

This is exactly what Netflix is betting on.

” Not Amazon Video, not YouTube, not even old-fashioned broadcasters. No, according to the company's chief executive, Reed Hastings, Netflix's biggest competitor is the pesky human need to close your eyes and sleep for a third of the day.”


I don't really get why Netflix would want to make customers watch more. I mean, you pay the same price whether you watch or not.

They logically should care about making people watch a minimum amount that ensures they keep paying, but beyond that it's worthless.

What would happen if she, or like minded people decided to demand eight-hour day in workplaces? (Like the Eight-hour day movement during industrialising Britain and elsewhere)

Is there any way for them to even make demands without being squashed?

Not that my situation is anywhere near as dire as a worker on the 996 plan in China, but I do a similar tradeoff. During work I also help the kids get through their school day, so my workday gets a bit longer, then after that I have my own schooling in the evening, and then there's no time left. So I steal it from sleep time or else I get nothing at all.

Can't tell you how much I look forward to 1) being done with OMSCS, and 2) the pandemic ending and the kids going back to in-person school. Never going to complain about teacher salaries again (not that I really ever did, but still...)

I finished OMSCS in April. I was surprised to find that I just oscillated between trying to start the 10 different projects that had been waiting for me to finish, and doing absolutely nothing because I finally didn’t have to.

I ended up going through some material and building a trading bot because I never got a chance to take ML4T.

My wife was incredulous that I was doing more coursework after graduating.

“One of the most important parts of recovery from work is sleep. However, sleep is affected by how well we detach,”

This. Plus, I have done this in the past and found that it just takes time to wind down after working, no matter how tired I am. It's at least 3 hours for me. It seems more the problem is there aren't enough hours in the day to work that much. But sadly, that rarely changes, and if I prioritize work over life, it will simply take over.

I've found it helpful to wake up at the same (early) time everyday no matter what and then rely on my body to "tell me" when it's time for sleep. This keeps me lined up on a steady circadian rhythm. If it gets disrupted, that's OK, it snaps back in day or two as long as I stick to the same wake-up time.

It's much harder to do this with a prescribed "bed time" if you're not ready, it's really hard to sleep.

Can we have an article about the psychology of wringing your employees dry and pretending that 72 hour weeks are a normal or reasonable thing?

While China is nominally communist (insofar as all other political parties are banned) in practice the economy there is based on hypercapitalism coupled with industrial policy and strict regulation; it's very apparent that workers have little to no 'control over the means of production' or any kind of ownership or autonomy within their workplace. It's 'communist' in the same way that North Korea is 'democratic' - the political ideology just decorates an authoritarian power structure and has little to do with the everyday life of the population.

I'm not ready for it to be morning yet. That's what I would think during my early days of graduate school, when I would spend over 12 hours a day on campus, juggling courses, course work, my first foray into research, as well as teaching assistant responsibilities. At night, I would often just listen to music and do some light internet browsing for an hour or two, despite being tired.

That this is needed in one’s life is a sign that you are probably wasting your life.

School sets you up for this mindset. I don't think many people realize that there is more to a life than achieving or being productive. It's all good if that's what you actually enjoy, but if it's making you miserable you are indeed wasting your life. Knowing this should shake you awake, knowing you are miserable because of what you are currently doing should provoke a change, not seek some way to work with your misery.

> In Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, the neuroscientist is blunt: “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span.”

I find it sad that people are still quoting this book. Many claims in this book have been debunked online[0]. The misinformation may even cause people to get too much sleep causing different kinds of issues.

As for me, this has caused me to come back with an impression of "we don't really know why we sleep." I wish there was a definitive source of information on this as popular as this book, but which is actually reputable. Now I just end up doubting my sleep patterns, waking up naturally and still being left unsure why I feel tired.

[0] https://guzey.com/books/why-we-sleep/

I don't think it takes a PhD in psychology to recognize that people like to live their own lives and not just commute to/from office, eat, shower, repeat, fast forward 40 years, and die.

"Many Chinese prioritise long work days over leisure time or sleep – even though they know it’s unhealthy. What’s driving this behaviour?"

Some typos in the summary, fixed.

In my last job, boss would pretty often come up with something important to do near the end of my shift. Watch out for that. How do you deal when your employer (it was a small company) engages with you personally when your shift is coming to an end? Discussing, planning, that sort of thing. I could set my borders with others well enough, but at workplace it's a delicate thing.

I always find myself drifting towards night hours. I really wish I could shift my schedule by around 4 hours, starting and ending my day later.

> But she does advise employees to talk to their colleagues and collectively approach their boss, with evidence, if they want to ask for change.

Yeah, because that isn't what the labor unions are for, am I right?

I guess people enjoy living in today's neloiberal utopian nightmare rather than supporting labor rights and labor unions.

"Privileged" European here: it is totally beyond me how can anyone be any productive on a 996 schedule. I can't write code for more than 4-6 hours a day, 5 days per week. I would probably not be a good programmer if I was born in China.

Let me tell you a secret: no one can be productive in such a regimen. It doesn't stop companies from trying.

This is not just a Chinese thing. The US is not much different.

Which is so blatantly obvious it tells us something: long hours are not about productivity no matter how much anyone claims they are. Long hours are about power. Some people really want to own other people and in modern societies that shun actual slavery they seek it by other means.

Oh my god. I never knew this had a name, but it very much fits my behavior. I crave solitude and control over my own time and attention, and the only time to get that is while the rest of my timezone sleeps.

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