No, I can't go out tonight. Or ever again.
January 15, 2014 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I want to finally start getting enough sleep, but I just can't see how I can do that without completely ruining my social life. How do young single people have friends when they sleep enough?

I'm sick of not getting enough sleep. It's bad for my physical and mental health, it just makes me feel like crap, and I actually cannot imagine what it would feel like to always be well-rested. When left to my own devices on the weekend I can easily sleep for 12 hours, which is probably because I'm never getting enough during the week.

But, I work from 9 to 5. So I pretty much need to get up at 7:30, which means to get 8 hours of sleep I need to be in bed by 11 (it takes me a little while to fall asleep). And, every instructional thing about sleep I've read says to never vary your sleeping/waking times, even on weekends... so that would mean I can never stay up past midnight again. And I currently do that more often than not.

So, how do you virtuous sleep-hygenic people manage to have friends and relationships? The idea of cutting a Thursday or Friday night date short at 9:30 because I have to go home and sleep just sounds ridiculous to me. Who's going to want to date someone in their 20s who goes to bed at 11? And my friends are mostly the kind of people whose parties begin at 9 or 10 at night and go until 2 or 3 in the morning- do I cheat on weekends and stay up late, or is that going to ruin the whole thing?

I want enough sleep. But it seems impossible somehow. I'm sure it's easy for people who already have SOs and settled routines and stuff, but I'm afraid this will turn me into a complete hermit with no social outlet.
posted by showbiz_liz to Health & Fitness (48 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I think all through my 20's I survived on about 6 hours of sleep during the week and caught up on the weekends. It worked okay.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 AM on January 15, 2014

Is there any chance of flexible hours at work? Not having to be somewhere at exactly 9 every morning made hanging out as late as I wanted a lot easier when I was a younger man.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 8:32 AM on January 15, 2014

Massive lie-ins on the weekend.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:32 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sleeping a ton on the weekends just makes me feel like I've wasted the weekend, and I still wind up feeling like garbage during the week. (Like right now, for instance...)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:34 AM on January 15, 2014

My friends with 9-5s would take a nap as soon as they hit home, wake up at 8, have a dinner and then head out.
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2014 [35 favorites]

Not possible. I choose to sacrifice sleep.
posted by scose at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sure all the experts say keep a fixed time for going to sleep / waking up but this is the real world. Assuming you aren't struggling to treat insomnia or something like that it sounds like your best bet is to try to get to bed on the early side every night at a set time, but occasionally make an exception for being social on Friday nights or whatever. Sure you won't have 100% clinically perfect sleep hygine but if you stay mostly consistent and manage the other parts of your sleep hygiene well you should feel better. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

You just do different stuff. Go out for after-dinner drinks and/or dinner at 7 instead of drinks at 9.

Have invite people over on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. These gatherings have a different tenor from late-night parties, of course, but there's no reason it has to be dark outside to hang out.
posted by BrashTech at 8:38 AM on January 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

I got older and my friends starting going to bed at a reasonable time, too.

But in all seriousness, I always found that (and I think this is due to the fact that I'm an introvert) I wanted and needed at least one weekend night at home alone anyhow, so staying up late once a week was not a big deal.

I also cultivated relationships with people who were like me. I never enjoyed parties that went from 10-2. It's just not in my nature. Instead, I would go to the movies, have people over for dinner, and do more early-night stuff with my pals. Occasionally I would venture out to a bar or something after hours, but it was usually a special-occasion type of thing and not something I ever wanted to do much of anyhow.

So, I'd suggest that you:
- Give yourself one weekend night a week that is for you
- Suggest events to your current group of friends that are less night-life-centric
- Start a hobby like knitting or yoga where you have to socialize with new people during the day or early evening
- Try not to worry about the "rules" of sleep hygiene and do what feels best for your body
- Think about a job or career where you might not have to go to bed so early if you really dislike it or if it feels unnatural to you (I'm a natural night owl even though I don't like partying at night so this is something I did)

Good luck, have fun, and try to get some rest. :)
posted by k8lin at 8:39 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Who's going to want to date someone in their 20s who goes to bed at 11?

You know, I couldn't really imagine the lives of morning people until my late 20s, when I unexpectedly became one. Turns out that streets I assumed were empty (or at best full of half-awake automatons chasing coffee, and thinking wistfully of their beds) were not only full, but full of cheerful, alert, busy people.

It might just be possible that the answer to this seemingly-rhetorical question is something like "Well, no wonder you can't imagine who these people are right now, because you're going out too late to meet them. But they exist, and they're really wonderful people. Even more, one (or more) of them is going to be delighted to meet and date you."
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2014 [18 favorites]

I would pick a single weeknight on which it is okay for me to go out/be up late. That is the night where I get home at 1am and faceplant onto the couch and wake up still gritty from the night before to stumble grumpily into work. One night, same day every week, It's Your Thing That's Just How It Is Now. Do whatever you want on weekends and hope you can get it back together for weekdays by Monday morning.

Daytime naps are your friend. Eschew your lunch hour for a nap somewhere quiet and eat later on sitting at your desk (if u are a deskjobber).
posted by elizardbits at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love sleep. LOVE sleep. I like 9 hours a night.

My social routine:
- one night a week is knitting (it varies based on the week), I'm home by 9
- Sunday afternoon is knitting with a different group
- band nights - one of our good friends is in a band, and those nights I take a nap when I get home, then go out.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:41 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think this is an issue a lot of people struggle with in their mid-20s (I certainly did, although I married young so if I wanted to escape early I had a built-in excuse). There's no magical secret that will suddenly find enough hours in the day. Most people just choose not to get enough sleep, or they start napping more. Others go out less (internet dating seems to be the preferred venue of people who still want to date, but want to get home at a reasonable hour).

Eventually your age cohort will start to settle down and parties will wind down around 9:30 on their own. Or you'll find a new cohort that does so.
posted by muddgirl at 8:43 AM on January 15, 2014

It's easy, we go out for dinner earlier.

We're all in our respective homes by 10 at the latest, usually, though if left to my own devices I could be in bed at 9 and not feel terribly guilty.

Also, we hang out for longer stretches on the weekends. Lunch and matinee? Sure. This is why brunch was invented.
posted by lydhre at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you reduce your morning routine (pre-pack lunches, pre-choose clothes, wash your hair at night etc) so that you can sleep until 8am?

I wouldn't be too strict about sleep hygiene (ie wake up at 7:30am on a weekend, ugh) but the most important is to be relaxed for 30min before bed so no screens before bed! No iphone or tv or computer.

Maybe you can think of your sleep on a per-week basis rather than per-day.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2014

Yes, you cheat on weekends, and take a "disco nap" before heading out -- especially if you are in a place like NYC.

You can also concentrate on improving the quality of sleep that you do get. Regular exercise and yoga typically mean that I need less sleep, and no electronic devices in the bedroom or an hour before bed seems to help too. Noise levels, temperature, and mattress quality obviously matter a lot too.
posted by susanvance at 8:48 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hey, I feel ya. I have to get up at 6am every morning which means I'm in bed even earlier than you. Having a social life can be harder, without question, but it is worth it. Getting solid, regular sleep is awesome. (FWIW - I do think trying to stick somewhat closely to your sleep schedule on the weekends does matter, especially at first when you are trying to establish the routine.)

What I did was:
- do more right-after-work supper socializing instead of up-late-partying socializing. Quality time with friends but I could still get to bed at a reasonable time (and it often cost less than a bar would have).
- Weekend brunch
- the odd time when you do want to stay up late, have a nap in the afternoon.
- daytime events like exhibits or museums or sporting events or hiking became a lot more common.

The big thing when you shift from up late socializing to not up late socializing is that alcohol generally becomes much less of a player. Socializing changes form from bars and parties to physical activities or brunches or dinner parties or afternoon events. Things often become more interactive and sincere. I actually think the quality of my relationships with people has increased since my shift to better sleep and no late nights.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

What I did in my 20s: lots of afternoon naps and sleeping in on the weekends. Uh, and lots of coffee. For me at least, sleeping a different schedule on Saturday/Sunday never made my sleep any harder on work nights.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was single in San Francisco in my 20's, during the week I'd wake up at 5:30 AM, take University classes in the morning, get to work by 12:30, then work until 9:00. I'd usually head home to sleep and do it over again.

Sometimes, I'd go out in the middle of the week, if so, I wouldn't go home, but crash on my sister's floor at school and get by the following day on about 4-5 hours of sleep. This was not optimal, and later that night, I'd get to bed at the right time.

I stayed out late on weekends and slept in a bit the following morning (an hour or so later) and that worked for me.

Today, I'm in bed by around 10:00 and watching TV until sleepytime some time around 11:00. On the weekends, I may stay up a hair later, but I really DO want to sleep. So I'm usually snoring away by 1:00.

When I was in my 30's, I found that happy hour right after work was an awesome social outlet, and I'd still get home at around 8:00, with plenty of time to putter around and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

I don't think that there's a big deal about staying up later on the weekends, and aiming for 11:00 as bedtime on school nights.

Experiment around, I suspect you can find a happy balance.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:55 AM on January 15, 2014

The advice about having the same sleep time every day is really good, but it's most important for people who have difficulty getting to sleep. That's not you! It would help you stay in a regular routine, but you might benefit more from sleeping to ease the pressure on you in the week.

How many times per week do you go out? If it's just a couple and it's not too late then you can probably make up most of that at the weekend. If it's more, then you need to balance your tiredness against the downsides of changing your schedule.

Don't forget you can always go to bed earlier on days when you don't go out to partly balance out the late nights.

I found this book really helped me get my head around the compromises I was making regarding sleep.

Personally, I just don't enjoy being out past 11pm, and that's been the case all through my life, so it's easier for me, but these days I have to get up at 6am, so it's still a struggle!
posted by kadia_a at 9:00 AM on January 15, 2014

I would pick a single weeknight on which it is okay for me to go out/be up late.

This is sort of what I did/do (whoops, in my mid 30s and still have a very active after work social life). I designate a few nights a week (usually Monday and Tuesday) where I don't make plans with friends - basically if people ask me to do something, I suggest Wednesday or Thursday.

I would actually prefer doing more things on the weekends and leave more evenings free but at this point people go out and travel a lot on weekends/do couple stuff so I just have to space people out.

Having a social life is important but after a while I kind of look at what I've been up to and see not only enough sleep but like, a messy apartment, lack of advancement on personal projects, etc.

You have to balance.

Try tracking your sleep each night also, either paper and pencil way or via app/tracker.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 AM on January 15, 2014

Honestly that's what Friday and Saturday nights are for. You go out and socialise and you can sleep in in the morning. If you don't have insomnia changing things up a little doesn't really hurt things. Start shifting from the college mentality of night time is the only time to socialise and you have to hang out for hours and hours start doing things with friends during the weekend in day light hours and hey maybe you only catch up for an hour or 2. If you want to go out on weeknights then happy hour is your friend, and you save money. You can have a couple of drinks hang out and chat and be home by 8 or 9pm.
posted by wwax at 9:06 AM on January 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

Do different stuff. Make different friends. If you're friends with people who like to do outdoor things (that generally end by sunset) or stay in (i.e., invite people over to watch a movie at home) then you can go to bed early.

You're right in that you can't hang out with people that start parties at 9:00PM and go till 2:00AM and be well-rested, but depute popular media, that is not something that all people under 30 do all the time.

Who's going to want to date someone in their 20s who goes to bed at 11?

My girlfriend is 25 and has a hard time staying up past 10. So, me, I guess.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:15 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Keep a fixed time during the week and stick to it diligently. Don't worry about weekends. You don't need to be in bed by 11 on a Friday or Saturday. As you stick to the sleep schedule, over time you'll find that your body becomes better equipped to handle exceptions to it, such that even if you're out late on a Saturday, your body will still want to go to bed at a reasonable hour Sunday night. Melatonin usually helps me on weeknights - I'm kind of a night owl so adjusting my schedule is huge but I was sick of feeling like fried hell in the mornings. I'll take a melatonin about an hour before I want to sleep, and that works okay.

Another thing I do is, I have my alarm set to go off every day, not just weekdays. Most weekend mornings, I'll wake up and just shut it off, but even that interruption tends to make me wake up a bit earlier than I would if left to my own devices, so I'm up at 9:30 instead of, say, noon.

Another chemical solution: If you're going to go out for drinks on a weeknight, take a B12 vitamin beforehand. It won't eliminate hangovers entirely but I find it tends to make the next morning easier.

Basically it's a question of training your body to expect to go to sleep a little earlier most of the time, and you'll find that you can handle deviations from the schedule better. Most of my partying is done on weekends, but when it comes up on a weekday, it's no big deal.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2014

In college we had a saying that out of grades, friends, and sleep, you can pick two. I kind of went for friends and sleep (and late-starting classes). I've had to change my ways since for the past 5 years I've worked 9-5, sometimes starting even earlier. I basically compromise. I go to bed around 11:30 on weekdays, which I figure nets me about 7:30 worth of actual sleep. Sometimes I go right home and crash from some sort of weekday social event (ahem, late-running MeFi meetups) rather than doing other things around the house.

On weekends I stay up a little later but not excessively (maybe 12 or 12:30) and wake up somewhat later (9:30-10). Kind of sucks for friends' events that would go until 2 or 3, but I'm too tired for that anyway. If possible, I show up on the earlier side then go home by midnight.

Naps don't work for me and the idea of tracking my sleep via an app is (pardon the word choice) exhausting. I also think that the more you worry about it the more it becomes an issue. I used to get much less sleep before I started thinking about all this, and I functioned about the same. I wouldn't stress about getting identical sleep every day, just don't stay up til 4 too often or anything.
posted by mlle valentine at 9:22 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sunday Funday and Day drinking. Seriously I socialize around happy hours and still have a great time.
posted by xicana63 at 9:23 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in my 20s with a 9-5 and I am notorious in my group of friends for being the one that fades early. It's not just that I am going home because I know I should sleep. I am literally nodding off on the couch in the middle of a party. I once fell asleep at a metal concert leaning against a bass speaker. It's a little inconvenient and I know that I miss some of the fun late intimate moments when everyone else has left. But I think my friends still like me.

Mostly we do a lot of dinners. And I'm a huge fan of happy hour! And daytime activities during the weekend.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm 24 and admittedly a bit of a curmudgeonly old lady on the inside. I go to bed around 9:30-10 most every night and wake up before 6 on weekdays, and around 7:30-8 on weekends. Every once in a while (every 2-3 months), I will join my friends for a late evening out,usually on Saturday night, but I leave around midnight or 1 instead of staying out with them until 2 or 3. That way, I can sleep in until 9 or 10 and still have most of Sunday to myself. Sometimes this means only hanging out for an hour or two before heading home, but I try to make sure it's a super-fun hour or two. Added bonus: not drinking until the bars close prevents killer hangovers.

One thing that helps with this schedule is shifting toward having older friends. I'm friends with a couple who are 12 and 30 years older than me, and so we will go out for drinks/dinner earlier in the evening, or go for a run in the park early Sunday morning and have brunch afterward.
posted by coppermoss at 9:37 AM on January 15, 2014

I'm surprised that no one mentions disco naps. Come home after work. Go to sleep. Wake up at 11. Go out. Party till 3 am!!! Go home, go to sleep. Wake up at 8.
posted by musofire at 9:37 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had to be at work at 7AM for my late 20s/early 30s and I would have some early nights and some late nights. Like, if I went out after chorus rehearsal on Tuesday night, I went to bed at 9 on Wednesday night. I woke up at the same time pretty much every day. It wasn't bad.

I have a more flexible work schedule now but I guess I still do that, actually - I stay out late if I want to stay out late, and I go to sleep early if I haven't got anything on. It evens out for me in the end.
posted by mskyle at 9:42 AM on January 15, 2014

Yep, it's kind of a mutually exclusive situation. There's some wiggle room, but eventually something has to give.

My experience says that as you get closer to your 30s, a lot of people end up with day jobs and go home early, and some of them reproduce and never go out at all. It becomes less weird to leave at 10pm.

Also, yeah, maybe you need friends who do different things. Most of my friends now are people who are happy to have dinner and a drink and then part ways. I have some friends who party late, but I see them less often and don't stay out past midnight when I do. I'm aging out of that scene anyways and don't feel like going to less late-night parties is damaging my social life--it's not the only way to have fun.

You can stay up late occasionally, but not every night. What "occasionally" means will depend on your tolerance. My threshold is about once per month--once a week doesn't cut it for me.
posted by epanalepsis at 9:44 AM on January 15, 2014

I think you can easily vary your routine times by an hour on the weekends and take naps if you feel like it. The best way, I've found, is to do things with friends that you would otherwise be doing - eating lunch or dinner, working out, watching a hockey game. Plus as I've gotten older, my friends have been a lot more sympathetic about just needing to get to bed earlier because they understand and feel the same way. My sleep hygiene isn't great but sometimes I take an after-work nap just because I need down-time. It makes me feel better and then I can get up and make dinner or read or bug my husband.

I can see how you would be concerned about this from the perspective of someone who is dating. I haven't dated in a while but if a friend or date told me, I'm sorry, I was out late last night so I can't stay out too late tonight, it would indicate to me that you're an adult who knows his limits and is responsible. Those are appealing attributes in a partner.
posted by kat518 at 9:59 AM on January 15, 2014

Also, try the disco nap, but don't be surprised if it doesn't work for you. I like the idea, but in practice I end up groggy, disoriented, and miserable by 1am anyways.
posted by epanalepsis at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have been trying to do something similar with my sleep hygiene (mix of insomnia and conditions that are REALLY BADLY exacerbated by chronic lack of sleep), and yeah, it's hard. And I say that even as an Old Married Lady variety of twentysomething.

Logistically, in my experience it's usually okay to shift your schedule by 1-2 hours on Friday and Saturday nights. More than that, and Sunday night/Monday are hell for me. I usually get up at 6 on weekdays and shoot for bed at 11 (8 hours, for me, is a pipe dream) on weeknights, and then get up around 8:30-9 and go to bed around 12-1 on weekends. I don't nap, ever, because it messes me up, but you may be able to disco nap and push it harder.

But mostly, I don't see people much socially on weekdays. Sometimes I do happy hours. When I was single, weekday dates would be more of the coffee/dinner or maybe a show variety, and I did weekend daytime dates (museums, parks, festivals, matinees, lunches). More and more of my current friends are 9-5 types and don't want to stay out super late on weeknights anyway, but I have found that lunches, brunches, and daytime game "nights" are a wonderful way to get to see them. Sometimes we'll grab dinner after work and just...go home at a decent hour.

And I appreciate the lack of alcohol someone upthread mentioned that goes with daytime socializing. It's cheaper to socialize with less drinking, and my liver is not as spry and hangover-resistant as it used to be just a few years ago. I haven't shut down a bar in a very, very, very long time, and while running for the last train of the night with my friends was fun, it's not necessarily more fun than what I do now - just different.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:09 AM on January 15, 2014

This isn't something you have to fix all at once, all or nothing, YOU CAN NEVER STAY UP PAST 10 AGAIN. It gets awfully tempting to approach it that way and wind up not fixing anything. I've been there; I sympathize.

For now, why not focus on the weekdays? If you can get your weekday sleep hygiene reasonable, that's probably going to get you better than where you are now. Then you'll have a better sense of whether it's totally critical for you to do the same on weekends. Maybe you'll be feeling better enough that you won't need to change anything; maybe you'll find you need to cut back late weekends to one night a week, or none. You can make small changes and see how that feels, first.

You're probably going to find that this is something your peer group is also going through. No one wants to be the first person to say "oh god, we are getting old, I cannot stay out until 3 a.m. anymore!" but if you start proposing earlier-evening activities like grabbing dinner after work, you may find some friends very gratefully and delightedly shift their schedules with you. You may also find that some people you never used to see, you can see more of now, because they already have made this shift. (Personally, my friends who like to go out early in the evening see more of me than people who want to start hanging out at 11.)
posted by Stacey at 10:11 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I sacrificed sleeping for my social life in my 20's. My body eventually adjusted and I was able to function well with much less sleep. Not everybody's body does that and mine certainly doesn't anymore. Those who needed more sleep were always the friends who I saw for brunch/lunch, weekend movies, at happy hours, early dinners, etc. They rarely made it out for late-night activities, but I still saw them. It doesn't have to be a death knell for your social life, you just may have to make more of an effort to see people at different times.

There's no magic way to go out late if you need a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep. The disco nap never worked for me. Once I was in bed, I'd have a much higher rate of flaking out because I'd be groggy and relaxed and not in the mood to go out anymore. YMMV.
posted by quince at 10:12 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lived as close to work and amenities as I could. So I could wake up at 8:30, have a quick shower and be at work by 9. Sometimes I'd wake up even a bit later than that. And I made sure the grocery store and any other services and stores were available on my walk home. That's how I roll all these years later, too.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:23 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

For years, I took a 5:42am train into NYC. I also lived in SF for a year on eastern time meaning I was at the office at 4:45am (but leaving at 2:00!). I found three things helped. One, have a social life with folks on a similar schedule. In SF, I would hit the bars at 4:30 or 5:00 and be home by 8:00. Sleep from 8:30 to 3:45. In NY, I also socialized with people in the trading industry who had similar hours.

Two, I would nap. In SF, under my desk. In NY, on the Metro North home. Three, I sucked it up. There were days where I was mainlining diet cokes and coffee. My goal has always been 7 hours and usually settle for 6, but if you want 9 hours, you need to find the other two people you know who also sleep 9 hours and hand with them.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:50 AM on January 15, 2014

Yes, this is what happy hours are for. Round up the group straight after work, have drinks, get food, home before 10.
posted by gaspode at 11:07 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to have a super-flexible schedule such that if I came into work around 10:30, I could get away with it. Now that isn't an option, so during the week my nights are pretty quiet outside of an early-evening social event or two that is done by 9. I will make effective use of disco naps to handle going out late on the weekends as well as having a weekend social life that revolves around brunch. About once a month or so I will go out late and just suck it up. It helps that my commute is minimal rather than requiring a long drive.
posted by deanc at 11:22 AM on January 15, 2014

Honestly, I think you'd have to make a choice between social life and sleep. But in my opinion...stick to a hard core sleep schedule Sunday Evening through Thursday evening. And then allow yourself to have fun Fri and Sat nights. Will this ruin your internal clock? It may have some effect but I know for me this how I did things in college and in most of twenties until I got married. Now my wife and I are such losers and go to bed at 10pm!lol Kidding...sort of. Look, it's important to get a lot of sleep. But staying up late once or twice a week and using the next morning to catch up on some Zzzzs.....I just don't think it'll kill you. And I think the adventures you have on the weekends will be worth the loss of sleep and slightly off balance sleep schedule.
posted by ljs30 at 1:03 PM on January 15, 2014

The idea of cutting a Thursday or Friday night date short at 9:30 because I have to go home and sleep just sounds ridiculous to me. Who's going to want to date someone in their 20s who goes to bed at 11? And my friends are mostly the kind of people whose parties begin at 9 or 10 at night and go until 2 or 3 in the morning- do I cheat on weekends and stay up late, or is that going to ruin the whole thing?

I see from your profile that you're in NYC. I live upstate, but have many many New Yorker friends and to be honest, their social lives seem completely insane to me. Most of them pack an amount of stuff into one weekend that I'd do in about a two week time span, and this often includes things like going to diners well after parties or shows are done when I am just screaming for sleep. So I understand the pressure you feel.

I do have some more introverted New Yorker friends, though, who are fine with hanging out at one another's apartments or a long Sunday brunch. Honestly, I find the quality of socializing is way better in these settings. I can actually have conversations with people! We can get to know one another on a more intimate level! But I've also resigned myself to the fact that, at thirty, I probably seem older and more boring than do many 40-year-old New Yorkers. My advice is to make peace with it, to seek out other introvert friends, and to look for high quality socializing, rather than socializing in great quantity.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:16 PM on January 15, 2014

I am in no way sleep hygenic, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

My uncle has introduced me to a weird idea that I've recently subscribed to. The Sleep Bank. You can burn the candle at both ends for a while, but don't let that bank run out. Replenish it when you can. You have to take advantage of time savings type stuff, like happy hours, and leaving work early for drinks, etc. Don't feel like you have to go out every single time. Especially with people who have much more flexible schedules. Fuck those guys.

Catching up on sleep over the weekend is not wasting the weekend. Sleep is never wasted time. The only cool thing about getting older is that I seem to need way less sleep than I did in my 20's.

I know you're in NYC, but damn, can you shorten that commute at all? You're spending 11 or so percent of all the time you have during the week getting to and from work. That being said, there aren't a ton of jobs here in flyover country that are 9 to 5, everything is 8 to 5, or 7-4, or my coworker who has six kids' favorite, 6-3.
posted by Sphinx at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2014

I have to get up at 5:30 am for my job, so I actually laughed out loud when I read your post. But it is a real problem.

I have to be very absolutist about my schedule during the week (and if something insanely cool comes up, I just try to decide whether it's worth being tired for the whole week - usually it's not). I do lots of happy hours and early dinners out during the week, but try to head home early if possible.

Weekends - one day off your schedule won't throw you off nearly as much as two days off your schedule. So usually I stay up a bit later on Friday nights, but only by an hour or two.

Then on Saturdays I stay up quite late, but still set an alarm in the morning. Not for 5:30 am - god no - but for a time that will still leave me a little tired. So if I'm going to bed at 1 am, I might set my alarm for 8 am. That way I'll still be tired enough to crash early on Sunday night and get enough sleep for the rest of the week.
posted by leitmotif at 6:27 PM on January 15, 2014

9:00PM and go till 2:00AM
In my town, people don't go out dancing til midnight.
My best friend doesn't finish work til after 8pm, we catch up two weeknights a week, and I have to get up at 6.10am. I try for a midnight bedtime on weekdays (this by itself would not have been workable two years ago, but it's still pretty borderline).

Various ways I have made it work:
The weekend sleepin. Have a couple hours longer than usual. But still set an alarm, because if I oversleep by more than that, I can feel bad. If that really throws you off for Monday wakeup, and you are already master of the snooze, set two alarms. At normal monday wakeup time, blearily grab a pottle of yoghurt, swallow half of it, then go back to sleep for 4 hours.
There this whole thing about breakfast setting your bodyclock (google breakfast and jetlag), so this prevents you resetting it by mistake.

Mid-week catchup/early night (usually Wednesday). I get home, shovel something in my mouth, then go to sleep. Somehow going to sleep 2 hours early is not doable, but 4 hours early is (there's again, a whole bodyclock related reason for this). I can get away with a longer sleep on Wednesday than I can on the weekend, I guess the wakeup time being the same makes it all work.

Disco nap.

With the above mentioned best friend, sometimes I go to their house before they get home, get dinner prep ready, have a nap until they get home. Yay for non-standard arrangements you can have with close friends!

Make friends with parents. If you head round to theirs, they'll usually appreciate the social time, but love it even more if you can eat dinner with them at kid o'clok, then go home 9-9.30.

Sleep quality:
Put your pillow in a hot dryer for at least 15 minutes, then put in clean pillowcase. If you have any dustmite sensitivity, that'll help so much.
And a hot shower right before bed.
And treating allergies so you can breath at night (although they have their own dozy-making effects).
And dark.
Allergies/health problems. Quitting eating wheat entirely, which I appear to have a minor allergy to (not saying everyone does), dropped my sleep requirements from 9 minimum, and not waking up unassisted in under 12 hours, to waking up after about 8, and coping with lack of sleep. Seriously, any little health complaints? Especially round breathing? Sort em if at all possible.
Get one of those phone sensor alarms, that wakes you when you are wakeful in the morning.

I may have also had a sleep length downgrade hitting my 30s, I can't really separate that out. And I eat pretty good. Lots of veges, lots of protein. A bit of exercise is correlated with better sleep quality.

Also... I think I escaped my sleep debt by having a enough sleep for awhile? It's like I was so hungry for sleep I'd be munted all the time. I think it's like some weird malnutrition thing where one big feed doesn't fix it, and your hunger sensors are awol. But instead, I'd sleep starve so often, that I would binge sleep whenever possible. So, I got caught up and feeling normal for a bit. Now my body only expects to be in sleep debt for a few days, at a few hours a night, at most. Or, maybe something entirely different was going on, it's hard to say.
posted by Elysum at 7:51 PM on January 15, 2014

you can take a nap and then go out afterward, or you can make friends with people in their 20s like me who don't want to do 9pm-3am nights out :)
also even if you are sleeping less each night, 5 or 6 hours, if you eat really clean and get into a good low carb/high quality saturated fat nutritional groove and stay hydrated, you'll find you have a lot more energy for staying out late and all kinds of other things. this is saving my ass right now.
posted by zdravo at 4:58 AM on January 16, 2014

There are people out there whose social lives do not revolve around late-night stuff. I see friends at the gym, for hikes, for dinner (at our homes or at restaurants), at cafes, at our homes for various kinds of hanging out (games, baking cookies, just talking over tea, etc.), at movies, at concerts or festivals or parks... My husband and I are 27/28. I think the last time I went to a party that started at 9 or 10 was more than a year ago. I get invited to those kinds of parties occasionally, but honestly, my friend group has kind of naturally adjusted to include people who don't exclusively socialize by doing late-night stuff. I'm not bored; I don't feel like there's nothing to do. Ever. My husband isn't bored either. He goes to happy hour type things with other teachers, plays sports with friends on weekends, and Skypes with long-distance friends in addition to all the things we do together.

My husband and I are both introverts and neither of us has ever enjoyed "going out" regularly (sure, once in a while it might be fun). I just don't enjoy partying or staying up late. I felt guilty about it for a really long time, as if I wasn't doing my 20s right, but that's crazy, isn't it? I never pulled all-nighters, even in college. For almost all of my 20s I got my 8 hours of sleep every night, and I ENJOYED IT.

Now my husband and I have a newborn, and the only way I can cobble together ~6 hours of broken sleep is to go to bed at 8 PM and get up at 7 AM. So that's what I do. Nevertheless, I've seen quite a few friends recently - we've gone for walks, gone to cafes and restaurants and played board games and had some good conversations. Nobody's saying that one's social life can or should be "good" when one has a 4-week-old, but if I can be in bed at 8 PM and care for a newborn all day and STILL have meaningful interactions with my friends... this should give you hope.
posted by Cygnet at 10:43 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Initiate evening plans. One of my favorite things to do is invite people over after work and cook while people help/chat/sit in my kitchen. Because it's at my place, I can tell people when it's my bedtime and they have to get going. Maybe not everyone will be into this, but you'll draw people who, like you, want to get to bed early (or want to go out later on their own). It's easier to skip a thing if you have a definitive plan in mind.

(Also, people who beg or borderline shame me into staying out are a pet peeve of mine. "Stay out longer! C'mon! It's too early to go home! That's boring/old people stuff" Maybe, but I'm a lot happier when I'm fully-rested. I'll take boring and happy any day.)

It also helped me to track what disrupts my sleep. One beer is enough for me to be fitful and groggy the next day, so I seldom drink during the week. Late night chocolate is bad news for me too. And I'm unplugged from social media, so I never feel the anxiety of missing something. If it's important, I'll hear about it. If not, maybe somebody will have a good story to tell.
posted by Turkey Glue at 6:39 PM on January 16, 2014

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