Casa Blanca: Clock Reversion

February 8, 2021

Because of the time difference with Beirut (-7h), my wife Natalia has to get up early several days a week to participate in virtual meetings; sometimes at 3:30am, often at 4 or 5am. I wake up when she does and can’t always go to back to sleep. 

This means that we have created a sort of natural experiment to assess the quality of life associated with different daily routines.  My preliminary findings indicate that we have been misallocating our time, the 24 hours we live everyday:  we enjoy ourselves when we should be sleeping; we sleep when we should be working; and we work when we should be enjoying ourselves. 

Why do I say this?  Research on happiness shows that most of us are happier during the weekend than during weekdays. During the weekend we have more freedom, we are more relaxed, we are more likely go out, read, see friends, prepare nice dinners and lunches, enjoy a drink at sunset.   On Sundays we are dreading going back to school or work on Monday.  If anything, things start to get better on Friday (see chart below, the photo was taken last weekend). 

So what if every day during the week was more like Saturday or Sunday? This would require a few adjustments to our schedules. Start working at 3am and stop at 11am, taking one hour for breakfast (the way today you are allowed to take an hour for lunch), preferably at sunrise.  If you don’t eat breakfast but drink coffee or tea while writing e-mails, then stop working at 10am.  

Between 10/11am and 8pm enjoy yourself as if it was the weekend  Go out, play music, read a book, cook, do whatever makes you happy — try to avoid lunch.  Start the apéro as early as possible, prepare a nice dinner (enjoy a bottle of wine) and go to bed at 8pm.  If you want to watch a movie do it while having dinner or have the apéro earlier, but make sure to be in bed by 8pm and asleep by 8:30.  This gives you 6.5 hours of sleep and if you need more, take a nap during the hours when you are enjoying yourself. 

It seems to me that his routine would increase happiness. The other benefit is that we get to enjoy sunset AND sunrise.  Food for thought.  

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