I’m on my way to China for two weeks – and, based on past experience with trips like this, I know I’m going to have even more trouble than usual getting enough sleep.

I’ve always needed at least seven hours of sleep to feel good the next day. And yet I’ve felt guilty about sleeping that much. Whenever I met someone who claimed to be able to live well on three or four hours a night, I was jealous. I have even tried to train myself to sleep fewer hours, thinking it was habit I could regulate.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it more difficult to sleep well. I wake up frequently during the night and I’m wide awake at the crack of dawn – even if I’ve gone to bed only several hours earlier. To get the sleep I need, I’ve found a number of things that help:

Don’t eat anything three hours prior to going to bed.

Don’t smoke or drink caffeinated beverages after six p.m.

Exercise vigorously at least once a day.

Go to bed when you are tired, even if you have work to do. (Better to get up that much earlier the next day to finish it.)

Take a mild sleeping pill only under unusual circumstances … like when you’re on a trip to China.

As I said, I’ve always needed at least seven hours of sleep – but I’m guessing my nightly average is going to be closer to four hours on this trip. That’s not good for at least two reasons: When I’m short on sleep, I can’t think well … and I’m irritable.

Jon Herring talked about that in Message #1747. He said that not only do people who are chronically sleep-deprived increase their risk of serious diseases (like diabetes), they also have poor concentration and become cranky. For me, being unable to think well means I’ll be unable to write well. That will put me behind on my ETR schedule … which will make me nervous and heighten my irritability. I’m going to keep on writing, though – recording my thoughts about this fascinating country so I can share them with you in ETR. Look for the first entry in my Asian Journal on Monday.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.