The Dangers of Late Night YouTube

Every since my computer decided to install stupid updates over a 24-hour period, my schedule has been thrown all out of whack. I had to stay up late that night to finish my writing, which made me groggy the next day, which I overcompensated by sleeping in, which made it harder to fall asleep that night, and this then compounded onto itself until we reached last night, 11:30pm.

No. The answer is always no. God.

I’m normally in bed by this time, or if I’m still awake I’m reading or meditating or at the very least getting ready to go to bed. Last night was not normal. I was too awake to go to bed. I knew if I tried to sleep, I’d just lie awake, tossing and turning for at least the next 45min, if not more. I needed to do something before going to bed, but what? Read? Watch some random television? Play a videogame?

And that’s when YouTube beckoned.

I have a pretty streamlined YouTube experience. I generally watch maybe 10 or 15min a day, usually while eating breakfast or if I just need a break. You can divide my preferences into about four categories or types.

I watch fitness channels on occasion. To be more exact, I follow two channels, Strength Project and AthleanX. Strength Project had some really motivational compilations, though they’ve done less of those and I rarely watch them now. Jeff Cavalier of AthleanX was the first Internet person I ever trusted with fitness advice, and even though he lifts weights and I don’t, I still watch every video he puts out.

As an aside, the AthleanX training program is a very good program, with amazing variety in both types of exercises and types of workouts. I used him to complement my own training with great results. I’ll write a review one day to more fully spell this out, but suffice to say I recommend his stuff.

Jeff definitely practices what he preaches.

I watch these mostly because of my job as a martial arts instructor. I know a lot, but I don’t know everything when it comes exercise and fitness. If I can watch a video that gives easier or harder variations of different exercises, and I can then give that to a student to make them get better, then it time well spent. That said, maybe 5% of my YouTube is spent here.

The vast bulk of my time is spent watching funny things, humour, that sort of thing. Back in university, I could always count on College Humour to give me a good laugh, to make my day better. Simply, fun, hilarious three-minute sketches on just about anything. College Humour itself has had a Simpsonian drop in quality over the years, but they can still be good for a laugh here and there.

My secret love, my guilty pleasure, is fail videos. I find these oddly compelling. You know, someone walking and falling, or skating and falling, or trying to do something and having it go completely wrong. Falling can be funny, but the real gems are the ones that appear like poetic justice or the ones that subvert expectations; you think X is going to happen, but then it’s a different fail. Beautiful. Funny. Always worth a watch.

These aren’t usually in the fail videos, but I like this.

Last night, then, I watched a few funny clips of random sketches and people failing. It brought a smile to my face and helped get me drowsy. I was about ready to go to bed when a suggested video caught my eye. Those are the devil, by the way, the suggested video section. That’s how you fall down the rabbit hole, emerging four hours later wondering what the hell happened, why is it morning already? I saw a video called, “Everything Wrong with Final Fantasy XIII.”

I had recently finished FFXIII … and had a lot of problems with it. Most people did. Really, it’s a terrible game. Feeling a bit of schadenfreude, I clicked on it. I was right, in that it was very enjoyable, but I didn’t realize it was part one of three. It took ninety minutes to watch them all, because of course I had to complete it, and while I immensely enjoyed it it also completely destroyed my sleep schedule.

I didn’t notice the ‘Part 1 of 3’ until it was too late.

Given the choice, I would watch the video series again, but I’d do it at a better time. It caused me to go to bed after 2:00am, and I needed to wake up early to finish everything for my day. I woke up early … and then turned my alarm clock off and went back to bed. By the time I got up, most of my plans were already in tatters. Great start.

I needed to workout. After my workout today I’m supposed to do a prolonged stretch session. Each week I do two long sessions and three or four short ones. Having that mix of high intensity and low intensity stretching seems to speed up progress, just as a mix of high and low intensity exercise appears to accelerate strength gains and fat loss.

This, my long workout day, typically takes a bit less than two hours, half of it being the stretch. I try to get it out of the way first thing so it’s not hanging over my head the rest of the day. The longer the day goes on, the harder it can feel to schedule two hours to do something. Well, it was 10:00am when I woke up, but I didn’t fully wake up until 11:30am. Hmm. I better start now.

It took me nearly two and a half hours. Even though I was awake, I wasn’t awake. My mind was cloudy. I had no motivation, no effort. Sheer willpower carried me through. Again, being physically fit is part of my job; it’s something I need to do, something I want to do. Just not today.

I then had to do some menial tasks around the house, which also dragged. I had planned to get everything done, so my workout and my chores and my writing, everything, by 2:00pm. That’s always the goal, to leave the rest of the day free to relax in whatever way I feel. I didn’t start the chores until after 2:00pm, and right now, at the time of writing this sentence, it’s 3:37pm. Depending how long it takes to proofread and whatnot, I’ll be lucky to be done by 4:00pm … and I’m already exhausted.

This isn’t my best writing, and it wasn’t my best workout, and if I’m being honest, even washing the dishes was poorly done. It’s obvious why: I had too little sleep, then I slept more to compensate, then I rushed into doing things to get them done. Lack of sleep breeds lack of motivation, and I’ve been fighting it all day. Awesome.

And I already know how it will all end. I’ll limp through the next few hours, eat something … and then at around 7:00pm I’m going to feel great and alert and amazing. I’ll keep feeling alert probably right until midnight, maybe even beyond, and then I’ll be faced with the choice: do I try to go to bed, potentially not falling asleep for a long time, or do I risk watching more YouTube videos and having the cycle repeat endlessly?

You can substitute any other time-wasting exercise you want for YouTube, be it Netflix, television, movies, games, whatever. Sometimes wasting time is fine, even necessary. It’s when the time-wasting extends well beyond any reasonable limit that things become bad. Then your next day suffers, and likely your next day as well, until you break the cycle.

Honestly, whenever I hear ‘break the cycle,’ I think of Final Fantasy X.

No promises, but I’ll try.

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