Creating a sleep schedule
Things have been fairly busy around balconville lately. As many of you know, I am in the midst of starting my own business, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to spend writing. Still, I did want to talk about what I have been doing.
One of the things I have been trying to work on is regulating my sleep schedule. It has been a rough go lately because of the cozy fall weather and the short days of sunlight, but I am trying to put myself on a decent sleeping schedule to create a habit of getting adequate sleep, and to try and get up at the same time everyday.
I don’t know what it is but the earlier I wake up the more I get done. I don’t know if this is because I am not sleeping further into the workday, or because I have too many administrative tasks do at the end of the day so I can’t concentrate on the other things I want to do. Either way, when I am up before 6:30 am, it seems like those days are more productive.
Keeping this in mind, I have been trying to get to sleep earlier and trying to wake up earlier. Although not impossible, I am one of those people who hates going to bed, and who also hates getting up. I suppose a kind of inertia sets in when you are awake you like being awake and when you are sleeping, you like sleeping. So I have been trying to use a little willpower in combination with a little behavioural work to try and keep myself on track.
Having a kid in my life actually helped me with some of the changes I needed to make. One thing I realized about K. was that if he was playing video games, he would rarely think he was tired even though he was exhausted. He would just keep playing because the quick flashes and rapid scene changeovers would keep him occupied and interested. Still, once we would kick him off the computer and make him chill out and do something else, he was usually asleep in the space of 10 minutes.
I wondered really if this kind of thing affected us as well. I remember being younger and playing games well past the point of exhaustion, but since I haven’t found a game I’ve liked recently, it hasn’t been an issue. Still, the evenings would find me sifting through websites and reading various articles or watching various videos. All the lights were turned on in the house until the moment we forced ourselves to bed, and we usually didn’t feel tired when we did that.
In a sense we had been keeping ourselves active artificially. Having bright lights on, as well as having a bright computer monitor staring us in the face was telling our bodies that it was daytime and that we should be doing daytime things. I also found that the evenings seemed a lot shorter and I felt like I didn’t even have a chance to relax. The problem was spending way too much time in front of the computer. Nick and I often had decided to go to bed in say, 5 minutes, and then found ourselves still sitting at our desks an hour later.
Since I realized this, I have decided to create a darker, more relaxed period of time after about 8:30pm. I turn off all the bright overhead lights, stick on a small floor lamp and then I get comfy on the couch with a mug o tea and a book. I find when I do this, my body actually starts to slowly wind down from the day, and I get to the point where I actually feel like sleeping. I also don’t feel like I have wasted a lot of time just by passively sitting at the computer clicking for entertainment. By doing this, when I eventually hop into bed around 10pm, my body is nicely relaxed and I find I can fall asleep easier.
(I imagine that this could be done with any other activity too. As my urge to knit gets stronger in October, I plan to probably start some Christmas presents. I also have some sewing that I could be doing during this time as well. Basically, it can be any activity that you find relaxing.)
There are a few other things I would like to try, especially in preparation for stressful days. I think the evening would be a good time to start to incorporate meditation into my life. I have historically been terrible at trying to meditate because my brain always goes a mile a minute. Still, I have often thought that slowly working myself into meditation could be helpful, especially for those nights where you are having trouble sleeping because your mind is full of the stress from the day. I have seen people suggest that you actually allow yourself a period of time where you allow yourself time to worry about whatever is on your mind, and then after that period of time is up, you push it out of your head. Although I have never done this myself, I think this would be an interesting habit to create: allow yourself to stress about life stuff, and then follow it up with some meditation. I figure it would be a good follow-up tool.
Along those lines, doing some stretching or yoga would probably also be good right before bed. Personally, I find yoga to be super relaxing (ok, not Power yoga or Bikram for example, but you get the idea), and 15 – 30 minutes of gentle stretching would probably help a lot, especially on nights where you feel super wound up. Especially now where the business I am starting will be strenuous, stretching properly would be beneficial to my overall health.
Creating a quiet environment before bed helps me to get tired enough to sleep quicker when I do get into bed. Still, I am having problems waking up in the morning which is partially because it is cooler in the morning these days and the bed is much warmer, and partially because the fall mornings are also darker. I am taking the small victories where I can get them though, and I am sure the waking up part will fall into place soon enough.