After 30 days of getting more sleep, I can say that I’m definitely better rested. I’ve been going to bed earlier, even on the weekends, and trying to get a consistent 7.5 to 9 hours a night (neither more nor less, because everything I’ve read says that consistency is the key). Here’s the update:
One thing I’ve learned is that all of the tricks I’ve heard over the years about getting better sleep (limiting exposure to light late in the evening, for example, or avoiding exercise within a few hours of bedtime) pale in comparision to just sticking to a sleep schedule. The schedule is the key. Everything else (except for maybe avoiding stimulants like caffeine within a few hours of bedtime) should be tried along with a sleep schedule instead of in lieu of one.
This month I’ve found the following:
- I do fall asleep more easily most nights, and sleep through the night.
- I do feel about a billion times better – less exhausted and much healthier. I think this has led to better habits all around. I’ve found myself making better choices with meals and beverages (less Diet Coke, which will no doubt make my mom happy. Diet Coke is my guilty pleasure, but that really needs to stop).
- I have noticed that I get more done during the day, instead of less (I was afraid that sleeping more would mean getting less done at school, or some other sacrifice. It hasn’t).
- I have not noticed any change in my mood. In spite of all the promises the sleep websites make, I think I’m probably about as grumpy as I usually am, except for maybe early in the morning – I wake up more cheerful, but then I’m even more grumpy if I’m up past bedtime. So no real changes there.
On interesting aspect of trying to get more sleep was three nights at a conference in Park City, Utah, where I stayed in a (really wonderful) hotel with several (even more wonderful) ladies. Between the time difference, having roommates, and being in an unfamiliar place, I didn’t get much sleep. But it was so much fun, and so worth it. I think of times like that as special occasions, just like when I was little and my parents would let me stay up late on holidays and birthdays. Routines exist to help us live healthfully most of the time, not to strip the joy out of the special occasions. I stayed up way too late in Park City, and I had way too much fun, and I look forward to doing it all again next year.
I’ll leave you with some photos from the trip to Utah. It really was gorgeous!