52 FEATS – NUMBER 11 (Sleeping)

20 Mar

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

DAY 7 (Sunday):
I didn’t do a lot of posts this week because of spring break – I was really enjoying the time with my family!  Neither of my kids is in school full-time, but my son does have a few classes that were canceled this week.  We had so much fun – no schedule, just doing whatever we pleased.  Pretty much anything my kids asked to do, I just said yes.

So anyway, how did the Feat go?  Not bad, although it was kind of a weird week to do it.  With the time change and our relaxed schedule, I never wanted to go to bed early.  It seemed like a great week to stay up late and sleep in late, too.

But I did – begrudgingly – make it to bed early most nights.  I never did fall right asleep; instead, I lay there thinking about all the things I could have been doing.  On Friday night, I threw in the towel and stayed up to watch a movie with my husband.  I was up until about midnight.  I didn’t feel that tired, but the next morning my husband got up with the kids and I ended up sleeping until after 10 am!  I don’t think I’ve done that since college.  I guess my body did need the sleep after all.

Perhaps the biggest monkey wrench in my psuedo-scientific experiment this week wast the fact that I had a cold.  I never did experience that huge rush of energy and wellness from getting a great night’s sleep, and it could all be attributed to the illness.  Bummer.  But who knows, maybe I would still be sick right now if not for all that extra sleep this week.

Even though it might have helped me, I don’t know if I can continue this one now that the week’s over.  Time is something I feel so short on – perhaps we all do – and I am just not willing to give up any of it.  I feel like I simply can’t afford to!  But while I might not be able to avoid burning the midnight oil to get work done, I may cut down on staying up late just to watch TV.  It’s a useless waste of my time, when I’ve clearly learned how important each minute is to me right now.

I learned a great tip from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  She was also trying to get to sleep early to increase her energy, but found herself occasionally too tired to get to bed.  Sound crazy?  Not to me – I totally get that.  I’m often ready to sleep, but too tired to actually get my jammies on and brush my teeth, so I stay up even later while I procrastinate.

Rubin’s solution?  Complete your bedtime ritual early.  Get that stuff out of the way so you can just shut down when you feel ready for it.  So that’s my new M.O. these days!  It’s easy and it works.  Night-night.

DAY 1 (Monday):

First day of going to bed early, and I almost blew it!  I was sitting there in front of my laptop, getting some work done, having just finished dinner, and looked up to see that it was 10:00 pm!  CRAP!!  I had no idea the evening had gotten away from me like that.

I raced around the house like a crazy person to put my stuff away, throw on my jammies, and brush my teeth.  So by the time I (literally) jumped into bed, my heart was racing from the actual physical exertion of getting there.  And as you can probably guess, I was not in sleep mode.

I laid there, obsessing over all the things I could/should be doing – work, taxes, laundry, etc.

And, since we just switched over to Daylight Savings Time (or switched out of it??), my body thought it was actually only 9:30, which is pretty early.  And then the more I laid there thinking about it, the more confused I became about that whole “spring ahead” thing.  It always sort of blows my mind, anyway.

But I did eventually fall asleep.  And the big test – did I wake up feeling refreshed the next morning, ready to tackle the day?  Unfortunately, no.  First of all, I have a cold, which may be strongly working against getting any real data from this Feat (but it’s a good reason to go to bed early on its own).

Secondly, since the DST change just happened on Sunday, when I awoke at 7:30 this morning, my body thought it was really 6:30 (seriously, this stuff is weird), so I felt extremely bleary-eyed and sluggish.

But I’m not giving up, of course!  Tonight I’m going to shoot for 10 pm.  I really want to see some sleep-induced miracles here!

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 11;

A few years ago, a friend of mine (who happens to be a nurse)  told me something that a doctor mentioned to her:  Every hour you sleep BEFORE midnight is equal to two hours after midnight.  In other words, get to bed earlier – it’s good for you.

I’ve become a night owl in the last couple of years, simply out of necessity.  I’m with my kids from the time I wake up until about 8:30 at night, so the late hours are the only ones during which I can work, read, hang out with my husband, watch grown-up TV, or just complete a thought in my head without interruption.

So on most nights, I cram in everything possible and pass out from exhaustion somewhere around midnight.  I’m always tired in the mornings, and by the afternoon I’m ready for a nap.

Countless studies have been done that show the impact of sleep (or lack of it) on a person’s health.  It’s linked to so many things – everything from weight to memory and even the strength of a person’s immune system.

In a nutshell:  you sleep a lot, you’re a rock star.  You don’t get enough sleep, you feel like crap.  This week, I’m going to put this one to the test.  I’m going to shoot for lights-out by 10 or 10:30 every night, to guarantee myself at minimum of 8 hours of sleep.  Hopefully, I’ll feel like a million bucks!

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