|photo by Chris Schulenbeg at Cafe Noor, Brighton|
The plan was to go to bed early on night one and then make note of when I woke up naturally in order to establish my sleep needs. I stitched myself right up on that first night as it was my wonderful friend Adele's birthday. Adele is Italian and a wonderful host, I don't want to perpetuate stereotypes but I'm not sure the two things are entirely unconnected. At Adele's the food, booze and gossip is always flowing; of course I wasn't going to turn in early on her birthday! At the night's end as I wandered home through silent streets, I thought about why I didn't make a different choice. My friend wants only the best for me, so the question was - did I put my health above my friendships? And the answer was, absolutely not.
The next night, Roscoe decided to give me a real run for my money at bed time. He was fighting sleep like a mixed martial artist and cutting heavily into my mum time. He kept dozing off and then waking up suddenly and hitting me, as if it was my fault that his body had betrayed him. When he finally settled I realised I had less than two hours to cook, eat, make my home resemble less of a flea pit, have a least a perfunctory catch up with him indoors, answer my email, complete my evening routine and of course Instagram it. As the minutes ticked by I grew more and more tense, I even resented my husband for being able to stay up as late as he liked but half an hour before my self imposed bedtime I started to feel a bit of excitment about slipping into a lovely slumber. I abandoned the cleaning, cooked something quick and got to bed feeling pretty smug.
I woke up eight hours later and my first feeling was panic. Eight hours! I don't have eight hours to spend asleep every day! I was kinda banking on seven or even a super efficient six and a half. In order to get in all those hours and be up with Roscoe I needed to be in bed by half past ten every evening and so that's what I did. This is what I learned:
You need to give yourself a talking to. You know all the stuff you nag your kid about at bedtime - you won't be able to get up in the morning, you'll be grumpy, you won't have fun with your friends - all that is true for you too. When you find yourself staying up late with no good reason, remind yourself of how much better the next day wil be with bundles of energy.
Beware of frenemies. Friends and family that consistently try to derail your plans to look after yourself and sleep better by encouraging you to drink, watch TV or attend late night karaoke sessions, are not being kind. It's probably a very supportive act to stick to your goals and force them to face up to their own stuff.
Pick your priorities. When you have less time available you have to get really clear about how that time is used. Have a word with yourself about what your priorities are and these don't have to be same each day. For example Monday might be your exercise night and within reason everything else should come second to that.
Don't feel bad about your priorities. You don't have to shove it in your other half's face that jazzercise is more important than them on a Monday but it's okay to believe it. Say something like, 'I've promised myself I'll do this but let's have breakfast together tomorrow.' No one likes someone that breaks their promises.
Rules are made to be broken. No one likes a martyr, it's good for the soul to be naughty sometimes.
In conclusion a week wasn't long enough to adapt my sleep habits permanently. Even with more sleep I still felt a little bit knackered most of the time and perhaps that's just part of the job description*. What I did find was the more I slept, the easier it was to make healthy food choices the next day and the healthier my food choices the better I felt. The better I felt, the more likely I was to be productive the next day and the more productive I was the better I felt. The better I felt the more likely I was to indulge in some self care and..well you get the picture.
So how's your sleep?
Look out for another mission next week or sign up to receive the mission in advance here.
You can still win a Forever Memory Bear worth £80, just go back to my last post
*Parent - No leave, no pension, no lunch break