Monthly Challenges Physical Health and Wellbeing

December 2018 Challenge – Improving my Sleep Pattern

Be in bed, lights off, by 11pm every evening

Get up at 6.30am every morning

In September, one of my challenges was to get up at 6.30am every morning, and I succeeded. However, when September ended I immediately slipped back into getting up later, and recently have been getting up as late as 8.45am. I think one of the main reasons for this is that I have been tending to stay up very late in the evenings, which is because the evening has become a ‘safe haven’ for me when any stressful events of the day are over, and I tend to enjoy wallowing in the evenings rather than going to bed and bringing on the next morning. However, I would like to get back into rising early because I am more productive in the mornings than the evenings. By combining the challenge of getting up at 6.30am with the challenge of being in bed by 11pm (both of which I have done separately in previous months), I should hopefully find it easier to reset my body clock to the earlier times, because I will get plenty of sleep due to going to bed at 11pm, and I will be sleepy by 11pm due to getting up at 6.30am, therefore the challenges will complement each other.

I sometimes find it difficult getting up when it is still dark, and of course at this time of year it will be dark at 6.30am. I wonder if it might be healthier to get up with the sunrise, but at this time of year that would mean getting up at around 8am, and that in turn would mean I wouldn’t need to go to bed until at least midnight, and really I would like to go to bed before 11pm. So I will just have to get used to getting up in the dark – I will use my light alarm clock which will help!

According to Eden Energy Medicine, it is healthier to go to bed before 11pm, for reasons related to the thyroid and adrenal glands becoming stressed after this time – I don’t fully know or understand the mechanism. But I hope that the earlier bedtime may help to calm my anxiety for this reason.

I would still like to have my ‘safe haven’ of an evening to relax and wind down, therefore to help to maintain this without staying up too late, I have decided to set some times to help me gradually wind down. From 9pm I will stop ‘working’ for the day and just do calm tasks that I enjoy, such as reading, being on my laptop, playing games, or socialising (online or in person). At 10pm I will switch off my laptop and start getting ready for bed (changing into pyjamas, brushing my teeth, etc) if I haven’t already. After this time I will only use my phone or tablet for reading, messenger or Skype, not for any other browsing. Sometime between 10 and 11pm I will get into bed, although I may read or chat on messenger for a while, before going to sleep.

Sometimes, I have events in the evenings that mean I am out late, and it may not be possible to be home or in bed by 11pm. I accept that this may sometimes happen, and I won’t avoid or cut disappointingly short these events for the reason of getting to bed by 11. However, I will still aim to get home in time where possible, and if I don’t, I will get ready and go to bed as soon as I get home.

One exception to this rule will be New Year’s Eve, when I am totally allowed to stay up until midnight!

When I have done challenges before where I got up at 6.30am, I sometimes felt tired in the mornings or later in the day. I am hoping that my body will adapt during the month, especially as I will be going to bed earlier too. But if I find that I am still feeling tired at the end of the month, then maybe I need more sleep, so I will experiment with different sleep / wake times in future months. Perhaps in January I would bring forward my sleep time to 10.45pm, or push back my wake time to 6.45am. But I’ll see what happens this month first!

Read about what happened…

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