Kind of a strange title, am I right?
Lately though, time has been something that I have been really paying attention to, especially the time that I go to bed. During my first semester of college in the Fall it was very common for me to wake up at 6:30 every morning and go to bed around 12:00 every night. At first I was ecstatic because I have never been one to stay up late and I felt like I was really getting into the “college experience” (even though I was staying up reading blogs and watching Hulu, NOT doing the normal college thing of drinking or partying).
I didn’t even seem to feel the effects of it during the day either. Sure, I was a little tired, but who wouldn’t be in an unfamiliar place with a whole new set of things to learn?
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago how unhealthy this pattern was for me. I thought I was performing at my best, but boy was I wrong. Did you know that those who think they thrive on small amounts of sleep are actually just extremely sleep deprived? Yep, that’s right. When one goes a few nights without restful sleeps they become adjusted and may even feel the same. But their performance still suffers.
And do you want to know what the scariest part is? They don’t even realize it. To a sleep-deprived person, they feel just the same as before and think that they are performing at the exact same level as before.
Ever since listening to a podcast from Chris Kresser a little while ago I have been making an effort to get in more sleep, and my body can seriously tell the difference. Now I go to bed at 9:30 to 11:00 and wake up from 6:30 to 7:00. On a good night I get in about 9 hours of sleep, and on a bad night I get 7 1/2 hours. That difference from before is phenomenal. Overall I just feel better.
Going to bed earlier is certainly harder though. Here are a few things that I have found to help me.
1. Keep electronics out of arms reach of your bed. Whenever I allow myself to take my cellphone or laptop to bed I waste a lot of time just mindlessly texting or browsing the internet. Our minds need time to rest before they can fall asleep so put the electronics away!
2. Turn off all of the lights. As someone who has slept with a lamp or nightlight on since she was a baby, this was incredibly difficult to do. I tend to fall asleep better with a light on, but there have been numerous studies that connect sleeping with lights on to not getting as restful a night and maybe even causing cancer! Again, it took me a while to adjust but now I fall asleep just as quickly with my lights OFF.
3. Keep a notepad by your bed to right down thoughts. Have you ever had those moments where you want to go to sleep but you just can’t because there are a million thoughts swirling around inside your head? That happens to me literally every night. A tip that I discovered years ago that really works is to write down everything that you are thinking about and everything that you need to do for tomorrow. That way when you wake up you can pick up where you left off, and you can fall asleep rest assured that you won’t forget anything important.
4. Don’t eat before you go to bed. I still struggle with this one because if I don’t eat before I go to bed then I wake up in the morning with severe hunger pains. On the other hand, when I do eat before I go to bed I get incredibly strange and stressful dreams which cause me to wake up multiple times a night. I’m getting better, but I have yet to find a balance with this. Usually my goal is to eat at the latest 7:00 or 8:00.
5. Try to fall asleep on your back. This is the healthiest position as determined by most doctors and chiropractors for digestion. Especially as someone like me who has problems with bloating and stomach pain, it can be much more comfortable to sleep on my stomach or side. However, when I wake up in the morning after laying on my back, my stomach is always less bloated than the night before and it doesn’t hurt quite so much. Sleeping on my stomach or side usually aggravates my symptoms.
There are many interesting infographs on Pinterest about sleep that are very informative, so check them out!
Here is one that I found about the best sleep positions (spot on with #5 above!):
Now. If you’ll excuse me, it’s my bedtime 🙂
Questions to think about:
Do you ever struggle with getting a good night’s sleep? How many hours do you strive for?
Would you consider yourself a “night owl?”
What are some of your tips for getting a better night’s sleep?