Today is two for…Thursdays!? No…alright, guess it doesn’t work like that lol. However, today is Thursday and you are getting 2 entries from me. How does one define sleep? We won’t begin like that. This blog is simply a direct callout to my poor sleep habits!
Activating the Tools Towards Reaching My Higher Self
It’s 2020, and we all have resolutions. I’m not foolish enough to believe that real change can come overnight. I’ve spent years going in the wrong direction, so it would simply be naive to believe I could correct all of my poor habits with the utterance of a few words or phrases. It’s just not possible. Declaring what you want to change however can activate the PROCESS of changing. I place emphasis on process because to implement change and reach any one of your resolutions you have to understand the steps involved.
If you are capable of making adjustments on the fly with very little course correction then I tip my hat to you. I, as I’m sure most of us, are not as disciplined. The idea is to implement small changes that help you shape the bigger picture. If you’re trying to start a new diet, going through your fridge and tossing out ALL the bad food is probably a bit extreme, and eating only healthy every meal of everyday is most likely a sure fire way to fail. Perhaps eating healthy one day out the week is a more realistic achievement, especially if you have poor willpower. Houses aren’t built in a day, they’re built brick by brick. That is the same approach we need to take with our lives and habits.
Sleep Like a Baby…Hopefully
I realized that the one habit I can form that will help me in all of my goals is to develop better sleep habits. I’m not sleep expert, but I can safely say I’ve been doing it all wrong for a long time now.
Let’s keep it 100, I’ve been a mess. In my early to mid 20’s I worked and partied…HARD! Most of my nights were either night shift, or out on the town. Many of them concluded at about 2 – 5am. I’d often come home, rest for a bit…but usually wake up after about 4 hours for fear of wasting my whole day away.
Then we we enter my mid to late 20’s. I decided to go back to college and I operated at an accelerated pace, usually taking anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, year around. There were no breaks. I needed my degree, and I needed it fast. I’d be up late once again, either doing homework, projects, or…you guessed it…PARTYING! Not as hard as my early 20’s, but it was in there. I’d catch as much sleep as possible and then be up early to attend class. The consistent theme was usually Saturdays or Sundays I’d try to make up for the lost hours throughout the week, but it just never felt right. I just never felt right.
Then we enter my late 20’s to early 30’s…present day. I had a quick break after graduating from college and then it was off to the rat race. I go to work, and I’ve endured long hours to try and impress my employer. I got married, I have 3 children (which take up considerable amounts of time), and I’ve tried the “come home and watch TV until early morning” method of relaxing, as well as the “come home and grind on side hustles until early morning” method of progressing in my career. All of these elements have probably created the worst sleep habit I’ve had to date, even worse than my partying days!
It’s time to steer the ship in the right direction.
What Am I Doing About It
Starting this year I said…enough is ENOUGH! I can’t go at this pace anymore. I’ve found myself experiencing fatigue, mentally and physically, depression, anxiety, irritability, and so many other things I’m sure are associated with my lack of sleep. I’m tired y’all…like…every minute of every day…I AM TIRED! It’s been getting better though.
TV is a Blocker
I started turning the TV off early this past week. I realize that it’s been easy for me to binge my favorite shows on any one of the plethora of streaming services I use. Sometimes I’m not even really interested in what’s on, there’s just been a comfort or a sense of relaxation my mind has associated with having that screen on. It is quite unhealthy and I know I waste so many minutes being unproductive in front of it, especially at night. It had to stop. I’ve now promised myself to turn it off by no later than 10:30pm.
Laying Down Earlier
I’ve had a bad habit of moving around too much. When you have 3 kids (14, 9, and 1) it is very easy to get wrapped up in cooking dinner, cleaning up the dishes or the family room, checking homework, etc. etc. There’s a lot associated with being a good parent. It is time consuming. I’m also a talker, so I’m constantly giving my children those 90’s tv sitcom level talks. Mine aren’t quite as brief though, I’m long-winded, if you couldn’t tell from my blog lengths lol…I’m working on it. I’m getting in the habit of getting these things started earlier though so that I can lay down earlier. Dinner has gone from 8pm to 6pm, so this gives myself and the wife more time to get things done early that way we can lay down early. It is important to have unwind time just to feel like your entire day wasn’t given to everybody else but yourself.
Automation and Preparation
Another key thing that I’ve started doing is preparing most things the night before, so that in the morning I don’t have to get up quite as early. I’ve started picking out my outfit for the next day, ironing, setting the coffee maker, shaving and showering, and packing my work bag the night before. These seem like small things but in the morning when it comes to getting out the door they make a HUGE difference. This allows me to catch a few more “Z’s”.
I’m actually looking to cut out the outfit process altogether by becoming a minimalist in the attire department, that’s a work in progress though…remember, all things in time #trustTheProcess.
This particular part might be controversial, but I tried melatonin for the first time in my life yesterday. I really just wanted to re-establish my sleep pattern so I figured I’d use this as a catalyst. I don’t know if it’s something I’d use permanently, as I’ve heard mixed things about it, but I can tell you it work…perhaps too well.
The reason I got it was because early this year I’ve found myself trying to lay down early, only to find I can go to sleep! My wife lays down at the same time as me and she’s out with 5 minutes (if that!) It really is not fair. I took it last night and I knocked out fast and hard. The reason why I said it probably worked too well is because I feel asleep by 11pm and I set my alarm for 6am. My body can typically perform highly off of 6 hours of sleep, the melatonin however seems to want more than that. I didn’t end up waking up until 8am. That was in spite of having 2 alarms set. I did feel good when I woke up but I got to work much later than I wanted to. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get up regularly at 5 or 5:30am so I can begin to attack one of my actual resolutions, getting back into the gym.
In Progress…Buying a New Pillow
Yesterday I asked my wife, “how much would be too much for a new pillow?” She said, “I don’t know, fifteen dollars”. That didn’t stop me from looking at $60 dollar pillows online. I found those first few nights I was up laying in the dark that my current pillow is super uncomfortable. It’s very flat and soft. I feel as though it’s hindering quality sleep. I woke up each day with a migraine and work was tough to get through. I read some things about memory foam and super firmness being great for people who fall into the same boat as me. I don’t know if that’s all marketing tactics, but I’m willing to try anything to help with my sleep journey. If you know of any awesome pillows I could try please drop a comment. I’m open to it.
This post is only partially about sleep. While I do seek to improve my sleep habits, I’m mostly committed to the idea that all things in life are a journey and require a process, even something as trivial as sleep. If we can understand that it takes time and small steps to achieve big goals then perhaps, maybe perhaps, this year we might actually make progress towards achieving them. Remember, progress does not require perfection…but perfection can be achieved from progress.
Be blessed and I love y’all!