I am working on switching from a night owl to an early riser to help me get healthier, happier and more productive. I’m committed to going to bed by 9:45pm and getting up at 6am for 21 days. Check out the details in my first blog post about this.
This whole experience is helping me notice (yet again) how inter-related sleep, exercise, food, and attitude are. This is what I mean:
1. Exercise makes it easier to fall asleep.
It is much easier to fall asleep when you have moved your body during the day. Two days ago, I raked leaves for two hours, went for a short hike in the woods and cleaned house for two hours. At bedtime I collapsed onto my pillow and passed out in about two minutes. Yesterday, I drove for 90 minutes and spent most of the day planted in front of my computer. As a result, I didn’t feel like going to bed at 9:30pm and once I got in bed it took about 25 minutes to fall asleep. If I hadn’t been totally committed to creating this new routine, I would have stayed up later and thrown myself way off kilter. It was good to notice that really moving my body helps motivate me to get to bed on time and get more sleep. Here is some more detailed research on exercise and sleep. It’s not simple, but it’s clear that sitting in front of the computer all day is not conducive to good sleep!
2. More sleep encourages healthier eating.
You know the feeling – It’s three in the afternoon and you are feeling sleepy and slow. So, you have a snack for a little pick-me-up. You might not even be hungry, but the food gives you energy to get through the afternoon. We all do it. I find that on some days when I am particularly under-slept, I just want to eat all day, as much to ward off the yucky emotions of feeling tired as to get more energy. It’s not a recipe for success. I wind up feeling even more tired and emotionally imbalanced from eating a bunch of food that I didn’t need. It’s not just you and I who experience this. Check out this CBS News story that reports that getting a full night’s sleep helped people eat 200 fewer calories in snacks each day. I feel that. After three days of over eight hours of sleep, I am feeling energetic and only needing a very light breakfast. Yesterday afternoon, I had a much lighter lunch than usual too. It’s all going according to plan. 🙂
3. More sleep leads to better focus.
I am feeling this, too I am procrastinating less and getting more done, both for work and for self-care. I am finding it so much easier to stick to my work plans for the day and to my healthy habits with a solid eight hours of sleep and a 6am wake-up time. I feel like a new, organized and focused Janette. It’s fabulous. Again, I am not alone in this. This piece from the NYTimes shows how more sleep (and more naps and vacations) improve people’s performance in all kinds of activities from basketball, to memory games, to job productivity. So, whatever you want to focus on – getting healthy, parenting well, career success, or anything else – a solid eight hours will help you get there.
What do you think? What have you tried to get more sleep in your life? Do you notice a difference? What works and what doesn’t for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
To your good health,