Some of you are well aware of my terrible sleep habits that have been perfected over the past few years. Thinking about it, it’s probably been a good five years or more to dial in the art of staying up way too late only to argue with the alarm clock every morning. It’s become an intelligent battle between myself, the amount of accountability I wish to take on if I decide to sleep in. Within the time it takes me to reach out from my cozy slumber and hit snooze, my brain can reorganize my entire day down to the minute. I can somehow find more time to sleep just a little longer and still be on time for work. The reasoning behind this is simply that I’m tired, overworked and my sleep bank has more than run dry. I’m in debt.

I’ve known this for years and have made a few half-efforts to get to bed at a reasonable time, but never seemed to work. It doesn’t entirely help that SDAY isn’t a shining example of “lets go to bed early” either. 9:30-10:00 pm rolls around and she’s just getting started. She’s checking off her to-do lists, cleaning, organizing or making more to-do lists. Me, I’m settling down in front of the computer again, organizing pixels and laying out text for miscellaneous freelance jobs, personal projects or KDAY Raicng. Often times, the KDAY Racing gets bumped to the back of the list.

The worst part about having such refined and terrible sleep habits, is in the days before a race or event when I try to get a decent amount of sleep, it just makes it harder and more stressful. My body isn’t use to going to bed at a reasonable hour, so I end up laying awake for what seems to be hours. Tossing and turning and adding even more stress to what should be a restful evening.

So, with all that behind me now, I’ve been sticking to a pretty tight bedtime routine. The hardest thing for me is making my self stop working on projects at a certain hour of the evening. My old habits, I’d be happy to burn all hours of the evening and into the morning just to get things done for clients. I just didn’t have the time otherwise. It’s actually been pretty tough to shut things down for the evening and for the first few weeks, I felt horrible. I was extremely tired throughout the day and nearly fell a sleep at my desk a few times. It felt impossible to stay awake on the drive to and from work and my motivation to get out seemed to drop a little. Now, nearly a month into the re-vamp, I’m getting back into the groove, feeling much better and becoming the morning person I once was and loved.

Here’s a few things that have worked for me in actually getting to sleep when I’m restless and trying to developing a better habit.

Reading: As common as eating your fruits and vegetables is good for you; reading just before bed helps relax the mind and body in preparation for a good nights rest. I’m just a little OCD and have a hard time falling a sleep without finishing a chapter or making sure my bookmark is securely placed on the correct page and my book is not left on the bed.

Lighting: Our bodies are naturally programmed to sleep through the night. When the sun goes down so does out bodies. For me, when the sun went down, I’d be sitting in front of the computer. Over stimulation from the bright light of the monitor would just throw my natural rhythms off, making it hard for my body to finally settle down when I needed it to. Now, if I’ve been working at the computer or sitting in front of the TV, I make sure to spend at least fifteen minutes in low light. Brushing my teeth in a dark bathroom and reading in a dark room with a soft light or headlamp.

Lavender: Using essential oils has been a practice for hundreds of years. There’s a ton of research backing the use of essential oils and the aliments they can help with. Lavender seems to be the big ticket item for me. Sounds a little odd, but if I dab a little on my fingers and gently massage my temples, I sleep like a baby on one of SDAY’s sleep schedule routines. (So far all of our children have been great sleepers. Through the night sleepers. Lay them in bed at 7:30 and they sleep till 7:30 the next morning.)

After the first few weeks I’m finding it much easier to wake up early and get the day started. I’m also finding it easier to shut things down at a reasonable hour at night, because my body is tired and beginning to shut down as well. As much as I’d like to stay up and get things done, I’m realizing that there’s always tomorrow for most projects and that I’ll be better off turning in for the night.

 

 

2 thoughts on “better sleep habits

  1. You are getting smarter with age, Kevin. Our minds and bodies really need regular sleep. Gary has studied sleep and although you can make some up on weekends and with naps, slowing down at night and calming your body and mind in preparation for sleep is wise. I have had to give up trying to go to sleep at the same time Gary does, as he is more like Shannon and stays up later. I also had to give up feeling guilty about it. Recent studies have also shown that getting more sleep actually helps us stay in better shape and not getting enough sleep contributes to weight gain. Keep up the new habits.

  2. KDAY, I love this post. I just recently came across your site from a link in twitter.

    It’s funny because I have been struggling with my sleep the past week. I am also a freelancer with a full-time job and spend many nights trying to catch up on projects. My only opportunity during these winter months to get a ride in is very early in the morning before work on the trainer in the basement.

    Sometimes I stress about not getting enough sleep. But then once I start worrying about not getting enough sleep, it makes it that much harder to fall asleep. My wife makes fun of me and says it’s all in my head. She is probably right. I have used your advice and started reading before bed and it has helped me relax enough to fall asleep when I need to. It also distracts me from the worry of not being able to fall asleep, and it’s a good transition from work to relaxation. Anyway, thanks for the great post!

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