STAGE 1 - I’m not a morning person. I’m a night owl. I love staying up late and sleeping in.
I look at morning people, the ones who bounce out of bed, and I just want to tell them to stop.
I hate mornings. It’s a fight to get up. I just want to close my eyes again and go back to sleep. I hit the snooze button like 10 times before I can get up. I HATE it!
This is what sleep should look like, peaceful, dream-filled. For a couple of weeks, I was submerged in sleep. I slept 10 hours, sometimes more, every night. When I woke up, I napped for another hour or two. It was lovely. I needed it after a stressful summer, after the SCBWI writing conference.
But by the end of the 2nd week, I started to worry. I had too much sleep, and I felt like a zombie trying to get things done.
It ended, finally, the way I thought it would, with the opposite extreme – I’m having trouble going to sleep. I lay there, hoping. I get up, do a little work, and try again. It’s horrible!
So now, I’m on a sleep journey, trying to find a happy medium. I’ll have to learn to set and stick to a bedtime, but I’m committed to this change. I’m tired, all puns intended, of getting either too much sleep, or too little.
My first step, to power down. To shut down all my electronics 15 – 30 minutes before bedtime. That means sometimes I’ll have to finish a post the next day, but at age 60, I’m going to learn to shut things down. Here’s to the journey! I’ll let you know how it goes in a few days.
PS- It’s tonight, the evening after I wrote the post above, and it worked! I finished the post, but I didn’t put it up on social media till now. Best of all – I didn’t feel guilty. YAY!!!
You can’t kill the golden goose, AKA you, AKA me. If you don’t take care of yourself, there is no you to write, to do whatever makes you special. So tonight when it’s midnight, it’ll be a tiny bit easier to stop.
Here’s to my sleep journey, and to yours, whatever it is! I’ll post when I have more to tell, probably when I take sleep journey.
I've been on my journey for 9 days, longer if you count the day or two of pre-journey research. Last winter I joined Noom, and I have a personal trainer/adviser. When I hit a wall with my sleep, I asked Lisa for advice. So here are my Stage 1 results . I went over them with Lisa to plan Stage 2 .
5 of the 7 nights, it worked. I powered down at midnight. By 12:30 I was in bed, and 5 of those nights I went to sleep, just like the girl in the picture. It was lovely!
2 of the 7nights, I couldn’t go to sleep, even though I powered down. 2 of them were in the first couple nights when I was getting used to the new system. Three is a pattern so Stage 1 was a success! Hip Hip Hooray!
The Next Goal:
I saw my speed bump ahead – the earliest wake-up call of all – getting up early to substitute teach. It was coming, but what was the best way to handle it?
This old body loves to sleep 9 hours a night, I can only get 6 when I sub.
I asked Lisa for advice. She didn’t answer. Instead she asked me about my sleep cycle. My answer – I’m a night owl. Lisa thought sub days would force this owl into becoming an early bird. You can’t be something you’re not so I came up with a compromise . . .
My goal is to power down at 10:30. It will take some time to pull that time back an hour. Lisa said to move it in increments of 15 minutes. I want 3 days to get used to the change before making another one.
That works for most days. But when I sub, I’ll have to work with less sleep. I’m OK when I’m with kids. They energize me. At home I’ll take my 20 minute power nap. I’ll drink more water and keep moving. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth a try.
I’ve been on this voyage now for a month, since September 26th. I’m in a much better place than I was. I no longer sleep 10 hours a night or need hour-long naps every day. The last post I wrote was October 5th. Here are my results since then.
I didn’t track numbers this time, but over the last 22 nights I’ve been able to get 9 hours of sleep. I probably had 1-2 early mornings each week. I got up, and I didn’t take naps longer than 20 minutes on those days. I followed my rules.
I managed to power down somewhere between 11 and 11: 15. I wanted to push it back to 10:30, but I decided not to. I’m a late night person, and an 11:00 powerdown time works for me. Sometimes close enough, like 11:15, is good enough.
The next problem I took on was waking up. I can hit the snooze button for an hour. It's a really bad habit! I decided to try something new. I let myself snooze for 15 minutes. Then I wanted to try something positive, something that would make me want to wake up.
My New Game Plan
This is exactly how I feel at this stage of the game. I have basic rules that help me go to bed and wake up, but it’s not perfect. I’m still tired, especially after a day spent subbing. I need to do some tweaking, maybe even break a rule or two when necessary.
Most nights 9 hours of sleep works, but it doesn’t on subbing mornings. Then I feel tired into the next day. I discovered, when I really can’t get up that next morning, I gift myself with an extra hour of sleep. It breaks the rules, but I feel so much better. It’s my plan for tomorrow and for Thursday, my recovery day after subbing.
This week I discovered turning on the light, sitting up in bed, and checking my phone – it works! I can wake up in 15 – 30 minutes, and that’s a new record for me! It changes the rules, but who cares! I don’t, especially if they work better. My goal is to make waking up something I enjoy, not the chore it’s always been.
Lisa, my Noom coach, suggested meditation as a way to help me fall asleep. There are some nights when I’m so excited/upset that my head spins with ideas. I can power down my body, but it’s a lot harder for my head.
I reached out to my Noom social group. I asked for ideas, and I got 3. Someone suggested using a musical playlist of 3 - 4 songs. Another suggested two different kinds of breathing exercises, and the last one had a You Tube video.
I think I’ll start with the breathing. I use a BIPAP sleep machine. It’s for sleep apnea, but it also stops my snoring. I used to be Snoring Thunder. Now I’m Snoring Whisper. The BIPAP machine makes it easy to focus on breathing because it pushes air in and out of my nose every minute of every night. I’ll let you know in a week or two how it worked! I hope the force is with me!
My Final Results:
I started my sleep journey back on September 26th. Today, December 2nd, I’m declaring it finished.
I’ve achieved almost everything I wanted. I nap for 20 – 30 minutes, but only as needed. Most nights I power down around 11:30. I get 9 hours of sleep. Usually I fall asleep within 10 minutes.
My final challenge – to figure out how to shut down my brain when it doesn’t want to. My big discovery – movies like the ones on the Hallmark channel relax me and help me fall asleep. Mission accomplished!
Thanks to Lisa from Noom, I’m back on track. Sleep will never be perfect. There will be nights when I can’t get to sleep, or mornings when I don’t get enough. But, now I have a tool kit to get me back on track again. Here’s to the future! With sleep, anything is possible!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!