Week 17 – Get a good night’s sleep

So my original task for this week was to stick to my budget, which I’m conveniently ignoring. I’ve been sick and I’m struggling to shake a hacking cough that is keeping me up at night and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. The thing is, I’m exhausted at least 3 or 4 days each week, sick or healthy. I don’t often get really restful sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night for various reasons (I’m looking at you 3 year old) and then I can’t fall back asleep. I lay awake recalling every item on my to do list and fretting over a perceived problem that feels like the weight of the world. This goes on for at least a half hour and sometimes much longer. Eventually, I pull out my phone and start browsing Facebook to distract myself from my own head. I usually fall back asleep with an hour or so left before my alarm is set to go off and then I wake up with a pounding headache wondering how I am going to get through the day without a nap.

Some weeks are better than others. Some times of year are more stressful than others. But right now it seems like I’m on an endless stretch of shitty sleep. If you’re perpetually tired, you know how much it impacts everything, especially your mood and productivity. I’ve gotten pretty good at pushing through and using things like exercise and caffeine to get me going, but enough is enough.

I’m going to get a good night’s sleep, DAMN IT! I’ve been reading up on good sleep habits and “sleep hygiene” and thinking about what causes my disrupted sleep. From what I’ve read, there are some things I should be doing to attain truly restful sleep. I’ve learned about setting a sleep schedule and sticking to it, light and noise interference, how temperature, pillow position, alcohol, exercise, caffeine, and medication impact sleep, and sleep journaling. There’s a lot of information out there and I need to distill it down to what is going to work for me. Here’s what I’ll be doing in the next week to ensure I get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep schedule – I am generally in bed by 10 and up between 5 and 6, depending on the day. I don’t think my schedule is the problem, but I’m going to give myself at least a 7.5 hour window to get the rest I need.
  2. Phone use – I bought an alarm clock and a nightlight for my bathroom a few months back when I was really working on breaking my phone addiction. My phone still lives by my bed. I’m going to leave it in the kitchen to charge and use my alarm clock and nightlight. I think this will help limit my brain activating browsing time before bed and IF I wake up and can’t fall back asleep.
  3. Take care of my body – this sounds pretty broad but it’s actually a few rules that I’ll be abiding by to help my sleep habits. No caffeine after my morning coffee or tea. I do this mostly anyway but I occasionally have caffeine later in the day. I’m going to continue with regular exercise. I’m swearing off any medication that keeps me awake or makes me groggy the next day. Luckily, I can do this because I don’t have any medication that I rely on. The one I think might really help me is minding my alcohol intake before bed. Did you know that when your body metabolizes alcohol, it actually wakes you up? The rule is that you can metabolize about 1 drink per hour, so if you’ve had 3 drinks, you need to stop drinking 3 hours before bedtime so you won’t be awakened by your body. This shouldn’t be difficult, I just think I’ll be more aware when considering topping off my glass of wine…again.
  4. Tracking my sleep – I’ll be wearing my FitBit Charge 2 to track how much sleep I’m actually getting. I’ve been wearing it the past few nights and it seems pretty spot on. I’ve been between 6 and 7.5 hours. I’d looooove to get to a full 8. It also has this awesome function for relaxation breathing. It guides you through 2 – 5 minutes of breathing exercises and it is great right before bedtime.
  5. Dealing with my anxiety – I don’t have full blown crippling anxiety like some, but I do struggle with anxiousness in the middle of the night and an inability to relax easily. I’m working with JoyWell Counseling on tackling these issues because, to be honest, I think it’s probably the root of my sleep problems and ALL OF MY PROBLEMS in general.

I’ll be doing this for the next week or so to see if I can get consistently good sleep. I’ll report back on my findings. In the meantime, let’s all just drink in this adorable snoozing koala and let me know if you have any tricks for getting good rest!

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