The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 12: Go to Bed
The other day, I was sitting with a group of co-workers in our office kitchen. We were discussing our favorite healthy food options and sharing tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle.
One thing we brought up was how much water we drink. I laughed and assured myself and the group that if there was one area of health I had down pat, it was the daily consumption of water. I’m never more than an arms-length away from a water bottle, whether it’s my clear bottle that I keep at work or my Gatorade one that gravitates between my nightstand and my bookcase – depending on where I’m working from at home – I am constantly drinking water.
The conversation continued and eventually we all returned to our desks – me, carrying a topped off bottle of water. This inspired health conversation left me thinking of other areas in my health I could improve.
I pride myself on a lot of things with health. For example, I have the happiest routine of old fashioned oatmeal with a banana and a handful of raisins each morning. It’s quick, easy, cost-friendly, and healthy. As mentioned, I drink plenty of water and I’m very good at sticking to committed workout regimes.
However, I do not sleep.
Sleep has always been the first area of my life to crumble. I’ve always been an early riser – try as I might, I can never get myself to sleep past 8:33 and even that’s a good day. I happily wake up at 6:33 for work and 7:11 or 8:22 on the weekends. I’m always grateful for my quiet weekend mornings while the rest of my apartment sleeps. It’s my own little piece of paradise.
The trouble is, as much as I like to wake up early, I also spend a majority of my time and energy with people who like to stay up late. And as much as I claim to be a morning person, I realistically just take on the vibe of the people I surround myself with. I am a morning person through and through…until my roommate wants to start a movie at 1 am and I happily oblige. After all, I’ve heard that movie is really good.
So I stay up with the latest and wake up with the earliest and then I feel like my dog does when all of his human siblings come back to visit and he knows he needs to sleep but he just really wants to be a part of all the activity.
I’ve known for a long time that “sleep” is one area of health I could definitely work to improve, but I hadn’t fully recognized its effects until last week.
Last Sunday, I turned my phone off at 10:30 and read until 11. I woke up on Monday a minute before my alarm and felt unstoppable all day. I didn’t get distracted. I didn’t try to eat because I was bored. I wasn’t focused on being alert… I just was alert.
On Monday, I followed my routine. I knew I had a set “bed time” for myself of sometime 10, realistically 10:30. This made me work even more productively, since I put a deadline on my evening. At 10:30, I shut my phone off and I read until 11.
Again, I woke up on Tuesday feeling like my entire life was changing. Why had I never taken care of my body like this before? I had discovered the Fountain of Youth.
Then I stayed up until almost 1:30 on Tuesday and when my alarm went off less than five hours later, I was less than pleased with myself.
Resolution #12: Go to Bed
Much like my pup, I have a hard time walking away from a fun situation. I like movie nights and karaoke sessions and just visiting with the people I care about. I also know that I operate on very different internal clocks than many of my friends. They can stay up until 4 am. They’re not waking up at 6:30 the next day.
And that’s okay.
In the couple days I have stuck to my system I have felt happier, healthier, and surprisingly more productive over all. In my mind, I imagined going to bed an average of 2-3 hours earlier than usual would make me accomplish far less, but the opposite was true.
When I started taking care of my body and giving it rest, I was more productive, energized, and organized throughout the day. On top of that, rather than coming home and “working on stuff” until I was too tired to stay up, I came home with a focused plan.
I had time to work out, shower, eat dinner, and accomplish whatever other tasks I needed to do…before 10:30. I set an end goal and that race against the clock, that college mid-term paper deadline allowed me to fly through work with unprecedented speed.
Maybe there is something great about a good night’s sleep. Try it this week. You just might realize you’re on to something.