Go to Sleep!
Updated: Nov 18, 2018
I've always been a night owl. I sleep in, I go to work, I come home and chill out, and then my mind is alllll over the place until midnight, 1, or sometimes even 2 am. Yikes. I have realized that this little night routine of mine isn't serving me anymore. I'm trying to shed this habit-but its really, really hard! BUT I WILL DO IT, DAMN IT!
Can a night owl become a early bird? I think so. I've heard of people doing it. I've done it, unwillingly, when a job required me to. But I hated every second of it! That's the only time I've been able to get up before 8: when there was a consequence of me getting fired from a job. Ugh. It's hard not to get down on myself about this late night habit of mine. It makes me feel better to know that there are many people like me: late to bed, late to rise. What is at the root of that?
Here are my top reasons I stay up late:
1. The Internet: This is a big one for me. Hi, my name is Kate and I have an addiction to my cell phone. There is just so much to grab my attention and every time I unlock my phone I get tempted to surf through all my apps. It's almost like a self imposed millennial duty to stay connected with whats going on online. I feel out of the loop if I don't know what meme is going around, what video is going viral, or who is trending on twitter. This social media compulsion is actually a pretty big problem, in my opinion. It's information overload--my brain becomes flooded with a lot of worthless knowledge that is completely irrelevant to my life. It causes me to compare my life with others (a huge issue that deserves its own blog post)--"I am less than my peers" is not exactly a comforting thought to fall asleep to! Staring at my phone until I pass out also puts a major strain on my eyes! The blue glow of the screen is suppressing melatonin, aka signaling to my brain that it is still waking hours and preventing my body from going into sleep mode. And I'm not alone on this--according to sleep.org 71% of people go to sleep with their phone in their hand or in bed with them!
2. Mental Health Issues: Night time is a classic time for my brain to start reviewing all of my failures of the day--thanks anxiety! I lay in bed and think about all the crappy things going on in the world, how I could've handled an interaction better, or just generally worry about the direction my life is heading. I can spiral so fast if I let myself ~go there~ and then I end up feeling so sad and worked up that I can't get to that relaxed sleep state if I tried! Or worse, a panic attack arrives. Bedtime ruined.
3. Wanting to Get More Done!: A lot of times, due to either procrastination or forgetfulness, I don't start working on something until late in the day or evening. Then, once I'm in a good work flow, I have a really hard time stopping what I'm doing to start a night time routine at a reasonable hour. I don't want to give up the spurt of motivation I have! So I keep going, completely disregarding the hour of night and the fact that I really need a shower and to wind down. Then I look up from my work and whoopsie! its 2 AM! Then I shove all my work away and flop into bed, still wired from the stimulation of my work. Crap. Better watch a YouTube video to decompress...annnd here comes that bright blue iPhone screen, straining my eyes and ruining my body's attempt to relax. Not good!
So what's a sleepy head to do? Well, like anything your want to change, you gotta commit mentally. That's what I'm attempting to do: tell myself, "I am a morning person and I love getting up early!" I'm trying to trick myself. Fake it til you make it, right? I also try to make my mornings as lovely as possible so that I can associate being out of bed with nice things like tea, yoga, and laying in my hammock. And I've been researching other ways to solve my specific night time issues.
Here are my solutions to the problems listed above:
1. The Internet: Okay...so this is something that I haven't mastered quite yet, but the new iPhone software update is helping! The update includes a feature called "Downtime", found in Settings under the "Screen Time" tab. The setting allows you to set a schedule for selected apps to be inaccessible. You can still receive phone calls, of course, and it's all up to you which apps are off limits. This is a brilliant way to shut out the oh-so-tempting Social Media apps towards the end of the evening and into the early morning. Also included in the "Screen Time" section in settings is "App Limits", a place where you can actually control how long you are allowed to sit on Facebook or Instagram (or whatever app) each day! And rounding out the features is a detailed bar chart that shows you exactly how much time is spent on each app every day, as well as the total hours on your phone. It's a jarring reality check, for sure! The other iPhone setting I like to utilize if I am looking at my phone past sundown is Night Shift--it turns the lighting to a warm tone rather than the harsh blue tone. Baby steps!
2. Mental Health Issues: The mood disorders I have will forever a part of my life, but finding coping mechanisms helps and doing the self care work to be in as much of a soothed state of mind as I can be are absolutely imperative to my getting to sleep. Everyone is different, but the optimal solutions for me are:
moving my body earlier in the day. This has always been a struggle of mine-more on that a different day. I'm getting better at this bit by bit, though!
controlling my habitat. I'm soothed by a tidy(ish) dark, quiet, cool room with plenty of heavy blankets and surrounded by pillows.
limiting my caffeine and alcohol intake. I'm down to one coffee a day in the morning and one or two drinks once or twice a week, sometimes less. If I overdo the caffeine, my mind is RACING. If I overdo the booze I get a big case of the sads.
calming my mind and soothing my body with a yoga and meditation practice. I used to have a membership at a studio and I loved it, but I ended up dropping it to tighten up my budget. The good news is anyone with internet access can easily have an at-home practice. I like to go on YouTube and follow the channel Yoga with Adriene. For meditation purposes I highly recommend the free app Insight Timer. It has hundreds of free guided meditations-it's incredible. Without internet access, I would say borrow a yoga book from the library, learn some basic poses, and write down a simple flow you can follow. The main idea is to stretch, breathe, and connect with yoursel
3. Wanting to get more done! This is super hard for me. I'm not sure I have a solution yet. For example, I'm writing this blog post in bed at 11pm. Oops. I have a hard time getting motivated sometimes, so when I do I like to strike while the iron's hot, so to speak. I think time management is the solution here. My greatest weakness! Here's the thing--more productive things get done in the morning than they do at night, generally speaking. When I stay up late, I sleep in late, and nothing gets done in the morning. So what I'm hoping is to build the routine of regular self care and getting off my phone at night so that I am tired out, calm and ready for sleep at an hour that will allow me to get my required 8-9 hours of sleep. In theory, this would lead to a productive morning so that my evenings are free and the pressure of burning the midnight oil to get it all done will evaporate.
Easier said than done.
I'll keep you updated!
What are some of your techniques for getting to sleep at a reasonable time and waking up early?