Friday, January 31, 2020

Being Disciplined With Sleep and Becoming a Morning Person

Being Disciplined With Sleep and Becoming a Morning Person

Today I'm sharing how I've become disciplined with sleep and how I became a 'morning person'. I would describe myself as having a lot of discipline when it comes to most areas of my life. I don't think you can work for yourself and/or from home if you cannot be disciplined... those two things go hand in hand.

However, one thing I was not disciplined about (and have never been) is my sleep schedule and working out. I've always been a night owl and a late riser. Not only that, but I am someone that truly requires a lot of sleep. If I don't get my sleep, everything falls apart. My mom says that I have always been like this. If I was tired, I'd meltdown as a child and even into my teens. In college, napping was a sport for me. Even now, on the weekends, if I don't set an alarm, who knows how long I would sleep. FYI, I'm healthy and needing a lot of sleep is normal/fine for me.

Knowing that I need a lot of sleep, you'd think I would prioritize this, right? Wrong! So dumb of me, but I have finally wisened. Getting enough sleep is LIFE CHANGING. 

This is like a domino effect- I prefer to work out in the morning and never would because I could not motivate myself to get out of bed at 6am to work out if I was going to bed at 1AM. If I was deprived of sleep, sleep always won vs. working out. So I just didn't work out.

I truly wanted to focus and dedicate myself to waking up early and working out. I received many DM's when I mentioned on Instastories that I turned myself into a 'morning person' after being a night owl all of my life. You all were asking what was the 'secret' to this! While there is no 'secret', I think it's a lot easier than it seemed. 

I still would not describe myself as an actual morning person... I'm more of a night owl dressed in morning person's clothing, ha! Everything is always a work in progress. 

My tips boil down to 'discipline', really. 35% of Americans don't get enough sleep, so even if you are already a morning person, maybe these tips will help you to work on getting enough sleep (seriously, read this article on the importance of sleep). 

As a disclaimer, I know I am lucky when it comes to getting enough, good sleep. Everyone's schedules differ. I fully realize that there are people out there who have trouble sleeping or medical issues when it comes to sleeping. I know there are jobs where people work very different hours than '9-5' or people who just can't prioritize sleep because they're working two jobs or whatnot. I'm also fully aware there are parents caring for young children who are very sleep-deprived. I can't speak to any of those things, so this post today is all based on my personal experience (although the below all goes out the window in Q4 which is my 'busy season' or when I'm traveling!).

Being Disciplined With Sleep and Becoming a Morning Person
Make Sleep a Priority 
I think if you are not sleeping enough, your main issue is that you are likely not making it a priority. That was my main issue. That's the first step: make getting enough sleep a priority! So that's where I started. I also feel very lucky that I have never had a problem falling asleep. I go to bed every night and it's easy for me... I know so many friends and family who can't do this and I can't imagine how frustrating that would be. 

Alter My Sleep Schedule 
To become a 'morning person' I set a goal wakeup time around 6:30 each weekday morning. I obviously could not do this if I was always going to bed so late, so I had to train myself to be in bed at 9pm so I could be asleep by 10pm...sometimes it ends up being 10:30/11. Ultimately, I shoot for 10pm to get a full 8 hours (my peak performance is me getting 9 hours of sleep). I get physically ill if for some reason I get 5 or fewer hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults age 18-64. My body works well on a schedule, and I knew I had to get my body in the regular habit of doing this.

Discipline plays a major role because if I'm to be doing my nightly routine around 9pm and settling in, that means I can't really go out to later dinners or drinks with friends and family (on weeknights). I can't stay up for the full 3-hour Bachelor premiere, I have to stop reading my really good book, I can't finish the movie I only started an hour ago, I have to stop working on my computer even if I'm feeling particularly inspired, and more. There are so many things that tempt me to ruin my early bedtime and the only reason I get good sleep and am able to wake up and thrive is that I am disciplined enough to call it quits and go to bed. 

Do Not Look At Your Phone 
At 10pm, my phone goes into 'do not disturb mode' and doesn't come out of that mode until 7am. I usually try not to look at it while it's in that mode. The light from the phone can be bad for sleep but what I found was the downfall for me is that I would be reading an article and then click through to another article or watch some instastories and then 30 minutes pass by and it becomes past my bedtime. Making sure you have clear nighttime phone boundaries is so important. I'll watch TV, make notes for the following day, read a book, chat with my fiancé, fold laundry, tidy up, anything other than being on my phone. Like I said, do not disturb starts at 10pm for me, but I try to limit my phone use around 9pm. My discipline wavers on this one and it does not always work for me (I think this would be easier if my job was not social media) but sometimes it does. I will say, Amazon Alexa works wonders for relying less on your phone. I will ask her to set an alarm for me, I can ask her the weather for the next day, etc. so my eyes are not on my phone!

Give Yourself Time to Unwind
I find that it's harder to sleep if I don't give myself time to unwind before going to sleep. That's what that 9-10pm hour is all about for me. I'll do my skincare routine, put on pajamas, tidy things in my bedroom, read a book, watch something on TV, etc. This is also a time I try to avoid my computer. I used to edit photos sitting in my bed at night and I had trouble stopping in the middle... I always had to finish the set and it would ultimately put me over my bedtime. I love to work and shutting down work is a battle I have with myself every single day. 

Get Up Immediately at Sound of First Alarm
Alright, so I have gone to bed, had my 7-9 hours of sleep, now it's 6:30 and my alarm is going off. I never set a second alarm so it forces me to get out of my bed immediately after that alarm goes off. This is where discipline comes in... this is all of us every morning- just a little longer in bed, please!!! But getting yourself right out of bed gives you no other choice but to get on with the day!

Turn On The Lights
This is tough if you live with your significant other and you have to get up before them. You can't turn on the lights because you'll wake them. My fiancé actually wakes up earlier than me so I'm able to turn on all of the lights once I get up which makes such a difference. The lights make me feel awake, especially during the winter months when it's so dark outside. 

Make Your Mornings Easy
Mornings are not always easy, but there are small things that you can do that make a big difference. My clothes for the next day are always set out on the bench at the end of my bed. That way, you remove having to make a decision the next morning on what to wear. I even lay out my socks and underwear so it's all there- no thinking required. This especially helps for the mornings that I work out because there's no excuse when the workout clothes are right there! In the winter, it's much more tempting to stay in your bed because it's cold (and I prefer it to be 'cool' when I sleep), but you can actually program your thermostat to start heating up your bedroom (we have separate thermostats that control different parts of our house which is seriously incredible) so that when you wake up, you won't be so cold, and then can program it to cool back down once you're done getting ready. I preset my coffee so all I have to do is push a button on the machine... my cup is sitting under there and the reservoir is always filled with water. My water bottle is filled and I just add ice so that's ready to go for workouts. My coat and gloves and all of that are out and ready for me to grab as I take Henry for a quick early morning walk. I'll even turn my car on and crank the heat/seat heaters so the car is toasty warm for me.

Pad Your Mornings With 'Me Time'
I like to have at least one morning a week where I'm not rushed and I have time for myself to just sit and really enjoy my coffee. See if you can carve this out instead of hitting snooze. Even if it's just 15 minutes! I think meditating has really inspired this aspect for me. The act of sitting there with a warm mug in my hands, focusing on the flavor, etc. helps me to be mindful and I think it makes me happier and more productive during the day. Honestly, meditation sounded a little hippy-dippy to me before I tried it, but it TRULY works. This is something that makes me look forward to the early mornings. I don't eat breakfast, but if you do, this 'me' time would be a good time for you to take the time to prepare an actual breakfast instead of an energy bar or cereal... it will truly feel like a luxury or at least that's how it feels for me when I just sit with my coffee (and Henry!!).

Continue Your Schedule on Weekends
This is, in my opinion, the most annoying and hardest part of becoming a morning person. I am very much a person that sleeps on a schedule and if my schedule is messed up, it takes several nights for me to get back on track. This makes weekends hard because I want to be out with friends/ my fiancé and stay out until at least midnight. Getting enough sleep is not usually the issue here because I could sleep in if I wanted to, BUT, if I do this, I won't want to be in bed by 9pm the next night. Fridays are especially hard if I am up at 6am and stay out late- I get so tired and I'm not as fun or chipper! 

This is all still a work in progress, but I try to make my weekend plans a little earlier, so instead of an 8pm dinner, I'll shoot for a 7pm dinner, etc. I also try to not stay out for 'one more drink' which is usually the culprit for the late nights. For example, just this past weekend, we had an 8pm dinner reservation with friends and ended up going to drinks afterward and my head wasn't on my pillow until 1:15am. We had a blast and I don't regret it, but it definitely throws my sleep schedule off. So as you can see this is truly a work in progress. But the next morning after our late night, I forced myself to get up and not sleep in so I would be tired by 9pm and could get back on track immediately. I know that sounds lame and it honestly kind of is... but it really makes a difference in my following week if I do this! 

Set a Bedtime Alarm
I typically post to Instagram around 9pm and have an alarm set to remind me. However, I've also turned this alarm into my 'bedtime alarm', too. This lets me know to get the bedtime routine started. 

As a result of getting enough quality sleep, I truly never skip a workout in the morning and I'm able to get the most out of my workout because I'm not overly tired. I've also noticed that I (knock on wood) haven't gotten as many colds/sickness and my mood is happier and brighter! I just all-around feel better and my mind is clearer. I highly recommend prioritizing getting enough sleep. It's honestly life-changing. 

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I was so excited to read this post because like you I'm healthy and if I don't get enough sleep it's like watch out! Great tips in this post and happy to see another ample sleep needer :)


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