One of my absolute favourite things to do is to sleep under warm blankets when it’s cold outside. I love feeling cosy and warm, and it’s particularly hard to get out of bed when my personal heater of a boyfriend is still soundly sleeping while I have to be up and ready to leave the house. And so, I had made a vow to try and start this particular challenge when it was still summer and I could lure myself out of bed with a few minutes in a cold shower. And while I managed what could only be called a half-assed attempt at a healthy sleeping pattern (i.e. 8 straight hours), I quickly fell out of the habit once it started to cool down. I decided that it wasn’t good enough, and I shouldn’t let the weather or cosy cuddles or warm blankets make me complacent (no matter how unsupportive G is by not waking up at 6am with me haha!)
I’ve known the benefits of a good night’s sleep for as long as I can remember, and I have the 7:30pm bedtimes as a child to prove it. But it was only until recently that I’ve really taken a hard look at my sleeping habits after reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post. In her book (which I came across during one of my self-mandated browsing sessions at Kikki-K), she says, “By sleeping more we, in fact, become more competent and in control of our lives. It gives new meaning to the old canard of women sleeping our way to the top. Women have already broken glass ceilings in Congress, space travel, sports, business, and the media – imagine what we can do when we’re all fully awake“. Talk about an eye-opening revelation. Now I’ve been trying my best to be kinder to myself, and to acknowledge my achievements and sucesses. And so, in that same vein, I’d like to think that I’ve managed to achieve quite a few of my goals, and this is on (admittedly) an average of 6 hours of sleep. I can only imagine how much harder I can work and how much more focused I can be if I’m not spending my already depleted energy supply attempting to stay awake. I strongly suggest that you go out and buy the book for more than just her thoughts on sleep. But if you’re trying desperately to improve your quality of sleep, here are some of the top tips that Arianna included in her book:
- Make your bedroom darker and keep it cool.
- Take a warm bath before bed.
- This is something I’ve always had to do because I hate bringing the yuck from outside into my bed.
- Exercise or at least walk every day.
- Something that was surprisingly difficult to forget to do once I got my license)
- Banish all LCD screens (laptops, tablets smartphones, TV) at night.
- I read somewhere once that we need to stop using our phones and watching Netflix in bed because we start to associate our sleeping place with things other than sleep. This was definitely the hardest thing to do because I’m so attached to my phone and because I love watching shows and playing Sims in bed, but this is something that I’ve been trying my best to accomplish.
Side note: Apparently I am way beyond my years as a 20-year old who is obsessed with these self-help books, but I have no shame at all (and I’m always open to suggestions).
Now back to the task – since it’s been too difficult to set a sleeping/wake up time with the schedules of a Masters student, I’ve accepted that the best I can hope for is a solid 8 hours every night. Thanks to the Bedtime feature in the Clock app on my iPhone (and the helpful tips from Arianna Huffington that I’ve included above), I’ve managed to get my 8 hours every night for the last fortnight (which, believe me, is an insane achievement on my part!) I’m hoping that I can eventually work towards a relatively set wake up time. I’ve found that when I wake up early enough for an unrushed breakfast and some time for pilates in the morning, I feel much more ready for the day compared to when I spend the first hour of being awake promising myself some caffeine from the first cafe I see. I’m hoping I can continue this, because the convinction that I am a morning person is slowly starting to reappear after many productive mornings.