“In the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks the following day. In the autumn, we gain an hour of sleep opportunity, and there is a 21% reduction in heart attacks. “
It can be a challenge to try to get a solid eight hours of sleep on a regular basis. There are many things calling for our attention: kids, work, email, house chores, school work, pets, hobbies, fitness routines … by the end of the day, it is easy to feel justified in zoning out in front of the TV. Who hasn’t thought to themselves, I just need some downtime? There is nothing wrong with this but, for me, it can be a factor in staying up too late to really get that full eight hours of sleep. First step for me, then, is to make an effort to not turn on the TV on weekdays.
I feel lame for wanting to go to bed right after I put my kids to bed. Because I’m not in elementary school, I’m a grown up, right? I am not sure why I feel that, almost a shame, for going to be when the rest of my family does. I wake up two hours before them, what’s so bad about going to bed right when they do?
I found it helpful to agree to do two things at night:
- Agree to unplug from my cell phone after ten PM. Just try not to look at it after then. This is part of me recognizing that grabbing my cell ends with me mindlessly scrolling through news headlines or emails or text streams or articles. I’m tired, my brain zones out, and I’m just a click delivery system for some algorithm by nightfall. So I try to just leave it on the charger downstairs. That’s right – not even in the bedroom.
- I agree to allow myself to read a book at night. Not a textbook for school or an article on my laptop for work, but a regular old book for fun. There are many benefits. Making progress through the chapters over a week or so makes me feel a sense of accomplishment. Reading stories is a nice distraction from rigors of our duties as well as an informative pursuit to my curiosities. Reading books relaxes my mind and calms my body in preparation for sleep. I’m upstairs with my family all nearby with cozy thoughts, the house below all shut down for the night.
It is OK to sleep. It isn’t lazy or slothful. It’s being responsible to our body and its biological requirements. All nighters are over-rated. Prepare yourself for the new day. Don’t cram, crunch, and crash. To be refreshed and destressed, just sleep.