I ran downstairs to put my laundry in the washer machine at around 10 a.m. the other day. “What are you doing up so early?” one of my housemates said as I half startled her while rushing to the laundry room. “I’ve been getting up earlier recently.”
If you were to ask any of my friends about my sleeping habits a month ago, they would tell you I go to sleep way too late and wake up past noon everyday. This wasn’t detrimental to my success because I purposely schedule my classes later in the day. However, I’ve been reading about numerous success habits and I’ve come to realize my sleeping habits are damaging to mental health. I decided to take action and make some changes to my lifestyle to improve my focus and mental stamina.
Throughout my life, I’ve learned that little changes yield big results – jumping into a lifestyle change is never going to work. One slight change I made to my life was breaking up with my phone and not sleeping in the same bed. Said without the metaphor, I began sleeping with my phone on my table about 10 feet away from my bed. This did two things: I couldn’t lay on my phone in bed wasting hours scrolling through feeds and I wasn’t always anxious to check my phone for no reason right before falling asleep or if I got up in the middle of the night.
Until now, I have always had struggles falling asleep. My childhood night terrors led to my mom giving me Melatonin every night to help put me to sleep and keep me asleep throughout the night. Inevitably, I grew a dependency to and tolerance against Melatonin. My only memories of going to sleep up until this point in my life involved laying in bed for at least an hour; tossing and turning to get comfortable and shut my brain off.
To focus on how fast this little habit has transformed my life, let’s look into the past 3 months of my life. On January 23th, I (most likely) went to bed around 4 a.m. and layed there until I fell asleep around 4:30/5 a.m. I woke up the following day around 12:30/1 p.m. This was my usual sleep pattern for the first 3 and a half years of college.
On March 23rd, I went to bed around 1 a.m. (with my phone on my table – more than an arms reach away) and fell asleep around 1:30 a.m. Although I was watching some Mad Men, I fell asleep easier than I did 3 months prior. I woke up from this particular sleep at 9:30 a.m. (30-minutes before my alarm goes off). It was my off day from the gym so I decided to read a little before getting up and taking a shower. Over the past few weeks, this has evolved from a rare night’s sleep to a reoccuring habit. I naturally get tired around midnight and fall asleep before 2 a.m and I get up before my 10 a.m. alarm everyday. This gives me time to wake up, read and/or go to the gym, which makes me feel way more energized throughout the day, before I go to class and get work done for my job. It’s been an incredible little habit that has transformed my lifestyle completely.
This is only one habit of a few that I changed to fix my atrocious sleeping schedule to match one of a (almost) normal human being. I’ve also forced myself out of bed everyday by 10:30 a.m. with a 10 a.m. daily alarm. This has trained my mind to turn on around the same time everyday, thus waking me up naturally without the use alarms. It is the best waking up every morning feeling awake without an obnoxious alarm, rather than waking up and fighting with everything you have to get your head off of your pillow.
Do you have any tips or tricks for better sleep or to change your sleeping habits? I’d love to hear them.