My August Sleep Challenge

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One of my goals for August is to get more sleep. I don’t have a problem with sleeping, especially since getting a CPAP machine a few years ago for my sleep apnea. I usually sleep like a rock. But it’s the falling asleep that I’m not good at.

Not only am I easily distracted and have a tendency to try and get projects done late into the night, I’m also generally an anxious person and tend to ruminate a lot, especially about work. So I spend a lot of time on my iPad or iPhone as an easy distraction from where my mind might otherwise go.

Screen time is a major culprit of my sleep problems. I’ve switched to using ‘Night Mode’ on the iPhone and iPad, a feature that allows you to turn down the blue light that has been linked to keeping us from falling asleep, but it still keeps me awake. On the one hand, reading calms my worrying mind, but it also keeps my mind active when I should be trying to quiet it.

I had been passing out sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.  Then I’d wake up sometime between 6:30 and 7:00, scramble to get ready, and go about my day. It sets a bad stage for the day, and by the time I get home, I’m so completely spent that sometimes I can’t imagine doing much of anything. The lack of sleep also begets more worry about the things left undone, and the cycle continues.

It also affects my relationships in that when I don’t get enough sleep, I can be a real grump. Who wants to be around a crabby ass all the time? Not me. It was actually my partner who brought thisnto my attention — that not getting enough sleep also impacts her, and that is what ultimately made me realize I needed to make a change.

So I’m a little over a week into August and I’m already noticing a huge difference in my attitude, productivity, and attentiveness. I’ve been making it a point to try and not look at my phone past about 10:30, though I’d like to roll that back to an earlier point in the night. I’ve also been focusing on my breathing and practicing mindfulness just before sleep. It hasn’t been perfect, but I’ve definitely been falling asleep earlier more often than not, getting up earlier, and generally feeling happier. I’m also less anxious.

What’s more, I’m getting some things done in the mornings when I wasn’t before. In addition to  finishing little chores that I sometimes don’t like to do after work, I’m getting a little bit of exercise in. I actually went for a run this morning at 6 a.m., something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes, when things feel a little off, it’s good to evaluate some of the simple things first. The way we eat, the amount of physical activity we get, and how much we’re sleeping. This all may seem obvious, but I didn’t realize just how much my lack of sleep had been affecting me lately.