You knooooooow you don’t get enough sleep. You knooooooooow you need to get in bed earlier. You knooooooooooow you would feel so much better if you just got more shuteye. And yet night after night you stay up later than you want to. This is a classic example of the gap between knowing and doing. WHY can’t we implement consistently???
I will list my top 5 reasons that I stay up past my bedtime regularly and perhaps you can relate, along with some solutions that have helped me:
Reason #1: My pre-bed routine is overwhelming. I am exhausted just thinking about it! Lol I have to shower. Brush my teeth, FLOSS my teeth, wash my face, take out my contacts, pack my food for tomorrow, pick out my clothes for the next day, set my alarm and make sure everything else is set tomorrow’s hectic morning. Gah!
Solution: Do it in pieces. In order to help decrease the overwhelming nature of this, I have implemented some new tactics. Now, I shower, wash my face and take out my contacts within the first 15 minutes I get home. I don’t pass go, don’t even dare get on the computer. I also lay out my clothes for tomorrow since I am in my bedroom pulling on sweats. That way, I can relax in my sweats while I have dinner and be done with it. Then, I pack my food for the next day as I am making dinner. Then, by the time it’s bedtime, all I have to do is brush and floss. A whole lot better than a 30-minute ordeal at 11pm.
Reason #2: Mindless TV. Let’s face it. There is honestly nothing more important past 9pm than bed, and yet we can’t stand the thought of missing our favorite show. And even WORSE, when you find yourself watching some mindless crap you don’t even care about, you’re literally just watching it to zone out, all the while you feel the life and motivation draining from you lol. I am going to be honest, I have been known to flip on the Kardashians every once in a while, everyone can get sucked in to ridiculous reality TV, it’s normal stuff—but Kim and Kourtney’s latest drama literally has NO bearing on anything going on in my world and honestly I am WTF’ing all over the place 30 minutes later, mad at myself for wasting the time.
Solution: If you are serious about your health, body change and productivity, you have to make it a hard and fast rule to use DVR if you want to keep up with your TV shows. And then “save up” your episodes for a designated “mindless me afternoon” like Saturdays. There is nothing wrong with using TV to decompress but scheduling decompression time so that it does not interfere with sleep time is crucial. If you are just someone who loves TV, do it all you want, but do have the conscious awareness that it can disrupt your sleep, which can disrupt your fat loss efforts. Just sayin. TV may not be my biggest challenge, as Jade and I are pretty good about simply not even turning the TV on during the school week. BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other struggles with this stuff…which brings me to my next reason…
Reason #3: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, (does anyone use MySpace anymore?), etc. The computer sucks you in, it sucks you dry, and it just plain old sucks when it comes to getting us in bed. I am super-guilty of this. I will literally sit down to “check email one more time” and 30 minutes later I am pissed because I am still not in bed. You know what I’m talking about lol!
Solution: If we are honest, besides a deadline to submit a work project or respond to a customer, there is little reason to stay online late into the night when we know we should be in bed. The other day I said to Jade, “If you think about it, there is nothing more important after 9pm than bed” and I want to begin to not only know that, but implement it regularly. Here is a new strategy for engaging in social media at night so that you don’t get sucked in (I have tried to do this more and more): Play Defense—go online, check and respond to any comments or questions, post a single status update or article, log off. Simply cutting out the time spent stalking helps a ton (I am not opposed to copious stalking during daytime hours lol). So evening interaction is limited to responses to people reaching out to you, sharing briefly and that’s it. It’s a good compromise, and the good news is that the things people post tonight will still be there in the morning so you never really miss anything :)
Reason #4: You need to unwind. I completely understand this. Many people, especially fitness professionals don’t get home until 8pm or 9pm after clients, classes, etc. In these cases, to get home and get into bed with lights off at 10pm might be unrealistic. However, if you get home at 7pm or earlier, you should be able to in bed, lights out by 10pm. I understand from parents’ points of view too—once you get the kids in bed, it becomes time for you or time for you and your partner. Once again, completely understand. But how to compromise so that you can still get enough sleep?
Solution: Unwind in bed. Just because you GET in bed, doesn’t mean you have to immediately go to sleep. Often, just getting physically away from computers, bright lights and TV can help you relax and feel more tired and “ready” for bed. A lot of times we think we feel “awake” so we think we are not tired, and stay up as a result. Chances are that if you feel awake, it’s because of all the ways you are being stimulated, such as the bright computer, TV and bright fluorescent lights on all over the place. Dimming lights, getting into bed with a cup of hot tea and an old-fashioned book, made out of paper, is a GREAT way to decompress. I am falling asleep just thinking about it :)
Reason #5: You really are wired and even in bed you cannot seem to calm down mentally and/or physically. This is more of a sleep issue than a behavioral issue (getting into bed).
Solution: This is when you will try to stamp out sleep issues, ranging from caffeine late in the day to stimulating PM workouts to stress to blood sugar issues to hormonal imbalances, to alcohol intake, etc. This is beyond the scope of this blog :). BUT, one quick option if you have a hard time falling asleep is to increase your clean starchy carb intake slightly (i.e. sweet potato, brown rice, starchy veggies, etc) at night. Getting a small insulin response will calm the body and stabilize blood sugar. However, that does not mean sweets and treats. Supplements like magnesium, 5HTP, holy basil and others can impact hormones also to impact sleep. When in doubt, try a Yogi Bedtime tea or chamomile tea.
Related: Sleep and Bedtime Rituals