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The best gift is a good night of sleep. Benefits of quality sleep include, increased energy, better moods, less baggage under those eyes, and just feeling better overall. A healthy lifestyle should always include a sleep schedule designed for your individual body.
Ever since I was a teenager I remember doing different mind tricks to get my body to believe I was getting more sleep than I was. I would set my clock ahead so instead of waking up at 6:30, it looked like I was waking up at 7:30. Or I would adjust the minutes ahead and not really ever know what time it was. Or I would hit that snooze button, over and over again. I think at one point in my life I was up to hitting that snooze button at least 9 times or so on a regular basis. And these tricks never worked.
For the past couple of years, I wasn’t playing as many tricks with sleep, but I thought I was doing well, by trying to go to sleep within the same range during the work week and on the weekends I would stay up maybe an hour or two longer. Then I would let myself sleep in on the weekends and catch up with any sleep that I had missed through the week.
What I found was that on the days that I would try to get up extra early to go workout ( at 4:20am) , I was very tired by 2 or 3 in the afternoon and would almost fall asleep at my desk. I would yawn through meetings. I sometimes found it hard to get myself out of bed on workout days and instead would sleep in and felt my body really needed that sleep.
It wasn’t until recently that I really started listening to my body. And I mean really, truly listening and trying to figure out what I needed. For example, everyone is different on how much sleep their body needs. My magic number is 8. And the crazy thing is that if I let myself sleep in and get 9 or 10 hours to ‘catch up”, I actually feel worse that day and even more tired.
So, 8 hours of sleep. No more, no less.
I then started experimenting with my bedtimes and wake up times to find what worked with the natural rhythm of our family. I have a bedtime of 9:40 and I set my alarm for 5:40 every morning.
Sticking to this routine has been eye opening. I have started waking up naturally and rarely need to wait for my alarm. Every once in awhile I feel like I want to sleep in longer, but I choose not to, because when I do, I feel worse than if I would just get up at my normal time.
I try to stick to this routine as closely as possible. There have been a few nights on the weekends where I stay up until 10 or 10:30, but I either wake up at 5:40 or stay in bed for an additional 20 minutes or so. Generally a day here or there does not mess with my natural rhythm.
Here is what I have noticed.
- I don’t yawn as much during the day.
- When I stick to this schedule, I don’t feel the need to nap.
- I feel energized throughout the day.
- I don’t feel the need to hit a snooze button.
- My stress levels have gone down.
Now, let’s be real, there have been a week or two that I have been busy with a project at work and I stay up later, or get up earlier for multiple days. These adjustments when carried on over the course of a week or so, throws my whole schedule off, and I need to make a point to start getting back to the regular bed time and wake up time. When I do, it is so worth it. I feel great for the entire day!
I encourage you to listen to your body and find out exactly how much sleep you need. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to throw out that alarm clock and just wake with the natural rhythm of your body. So worth it!