Happy happy Thursday!
Okay guys, in the spirit of pursuing our healthiest and happiest lives, I’m going to talk about one of the five “main” areas in which I’ve changed the most over the last year…SLEEP.
You don’t spend a year reading health and wellness books and listening to hundreds of podcast episodes without hearing several key messages repeated over and over and over again by clinicians in every single field from mental health to physical health without hearing each and every one of them say how valuable getting enough sleep is to your overall wellbeing.
I’m telling you, I can’t crack open a book or turn on a podcast without hearing everyone talk about sleep being one of the main pillars of living long and living well. I had myself convinced that I was already doing this well. I have always been a GREAT sleeper. I fall asleep quickly, stay asleep soundly and easily wake up early in the morning and pop out of bed. I don’t nap during the day nor do I walk around feeling exhausted or tired. I patted myself on the back over and over again until over and over again I heard doctor after doctor, nurse practitioner after nurse practitioner, therapist after therapist, fitness trainer after fitness trainer and expert after expert talk about getting MORE sleep than I was getting and the net benefits in doing so.
Finally, we went to Nantucket for the summer where I had fewer commitments and more time on my hands and that’s when I (but kind of by default) started sleeping a little more, and oh my word, I truly felt SO MUCH BETTER.
BUT…then I came home in August and went right back into my “normal” routine of sleeping 5½ to 6 hours at night and then that’s when it really hit me how I started feeling less fabulous. I think I was so accustomed to living off of shorter amounts of sleep that I didn’t even notice the effects.
I once heard Dr. Peter Attia say that getting better quality sleep was “low hanging fruit” for getting in better overall health. I understand his point…getting more sleep is “free” and “easier” than losing a bunch of weight, overhauling your entire diet, joining and gym and actually going every day, buying supplements, etc, but just because “it’s low hanging fruit” doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily easy for some of us (me!) to do when we’ve grown so accustomed to sleeping less.
Why am I sharing all of this with you?
Because since the end of August, I’ve really tried hard to get more sleep, and I’m hoping you’ll hold me accountable, AND I’m hoping that perhaps if you’re out there like me living on too little (or poor quality) then maybe we can work on this together.
I was going to bed around 10:30 every night and then waking up at 4:00 AM.
Right now, I’m trying to be in bed by 9:00 PM and asleep by 9:15 or 9:30. I still wake up at 4:00 two mornings a week so that I can go to a specific class at the gym, but the other mornings, I’m *trying* to sleep until 4:50 or 5:00.
I had a few hurdles just to get myself to this schedule:
#1: I had to get Andrew on board. I know, I know, I know that we could go to sleep at different times (and many couples do!), but after 20 years of marriage, we like going to sleep at the same time. We just do. He was not a fan of this idea at first…but…slowly, he’s come around. I might go to sleep while he’s watching a show on his iPad, but despite his earlier protests, I would say that Mr. Shull is now asleep himself by 9:45 most nights which is about an hour earlier than normal…and he’s loving it (even if he won’t admit it, I know he is!).
#2: I know myself well enough to know that I am a morning person, so I don’t want to give up my morning time in lieu of sleep, but I don’t mind giving up my evening time. When I try sleeping in, I feel “late” for my day and behind schedule. I love early mornings. I love my quiet time, I love working out early, I love how accomplished I feel before my kids even wake up. I am an early bird, so I knew I couldn’t interrupt that…instead, I’m just heading to bed earlier.
#3: All of this being said, I’m still a mom of four kiddos and there are some days when it’s just impossible to go to sleep early, so I try to give myself grace and not be too hard on myself if I’m up later because we’re at an event/game. I certainly don’t want to miss anything because I’m on some rigid self-created schedule.
So, that’s my little “what I’ve learned/how I’m making changes” spiel for today 🙂 . I have a feeling many of the things I’m going to talk about in the future will fuel some fire, but really, who can argue with “sleep is good, we should get a good night’s rest as often as possible”? Someone will. Someone will. 😉
Now, friends, this is a very layered topic because I know that some of you try your hardest to get a good night of sleep but you’re not a great sleeper. I am so sympathetic to that. I might not struggle with this, but I know and love so many people who do, and I’m truly sorry if that’s where you are. I don’t have one specific book for you to read if this is a problem for you, but I do encourage you to talk to your doctor about this, get your labs done and try to get to the bottom of this with professionals. Maybe it’s too much technology or not the right sheets, the room is too warm, you’re dehydrated, you’re anxious, you need a sleep aid…I’m not sure, but I do hope if you’re looking to get quality sleep this year too, you’ll not settle for less but really try and find it.
That’s it for today!
If you have sleep tips, sleep thoughts, sleep habits that you’d like to break/have broken, comments or suggestions, I’d love to read them in the comment section!
Sending you so much love! xx