None! That’s right—none!
Once my daughter is in bed, I tidy up the house. Then it’s me time, and I want to do it all. I want to watch a TV show and relax. I want to read a book and relax. I want to surf the internet and relax. I want. I want. I want. And all the while, what is the best way to relax? Sleep! Duh! I am a smart woman. I swear!
But despite last week being an off week, I have made progress in this area, and I want to share what I’ve learned.
Benefits of an early bedtime.
The benefits of going to bed early are multiple, and it really boggles my mind that I resist it so much. Ah, the lure of instant gratification. Why think about tomorrow when right now feels so good? It’s complex human psychology, yet simple mathematics; I just need to put two and two together.
If I go to sleep early, it’s easy to wake up early in the morning. I can actually get the amount of sleep my body needs to function at optimal levels—my body is rested, my brain is refreshed, my emotions are even. My skin looks gorgeous too! There is no cheaper beauty treatment. If I go to sleep early, I have energy to exercise. And that only begets more energy.
The ripple affects all areas of my life. I am a more loving wife, a kinder mother, and a more efficient business manager. I can ride the minor annoyances of daily life instead of letting them sink me. That makes me like myself better. Big win!
Sleep gives me the energy to accomplish my goals and helps me fulfill my purpose. Sleep opens the door to a world of wonders—a world filled with smiles instead of frowns, a world filled with calm instead of anger.
Strategies for going to bed early.
Know your “why.” Going to bed early is not a punishment. If you don’t believe that it will make your life better, you won’t be motivated to do it. Make a list of all the ways that getting more sleep will benefit you, and review your list often to stay on track.
Know your “when.” How much sleep do you really need? When do you have to wake up in the morning? Do the math and figure out what “going to bed early” means for you. I need at least eight hours of sleep, and I want to wake up at 6 a.m. Falling asleep by 10 p.m. is my target, so I go to bed around 9:30 p.m.
Know your “what.” Decide what you will do with your downtime so that you can look forward to it and don’t end up wasting those precious moments. Probably the hardest part is being realistic about what you have time to do and sticking to your plan.
This is my general nightly plan:
- 15-20 minutes: kitchen cleanup while listening to a podcast.
- 30 minutes: watch a funny TV show. (I try to be disciplined and stick to one!)
- 10 minutes: blog hopping, social media.
- 10 minutes: get ready for bed: brush teeth, floss, fill up water bottle, etc.
- Leftover time: read a book in bed.
- Lights out.
Some nights, I skip the reading and watch two shows because I need the laughter. Some nights, I watch no TV because I can’t put down my book. Some nights, I have more cleaning to do. Some nights, I fall asleep with my daughter at 8 p.m.!
Know your “how.” Here are a few more practical ways to get to bed when you want:
- Start dinner on time. That is the key to the night going smoothly.
- Enforce a bedtime for the kids. I leave my daughter’s room at 8 p.m. She doesn’t have to be asleep, but I’m punching out for the night. She is not allowed to call on me unless it’s an emergency, so I can get on with my own routine.
- Set up an alarm. Every night my phone reminds me when it’s time to prepare for bed. Respecting the alarm means respecting yourself!
- Turn your phone off after your allotted screen time. I like to have my phone on and nearby while I sleep in case of an emergency, so I turn it off when I’m done with internet surfing. I keep it off to avoid the temptation. But when I finish reading and turn the lights off, I quickly turn the phone back on, put it in airplane mode, and go to sleep.
Remember your “who.” You are doing this for your family. You are doing this for you.
QUESTION: How much sleep do you really need in order to thrive during your day? When do you have to wake up in the morning? Do the math and figure out what “going to bed early” means for you.
CHALLENGE: Know your “why.” Write down your reasons for wanting to go to bed early. Then write down a schedule for how you will use your time before bed, so you can look forward to it. Try it out! Make going to bed on time a bigger priority this next week and see how it makes a difference in your days.
Edited by Kimberly Price and Katie Carter.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics by Anna Jenkins.