When we are born all we want to do is sleep. As babies our parents know the importance of sleep for both them and us.
However, as we grow this changes.
Whether it’s us personally or outside influences, or simply thart sleep patterns or habits change.
For me, I have spent most of my life being an insomniac nighthawk.
Only going to bed when I was really tired, and I mean the nodding off in front of the tv at 2/3am kinda tired.
What made matters worse is that I was getting up early for work so I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. For years I thought I was doing okay getting by on 5 hours sleep a night. Occasionally it was 4 hours and once or twice it was even 3 hours.
I would look back at the night before and think, yeah, I was up late last night because I had a lot of work to get done. My justification, my excuse.
After a while, when I noticed that I wasn’t always working, in fact in some cases it was like I was forcing myself to stay up.
Apart from lack of sleep, another “side effect” of my insomnia was eating too much. In fact eating all the wrong things at the wrong time.
Pot Noodles, sandwiches, biscuits or any left overs from dinner. The later I was up, the more junk food I would eat. I also drank a tonne of fizzy juice, Pepsi Max, Coca Cola, all containing loads of caffeine.
Hell no wonder I wasn’t tired.
I did try and go to bed early a few times, but that sometime it annoyed my wife as I was restless and disturbed her sleep. I couldn’t just go to bed and drop off, so I would end up getting back up and going down stairs and watching tv.
Then in 2020 I decided I needed to make some changes. This largely came about because my wife had noticed that when I was sleeping, I would occasionally stop breathing (nothing to do with her trying to stop me snoring lol).
A friend said I might have Sleep Apnea and I should get it checked out ASAP.
A month or so later, the sleep department of the local hospital had me on an airflow system which is a bit like going to bed with a darth vader mask on. It supplies you with oxygen as you sleep and tracks your breathing etc.
It never lasted long as I could never get past two hours without having to take the mask off as I couldn’t sleep properly (ironic or what?)
I looked at alternative options and as part of my onoing project of trying to fix my knackered heart, I joined a group called the Turtles. This was part of the Live Like Louise family and focused on exercise, healthy eating, tracking macros etc.
Not a diet as I can still eat what I want but I need to be accountable for what I eat and factor it in (that’s for another blog post though). As a result of becoming a turtle I joined the 5am club.
The 5am club is a bunch of people who get up at 5am and do a bit of exercise and then start their day that bit earlier than others. It’s not an exlcusive club as anyone anywhere in the world who gets up at 5am and does this is really a member. It’s an open club really.
However, to do this I had to force myself to go to bed early, and by early I meant no later than midnight (at this time). What I soon discovered is that the 5am club had its ups and downs.
Yes I was getting up early, going to bed earlier (than normal), I was sleeping ok but only still getting about 5 hours.
Plus, after I had been out for my morning 1.5 mile walk with the dog, I was sitting down in front of my laptop and cracking on with work. Some will say, great what a productive start to the day.
Yes I got more done, and I was tired in the evening so getting to sleep wasn’t a problem and as time progressed, I did go to bed a bit earlier (11.30pm).
I then noticed myself nodding offer after dinner whilst sitting on the couch. My wife told me that if was going to get up at 5am I needed to go to bed earlier.
Plus, what was the point of getting up earlier if all I was doing was adding another 2 hours to my work day?
Time for a rethink!
I should also add that since deciding to join the turtles back in August 2020 I cut back on my caffeine big time. I still drink a shit load of fizzy juice, sorry I’m addicted, but now its the caffeine free stuff.
Not a big change, but a change none the less.
So, a week or so ago I said goodbye to the 5am club and now get up for the 6am club. On the flipside, I am in bed by about 10:45pm most nights, weekends are different as I don’t get up too early.
I enjoy my sleep and I am getting a better quality of sleep. I use an app called SleepWatch which tracks my patterns and gives me all sorts of information about what was going on whilst I was asleep. I awake refreshed, well rested and ready for the day ahead.
I did discover, mainly at weekends, that when I get more than 8 hours sleep I actually feel very lethargic when I get up. I’m not motivated or enthusiastic for the day ahead, so I set my goal for 7 hours optimum sleep.
Anyway back to the script. Now that I was getting 7 hours sleep, going to bed early and getting up at 6am, I needed to make another change.
No work before 9am! I use the extra time to focus on me, my plans for the day, my daily journal entries and generally chillin till its time to crack the whip.
It has made the world of a difference, and on the odd occasion when I do go to be bed later than 11pm (you know if it’s a good film or drama on the box) I simply get up that little bit later. As long as I get my 7 hours I’m good.
I have had to re-learn how to get to sleep, how to enjoy sleep and how important sleep is to my physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s not perfect yet as there are some changes that can still be made (erradicating the snoring would be nice) but again it’s a change in the right direction.