One of the things that we, as planners, try to do is track our ‘self-care’. Whether it’s finding an hour a week to do something special for yourself, like I do in my “Finding Fifty Two Challenge”, or going out of your way to do something nice for yourself, we all love to talk about it and track whatever it is we are doing for ourselves.
However, I would venture to bet that most of us in the planner community overlook one of the most basic needs of self-care, and that is SLEEP! Do you track how many hours you sleep? Do you track the quality of your sleep? Can you even remember when you actually went to bed last night? For a very, VERY long time, I couldn’t answer any of those questions, yet I could tell you when I had my last manicure and more importantly when I got my last sticker order lol.
Sleep is the foundation upon which all other self-care is built, in fact, it’s the foundation upon which a lot of our living is built upon, yet a majority of people, especially in the United States, don’t pay attention to their sleep needs, because its just something we do, like breathing.
About a year ago, almost to the day, I started a morning ritual called The Miracle Morning, and I still do it, but when I first discovered this life-changing routine, I thought I had to wake up super early just to get everything done. So instead of waking up at 5:30am, I set my alarm for 4:30am! I kept it up too, for the first few months, but then I could feel the chronic fatigue starting to set in, and at the time, I didn’t really make the connection that I had cut out yet another hour of sleep from my already lackluster 6 hours I thought was good. Plus, I wasn’t going to bed any earlier.
Around the October time frame, I got to a point I couldn’t sustain getting up early any longer. I was simply exhausted ALL THE TIME! On October 15th I decided to make it a point to get more sleep. I started with giving myself a bedtime and then figuring out what time I could wake up and still fit in my Miracle Morning.
Eventually, my body settled into getting to bed by 10:30pm and I wake up at 6:00am. My average sleep time is 7.5 hours a night and that feels right to me. I am not always perfect in getting to bed on time, but its what I shoot for every night.
Now, I know a lot of you out there are like I was and think, I’m good on 5 hours of sleep a night. It’s a treat when I get 6! I don’t need more than that! But I can honestly tell you, you need more, and the only way I could figure out what I truly needed, was to make it my priority.
So now, after 6 months of testing out different times, figuring out my circadian rhythm and making sure my room is as dark as I can make it, there are still things I can do to increase my quality of sleep because I know what my body needs now.
Research has shown there are two types of folks out there, morning people and late night people. The problem is if you are a late night person and you have a job that doesn’t give you flexibility, you’re going to have issues. I know whole-heartedly I am a morning person, much to my husband’s dismay, and my genes prove it (thank you 23andMe), and yes your DNA can tell you genetically which you are likely to be, but the environment makes a difference too.
However, the biggest issues out there is the fact that we don’t pay attention to our sleep and we don’t know how to take care of ourselves to get the best sleep possible. For example, I had no idea that circadian rhythms had anything to do with sleep (I thought it had something to do with crickets). I also didn’t really pay attention to when I stopped using electronics, and as a person with allergies I wasn’t spending nearly enough time outdoors (which also affects your circadian rhythms).
Getting sunlight outdoors during the morning hours, actually helps you sleep better at night. Not eating after a certain time at night, helps you sleep better at night. Taking a warm shower before bed, working out during the day, limiting caffeine after 3pm, all of these things help you sleep better at night. I was not paying attention to any of these things, and I was not getting GOOD sleep when I was sleeping.
Then I started figuring it all out, and realized doing that WAS SELF-CARE at its best! If you are not sleeping well, it can wreak havoc with so much.
So, if you are tracking self-care, or are interested in it at any point, work on the thing that could bring you the biggest change of all and see how it changes things!
Track how long you sleep, use an app, write it in your journal, whatever you need to do, then do your research and figure out how you can make your sleep better. Like GI Joe says, ‘Knowing is half the battle’ and I promise you, it will make a huge difference!