30 Day Challenge Part 2: The Sleep Challenge
Read Part 1: The Sugar Challenge
Can we all agree that 2020 is moving way too fast? As I’m writing this, it is mid-march and I am halfway done with the third challenge of the year. But before I get ahead of myself, it is time to summarize the second 30 day challenge and how I flipped my entire sleep cycle upside down in February.
My life has been a constant battle between “sleep and rest are important” and “you’re young, you’ll sleep later”. It is safe to admit, that nine times out of ten, the latter won this match.
As I got older, I realized that my body needs more rest than it ever did before. I am no longer able to party all night and still make it to my 7 am shift. Needless to say, 5 hours of sleep was not doing it for me anymore. It was time to make a change.
Challenge #2: Sleep
When it comes to my circadian rhythm, I am definitely a night owl. I get most of my inspiration at night and have trouble falling asleep. I thrive when the sun is down and the moon is up. I enjoy doing things at night, staying up late, talking till dawn, and sleeping in until noon. I oftentimes find myself staying up until 3 am writing, as that is when ideas brew in my mind. If it were up to me, I’d work at night and sleep during the day.
Unfortunately, my current lifestyle does not allow me to make such choices, and I am up at 8 am Monday through Friday.
For this month’s challenge, I decided to improve my sleep cycle, by ensuring that I get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. Interested to find out how that went?
Why is lack of sleep bad for you?
First, let me explain why “you’ll sleep when you’re older” is a bad guideline to live by. Lack of sleep can severely impact your quality of life in the following ways:
- It can cause fatigue, lack of concentration and memory loss.
- It can cause mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and irritability.
- It can cause weight gain.
- It weakens the immune system.
- It can cause premature aging and wrinkles.
- It can lower your libido (sex drive).
- It can cause brain fog and decrease motivation.
- It makes you TIRED.
Those reasons and more were the motivating factors behind me wanting to get enough sleep.
Similarly, to last month, for this challenge, I decided to recruit an accountability partner, this time it was going to be my boyfriend. We decided that doing this challenge together would be best, since it is quite difficult going to sleep, knowing your significant other will be up for another 3-4 hours. We set our time to be in bed for 10:00 pm, and the time to be asleep for 11:00 pm. Quite a challenge, from our usual 1:00-2:00 am.
For the first few nights, I heavily relied on melatonin. It took two gummies each night to actually make me fall asleep “on time”. As much as I wanted to fall asleep naturally, I knew my body needed time to adjust, it wouldn’t happen immediately. The yummy tasting gummies did the trick.
After 4-5 nights, I no longer needed melatonin to fall asleep. I found myself naturally getting tired and yawning around 10:00 pm. It seemed that my body knew it was time to go to sleep.
Giving myself time for when I need to be in bed worked wonders for my night time routine. I knew I had to be showered and in bed by 10:00, so I did not start a new episode of my show if it was going to go over, I didn’t call my friend or start doing work, knowing that I will not be able to finish it, I was naturally starting to unwind past 9:00 pm.
To be honest, I did not notice a huge difference in how I felt in the morning until day three or four. At first, it felt as if my body was trying to catch up on the lost sleep, and it still did not feel like enough, even if I got 9-10 hours of sleep. After day three, however, I woke up before my alarm clock, which is usually set for 8:00 am, and did not need to splash cold water on my face to wake up. In my opinion, that is an improvement I was looking for.
Week two and three were easy breezy, I started getting tired around 9:00 pm, showered, and was in bed and asleep before 10:30 pm each night. I started looking forward to my nighttime routine, and I did not feel as if I was missing out on watching Netflix or partying late on the weekends. I opted in for an evening dinner and drink, nothing crazy.
Valentine’s Day was supposed to be our cheat day. We gave ourselves permission to stay up late and binge our favorite show that night, unfortunately, it did not go according to plan. My body decided to give out and I fell asleep around 11:30 pm on the couch. So much for a cheat day. Still asleep before midnight!
By that point, I have noticed significant changes. The bags under my eyes seemed to diminish and almost disappear, my skin wasn’t as dull, and my complexion was brighter. I woke up each morning with more energy, and it didn’t take me my usual hour or two to really get going at work, I was at my desk and ready to go 9:00 am sharp. I also have not napped a single time since I began this challenge.
The challenge was no longer a challenge by week four. It seemed to become a regular part of my day and blended in quite seamlessly with the rest of my routine. I have not taken melatonin since day four and don’t think I’ll be needing it anytime soon. I have not become a morning person, YET, but I definitely have way more energy when I wake up in the morning, something that I am very ecstatic about, as it allows me to have a way more productive day.
My brain fog has decreased by a huge amount, my concentration is improved and my mood has been doing better than ever. I haven’t been irritable as much and sometimes, but only sometimes, I actually look forward to work 😉
I have to admit, I will allow myself to be more flexible with my sleep time, especially on special occasions, or whenever I travel ( I have a Europe trip in March), but staying up late every single night is not part of my regular routine anymore. I enjoy waking up rested, and my mind and body is too.
I do believe I will remain a night owl and still enjoy night time the most, however, until I am able to make that part of my life and not have it affect my day to day productivity, I must continue to get a good night’s rest as much as possible.
It seems that I am moving up Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, so what is next for me? Will I move up to another step or stay in the basic needs category? Find out later on: The 30 Day Challenge.
In all honesty, I will continue getting a full night’s rest as much as possible, with occasional cheat days, I enjoyed this challenge very much. I like knowing that my body and mind had time to rest and regenerate and that I am ready to take on the day when I wake up in the morning, really, you should try it.
Stay tuned for what I decided to challenge myself with in March.
What will you challenge yourself with this month?
Do you have any ideas for future challenges?
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