Weekly Review #30: The Great Bedtime Experiment

So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?

Sleep, it turns out, is a critical factor for optimal happiness.

Gretchen Rubin, über-blogger and best-selling author of The Happiness Project, even said so recently in an interview with Reach Personal Branding.

I knew this. It’s kind of intuitive. I mean seriously, who doesn’t get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep?

Adequate rest is also a critical factor for optimal productivity. I know this too.

But knowing something and actually doing something about it are two different things.

Today I had a very concrete reminder of this fact, because last night I stayed up way too late.

There was a good reason for it: I was singing (and playing ukulele!) at a jam session, and since performing is one of my Blisses, I can easily justify staying up late to do it.

And in fact, a 2:00 am bedtime was pretty typical for me until very recently.

But a few weeks ago (before the infamous street fair that I never got to because I was in the ER with a dislocated knee instead), I told Susan, my life coach, that one of my biggest issues is getting to bed too late. I know it isn’t helpful. I know it makes me feel crappy. I know I’d probably be way more productive swapping that late-night time for morning time.

But getting myself to do it? That’s another animal entirely.

This is where life coaching has been astonishingly helpful. Somehow, having an outsider help me look at my “stuff” helps get me to actually make changes that haven’t quite managed to accomplish by myself in the past.

Susan made a deal with me. She challenged me to make a commitment to get to bed by 11:00 (or midnight at the latest) for one week, and see how it went.

I was up to the challenge, and part of the deal was that I would email her every night right before going to bed.

Brilliant Lesson #1: Incorporate Accountability

Accountability works, people. Or at least makes a big, big difference.

Still, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to keep the commitment, until Susan pointed out that I could write about my experience here on my blog, on 365 Days of Genius, and in my happiness e-course.

Brilliant Lesson #2: Tie Goal to Underlying Motivators

The sad thing is, self-care was not a big enough motivator to get me to 100% commitment. But hell, whatever works.

In my case, tying something in to one or more of my passions turns out to make a really, really big difference.

So here it is, a few weeks later. I’m proud to say that I stuck to that commitment and got to bed, lights out, by 11:00 pm (or midnight at the absolute latest) every day that week.

I even got to bed at 10:30 the night before the street-faire-that-wasn’t. A record. A miracle, in fact.

But the coolest thing of all is that I kept to this earlier bedtime routine, even after the week of the commitment had passed. My experience of feeling better and being more productive for that week was finally enough to get it through my thick head that yes, I really can pull myself away from my computer, and yes, life really is better when I get to bed earlier, and damn it, just do it, girl.

Except, of course, that I did fall off the wagon a few times. Usually with good reason (as in the aforementioned jam session). Sometimes because, well, I was just being rebellious. Or falling back into bad habits. Whatever.

The cool thing, though, is that now that I’m (mostly) used to getting to bed earlier, when I stay up til 2:00 am (as I did last night), I really feel it.

Oh my god, do I feel it.

I feel crappy all day.

I can’t think as clearly.

I frequently get a migraine.

And possibly worst of all (vain creature that I am), I have really big, dark circles under my eyes and look closer to my actual age! Ack!

But we won’t talk about that.

Suffice it to say that instead of beating myself up for staying up too late, I’m choosing to see it as a great learning experience. A scientific proof, as it were, that I really want to get to bed earlier. Even when I don’t always think that’s what I want.

So that, dear reader, effectively encapsulates some of the most important lessons from this week.

And because I’m committed to shutting down and getting to bed in the next hour, I won’t go on for pages (as is my wont) about all the other stuff from this week.

Like the fact that I figured out that I really need to write first thing in the morning if I want to have a chance of actually completing my various writing projects. So my Ideal Daily Template (IDT) has been changed accordingly.

Or the fact that I’ve been obsessively obsessive about playing my ukulele for hours every day, and have been forming all kinds of new neural pathways learning jazz chords and every possible way to play them up and down the neck. And that I’m well on my way to getting up to speed with several songs in my jazz diva repertoire.

Or the fact that I actually wrote a complete melody line and first verse to a brand new song.

Or the fact that, although I didn’t do much painting this week, I’m feeling mostly okay about it because I’m really rocking the music and writing.

Or the fact that I (perhaps somewhat compulsively, given how busy I am) signed up to participate in LaVonne Ellis‘ #Customerlove challenge.

Or the fact that after hours of mind-numbingly boring data entry, my business books are now up to date, and my tax return filed and paid. Hallelujah.

Or the fact that, assuming I get insurance authorization, I’m getting an MRI on my left (ie, un-dislocated) knee, and (oy vey) may end up having surgery on that knee first. We’ll see…

No, instead I’m going to shut down and go get some sleep.

And if you happen to be reading this late at night, you might want to do the same.

Or not.

Me, I’m going to bed.

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  1. Dorothy Heller says

    Dear Melissa:

    I have NEVER been able to do this! I start waking up around 11 PM, and can get in several good hours of work or fun. It does make the rest of the day difficult, plus trying to masquerade as a normal citizen in the work world. Plus, there’s this deadly relationship between creativity, irregular hours, irregular lifestyle, etc. Congratulations on figuring it out.

    dulces sueños–


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