I recently came to school after winter break. Last week we had school online, but this week we’re full-on in-person, and it’s brought some challenges. Usually, school doesn’t stress me out too much (I spend enough time worrying without adding school on top of it all), but this week has been a little different for a few reasons.
First of all, it’s the last week of the semester, so of course we’ve got midterms this week, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is super fun. So, this week I have tests on top of preparing for tests, so I haven’t had very much free time.
To add to my troubles, I decided to do a course with Global Online Academy. This isn’t a problem on its own (I’m actually excited to do it… after all, I did choose to do it), but, as I just said, I have quite a lot of stuff to do this week, so the fact that Global Online Academy is starting this week of all weeks is a little inconvenient. However, I think that in the long-term, I’ll be really glad that I did it, and I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like.
The thing is, with this extra stuff I’m realizing that my time management definitely leaves much to be desired. I’m not saying I’m doing awfully, but I’m learning that during these weeks when I have a lot to do, I need to make sure that my time management is on-point and that I don’t spend too much time doing unproductive stuff. Like when I decided to go to the store at seven o’clock at night and then start my homework at eight-thirty. NOT a good idea.
This week I’ve learned two things about sleep: 1) I need to prioritize it, and 2) I don’t need to stress about it. The thing about these two things is that I already knew both of them, but sometimes you gotta relearn things, you know?
Anyway, during this busy week, I got two nights of SIX AND A HALF hours of sleep. In general, I need nine hours of sleep to not feel like being grumpy and tired. Sooo… not enough sleep.
I try to be sleeping at ten o’clock, and I wake up at seven on school days. Over winter break, I started going to bed at ten-thirty or eleven and sleeping in till after eight, so my sleep schedule was messed up. And you know what happens when my sleep schedule gets messed up? Bad. Things.
Here’s what the “bad things” are: I get worried about not getting enough sleep, and then I imagine my alarm going off, anywhere from two hours to a few minutes before my alarm. Typically, when this happens, I lose a significant chunk of sleep over the alarm phenomenon.
The other thing that I’ve learned is that I don’t need to worry about sleep. I often worry about not getting enough sleep, imagining the next day being a huge disaster and me being anxious and irritable and all that jazz. The thing is, that didn’t happen this time. I had a good day both of the days when I got six and a half hours of sleep. I was just fine.
I’m not saying that I don’t need to make sure I get enough sleep, but I don’t need to stress about it, which leads me to my next topic….
Historically, bedtime has been a particularly stressful time for me. If I’m not hitting the mark and in bed on time, I worry about getting enough sleep.
The thing is, worrying about it causes me to not get enough sleep. I worry, and then I can’t fall asleep, and even though I eventually fall asleep, I can’t stay asleep because my sleep quality isn’t nearly as good.
The takeaway here is that, at least for me, winding down slowly and transitioning into sleep can help improve sleep quality. Usually, I read before bed, but sometimes if I’m trying to get to bed quickly I skip my nighttime routine in an effort to get to bed faster - but I usually regret it because I go to bed stressed and then don’t sleep well.
How to Get To Bed On Time
Okay, so now it’s been a few months since I wrote that intro and I’ve gotta update this post a little because, well, life updates, right?
I’ve gotten onto an AMAZING sleep schedule, and it’s been going fabulously, and I’m super happy about all the progress I’ve made.
Now, I’m going to give you a little guide on how to make the dramatic shift from not getting into bed on time to having a consistent bedtime schedule.
#1 - Set an alarm.
I’ve recently started setting an alarm that goes off at exactly nine o’clock pm. It’s my reminder to get ready for bed, and it lets me know that I have to be in bed in half an hour. I take a while to get ready for bed because there’s usually SOMETHING that I forgot to do earlier in the day that I then have to go back and do at nine o’clock at night. I’d say that half an hour before the intended bedtime is perfect.
But here’s the catch: you have to give yourself time to unwind and fall asleep. Otherwise, you’re going to get in bed and expect yourself to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, but when it doesn’t happen, you’ll get worried.
At least, that’s what happens to me.
I usually try to be in bed by 9:30, then read or journal for about twenty minutes, and then I’m asleep around ten.
#2 - Tell people your bedtime.
I don’t mean that you have to go around telling everyone that you get in bed by ten-thirty or whenever, I just mean that if you watch TV with your family or something, make sure they know that you need to stop by nine-thirty.
Most people I’m close friends with know approximately what time I go to bed. My family knows that I don’t watch TV very late, and my friends know that I’m probably not going to be FaceTiming them at ten o’clock at night.
The point is, you want people to understand your boundaries so that it’s not a shocking conversation when they realize you don’t want to binge-watch the entire Hobbit movie in one night.
#3 - When you get in bed, ask yourself this question.
Here it is:
“Did I get in bed on time?”
I know it seems simple, but it’s POWERFUL.
Whenever I get in bed on time, I check off that box (I make it part of my to-do list), and it feels fabulous. When I don’t, I realize that in the future, I want to do better.
#4 - Ask a follow-up question.
Why or why not?
The “why not” part is the most important, but the main thing that this question is getting at is: what inhibits your success, and what promotes it?
Taking some time to reflect on this question is VITAL. If you keep track of when you get in bed on time and when you don’t, but you don’t take action to do better in the future, then you’ll be stuck in a loop of unsuccess.
Try to use the information you gain to your advantage so that you know how to do better next time.
#5 - Get your priorities sorted out.
If you want to get in bed on time, but your priorities don’t line up with that goal, you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere.
If you value being a part of every club you can possibly be a part of AND getting straight A’s, it might not leave time for getting to bed on time. You need to figure out what is more important.
Sometimes, there are things worth staying up late for. Other times, taking care of your mental and physical well-being by getting enough sleep is a good thing to do.
Make sure that you prioritize bedtime over the things that are less important so that you are prepared to make a positive change.
I’m not saying that getting enough sleep is more important than everything, because it’s not.
The point that I want to get across to you is that you have to know when to skimp on sleep and when not to.
Life can be stressful sometimes, but stress can make you stronger and more capable. Tests, sleep deprivation, and stress are all a part of life, but don't forget to make time to do things that you enjoy and give yourself a break sometimes, especially the break that your body needs in order to rest and recover: sleep.
Getting enough sleep can take time and effort, but making the shift to having a more consistent schedule is possible and can have a positive impact on your sleep.
Anyways, I’ve gotta go do some homework… 🙃