Catching enough Z’s is sometimes a challenge. I’m not a huge nap person, but I read recently that a short “power nap” in mid-afternoon can often provide a necessary boost in energy. I’ve tried that, and it often makes me feel even more tired. A better solution for me seems to be regulating my bed time.
As kids, my brothers and I always had a bed time. With five boys to raise, I’m sure my parents were simply looking for a little down-time before heading to bed themselves! We kids always felt like we had to go to bed earlier than any of our friends, so having a bedtime was always a negative thing for us. Not so much these days. I’ve learned that I do best if I have a regular bedtime and stick to it, which is sometimes easier said than done.
I try to eat wisely (I said ‘try’), and I often get an hour of exercise most every morning. But according to Consumer Reports, if I don’t get 7 hours of sleep, I’m increasing my risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. 7 hours it is! My current routine involves turning in at 10:15PM and getting up at 5:15AM. And I try to keep close to the same schedule on weekends. Thanks to TiVo, many of my favorite 10PM TV shows can be viewed at my leisure.
Even so, I don’t really get the full 7 hours, because it sometimes takes a little while to get to sleep. I’ve considered heading to bed at 10PM instead, but I just can’t make myself do that yet. I’m probably lucky to be asleep by 10:40PM. One thing that helps is to have something to listen to as I drop off. I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but I find that I need something to drown out the thoughts that flood my head when it’s time to sleep. So I’ll play a TV show from my phone, or turn on Pandora radio, both of which shut themselves off eventually. I’m often surprised to learn later how quickly I actually drop off…which is evident when I realize how little of a TV show I actually remember hearing.
I tend to get more sleep when I’m traveling for business. After a full day of consulting or teaching, I find that after I eat a light dinner, I am often too spent to get any work done at the computer. So I’ve gotten into the habit of going to bed early. Sometimes before 8PM! If I get up at 3:30 or 4:00AM, I’ve had plenty of sleep, and I have several hours to exercise and get some office work done before I have to begin teaching again. Except for frequent late night airport arrivals, I’m often more rested after a business trip than I was before.
How about you? What’s your optimal amount of sleep? Do you get groggy in the afternoon? What tricks do you have for getting to sleep quickly? Your ideas just might help me to stay more consistent with my own approach to sleep, which is apparently still necessary, because right now it’s about 2 PM, and …..Zzzzzzzzzzz!
1 hour ago