Sleep Experiment: Wrapup

Today is one month since I started the sleep experiment. I stopped writing about it for a couple of weeks mostly because I was busy with other things. I would say that the experiment is a success as I am now acclimatised to getting up at 7am when I don’t have to go to work, and at 6am when I do. I tend to go to bed a bit earlier than previously, around 10pm, but I can still stay up to 11pm or so a couple of night a week.

Now that I’ve got my sleeping patterns aligned with getting up at 6am, what time I go to bed seems to depend mostly on what sort of day I’ve had. If it’s been a stressful day, I’ll tend to go to bed earlier as I’ll feel worn out. If it’s been a fun day, I can stay up later because I still have energy left over. If I’ve gone for a big ride in the morning, I might need a nap mid-afternoon. None of this is earth shattering stuff.

What is interesting is how easy it’s been to change my sleeping habits even when it’s been moving into winter and it’s dark and cold in the morning. The first week is the hardest part and after that it gets easier and easier. So, in case you’d like to try this out for yourself, here are my top tips for becoming a morning person:

  • Have a goal for the morning. If you have something you want to do when you get up, it gives you an incentive to get out of bed. Make it something personally enjoyable, not getting to work a half hour early. You’ll be pumped for the day because you’ve already achieved something before 9am.
  • Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand. I’ve developed a desire for morning and afternoon tea, whereas I used to go until lunchtime on only a cup of coffee around 9am. You’ll probably be using more energy because you’re awake more, certainly early in the day. You want to keep your blood sugar levels nice and smooth, so avoid the spike and dump from having a donut or cake.
  • Keep your caffeine intake low. You want to be awake because you’re getting the right amount of sleep, not because you’re so loaded up on caffeine you’re.. ooh look! Shiny! … Where was I? Oh yeah, you don’t want to be so jittery you can’t concentrate and collapse into a coma after four days of sleep deprivation.
  • At night, when you get tired, go to bed. This is especially important for the first week or so as you acclimatise. So what if it’s only 8:30pm? Don’t push on through until 11pm just because you used to or you’ll be really tired the next day. You’ll be able to stay up later once you get used to how much sleep you need to get up early. I’ve trimmed about an hour off the amount of sleep I used to need.

That’s pretty much it. Getting up early isn’t really that big a deal, so if you want to give it a go, persevere for at least two weeks. Give it a good month to settle into the routine and you may well have turned yourself into a morning person.

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