A funny thing happened during my blogging break. After years of waking up at the crack of dawn (4:30am) to work out and start my day, before my real day begins at 7am, I found myself unable to get out of bed. Alarms, workouts dates, plans no amount of pre-planning could make me rise. I assumed after years of waking before the sun, my body just needed a break. The days were getting shorter and it seemed highly likely I just needed a break.
And whoa… a break I took. It felt good… for a while but as I let my sleeping habits include sleeping in until 6am or after, it put a rush on our entire morning. I found myself being well-rested without any energy. I was sleeping in but kept finding my actual bedtime getting later and later.
Without the surge of energy in the morning that a workout fueled I also found myself just being completely off all day long. An object in motion will stay in motion but I found the opposite was just as true. The less I worked out in the morning, the more I slept, the crappier I felt. And let’s not forget the crazy weight gain that came with it. I’m getting older (shhhh.. we aren’t talking about that right now) and my metabolism is slowing I can feel it.
As quickly as I fell down the resting rabbit hole, I’ve been working the past few weeks to curb the rest and retrain my circadian rhythm. My sleep/wake cycle has been in a pattern of change and like a baby, I decided it was time for some sleep training.
Sleep has always been an issue for me, I’ve gone through long stages of insomnia, daytime drowsiness and even sleepwalking. And for me, a regular workout pattern helps me stabilize my sleep. When I don’t work up a good sweat a few days a week, I have a really hard time winding down. But since regular workouts are becoming more and more challenging to schedule with my family and kids schedules, I looked at other options that could help reset my sleep cycles.
In an effort to sleep train myself as a grown adult. I followed these rules for getting my self back on track:
Rules for Sleep Training:
- No electronics in bed, this seems obvious but for me it was hard to let go of my digital connection piece. I started off with putting the phone down one hour before bed but quickly pushed it to 1.5 hours before bed.
- Drinking LOTS of hot water with lemon. At first, I thought my coffee and caffeine habits were to blame for my drowsiness. I swapped out my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and on, and on and on cups of coffee for a simple hot water with lemon. I think this helped and also cut down on my headaches from lack of caffeine. Although the first 2 days of this trick were pure torture.
- I swapped out heavy meals for items that contained TONS of leafy greens. Warm kale salads, spinach, and bok choy became staples of my lunch and dinners. The amount of processes white bread I was consuming was insane, hello, on the go all the time life.
- I focused on workouts. My schedule for workouts had become pretty bleak in the months leading up to my chronic drowsiness. I focused on daytime workouts including lunchtime Spin and weight training sessions. It gave me an additional reason to be tired at night. And whoa sore muscles that hadn’t been challenged in a while!
- I set sleep timers. Yes, I set sleep timers….my iPhone has a handy timer that allows you to set alarms for bedtime. I have been using them religiously to remind myself to go to bed. at 9:45pm I get a reminder that it’s time to go to bed, it sounds stupid but it really helped me focus on sleep.
- Empathy. Yes, I gave myself some slack. Part of my issue was the rising guilt over not getting up early and getting everyone ready for their day before getting myself ready. I let go of the guilt and released my brain from its control. My kids are 10 and 8 they can start being self-reliant anytime now.
- Evening Preps. Another item that really helped was getting everyone in the family on board with evening morning prep. Clothes, socks, shoes, and lunches were set out the night before to eliminate the last minute panic rush even if I took a little longer to get up.
Overall it’s been a good few weeks and my sleep patterns are starting to return to normal, although my new normal is a 5:30am wake-up call. No longer 4am, I just can’t sustain it right now and who needs the pressure of that hanging over their head all day. I know that sometimes hormones can play a part in sleep patterns but I really just couldn’t get my head in that game so these simple rules are helping me get my sleep patterns back.
The Question of the Day: Has anyone else experienced odd sleep cycles and what did you do to correct them?