Here’s the thing. Well, here’s a thing: I’m an awful sleeper. I got the bad sleeping gene, and I have tried to manage around it. Counting sheep forward. Counting sheep backwards. Just plain counting, in any direction. Counting backwards by threes. Starting at 3498. Tylenol PM, Advil PM. ZzzQuil. Melatonin. Quitting caffeine. Exercising at the right time. Eating the right food at the right time. No TV. No electronic devices. Meditation.
Bottom line, no matter what, in the aggregate, I get little decent sleep.
Here’s another thing: for Christmas, I got a fitness tracker. The Microsoft Band. It’s pretty awesome. “Especially” at telling me how crappy I am at sleeping. This month, I’ve slept 20 times. I track the few naps I do take because I suspected (correctly) that I get my best sleep in these roughly one-hour periods. Anyway, over that time period, I note a few things:
- I really suck at sleeping.
- I’m usually awake for one hour during the course of the night.
- The one hour of awake time is spread over seven separate wake ups.
- I average 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep a night but have to work really hard to get it.
- Of the 6:51 I’m asleep, only 2 hours and two minutes are restful (29%).
So the Band is great for tracking steps and workouts, and for other things like alerting me to text messages or incoming calls. But what about this sleep nonsense?
I read a lot. I’ve mentioned before that its important to me to kind of inundate myself with information and ideas to keep me motivated, to inspire me to think. But I’ve also mentioned the importance of picking and choosing what resonates with you so that you’re able to respond to what you read and really give it legs.
That said, too much helpful information recalls to mind a line from an old Shel Silverstein poem, that “some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without.”
Consider some of what I’ve been reading as I consider my sleep woes:
- 6 Relaxing Yoga Poses to Fall Asleep
- 8-Minute Guided Yoga Nidra Meditation to Help You Fall Asleep
- 10 Tips for Great Sleep Tonight
- How to Fall Asleep When Your Mind Won’t Shut Off
And as I ponder all of this helpful information, I start to worry that it will take me half the night to go through these activities and checklists…it loads me up with a thick layer of anxiety, and that’s before I even realized I haven’t even considered what behavior changes I might have to undertake leading up to bedtime.
Now, consider some more of my reading list:
- 5 Things Happy People Do Before Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Overachievers, those pesky happy people.)
- A 4-Step Morning Routine to Guarantee a Great Day (Guaranteed? There’s a sucker born every minute.)
- 11 Life-Changing Rituals for an Excellent Start of the Day (Doing 11 things in the morning better give me more than an excellent start; the piece above lead (tricked?) me to think four things would give me a whole day of great!)
- 5 Things Healthy People Do Before Starting Their Day (So I guess if I want to be healthy and happy I have to do 10 things? Or 21 things if I want to ensure I get off to a good start?)
- 7 Things Healthy People Do Every Morning (Wait. Seven things? I thought it was only five. So am I up to 23 things I need to do before I get out of bed or is it 28? And how can I possibly do all these things before I get up? I’ll have to set my alarm for the middle of the night. Oh my god. I probably won’t have even fallen asleep by then.)
But what about the rest of myth motivational reading, reminding me how to stay present, be successful, eat right, stay fit, lose weight, manage life as an introvert, avoid regret, what friends to keep, how to pray, what to wear… and all in fewer than 10 steps or less than five minutes a day?
Or maybe I just need to focus on “How to Get The Benefits of Meditation Without Actually Meditating.” But after doing my morning checklist and my bedtime routine and taking care of myself in the middle, how can I find the time not to meditate?
Bottom line, take bits and pieces to motivate yourself, and keep moving. Don’t get bogged down by what other people tell you or what you think you should do. If everything great could be done in only a few steps or a few minutes, the world would be very different. But would it be better? I’m not so sure. Do what feels good and right for you. Do what makes you happy. Do what helps you sleep well at night.
I’m done for now. I’m going to the gym. I’m not sure it will give me a six-pack of steel abs or help me sleep or get me better friends or a better job. But I’ll feel good and I’ll feel happy and maybe I’ll sleep better tonight. And what does it matter what anyone else does? It doesn’t. So go. Do. Start. Happy.