The Importance Of A Sleep Schedule
When I was in college, I wore my sleepless nights like a badge of honor. We’ve all seen this triangle, right?
Being involved in 7 different clubs on campus [my sorority, my business fraternity, university tour guide, university equestrian team, campus honorary #1, campus honorary #2, + oh, of course, CHAARG!] + being a perfectionist when it came to grades — I knew which 2 of that triangle I had chosen + I knew that sleep just wasn’t an option.
I would go through cycles throughout college of seemingly balancing it all before crashing + burning + having a total breakdown… which was typically resolved by a nap or good night’s rest. I thought that prioritizing sleep would force me to sacrifice my grades or my social life — I honestly thought that sleeping would make me lazy.
My senior year I told myself that I’d sleep when I graduated.
After graduation, I was moving to a new city, working full time for my dream job ++ told myself I’d sleep when things *settled down*.
Eventually, I began to see a pattern between my mental health + my sleep health. I saw a pattern between my productivity + creativity at work with my sleep health. I realized that when I am not sleeping well or depriving myself of sleep — I am not the fullest + most true version of myself! I started to actually *believe* in sleep + stopped wearing my lack of sleep + bags under my eyes as badges of honor ++ started to see them for what they were: destructive + harmful patterns in my life.
I proudly can now tell you that I sleep 9-10 hours every. freakin’, night. The nights I don’t sleep well, I prioritize time during the day to nap. I’ve realized that sleep is a way to fill my cup + that honestly, I’m a much better, nicer, happier, + rational human when I sleep well!
Now that I’ve hopefully shared with you the life-changing impacts of sleep… I want to share some great tips for creating a sleep routine + prioritizing your sleep health!
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First things first, sit down + re-work your schedule so that you actually have *time* to sleep. When building a sleep schedule, here are some things to look out for:
#1] You won’t fall asleep at the same exact time every night + that’s okay. In fact, the more pressure you put on yourself to *sleep* at a certain time, the more likely you are to stay up past that time.
#2] When determining what time you’re going to bed every night, give yourself a window of * wind-down time* followed by a window of *falling asleep time*. Here is an example of what that could look like:
- 7-7:30PM: Eat dinner
- 7:30-9PM: Studying/Homework/Assignments
- 9-9:45PM: Wind downtime: get ready for bed [no phone, no computer, no electronics, etc]
- 9:45-10:30PM: Fall asleep time
- 10:30PM – 7AM: Sleep!
#3] During your wind downtime, it’s important that you find activities that truly help you wind down. Don’t worry about what other people are doing — focus on what works for you! It’s typically recommended that you stay off of your phone/computer [the blue light can mess with your brain’s natural rhythm!]. Some good things to try:
- Drinking hot tea
- Listening to a podcast or calming music
- Watching tv or a movie *generally isn’t recommended, but I know some people can handle it + it helps them fall asleep — so figure out what works for you!
- Reading a book [for pleasure – not school related]
- Doing a gentle yin yoga flow + deep breathing
#4] Stick to your sleep schedule for 10 days [at least!] Creating habits, such as drinking tea before bed, will help remind your body to calm down + ease into sleep every night.
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We’ve all been there. You finally fall asleep, only to wake up 2 hours later. And 2 hours after that. And two hours after that. It can feel like you’re not even getting sleep! As someone who struggles with waking up in the middle of the night + then having my brain start going through alllll of the things on my to-do list in the morning; it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve for falling back asleep fast.
#1] Belly breathing cycle. Focusing on your breath can be really relaxing + help your mind calm down. Check out the 4-7-8 breathing cycle to help you fall into a deep sleep!
#2] Repeat a mantra. “Let it go” is one of my go-to mantras when I wake up in the middle of the night. Every little thought that pops into my head, I just say “let it go” + repeat that to myself until I float back off to sleep!
#3] Write down the thoughts swirling around in your head. Sometimes just jotting down what’s on your mind can help you let it go + trust that you’ll be able to handle it better in the morning!
#4] Find a brain teaser. Hear me out on this one… sometimes re-focusing our mind on something else can help us stop obsessing over the thing we said wrong earlier in the day or worrying about the sleep we aren’t forgetting. My go-to is reciting all 50 states in alphabetical order, then reciting all the 50 states with their capitals in order. This has always helped me forget whatever I had woken up worried about ++ drift back into sleep.
#5] The most important thing when you wake up in the middle of the night… STAY CALM. Do not start freaking out about the sleep you’re *losing* or how this is going to affect you the next day. Stay in the present moment. Sometimes it helps me to just continue telling myself “as long as my eyes are closed, I’m getting all the benefits of being asleep”. Is this true? Probably not, but it helps me not freak out as much ; )
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I hope that this post has helped you:
- Commit to creating a sleep schedule for yourself! You don’t have to *choose 2* from the infamous college triangle. You can have it all… especially when you are functioning at 100% from taking care of yourself!
- Find some tricks for if you wake up in the middle of the night. Don’t let *perfect* sleep become the enemy of *good* rest. It’s okay if you wake up during the night — you can fall back asleep quickly!
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Self-Love Share: What’s your relationship with sleep? How many hours a night do you typically get… vs hour many hours a night do you think you need to thrive? What does your ideal wind-down schedule look like? Let us know what your sleep schedule looks like — tag #CHAARGSelfLoveClub + @CHAARG!