Better Sleep Project

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Happy Thursday, friends! We've almost made it to the weekend! I'm really looking forward to this weekend. After a friend's bachelorette party last Saturday, I feel like I've been dragging most of this week. I'm hoping to get some much needed rest. One of my goals for this fall is to get better sleep overall.

If I'm being completely honest, I am really bad at getting enough sleep. Like really, really bad. It's rare that I get to bed at an acceptable time, multiple nights in a row. I know how to relax during the day if I need to, but getting to bed at a decent hour is difficult for me. I sometimes feel like a hypocrite because as an RD I talk to people about sleep a lot; how it affects your health and how important it is to get enough and go to bed at the same time etc. Yet, many nights I stay up way too late and end up falling asleep on the couch without washing my face or brushing my teeth and waking up in the middle of the night to "get ready for bed." This is not deep, restful sleep. When I don't get enough sleep it is hard for me to function. Any focus I would've had goes out the window (which I'm usually staring blankly out of because I'm a zombie who didn't sleep) and I get moody and cranky and ravenously hungry, while getting next to nothing done during the day. Sleep deprivation means I treat myself and others poorly, all because I couldn't get my butt into bed. 

If we're sleep deprived our bodies have a harder time regulating themselves. We need  sleep to repair muscles, keep hormones balanced and systems working properly. Sleep also plays a big role in weight regulation. When we're sleep deprived our leptin (fullness hormone) decreases and ghrelin (hunger hormone) increases. So this would mean you're likely hungrier if you're running on empty and more likely to overshoot your needs. The other thing about sleep deprivation is that it can cause your cortisol levels to increase, making you feel more stressed. Then, the more stress you feel, can negatively impact your sleep (making it more difficult to fall asleep, and rest deeply). Increased stress can also cause us to overeat, or choose foods that are less physically nourishing. It's an unfortunate, viscous cycle. 

So to help myself break out of the cycle, I'm starting my very own experiment and calling it the "Better Sleep Project." Over the next month or so, I'm going to try different strategies and techniques to try to get to bed earlier, and get better quality sleep throughout the night. I'm thinking that at the end of my project, I might do a little recap on here to let you guys know how it went and what I learned. Below are some of the strategies I'm planning to try. 

iPhone bedtime alarm. I've used this before, but it was easy to ignore and somewhat ineffective. I'm thinking I should give it another shot though, as a little reminder to myself to start winding down and going to bed at approximately the same time each night.

Bedtime yoga. I have a friend who does this and says that it really makes a big difference in her ability to relax and fall asleep more quickly. 

Using a real alarm clock. I have been using my phone as an alarm clock since I moved in July and I find that it's wayy to easy to ignore in the morning. I'll set a billion alarms and ignore all of them, until I finally roll out of bed an hour later than intended. I think having a real alarm clock (not right next to my bed) will be a good thing.

Getting ready for bed "prematurely." This may sound weird but I HATE getting ready for bed. Doing the whole face wash, teeth brush, contacts out thing is exactly what I dread at night once I'm feeling sleepy. The last thing I want to do at that time is douse my face in a bunch of cold water and make sure I brush my teeth for a full two minutes. I think that if I get ready for bed before the sleepy feeling sets in, I may be able to avoid part of the problem. 

Reading/Praying before bed. Instead of watching episode after episode of Netflix late at night, I'm going to try to be really intentional about reading and praying before I go to sleep. It's too distracting to have a show on while I'm trying to relax and wind down. 

Sleep journal. I'm also planning to keep a little journal. Nothing too detailed or time consuming, just a couple notes about what I did the night before, how I feel the next day and what worked/what didn't.

I'll check back in the next month or so to let you know how my project went! If you have any other suggestions for me, things I should try, things that have worked for you, please let me know!