Hello from the other side. It’s been more than 30 days since I started the Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number and I’m happy to report that I’m feeling…better than I did last month, although I have to admit that the challenge didn’t come without a set of hurdles that needed to be cleared—both physically and emotionally. It brought me face to face with my own relationship with boundaries, and forced me to confront why, in the times I need consistency and self-care the most, I opt for self-sabotage.
Any of this sound familiar? You know what you need, you know what choice you should make, and then you go and make a decision that is the exact opposite of what you’ve identified as the clear RX for your current state of mind. This has been a stubborn cycle for me to break—one that showed up when sitting down to write this very article. There’s that little voice in my head who just loves the drama of a nearly missed deadline, or the fallout from a sudden change of well-laid plans.
Change is hard work, no matter how small. What can make it a little easier is making your progress visual, tangible, and quantifiable. Because when you’re able to quantify small changes, like those that help lead to a good night’s sleep, you begin to see how these small changes add up to a greater impact.
Our ability to self-regulate things like sleeping and eating should come naturally to us, yet as we’ve evolved to have a conscious, we’ve continually made choices that go against our own best interest. While diving into the psychology of choice is far outside my wheelhouse, I can absolutely testify that for most of our readers, change is hard work, no matter how small. What can make it a little easier is making your progress visual, tangible, and quantifiable. Because when you’re able to quantify small changes, like those that help lead to a good night’s sleep, you begin to see how these small changes add up to a greater impact.
While life-changing results from this sleep challenge are pending, I really enjoyed having hard data that could correlate with my behavior and choices leading up to each night of rest. It was helpful to stop and reevaluate what I’m doing right, and what I can improve upon.
Here’s a CliffsNotes version of what I’ve learned from the past 30 days of sleep:
1) Environment matters
Seriously. Your bedroom should be for one purpose only: sleep. Do not work here. Do not eat here. Do not scroll through Instagram at 2:00 am here. Just sleep.
2) Limit caffeine intake
This one broke my heart. Truly. For the longest time I would walk into my local coffee shop (ok, Starbucks) and they would have MY drink: Venti Americano with an extra shot (or “Two Under Two” as I liked to call it) waiting for me. Rather than guzzle cup upon cup of coffee all hours of the day, I’ve limited myself to three cups max, with that last precious cup no later than 1:00 pm. 😢
3) Set boundaries
I never had a regular bedtime. As a card-carrying member of the GSD club, I would stay up as long as it takes to get tasks from the day done. I’m working on retraining this way of thinking and delegating tasks to the team. If the problem/situation will directly affect me in 24 hours, I will solve it. If not, it can wait until tomorrow. With a clear head, and restful sleep, 2:00-am-omg-the-world-is-ending problems are so much more manageable in the light of day.
4) Fit in exercise
Yoga. Quick run. Playing with my kids. The physical movement helps with the stress of the day, and wears me out.
5) Be consistent
We try to enforce a regular bedtime for our kids to promote healthy sleep, so why haven’t I been doing this for myself all along? Recently, it’s lights and devices off at 11:00 pm.
6) Incorporate meditation/white noise
This doesn’t work for everyone, but I need something to focus on so my thoughts don’t wander. My favorite option? Headspace.
When comparing my average sleep score with twelve months worth of data, I saw a two-point increase in my average SleepIQ score. I also achieved an all-time high of 98 (!!!!) the night after I tackled some of the bigger issues that were causing restlessness, like unorganized finances and other mundane yet necessary activities that, when attended to, make adulthood much more manageable.
All in all, I’m hopeful this challenge and what I’ve learned from it will continue to afford me better sleep.
Ed. Note: This post was sponsored by Sleep Number. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.
While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for the development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.