Despite being one of the three pillars of health along with nutrition and exercise, sleep is often overlooked. And overlooking it has huge health and performance implications.
Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and if you’re consistently getting less, I bet you’re a bit more anxious, have more food cravings, and find it harder to concentrate at work than someone who gets enough sleep.
You also run the risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer.
Ask yourself if it’s worth it and do something about it now.
Something you can do is this 7-day challenge.
What is the goal of the 7-day sleep challenge?
Rather than trying to convince you of the benefits of getting enough sleep, the goal of this challenge is for you to experience it for yourself.
At the end of the day, we all just want to feel well and function at our best. Many of you will not change your sleeping habits after seven days, but the experience of you performing better will stay with you. Even if you do go back to your old sleep habits, the memory of living better and feeling better will linger and many of you will eventually want to change because of it.
Change is hard. We have to be motivated to do it. Challenges and the first-hand experience they give you, help you develop the will to do it.
How to do the challenge
A. Design a simple bedtime routine
I highly recommend a simple bedtime routine during the seven days.
Start your bedtime routine by setting the mood – put on your PJs, turn down the lights, do a few stretches, and do things that help you wind down or get sleepy. Your simple routine can be anything that helps you fall asleep, that includes watching some comedy on TV. If it helps you get relaxed and sleepy and won’t disrupt your sleep, go for it.
Some people, such as night owls, will have a harder time sticking to this challenge. If you have one of these sleep concerns, here are some tips and ideas to help you hack your bedtime routine.
- You’re a creative person who gets ideas at night: Add a 30-minute journal practice to your simple routine. Use the time to do a brain dump of your ideas. For this challenge week, you may want to just write down your ideas however, if you decide to stick with your new sleep routine past the 7 -day challenge or want to include it now, add a step to your journaling practice. Add writing out what you’re going to do first thing in the morning to your journaling practice. Visualize yourself acting on one of your ideas and write out in detail what you will do the following morning.
- You’re a professional who brings your work home: Same as above, add a 30-minute journal practice to your routine. Use the time to do a brain dump of your to-do list AND your accomplishments for the day.
- You get more stressed and wired at night: Add a 10-minute relaxation yoga sequence to your bedtime routine. Turn out the lights two hours before bed to create a calming atmosphere. Read, listen to music, or whatever else you will do during your bedtime routine by candlelight, low-light and ambient light.
- You suffer from loneliness and bedtime is when you spiral: Do a beauty or skin-care sub-routine to give yourself some deep self-care. The area of the brain that is most affected by loneliness responds well to touch, so try self-massage as well. Finally, write in a journal and describe what a more chilled connected life would look like.
- If you get stressed and wired at night: Add a 10-minute relaxation yoga sequence to your bedtime routine. Turn out the lights two hours before bed to create a calming atmosphere. Read, listen to music, or whatever else you will do during your bedtime routine by candlelight, low-light and ambient light. Turning out lights helps to minimize stimulation and increase melatonin production to make you sleepy.
- In case of emergency and you have trouble falling asleep: Take melatonin or Sominex for the first two nights. Take a walk as soon as you get up the following day and avoid coffee and other stimulants.
B. Get up to 8.5 hours of sleep
For seven days, go to bed in time to get up to 8.5 hours of sleep. If you naturally wake earlier (in 7.5 or 8 hours, for example), use the extra time in the morning to putter around the house, work on your skincare or beauty routine, go to the gym, or get into the office earlier.
C. What to do afterward
A week-long sleep challenge is not enough time to turn around a serious sleep disorder but the data you collected should help you determine what you want to do about it. If you want to ditch the sleep-less tenet of hustle culture or kick your night-owl habits, it can happen if you remind yourself of what really works for you. You may decide to change later or now and if now, here’s what you can do next.
You can find ways, people, and information to support you and your decision.
Books to read:
Check out The One-WeeK Insomnia Cure by Professor Jason Ellis and The Sleep Workbook: Easy Strategies to Break the Anxiety-Insomnia Cycle by Renata Alexandre.
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Christine is a Mindfulness trainer and Emotional Health Coach living in Los Angeles. She's big on meditation, routines, systems and personalization.