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Lifestyle: Sleep is not counting sheep

28 Aug 2018

I am trying to radically improve the quality of my sleep.

At a recent Woolshed Workshop with Doug Avery he told us that the sleep between 10 and 2 is the best quality sleep we can get and that there was plenty of scientific evidence to back up the claim.

I’ll take that on face value.

How would I implement that into my life as I like to read for as long as I can at night?

I thought I would combine some other sleep advice I’d had which seemed to reinforce the 10 to 2 principle – go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.

My iPhone has a nifty app that tells me when it is time to go to bed so it was an easy task to set it an hour earlier at 8: 30 pm, but the big breakthrough came when I decided to leave my sleep app on over the weekend. Now I would wake up at 6:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays.

To implement my better-quality sleep program the secret has been, not to focus on going to bed earlier (that doesn’t work because if I am not sleepy, I just lie there staring at the ceiling), but to focus on getting up early. In that way I am tired at 8:30 at night and instead of reading or watching media on my iPhone, I am tired and want to go to bed. Off I go.

Does it fit in with the rest of my household? Yes, and no. Frances, our 10-year old has her lights out at 8:30 pm. That suits me fine. But my wife Amanda works off her pattern which involves watching Coronation Street or looking at fashion apps until she gets tired around 10:30 pm. And then in the morning she sleeps in.

See how the pattern works? Well in that respect it doesn’t!

So my strategy is to be a little bit noisier on those weekend mornings when I get up. The theory is that if Amanda wakes up earlier she will want to go to bed earlier, with me! My conscience thinks that if I bring her breakfast in bed in the weekends she won’t be annoyed at me for waking her up. It is working well so far, but it is early days.

How is my better-quality sleep program working?

  • I am sleepy earlier in the evening and have no trouble going straight to sleep. This hasn’t always been the case.
  • I feel better during the day. I have less stress. I am more tolerant of myself and others.
  • I experience more joie de vivre moments. Every day instead of every second day. Sometimes twice a day.
  • Getting out of bed is much easier. Those weekend lie-ins were a curse for my sleep patterns.
  • I have more time getting organised on the weekends. I get more done and I am enjoying the weekends more, whether it is a working bee in the garden or going biking with Frances and Amanda.
  • We sometimes like to have guests over for dinner in the weekend. I haven’t crossed this one yet since I’ve implemented my better-quality sleep program. I reckon I’ll try the line Amanda uses sometimes, “Lovely evening but I’m off to bed,” around 8:30 pm. Perhaps I had better ask friends to come over earlier in the evening and that I’ll be going to bed at 8:30. Less time together but better quality? ‘Less is more’, my favorite slogan.

Doug Avery is the first to admit that some people’s sleep patterns are very different. Some people don’t need 8 hours sleep, for a kick-off. I do, and I am finding that being fast asleep well before 10 pm every night and getting up at 6 am every morning is working a treat for me.

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