7 Ways I Changed My Sleep Patterns
Hello and welcome back to the blog!
Today I wanted to share some tips on getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier. I'm not necessarily a person who thinks that an early bedtime and an early waketime are the key to success: I used to THRIVE on a 1am bedtime with a 10am waketime back when I was a homemaker without a baby. It worked for my natural rhythm and was slightly more complimentary to my husband's night shift work schedule, allowing us to be on more similar routines.
But then... I had a baby. And babies wake EARLY!
Lol! Even if your baby is sleeping all the way to "morning," that could mean the crack of dawn. Every baby is different and although we've tried pushing him later, our son prefers a 6am wake up, no matter what we do. My suspicions are that he wakes up at that time because 6am is when my husband returns home and the dog inevitably barks, and so that means for most mornings when I was pregnant, baby might have been getting a little bit of a good morning wake up call at 6am with a dog bark LOL!
So how does one go from sleeping in and going to bed late to going to bed early? To get decent sleep with the night feedings included, I had to adjust my bedtime from 1am to FOUR HOURS EARLIER at 9pm. And that my friends, is not easy.
At first I thought it would be just a matter of making myself tired so that I would inevitably fall asleep earlier, but that didn't really work. And if it did work one night, I couldn't replicate it the next day. Gradually I made a few mental and routine-based shifts and changes, and over time, I have successfully achieved a 9:30pm bedtime with a 6:00am waketime without feeling disgusting and tired all day.
A lot of advice about going to bed earlier focuses on avoiding caffeine, turning off screens after a certain hour, and getting enough sunlight, but today I want to share with you some of the MENTAL shifts I had to make to achieve this goal.
VISUALIZE and REFLECT on your goal throughout the day.
The entire day, I think about when I'll be going to bed. I'm not even exaggerating. At noon, I tell myself, wow, only 9 hours 'til bedtime! When 4pm comes by, I think, hmmm, only 5 hours to fit in anything I want to do. Regularly reminding myself of bedtime helps me from forgetting it until well... BEDTIME! lol! In the past, I would get way too caught up in my regular evening routines and habits and when 10pm rolled around, I was nowhere close to being ready for bed.
This has helped me reshape my entire day from a mental standpoint. I now look forward to bedtime versus feeling like I'm forcing myself to sleep too early. It feels like my own personal choice rather than something forced upon me, and it has made it so much easier.
Overestimate how much sleep you need.
Overestimating how much sleep you need is smart because it gives you more time to wind down. I begin blocking off any and all tasks after 8:30pm and it makes it much easier to achieve my 9:30pm bedtime. Overshoot everything, from doing your nighttime skincare routine early to finishing the dinner dishes early as well.
I shoot for a nine-hour window and usually end up with about 7 hours of sleep once you minus out the time it takes to fall asleep and all the night wakings with baby. So overestimate, shoot big, and you might find yourself feeling quite refreshed when 6am rolls around.
Create a predictable routine for the entire day, culminating in bedtime.
Usually, I like to leave a lot of tasks for the very end of the day because that's when I can feel the most awake (any night owls out there like me relating to this??) But the problem with this has been that I'm getting to bed too late and also not doing enough during his naptimes during the day. I've had to realize that his naptimes are not for relaxing: they are for doing the things I used to spend my evenings doing like meal prepping vegetables, folding laundry, cruising social media, reading books, and cleaning the house.
Having a rhythm for your day is a great way to get your body to naturally respond to various "cues." When you take your walk at a certain hour every day, you are giving yourself a cue. When you wake and get sunlight at the same time every morning, it's another cue. Same goes for when you do your nighttime skincare and when you take your shower. It is all a cue. When you are trying to make a huge change to your life like going to bed earlier, it's best to keep your days as predictable as possible. Remember, even if it doesn't feel like it, you're making a BIG CHANGE. To balance that shift, try to have as little change as possible throughout the day, so long as your order of activities are complimentary to your early waking and bedtime.
Adding in exercise every day.
Sometimes you just don't feel tired at night because you haven't expended enough energy throughout the day. Sure, keeping up with a baby is definitely hard work, but I find that adding in a good hour-long afternoon/early evening power walk helps me really burn all my energy off and prepares me for bedtime. We go for a walk every day around 4pm for little man's last nap of the day and to make sure mum is getting the vital vitamin D she needs! This is also a fantastic way to ensure that you are getting out of the house every day as that can be a bit difficult with a new baby. So, whatever exercise suits you, try to add that in to feel more tired at night! Just try not to do anything too stimulating within 3 hours of your bedtime.
Be consistent with your new routine.
Even on days when I could sleep in and have hubby take the baby in the morning, I've been resisting the urge and fully committing to my new lifestyle as an early riser. In fact, even if BABY sleeps in, I still get up at my usual time and prepare for the day so that when the next early morning comes, my routine has not been thrown off. Maybe someday I'll be used to waking up early and going to bed early to such a degree that the occasional Saturday morning lie-in won't hurt, but we are not even close to that point yet, so 6am it is, even on weekends!
Be grateful for and positive towards your new routine.
I've found that having a negative attitude towards early morning wake-times and early bedtimes was really just making me a grumpier person overall. Changing my attitude was KEY to actually adjusting to the schedule. And the best way to change your attitude? Change the way you view your situation: instead of complaining, say a prayer of gratitude that you get to wake up and be with baby. When nighttime rolls around, begin thanking God for the amazing day you had and for all the energy you're going to store up throughout the night.
Be very careful to speak positively about your new routine and avoid complaining about it or behaving like a martyr to your family. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself and instead focus on the positives you get from waking up early and going to bed early. For me, the addition of extra time with baby, the sound of birds chirping in the morning, and the removal of depressing late night Instagram scrolling has all been a marked improvement in my life.
Make it a priority.
This advice is similar to the tip to be consistent, but what I mean here is that you need to prioritize your new routine and schedule if you want it to actually stick. If you're easily swayed by others to stay up late or you find yourself scrolling Tik Tok well into the early morning hours, you're simply telling yourself that your new schedule isn't a priority. Prioritizing things doesn't just happen: it's an action you must take and the only person who can make it happen is you. Learn to turn things down in order to prioritize your routine and don't be afraid of putting up boundaries when it comes to going to bed early! Make your routine a high priority on your list and you will see that it is MUCH easier to stick to it.
Alright my dears! That is it for this blog post. Thank you for tuning in to our little corner of the Internet. I hope your week is going well and that you find MUCH success in turning around your schedule!