Back to Basics: What I Learned From My Month Focused on Sleep

My sleep log for the month

My sleep log for the month

Well, I made it through a month of focusing on sleep

…not sure if I actually feel more rested than I was before, but I will say that I am 1,000 times more consistent with my sleep routine, and interestingly enough, my workout routine. So that’s a win.

On the other hand, Ellie isn’t sleeping through the night and I’m in the process of figuring out some iron related health issues, so those two things probably have something to do with my energy levels.

My biggest takeaways from my month of sleep are…

  • There is no such thing as a good night’s sleep when you have young kids

    • This will come as NO surprise to anyone… but it’s really hard to get good sleep when you’ve got young kids! During May (and continuing into June) Ellie was getting up multiple times a night, every night… which meant no one in our house was getting good sleep. Mike took the brunt of Ellie’s night time awakenings since he was the one getting up and laying her back down, so I can’t complain too much. Even though I wasn’t getting out of bed, I was still up, which impacted my brain’s ability to function the next day… I never quite felt like I was firing on all cylinders (and still don’t!).

  • Sleep is hard when you’ve got a flexible schedule

    • It’s rare that I have meetings that start early in the morning (by early I mean before 10am). I also don’t have to be in the office by a certain time (or at all). Add in the fact that Mike stays home with Ellie and she’s not in school and that means that no one in our house has hard deadlines for getting out the door in the morning… which makes getting on a regimented sleep schedule a struggle for us. We’re lax about bed time or wake time because if need be, we can just sleep in a little longer. I really like structure though, so having a set bed time this month was really helpful for me.

  • I need a way to tell time that’s not my phone

    • We’ve got one non-phone clock in our house, and it’s on the microwave in the kitchen. Not super helpful when you’re in the bedroom and want to know what time it is. A lot of nights I’d end up asking Mike to tell me the time because I “couldn’t” look at my phone… which isn’t sustainable. So… I think I may be investing in a bedside clock.

  • There’s definitely some truth to ~90 minute sleep cycles

    • When I got myself in bed by 11:00pm, 6:45am felt like a wonderful time to wake up. Assuming I took about 15 minutes to actually fall asleep, 6:45am would fall right at the end of a 90 minute cycle. Granted, this only happened on nights when Ellie didn’t wake up in the middle of the night (which wasn’t often), but when it did I felt great! Not sure if 7.5 hours is my magic sleep number or if it was just because it was at the end of a 90 minute cycle. I’m curious to experiment with getting between 7.5 to 9 hours (which would be the next 90 minute cycle) and see how I feel. That being said… not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to experiment with getting more sleep in the near future!

  • My workouts are more consistent

    • Despite not necessarily feeling more rested, I am being so much more consistent with my workouts. This leads me to believe that even though I don’t feel rested, it is making some sort of difference in my energy levels.

  • I don’t actually need my screens that much

    • I do a lot on my screens in the evening. Between the blog and finances, I’m always writing or updating spreadsheets. However, I found that it was just as easy to hand write blog posts as it was to do them on the computer. While financial stuff is a lot harder to do without screens, there were a few nights where I was writing out calculations in a notebook. Cutting out screen time in the evenings also helped me cut out mindless internet surfing (e.g., scrolling through social media or looking up useless facts on google).

How did I do?

  • Consistently sleeping 8 hours a night

    • 11.5 out of 31 nights (37%)

  • Waking up without an alarm (including Ellie)

    • 12.5 out of 31 nights (40%)

  • Limiting screen time before bed

    • 25 out of 31 nights (81%)

What will I keep?

  • Limited screen time before bed

    • Just not 2 hours, it’s not realistic with a kid who goes to bed late. So far I’ve been cutting myself off at 10pm on most nights, so about an hour before bed.

  • My 11:00pm to 7:00am sleep schedule

    • This seemed to work well, especially when Ellie slept through the night.

  • Alarm set for 7:15am

    • I had my alarm set for 7:15am this month (except for the few occasions where I needed to get up earlier than that) to give me enough time to wake up on my own, but also make sure that I didn’t oversleep on the off chance that both Ellie and I were still sleeping. It was reassuring to know that if I didn’t manage to wake up naturally my alarm would be there to make sure I stuck to my schedule.