I Tried It: I Went to Bed Early for a Week

woman going to sleep early

I am not adverse to good habits. I don't smoke. I rarely drink. And I prefer smoothies that taste healthy, not necessarily good. But when it comes to sleep? Let's just say that I am NOT #sleeppositive.

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Don't get me wrong. I KNOW how good sleep is for you. How it is sorta non-negotiable for your metabolism, immune system, and memory. How not getting enough can lead to weight gain and depression, and can even cause people to view you as less attractive.

The problem? Sleep just takes up so much time. Time I could be doing other things -- like, um, writing about my poor sleep habits.

And so it's not unusual for me to go to bed at 10 or 11 or 11:30 and be up again at 4:30 or 5. Am I super-productive on this schedule? If you were to ask my family, they'd probably describe me with a word like "cranky." Or maybe forgetful because on that little sleep, I can barely keep track of my keys or iPhone for more than 20 minutes at a time. (And that's WITH a Tile.)

So I was hopeful that taking on this specific assignment of going to bed early for a week would provide a perfect opportunity to reset my sleep habits.

"You have to sleep," I told myself sternly. Multiple times. "It's for work."

Yet much to my disbelief -- and maybe yours, too -- the first TWO weeks were a complete wash. Each week, I never made it past three nights of early bedtimes in a row.

Here's what kept me up late at night -- although the short answer is really "me," and not, like, construction noise outside our house or a sick cat.

  1. Finally having an uninterrupted conversation with my husband. (Interpret that however you like.)
  2. New episodes of Inside Amy Schumer on Hulu.
  3. Work.
  4. Laundry.
  5. Picking up random clutter around our house. (Are my kids the only ones who leave dirty socks wedged between the couch cushions or inside the piano bench?)

More from CafeMom: 10 Strange but Scientific Facts About Sleep

But I kept trying -- this was for work, after all. And on the third week, I summoned up all the willpower I could to not pick up socks or answer emails or say much to my husband beyond, "I have to go to sleep!" And I turned off the light between 9:30 and 10 o'clock every night.

How'd I feel in the morning? You already know the answer to that.

Clearheaded. Calm. Well rested. Able to focus. More creative. More patient. Better able to track my keys. (A little.) Less crave-y for chocolate come 4 p.m.

The difference was noticeable -- kind of like when you get your car detailed and suddenly realize that until now, it really looked like a garbage dump and didn't smell much better.

And yet! As soon as that week was over, I breathed a huge sigh of relief ... and resorted to my old wack-job habits of going to bed late again.

Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe, but it's not just me. Fifty-three percent of women are sleep-deprived, according to a survey from the Better Sleep Council. And that's despite knowing how good sleep is for us and that we need it not only to survive, but just to get through the busy day.

So how am I going to force myself to actually DO that on a regular basis? No idea yet. But I am hoping to sleep on it. 

 

Image via Everything/Shutterstock

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