I’ve never really been a “morning person” and it often takes me a little while to get up and running for the day. This is nothing new and I’m very much used to it by now and although going into lockdown brought many worries, I was looking forward to working from home and being able to have a little longer in bed!
Initially, I did get a little more sleep and felt better for it. However, as the weeks and months have passed and being at home pretty much 24/7 becomes the new normal, I have developed an unhealthy routine with my sleep.
Prior to lockdown, my evenings often involved some sort of activity, whether that be socialising, exercising or anything in between, so it wasn’t often that I’d spend hours sat on the sofa. Since lockdown, that is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m now either binge watching the latest TV shows or watching football matches now that it is (finally) back on our screens.
Because I’ve been less active during both the daytime and evening compared to before lockdown, I have found myself to be less tired when it gets to bedtime. This combined with a “just-one-more-episode” mentality to binge watching TV shows means I have been going to bed a lot later than I ever used to. I’m now waking up later, in a rush to get ready for work (even though it is just a short trip downstairs away) and generally feeling less motivated to exercise and cook healthy meals. I have still tried to motivate myself to eat well and exercise, but have definitely noticed that I’ve had to try much harder than I used to.
I feel like I have gotten in to an unhealthy cycle of going to bed late - waking up late – feeling tired and less motivated – moving less and eating worse – not feeling tired in the evenings due to lack of activity during the day – going to bed even later, and so on… I have found that I’d started going to bed later and later, and therefore feeling slightly worse continually. I decided this needed to stop so have decided to make one micro change to try and combat this. I am simple going to set myself a “lights out” time. This means I must not look at a screen of any sort after midnight. This may still sound too late, but going to sleep on the same day I woke up on will be a huge step in the right direction.
I’m hoping this will help me feel less tired and more motivated to exercise and eat well, and therefore mean I will be both more productive and more active during the day. Hopefully, this means I’ll feel slightly more tired at night time, leading to me going to bed slightly earlier. However, I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to eat better or exercise more, I am merely going to ensure I’m in bed with lights out no later than midnight.
As always, I like to attempt my weekly micro change prior to posting my blog, as well as trying to quantify my findings. This week, I have found it difficult to quantify how I feel because it is almost impossible to measure that accurately. However, I can quantify how well I slept and how active I’ve been during the day, so I did this.
Firstly, I can state that I managed to get to bed and turn out the lights before midnight on all but one of the nights on the week. The one exception came when I got a little carried away reading a book, but at least I wasn’t staring at a screen all evening. I must admit, I gave myself a bit of a jump start last weekend. I decided to ensure I felt tired on Sunday evening ready for work on Monday that I’d stay up all Saturday night and hope not to need a nap during the day on Sunday. Thankfully, I actually felt OK during the day on Sunday, started feeling tired around 9.45pm and went to bed at 10.30pm. I woke up the next morning at 7.45 and felt OK, worked well, went for a walk at lunch time as well as in the evening and ended up going to bed at around 11.20, turning out the lights at around 11.45. I managed this every day but one and It’s difficult to express in words how much better I feel. Not only do I not feel tired, I feel positive, energised and motivated too. It turns out it took just one good night’s sleep to solve the problem, but was a very difficult cycle to break.
Now for the numbers: As I mentioned earlier, it is difficult to quantify feelings, but with the wonders of technology these days, I can quantify the quality of my sleep and how that potentially affected my activity levels.
So, looking back through the data on my tracking app for the week prior to attempting my micro change I found that I was falling asleep on average at around 2.30am and waking up at around 8.00 am. So, I was averaging 5 ½ hours sleep each night, with an average of just 2 hours of that being deep sleep, according to my tracking App. I also averaged just over 7,000 steps each day.
Since making the micro change, I have been falling asleep at an average time of 11.15pm and waking up at around 7.45am. I am now getting an average of 8 ½ hours of sleep each night with just over 5 hours of that being deep sleep. I also average just over 9,000 steps each day, an increase of 2,000 per day without even realising I was doing it.
So, If I kept this up for a whole year, I’ll be getting well over 1,000 extra hours of quality sleep as well as taking an additional almost 750,000 steps!
Sleep is good for you folks!
To read about my other micro changes click on the links below
If you would like some support to make healthy lifestyle changes One You Lincolnshire can support you to become Smoke Free, help you to Drink Less, Move More, Eat Well and Lose Weight. For more information see https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/lincolnshire-residents
Chris Laming, Physical Activity Coach
July 3, 2020