I slept for 4 hours straight last night – so refreshing! Now that I’ve officially finished the sleep challenge, I want to record some of the things I’ve learned about sleep.
1. You can change your sleep patterns
Sure it can be hard work and you might feel terrible at the start, but if you want to change, just do it. I don’t recommend a schedule of 20 minutes every 4 hours for everyone. It’s super punishing and your world has to revolve around sleep while you do it. I had a flexible work environment, no kids and a very supportive wife (thanks Cat Haydon), so it was a possibility for me. My brother swears he needs 11 hours sleep a night (and believe me he does), but I firmly believe the only reason he can’t change his sleep patterns is because he has never pushed through that debilitating fog that hits you when trying to do radical changes.
2. Sleep Tips
- make sure your room is dark. Like REALLY dark. Light, even from your alarm clock disturbs your sleep.
- set your alarm for the length of time you want to sleep
- get into a comfortable position
- relax, particularly your neck, shoulders, jaw and lower back
- focus on your breathing – slow and steady is good
- don’t move. At all. Even if you feel fidgety. Only move if you’re in actual pain.
- just let your mind wander, but stay away from sport or highly emotionally charged conversations/situations
- when you wake up, get up immediately (without thinking about it – just do it) and either turn the light on or open the curtains – whatever you need to do to get light to hit your eyes.
3. Be careful with stimulants
If you drink coffee because you enjoy it (I do), then by all means drink it, but don’t drink it if you need to stay up for an extra hour or two and are feeling a bit tired. Caffeine leaves your system like 6 hours after you ingest it, so when you do go to sleep you won’t be able to go straight into a deep sleep. I know a few people that claim to be able to go to sleep straight after drinking a strong coffee and that’s great, but you can sleep when you’re blind drunk – doesn’t mean you get a restful sleep.
4. Appreciate every sleep
Over the course of this challenge, I’ve met a number of people who are genuine insomniacs. As in there’s medical reasons for them not being able to sleep. That sucks and my heart goes out to them. If you think that could be you then please seek medical help – they’ve made some incredible advances in sleep therapy over the last few years. For everyone else – get off facebook at 3 am and put down the cans of Coke. Sleep is far too important to go without. Admittedly that probably sounds funny coming from me after the sleep challenge, but I wasn’t going without – just changing patterns. When you wake up, be thankful you were able to sleep.
5. Do your research
Google is your friend here. If you want to change your sleeping patterns, make sure you thoroughly do your research. There’s still a lot of unknowns when it comes to sleep and a lot of controversy. Do your research, make up your own mind, test and see what works for you.