Since registering to train for my first half marathon, I’ve become more aware of how my habits will have to change for me to be at my best. The idea of achieving balance keeps crossing my mind–balance between running and cross training, between eating the right nutrients, and between activity and sleep. I’m already in the habit of carving out time for workouts, so that shouldn’t be tough. I also eat well when I’m making nutrition a priority. However, getting the adequate amount of sleep has proven to be a challenge for me.
As with all bad habits, I can only blame myself for not getting enough sleep. I live in “The City That Never Sleeps” and sometimes live up to the nickname. I try my best to fit work, exercise, socializing, blogging, and cooking into almost every weekday. Fitting it all in leaves little time for sleep. I typically fall asleep at 1:00am and wake up at 7:30am. That gets me 6.5 hours of sleep. Not horrible, but not great. When I work out at 6:00am, I go to bed at 11:30pm. That gets me about 6 hours with a 5:30am wakeup to get to class. This sleep schedule is not going to work while training for a half marathon. If I wrote this post a month from now, people would call this a New Year’s resolution to sleep more. But it’s not January 2. It’s December 2, and I consider this a decision to be a healthier person. It’s a decision you can make any day.
While I was at my parent’s house in South Carolina for Thanksgiving, I read the latest issue of SELF, including an article called You’re Even More Tired Than You Think. It began:
“Perhaps you believe you’re doing fine: You bang out projects at the office, power through workouts, throw an awesome dinner party. What’s more, you do it all on about six and a half hours of sleep a night…and that’s working for you. Or so you think…”
Uh oh. But it was a blurb from Real-Life Tips for Quality Sleep in the sidebar that spoke to me most. Quit considering sleep a luxury. I fill my schedule with projects and activities that I believe will make me more successful, healthy, and happy. Yes, many of the things I do are important, but it doesn’t mean sleep should be pushed to the bottom of the list. If I don’t get enough sleep, I won’t be able to give any of these priorities my best, let alone be able to enjoy doing them. This especially applies during the holidays. Sleep, of course, is not about training for a half marathon. Getting enough sleep applies to everyone and is necessary for success, health, and happiness. Especially for happiness. I’m not saying that getting eight hours of sleep per night is going to be easy during the holiday season (or beyond), but I have to make more sleep a priority. I’m not going to skip the holiday parties or the training runs, but I’m going to stop considering sleep a luxury and try to follow the other Real-Life Tips:
1. Your first step: acceptance.
Check. I don’t sleep enough right now.
2. Quit considering sleep a luxury.
Check. Time to make sleep a priority.
3. Increase hours painlessly.
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every week.
4. Trick out your bedroom.
Set the temp 3 degrees below daytime norm.
5. Resist the siren call of the screen.
This will likely be the toughest for me.
6. Don’t drink and sleep.
Applies to water, but mostly excessive alcohol.
7. Beat that 2:00am wide-eyes thing.
Try to replace disruptive noise with white noise.