Tuesday, June 01, 2010

the sleep challenge

Yesterday was Day 21 of the Move for Health Challenge at work. Staff and participants at the rec centre where I work challenged themselves to adopt healthier habits from May 10-31. Some gave up treats, or reduced meal portions. Some increased activity. I decided to try to get more sleep. I specified that I would go for 7 hours sleep each night.

Getting 7 hours sleep is not easy for me, mostly because I like to get up so darned early in the morning. Here I am, at 5:40am, and I have already fed the cat and got myself a big glass of cold water, and now I am blogging (and toasting almonds for my breakfast yogurt and fruit bowl). I don't have to leave the house until 7:15, but I am up. The benefit of this is that I have a stretch of quiet, to-myself time in the morning, before the day starts jumping with demands and challenges. I like the extra hour in the morning for myself.

Rising at 5:30 means that I must be asleep by 10:30 if I want to get a full 7 hours. I have discovered that I must be determined and organized in order to do this. Falling asleep is blessedly easy for me, but getting myself into bed some time before 10:30 is another matter altogether. On nights that I am up late, I must stay in bed past 5:30 in the morning to achieve 7 hours sleep, and that requires more effort than one might think. I feel like I'm missing something if I roll over and grab another 30 or 60 minutes of snoozing. Nevertheless, I have persisted in trying to get me some sleep for the past 21 nights. I have succeeded on all but two nights. One night, at the tail end of my bout with the flu, I had been sleeping day and night for 2 1/2 days. Suddenly I couldn't sleep at night. I know I could have counted the day sleeping towards my debt that night, but I didn't. The other night of not sleeping 7 hours was last night - the final night of the challenge. I was out until 10:45, in bed at 11:00 and asleep by 11:15. At 5:30 I got up, and here I am.

Sleeping 7 hours is probably good for my health. I have read that 7-8 hours sleep is good for memory, weight loss, mood, cholesterol, and blood pressure. I can sleep 7 hours most nights of the week, but I'm not sure that forcing myself to sleep 7 hours every night is worth the effort. I don't actually feel any more rested for doing it. Maybe if I stuck with it longer than 21 days I would notice a change.

For now, I will say goodbye to the 21 day challenge, and sleep 7 hours most nights, a whopping 7.5 to 8 hours on weekends, and my typical 6 and a bit whenever I have reason to stay up late. I'm glad I took the challenge. I'm already thinking about what I might do next year. Hmmm?

question: how many hours sleep do you get most nights?

mompoet - early bird

1 comment:

Muhd Imran said...

I have tried that challenge to sleep at least 7 hours each day. I retired early but somehow find two things that do not get me to my goal as easily as I wanted...

One is that I always wake up early in the morning. Something I like to do because, just like you, I get my alone time and exercise before going to work.

Second is that I tend to wake up intermittently during the night. I am a light sleeper, so little things wake me up several times a night.

So, I have no idea how much quality sleep I get each day... that is my memory talking... forgetting.

I need more sleep! Any pointers?