I have struggled with maintaining a consistent sleep schedule for at least the last 10 years, maybe more. My biggest problem is that I don’t want to go to bed when it’s time for bed. Sometimes I’m not sleepy, but other times I just don’t want to go to bed. I want to “relax”, e.g. watch YouTube videos, plan workouts, make to-do lists. It’s especially difficult when I live alone. I don’t have anyone to suggest I go to sleep and I don’t have a model to follow.
Why is this important to me? I notice that when I sleep well, my mood is better, I have a brighter outlook on life, I seem to have more discipline and self-control, I think I have better ideas, and I rebound from negative and/or unpleasant experiences faster than if I was sleepy. When I’m sleepy, I’m moody, constantly hungry, lawless, and mopey. It’s amazing that there can be such stark contrasts between a good night sleep and a bad night of sleep.
In my most recent attempt at trying to improve my sleep, I enrolled in a Master Class held by Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep” and Professor of Neuroscience at UC Berkeley. There’s probably some research to support this, but anecdotally I feel that I retain concepts better when I write about them. Because I really want to get this sleep thing down, I figure I should write about it.
I can become a Sleep Evangelist.
My main takeaway so far (I’m about a third of way through the course) is that sleep runs on a cycle, and the cycle runs on a 24-hour clock. This clock runs irrespective of our own adherence to a sleep schedule. It is baked into our bodies; it is very literally in our DNA. There are really some cool (and important!) things happening if we let our bodies do what they crave, which is to sleep soundly every night.
No one’s able to do anything perfectly, so this isn’t about obsessing over sleep. I’m sharing this info purely to gain a new appreciation of the role sleep plays in our health. After I (and you) learn about sleep, it’s up to us how much we apply what we’ve learned. I’m committed to sticking with it this time around. I want the health benefits that accumulate after consistent nights of good sleep.