A good-night's sleep is a pretty foreign concept to most unfortunately, myself included. I have made a personal challenge to myself to get my sleep cycle down so I can stop feeling this constant fog throughout the day. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to sleep. I no longer have any newborn babies to blame, but rather my inner baby screaming "me time" at 9 pm. I am sure many parents and even non-parents alike can relate to feeling like when 9:00 rolls around you just want to have some "me" time, whether that be to watch your favorite grown up show or spend time on Facebook, internet shopping, blogging or heck all of that at once (guilty). I often feel like I have earned my "me" time and this is my time to sit and do nothing but veg in front of the computer and TV for the next two hours. Unfortunately I have now come to the realization that these habits I have formed have made it harder to fall asleep when I do finally call it quits and hit the pillow. My brain is on overload and I can't stop thinking....My husband asks me often what are you thinking about so much that makes it hard to go to sleep, it's funny because it is never one definitive thing, but rather a bunch of very random thoughts that I don't want to forget to do for the next day. For instance I could be thinking of how I need to make the kids sports physical appointments, that I really need to re-organize my laundry room, what goal to set for my bench press, where we should go camping, and what I should blog about. The worst is when I come up with some awesome blog post ideas and then the next day I sit in front of my computer to write it out and wouldn't you know I lost the idea....not cool! Had I gotten a great night sleep I maybe would have remembered my awesome post idea.
So what am I doing wrong? Well the first is my afternoon cup of coffee, so I cut that out. Second my obsessive cardio/metabolic conditioning workouts and tendency to over-workout, I stopped doing those...see my previous post . I know I need to work on my time in front of the TV and computer and pick up a book and read instead this will help calm my brain down. I have decided to be better at prioritizing my time for ultimate efficiency. As a type A personality goes, this excited me, you mean I get to schedule my time out for the day down to what time of the day I blog, what time I watch MadMen and what time I use the bathroom (haha just joking on the last one). I recently read a book about figuring out your strengths and wouldn't you know when I took the test I found out that one of my top strengths was being disciplined as well as achiever and activator, well I guess that explains my obsessive need to have schedules for pretty much everything from what days I clean each room of the house, to what days I wash linens, what days I do my food shopping, to what days I back squat or bench press. I know you all probably think I am nuts by now, if you have watched "Friends" you can see how I find myself able to relate very much to Monica...the fact that she is a chef and former fat girl on the show is just a super weird coincidence. So I was already largely using schedules for my days of the week, my real problem was the actual day itself, what would happen was I would eat my breakfast kind of late because I was always trying to psyche myself out to get my nutty workouts in and always hoped to do it first thing in the morning, but I dreaded it so much that I would hold off and eventually the day would just get behind. I would eventually workout, but an hour and a half of my life was then stripped away. Halfway through the day I would crash on the couch and not want to move for a while I was so hungry and exhausted, a metabolically broken mess. Even though I have been eating more and working out less (say what? that's totally not mainstream advice) I still feel the effects of what I did to my body even now. I still feel a little tired (especially if my husband had to get up to fly at 4 am) throughout the day and need to take a mid-day break...but I have been fighting the caffeine urge at 3 in the afternoon and switched to drinking tea.
I have made a decision that if I do decide to watch MadMen I limit it to one episode that way by 9:45 I can begin unwinding by either taking a hot bath or reading a good book. I make sure to get into bed at 10:15 at the latest....this has been very hard to do. I have made it a personal rule to leave my cell phone in the kitchen as well as my computer, this helps so that I don't hop on Facebook and get sucked into the blackhole of "social media" right before I try to go to sleep. I think I will keep a notepad by my bed though just in case I come up with genius ideas that pop into my brain right before falling asleep.
I truly believe that sleep is the single most important thing when it come to health and fat loss goals. Getting your sleep figured out first will be the most crucial step to achieving long-term goals. Even if you have figured out the best methods to get a good nights sleep, from time to time you may just have a bad night...for example your child has a nightmare in the middle of the night, or you are still breastfeeding at all hours of the night...Most of the time these things are temporary setbacks, so just remember that you should try hard to recover the rest of the day, don't push yourself to run 6 miles or anything nuts like that. If this is a season of your life unlikely to change in the next couple months, don't take on a ton of additional stress, or set unrealistic goals like running a marathon. Learn to listen to your body and respect it because if you don't, guess what you are the only one in charge of you. I say all of this because I have been there and it is not fun...so please stop being so hard on yourself! If someone came up to me and asked me for advice because they are simply not reaching their fat loss goals and this person was running tons of miles a week, eating a low calorie, low fat diet, and just all around looking run down and ragged I would suggest for that person, to go and figure out their diet, stop working out like a maniac...just go for walks and SLEEP well, and repeat, day after day for about a month until they have "healed" themselves enough to take the next step. Sometimes that is all we need to do to reset back to a healthy state.
So if you are feeling exhausted and can't figure out what is wrong....go work on your sleep patterns, 9 times out of 10 this will solve that problem.