Becoming a Morning Person, Lesson 2

So I’ve signed up for this free online “class” through Little Green Dot about becoming a morning person. If you’re interested in it, tough toenails, ’cause the class is closed. ;) But you can read along in my blog!!

Lesson 1 Review

At the end of Lesson 1, your challenge was to visualize your ideal morning, and identify one small, simple action from that morning that – if completed – would make you feel happy.

You used that to create your statement of intention:
I am becoming a Morning Person so I can get active early.

What are your thoughts as you review your intention? How does it make you feel? What are the potential roadblocks ahead that might prevent you from making lasting change? They might be:

  • psychological – for example, a tendency to self-sabotage
  • societal – peers, colleagues or other people you surround yourself with
  • physical – perhaps setting too big of a goal too soon

It’s important to be honest with yourself at this point, because when you take on meaningful, lasting change, these roadblocks will appear.

Psychological: I do self-sabotage! Waking up early, working out, walking the dogs…taking showers at night, picking out my outfits ahead of time, cleaning the house… I would say my biggest, most awful, most life-ruining weakness is procrastination.

Societal: Ah, yes – Mr. T. It’s not his fault!! He doesn’t purposefully set out to ruin my attempts at “early to bed, early to rise”. He just has a waaaaay different schedule than I do. He works until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, and sleeps until 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning. So he doesn’t go to bed when I do, and doesn’t wake up when I do. Do you know how hard it is to go to bed alone? Or how hard it is to get out of bed when someone else gets to stay there, all snuggly and warm?! Ugh.

Physical: I know it’s going to be difficult. I <3 sleeping. So, so much. Pushing “snooze” is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. I can sleep – and sleep deeply – anytime, anywhere, while anything is going on. I thank high school band class for that trait. Or maybe I could always do it… But the ability to sleep in a large, echoy room while a dozen people practice their instruments is my superpower. Waking up is my kryptonite.

Freshen Up Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Strategy 1: Stimulus Control Therapy

Your brain makes connections: the kitchen is for cooking, the bathroom is for cleaning your body. The same needs to be true for the bedroom. Your bed is for Sleeping and Sex – that’s it. When you go to bed, if you can’t fall asleep in 15 to 20 minutes and that causes you stress, you need to get up. Leave the bed entirely and go do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again. Here are the rules:

  • Do not reward being awake. No planning, cleaning or organizing. No working. No eating. No watching TV, turning on the computer or checking messages.
  • Do something relaxing. In a low-light environment, read, stretch, listen to relaxing music, or practice a relaxation therapy until you feel sleepy again.

Repeat this process as many times as you need. The idea is that over time, your brain will re-associate the bed with sleepiness. Set yourself up for success: Think of a relaxing activity that you can do, for when you are sleepless and need to get out of bed. What do you need to do to prepare? What do you need to consider? Plan it out for yourself.

Sleep Strategy 2: Relaxation Therapy

To help relax your body and mind, add a relaxation therapy to your nighttime routine. You can also practice this if are sleepless. Here’s what you do: Learn to control and release muscle tension with progressive muscle relaxation. During progressive muscle relaxation, focus on each muscle group in your body, and first tense and then relax them in a systematic way, moving up or down your body.

Yeah, I don’t have any problem falling asleep. But I’ll definitely pass this information on to Mr. T! Someone in the FB group mentioned something called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, and I totally think Mr. T has that. I haven’t done much (read: any) research on it, other than skimming that Wiki article. But I’m not afraid to diagnose, anyway. lol!

From tomorrow morning, you’ll be working on your morning actions. To give yourself the best chance at success, you need to freshen up your nighttime routines. Your challenge is to follow the 3 steps below for the next 7 days, and track how it affects your sleep.

Step One: Create Your New Night-time Routine

Ask yourself: What can you do one hour before bed every night, to start mentally preparing yourself for sleep? Experiment with some of these examples to find the perfect routine for you.

  • It could be something that relaxes your body: a warm shower, self-grooming, reading, a slow evening stroll after dinner or relaxation therapy
  • It could be something that relaxes your mind: journaling, guided meditation, planning tomorrow’s to-do list or getting prepared for your morning routine

Step Two: Create a Sleep Zone

Take a look at your bedroom, is there anything that may be disrupting your sleep? What changes can you make?

  • Lights. Remove or hide devices with bright lights (phones, computers, charging devices, clocks). Use thick curtains. Consider using a sleep mask.
  • Clocks. People who cannot fall asleep frequently consult their clock to see what time it is which just delays the onset of sleep.
  • Air Quality. Ensure air conditioning units, fans and heaters are clean and free of dust.
  • Clutter. Create a stress-free zone, free of physical and mental clutter.

Step Three: Start a Sleep Journal

A sleep journal tracks your sleep times, your habits and your mood – over time you will begin to see a pattern that will help you make corrections. (the night time coffee vs. the night time meditation – how is it really affecting you?)

Like I said, I have zero problem falling asleep. It’s going to bed that I have an issue with! But I do think there are things here that will help me.

Step 1: I would love to take the dogs on a walk before going to bed. Even better if Mr. T goes with me! But I don’t really want to do that in the wintertime… *shiver* My goal is to start exercising, so I’ll probably take a shower sooner in the day, rather than later. If I put off working out for too long after I get home, it doesn’t get done. I think the most helpful thing I could do for myself right before bed is pick out my outfit for the next day.

Step 2: Lights never bother me. Sometimes I fall asleep with the lights on! We also don’t own a single clock. If our cell phones die we’ll lose all sense of reality. I really should get one for the living room… Oh, I can guarantee we need to replace the air filters!! Icky, icky air filters… And we definitely need to de-clutter the bedroom. I made some serious progress last weekend, but we still have a bit more to do.

Step 3: How innnnnteresting! She provided us a template for Google docs, so you can stalk me follow along here. Hopefully I remember to do this every day!

Tell me how you REALLY feel: