Sleep is essential to function. Not only does it help our mind and body recharge and refresh, but it’s also been linked to improved immune system health, increases in productivity, better moods, and weight prevention, among other things. Yet, according to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one-third of American adults are not regularly getting enough sleep. And for the last couple of months, I’ve fallen into that category.
As a new, working mom who also likes to keep a tidy house and attempts to work out regularly, sleep is often the daily activity that gets put on the back burner. If I have a busy day and want to get a workout in? I wake up early. If I didn’t get enough time to myself during the day to decompress? I stay up late.
I found myself averaging around six hours of sleep a night, and that was not working for me. I know I’m the best partner, mom, and employee when I’m rested, but for some reason, I just wasn’t doing it. So instead of continuing to sacrifice my sleep, I decided to challenge myself. For an entire week, I would sleep eight hours a night. The rules were simple. I would set my alarm for eight hours after I went to sleep, no matter when I went to sleep for seven straight days.
And I succeeded. To be transparent, some mornings, my son required my attention before I hit eight hours of sleep, but I did get in a minimum of seven hours of shut-eye.
Here’s what I learned as a result of the week.
The World Didn’t End If I Stayed in Bed.
There were some days I would naturally wake up around five o’clock and have the thought, “I could get up right now and *insert whatever was on my to-do list that day*.” But I forced myself to quiet my mind and go back to sleep. Every time I did, I fell back asleep and was grateful I did. I didn’t realize how tired I was until I had the opportunity to stay in bed longer.
Everything Important Still Got Done.
Long story short, I could sleep eight hours and still get everything done. Many won’t find this groundbreaking, but it’s a significant accomplishment when you always feel like you’re always strapped for time. Getting enough sleep to feel rested and refreshed made it easier to conquer my tasks for the day. Sure there were days where I left a few toys scattered around on the floor or didn’t send that one email, but they were easy enough to tackle the next day with a revitalized mind.
I’m a Better Version of Myself When I Prioritize Sleep.
Seven to eight hours of sleep is the recommended amount for a reason. It left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. I felt rested, more productive, and mentally sharper, which led to a better overall mood. When you feel good, you perform better, no matter the task in front of you. By the end of the week, I could lay my head down at night knowing that I could sleep eight hours a night, and everything that needed to get done would.
Completing this challenge gave me the peace of mind and reassurance that when in doubt, sleep. Forgoing sleep to work, work out, or relax with a book or the television will only come back to hurt you if repeated day in and day out. This challenge is easy enough for everyone to complete at home, even if it’s only for a few days. Give it a try and see how you feel. Maybe it’ll help you prioritize sleep over Netflix or maybe it’ll encourage you to slip under the covers an hour earlier. No matter what you discover, I bet you won’t go back.