Yesterday, I posted about the major impacts in my life in the last year. I neglected to write anything about what my New Year’s resolutions might be for 2014 because I don’t really set resolutions for myself any more. In a nutshell, I find them to be useless and not very helpful in directing my actions for the year (not even for the first few weeks or days of the new year when most people are gung ho about their resolutions). I did mention at the end of yesterday’s entry that I intend to read more in 2014. I’m not sure if that type of general comment counts as a resolution – I would err on the side of it not being a resolution, but that’s just me.
And when I mention that I want to read more in 2014, I mean that I want to read material on a variety of topics. When I was younger I would read both fiction and non-fiction books just for fun. In the last year, I’ve primarily read non-fiction books for different professional development classes that I’ve been enrolled in. And I coupled those scholarly assignments with additional reading from a variety of blogs, which I think you’ve noticed in my randomly-updated Start the Weekend Right Series. All of the links that I post in the Start the Weekend Right updates come from blogs that I have in my Feedly RSS reader. Feedly has an option where you can bookmark an update from a website for future reading and, increasingly, I’ve been bookmarking articles that deal with sleep.
After reading many of those articles, I think that another one of my not-quite-a-resolutions for 2014 is to learn to be a better sleeper. I’m hesitant to write that my sleeping patterns are horrible, but I am writing this entry at 3:00am on an early Monday morning (I’m off from work this week, so being up this late doesn’t mess up my overall schedule).
Much like other areas of our lives where we know we need to improve, I know that there are certain things that I can do immediately to improve my sleep. For example, I know that if I adjust and recalibrate my diet, then there will be a direct impact on the amount of sleep that I get each night and, more importantly, on the amount of quality sleep that I get each night. Further, I know that if I work out more often during the day (especially in the morning), then my ability to fall asleep at a more decent hour will be improved. As it stands now, I typically sleep between 5 and 6 hours each night. On top of that, I wake up several times each night for different reasons from tossing and turning to going to the bathroom to getting some water to drink. The Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how some men announce how little sleep they get in act of hyper masculinity. I’m not walking down that path by a long shot – I genuinely want more and better sleep.
In 2014, I want to learn more about the causes of my sleep deprivations. The Week suggests that one of the major causes of getting less sleep is that we are exposed to too much light during the evening hours. In my case, this is definitely a problem as I park myself in front of my laptop for a few hours each night to do work to meet different deadlines. The folks over at Inc.com suggest that getting into a regular routine can help a person sleep better. For the last two months or so I’ve gotten into a routine of washing my hands before I go to sleep. This may not sound like a big deal (or it may sound like something that a person should already be doing), but elevating this action to a daily routine has helped me make the mind-body connection that it’s time to lay down and get some rest.
Getting poor sleep certainly is not a good thing for my health, either. As they recently wrote about in The Saturday Evening Post, there are real connections between a lack of quality sleep and an inability to shake off Type 2 Diabetes (which I’ve had for almost 5 years). The Post writes that an optimal amount of sleep to fight off diabetes is between 7 and 9 hours each night – I’m not even close!
There are other parts of the sleep puzzle that I’m looking forward to learning more about in 2014. For example, what affect does one’s circadian rhythm have on their sleep quality? Why is it that I often find myself wanting to doze off behind the wheel both on my way to work and on my way home from work, but not while I’m actually at the office? Does it matter if I hibernate on the weekends to make up for lost sleeping hours during the week? And just what is the real connection between not sleeping enough and gaining weight?
What I’d really like from all of this reading and learning is to be a better sleeper twelve months from now than I am today. Achieving that not-quite-a-resolution would be something worth truly celebrating.