I saw a video at church this week that made me laugh, because it rings so true! A guy on the video said, “Life is crazy enough, without adding December to the mix.” The video continued on with frazzled, harried people asking, “and through all of this, I’m supposed to choose Joy…. Really?”
On top of our normal responsibilities, there’s even more pressure to make Christmas perfect for our kids, use this Season to increase our sales or blog traffic, more events and obligations from work and friends, extra volunteer opportunities at church or in the community, and through all of this, we’re supposed to be joyful.
I don’t know about you, but I have this sassy, smart-mouthed mini-me inside that’s always itching to get out. My heart rolls its eyes at what I perceive as the imperfections and annoyances of this world. Don’t let my dimples and friendly appearance fool you. I’m a bit snarky on the inside, and I’m not proud of it!
I’ve found that there’s one often over-looked tool that sets my heart and attitude
up for success. For me, it’s like pushing the easy button. That easy button is
This week’s challenge is both insanely simple, and incredibly difficult to pull off:
GET MORE SLEEP
- You’ll find that you’re happier throughout the day.
- You have more focus and energy for your work.
- You’re more patient with your kids.
- You’re less stressed.
- You can actually ENJOY the Holidays this year.
I’m setting a really crazy, audacious goal for you this week:
Get 1 extra hour of sleep every night.
Lest you think I’m a loon (it’s debatable!) and there’s no possible way you can do this, read my own story as a recovering Anti-Sleep-aholic. All-nighters used to be part of my weekly routine. Three and five-hour nights were my go-to. I honestly thought that people who got lots of sleep were lazy, unmotivated, and destined for failure. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
You can do this, and I can’t wait to see what an awesome, restful week you have!
Here’s to JOY this Christmas.
~ Beth Anne
P.S. If 1 hour feels impossible, start with just 10 minutes. Really. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night, or set your alarm for 10 minutes later. Small changes over time can add up to a big difference. You got this!
Week 13 Update
How did this week go? Are you feeling not only more rested but more joyful too? Did you find that your work was more fun and you were able to get through more in one sitting? I know I did!
This week, I was probably a bit too ambitious with this challenge – getting 10 hours of sleep 2 nights out of the week. I had one 6-hour night because I was on a roll with my work and had an early morning the next day. The other 4 nights were between 7-8 hours.
One thing I've noticed is that having one freebie late night per week strikes the right balance. I use it as a catch-up night for work, and because I'm so well-rested from all my other great nights of sleep, it doesn't seem to mess with my focus or mood. By freebie night, I still mean 6 hours, not a 3 or 5-hour night like I used to do!
Here are some tips that help me to get enough sleep each night:
- Set a firm deadline for work. Work like crazy and be done no matter what by your pre-determined end time.
- Set a firm turn-off time for the computer and TV. For me, this is at least 30 minutes before the time I want to be snoozing, and often more like 1 hour prior.
- Read right before bed instead of watching TV or using electronics. (I will say that I often read on my iPad. Still, I notice that my brain can calm down and fall asleep much easier compared to watching TV.)
- Change into your comfy bedtime clothes or pajamas 2 hours before bed to get your brain and body primed.
- Try a cup of decaf tea or another soothing, decaffeinated hot beverage.
- Turn out all the lights. (If you like to read right up until sleep, use a small booklight instead of a brighter lamp.)
- Write down your top 3 to-do items before bed. Better yet, brain dump all of your thoughts before bed!
- If you're awake one hour later than you planned to be and you're able – set your alarm for a little later. (Life happens. Better to be well-rested when it happens to you!)
- Set your alarm without the snooze button. This may stress you out, but mentally, it will force you to wake up and hop right out of bed. Also, you won't waste time on an hour of low-quality sleep. If you truly don't want to get up at 5 AM and don't have to, then knowing you're without a snooze button might force you to re-evaluate what time you realistically need to wake up.
Here's what some of you had to say:
“As a stressed out college senior planning my graduation, gainful employment, graduate school and wedding, I spent about six months unable to fall asleep. I’d have a rough night with my mind racing, and the next night I’d be so scared that I wouldn’t sleep that I would make that fear come true. It got so bad that I went to see the school psychiatrist. She suggested that I write down all of my worries in a journal for fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening, separated from my scheduled bedtime by a few hours to distance my worry from my sleep. My fifteen minute journal times were used to write down everything I was worried about in the form of prayer, physically practicing 2 Corinthians 10:5b “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (ESV). Throughout the day, when I found myself worrying about something, I told myself “it’s not time to worry about that yet”, and I was able to schedule that worry to reduce my overall stress. This increased the quality of sleep that I got, and helped me be more intentional with my time and aware of my anxiety.”
Carla Patton of thismessyheart.com
“Getting a full nights sleep does not always happen of course, but when I am tempted to stay up into the wee hours to work, I remind myself that if I do I will most likely not be as productive the next day because of the lack of sleep. So I sort of weigh it out to myself..had I rather work one or two more hours tonight and get more done but be too exhausted to do anything tomorrow night? Or go to bed at a normal hour and be able to get another three-fours worth of work done the next day. Before I close up my laptop, I usually type a to-do list for the next night. This usually helps me to not only go to bed, but also helps me to get to sleep without tons of ideas and “to-dos” keeping me up.”
Caitlin Orman of gradschoolstruggle.com
“Before I had a baby, my trick was to put on PJ's, brush teeth, take contacts out, etc. right after dinner. That way I wouldn't procrastinate going to bed as much because all it required was getting my body into bed!”
Rachel Coley of candokiddo.com
“I have small children, so sometimes getting a good night's sleep just isn't going to happen. If I have a night with little or interrupted sleep, I let myself take a nap with my kids the next day. No guilt! It makes me a much nicer person, and I get way more done.”
Kate Marie of thebeautifulusefulproject.com
“Getting my kids to bed so I can go to bed! Mine are 10, 12, 15 at home and like to stay up later than mom, but they still want mom to sing to them!!” Brooke Sellman of sillymamaquilts.com
“I've worked many years as night shift RN, so that is hard to undo. If I'm going to be totally honest, I'll tell you that I set an alarm in my phone to go get a glass of wine at 9:30 pm. Then I usually sew or work on the computer for another 30-45 min and the wine kicks in and I go to bed. My body is naturally programmed to go to bed at 1 am because that's what I did for so many years. My shift was 4-11 pm, so this is how I'm still undoing that programming. 😉. I also shower at night and that helps to relax me for bed too.
Amy Gabriel of gabrielsgoodtidings
How was your week?! I'm hoping to hear from some happy, focused, productive people in the comments 🙂