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It’s no secret that sleep is the weakest link in my quest to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise? I’ve got that down!
Nutrition? I naturally choose carrots over cheese puffs.
Hydration? 50% of the time my eyeballs are floating.
But sleep? I’m getting better, but it’s a work in progress.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s during our sleeping hours that our bodies rest, recover, and repair, even down to the cellular level. It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep helps boost our mood, but it also helps with our concentration and productivity.
Not only does a lack of sleep increase the chances of being involved in an accident caused by lack of focus or nodding off, but it can also affect our memory and cause details to become fuzzy. Lack of sleep can weaken the immune system and increase the chances of developing some serious diseases, and that alone, should make getting a good night’s sleep a priority.
I Can Rest When I’m Dead
Always exhausted from getting up super early to run or see 6 AM clients, or both, I’d boast that I could sleep after I died. There was too much to do for taking time for a good night’s sleep. A self-described night owl, it wasn’t until I started seeing those early morning clients that realized how much I loved getting up well before dawn. Earlier clients often meant even earlier runs and I’d frequently find myself starting runs as early as 4:45 AM, and with that, the morning lark in me was awakened.
Unfortunately, as I continued to go to bed late while getting up at a ridiculously early hour, my sleep started to suffer even more. Add to that the poor sleep quality of a menopausal women and my ability to get a good night’s sleep was nearly impossible. After routinely getting afternoon headaches and nodding off any time I’d sit down to read or work on my blog, I knew I had to address the problem.
Fitbit to the Rescue
I purchased my first Fitbit (affiliate link) for reasons different than most. Steps weren’t a problem, I needed to track my sleep. I noticed immediately that if I went to bed at 11:30 PM and got up at 5 AM, I got less than the expected 5 hours and 30 minutes of sleep. My Fitbit tracked my quality of sleep by taking into account my sleep patterns – time spent awake, restless, and asleep – and I quickly learned that 5 hours and 30 minutes in bed didn’t necessarily mean I’d gotten that much sleep.
Most importantly, though, I had a visual of just how little sleep I was getting. My weekly averages were around 5 hours 45 minutes per night, so I set my first goal for 6 hours of sleep per night. I made a conscious effort to get to bed a little earlier and soon saw those nightly averages improve to 6 hours.
With success at 6 hours, I set my next goal to 6 hours 30 minutes average and once I mastered that, I set a new goal for 7 hours. Currently, my nightly average is just over 7 hours which feels perfect for me. An 8-hour average might make it difficult for me to fall asleep at night and since I feel good at 7 hours, I’ll probably stick with that.
And the Morning Lark Wins
This long-standing night owl has gradually transitioned into a morning lark. Either is okay, but the two just can’t coexist if you’re looking to live a healthy lifestyle.
- • Are you a night owl, morning lark, both, or neither?
- • Have you heard the name morning lark used for early risers? ~ I’ve heard night owl used for years, but only recently heard of morning lark being a nickname for early risers. It’s perfect, though, so perhaps it’s common and I’d just not heard of it.
- • How much sleep per night is perfect for you?