I am tired all the time. Like, I’m a parent. You are probably a parent. You get it.
And yet, entertainment junkie that I am, I found myself staying up until midnight (or later!) catching up on every darn MA-rated show and movie each night, after the kids were in bed.
(Shrill FOMO is real, y’all.)
So about one month ago thanks to the bedtime reminder feature that I recently discovered on my beloved Calm App, I set my notification for 10:30 PM, with a promise to myself to stick to it. The gentle reminder on my phone to “start winding down now to get a full night’s sleep” helps for sure.
So I committed (with a few exceptions), and there were a few noticeable results, some of which really surprised me.
1. I don’t wake up groggy — even with the same 8 hours of sleep.
It turns out that not all 8-hour stretches of sleep are created equal. These late spring days, I’m waking up at 6 or 6:30 with the sun, and I’m not as exhausted as I am if I go to bed at midnight on a weekend, then wake up at 8 AM. (One of the benefits of having tweens and teens is sleeping late is a possibility — hang in there, parents of little ones!) So while I’m still getting about 8 hours or so, starting earlier means they’re a better 8 hours for me.
2. My mood and energy in the morning are so much better — for my family, and for myself.
I never in a zillion years would call myself a morning person, and yet here I am, with just one more hour of sleep, feeling happier and far more energetic. While my kids tend to make their own breakfasts, I can fire up the Breville and make a couple of proper lattes for my boyfriend and myself, and fresh fruit smoothies for the kids. I can sign those permission slips I usually forget. I have time to check the calendars and remind everyone about their after-school commitments.
I still don’t make the bed every day, but I do I feel like I have time to get my makeup right, and not walk out the door with two totally different eyebrows. Mostly. Ha.
Photo: FOODISM360 on Unsplash
3. I’m making better eating choices.
This may have been one of the biggest surprises in the changes I’ve noticed since I started going to be earlier. When I’m not tired or running late, I’m more likely to eat a healthier breakfast — for me, usually a couple of hard boiled eggs and some avocado, or a bowl of ricotta with some chopped almonds — instead of…well, bagels. And when I start the day way, I’m more likely to make better snack choices and lunch choices too.
As for dinner? Well I admit I’m still working on that, because everyone in my household has such different schedules in the evenings right now. But hey, I know if I spend a little more of that newfound energy meal planning for the week, I’ll succeed here as well.
4. I have less trouble falling asleep in the first place. And staying there.
I had figured that with an earlier bedtime, I might need some coaxing to fall asleep. Nope! I’m just as wiped out as every working parent by 10:30, and turns out I’ve been fighting what might be a more natural bedtime for me for years. Plus, the regular bedtime seems to have reset my body clock so that when I used to feel “ready” for bed later, I’m getting drowsy by 10 or so now.
I still tend to turn on one of the Calm App sleep stories (Danai Gurira narrating A Love Letter to Africa, or Jerome Flynn reading about Sacred New Zealand are delicious voices in my ears each night), but I’m less likely to need a dose of Advil PM to get to sleep and stay asleep.
5. I’m saving money
Funny thing about making your own coffee in the morning — you don’t feel like you have to buy one when you’re running late on the way to work.
6. I get mornings to myself most weekends.
Interestingly, I’m not waking later on weekends to “catch up on sleep” because my body seems to be doing okay on this schedule. So even while my family sleeps in more, I loooove having an hour (or more) to myself in my home with the quiet, whether I want to read, scroll my social feeds, or take a quick walk around the block just to get some air.
7. The FOMO is bearable.
Okay, so I haven’t seen Wine Country yet, I’ve been stuck on episode 3 of Umbrella Academy for a month, and I am feeling like I personally abandoned Mrs. Maisel in the Catskills on S2E4. But you know? I’ll get there. My first priority is me — with apologies to the cast and crew of these fine shows.
I know that not every parent is here yet. Young kids can keep us up and interrupt our sleep, sometimes work keeps us up into the night, and wake-up times are not always at our own discretion. (Sigh.) But It was a great lesson for me that if I do control my bedtime when I can, the benefits are enough that I’m motivated to keep it going as much as I can.
Top image: Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash