Do you feel like you never get enough sleep? Whether you’re looking at the clock and it’s way later than you intended to go to sleep, or your alarm is going off and morning has come way too soon, you can organize your time so you make sure you get the sleep you need.
While many physical and emotional factors can interfere with getting enough sleep, it could be organizing your time differently is the fix you need.
People usually think about time management as a way of getting more done, not getting more sleep. When you organize your time, you’re really working to schedule your priorities, and getting enough sleep should be high on your list. You wouldn’t believe the memory, mood, health and safety risks caused by sleep deprivation.
Try these four simple steps to help you get enough zzzzz’s.
Countdown to Sleep
- Determine how much sleep you want. (It’s recommended that adults get seven to nine hours per night.)
- Use the time you need to wake up to countdown to sleep. The time you need to be out of bed and moving lets you know when you need to have lights off and be asleep.
- Consider how long it takes to get ready for bed. This includes physical preparations like brushing teeth and putting on pajamas. It also should include anything you need to do to wind down to actually fall asleep. Do you read, do a relaxation technique, or something else to go from lying in bed to being asleep? How long does that take?
- Turn the lights off when you intend to, or maybe even a few minutes before.
Say you want to sleep eight hours and need to be awake at 6 a.m. That means you need to be asleep at 10 p.m. If it takes you 15 minutes to get ready for bed, plus another 30 minutes to read or relax before you fall asleep, you’d need to be in bed by 9:30 and starting your bedtime routine at 9:15. That assumes you’ll be asleep the minute you turn the lights off. If you know you need to lie there for 15 minutes in the dark, schedule accordingly.
If you don’t want to go to bed at that time, how could you change the formula to get the sleep you need? Can you wind down in less time? Can you change what you have to do in the morning so you could sleep later? Do you need eight hours of sleep, or would 7 ½ suffice?
Keep working backward from there. Are there things you need to do before you start your bedtime routine like cleaning the kitchen, prepping lunch for the next day, etc? What time do you need to start that to ensure you are getting ready for bed by 9:15? What time would dinner need to be so you’d have time for clean up or any after-dinner activities?
Keep Yourself on Track
Knowing what time you should be doing something and actually doing the thing at that time is not the same thing. While you’re building your new routine, give yourself all the support you need to establish better habits. Put on some relaxing music or sound fifteen minutes before you should start your nightly wind-down. Maybe you get tempted to watch another show, thinking it’ll only put you about thirty minutes behind. It’s likely you’re not calculating the cleanup, wind down, or other steps that might add up to getting you to bed one or two hours later than you intended.
How do you keep yourself on track? Set alarms. You’ll notice that’s a plural – multiple alarms. Set an alarm to interrupt your automatic pilot and remind yourself when you’re most likely to get off track. Your first alarm can remind you to do the daily wind-down instead of watching another show, having a snack, or deciding to skip your nightly yoga or cleanup. Your next alarm can remind you to start your nighttime routine. You might even have a third alarm that goes off a few minutes before you’re supposed to turn off the lights. Beware of the distraction that your phone might be if you’re using it for your alarms. It won’t help if you told yourself to stop the shows at 8:30, but then you get sucked into the rabbit hole of social media when you turn off your alarm.
More Sleep Help
If it’s not just time management that’s preventing you from getting enough sleep, check out these Twelve Simple Tips to Help You Improve Your Sleep from the Sleep Division at Harvard Medical School.
Need more than sleep tips to help manage your time? I can help. Check out my time management coaching services, or contact me to talk about how I can help you organize your space, time, or just be happier.