August Habit: In Bed by 10 and a July Habit Recap

+ Yay! It’s the last post of the month which means a new monthly habit and a recap of last month’s. These monthly experiments help me build healthy habits, break unhealthy ones or just learn more about myself so I can figure out what’s really essential!

Are you tired? I've been tired for a little while now... some lame jet lag, Airbnb guests, and lovely dinners that go late into the night. I think we feel and act like the days are longer in the summer and it can wear us out. True, the daytime is longer but we still have only twenty four hours and it’s just as important to power down in the evening as it is in the winter. I’ve been trying to fit more in and am feeling the consequences. I’d like this month’s habit to be related to getting more sleep.

Greg and I have read a few books on sleep in the past: The Promise of Sleep (the author has crazy but inspiring boundaries around bedtime!) and Internal Time about the effect of our individual circadian rhythms on our sleep habits. Both helped change my relationship with sleep and inspired me to take more responsibility for my time. I’ve done sleep experiments before and, since I don't sleep in well, I’ve noticed that the most important thing for me is to focus on my bedtime.

In Bed by 10 or Zzzzzzz August!
Our goal for August is to be in the bedroom by 10pm every night. With getting ready for bed and reading or journaling, this might make lights out as late as 11pm which is fine and much better than 2am!
+ For this month, sleep will be the priority over work, projects and socializing. 
+ Yes, this will mean less socializing and earlier evenings in for the month. It's only for a short time. There's one night that we already have tickets to a late show and that will be our one free pass. 
+ We’ll commit to limiting evening activities and being home by 9:30pm. 

Overall, I’m hoping to get more rest and feel more rested. It will also be nice to practice consistency in our sleep and bedtime routines. What would your ideal bedtime and lights out time be? Will you try it for a month with us? Or are you willing to try for a week?

Reflections on the July Habit: Journaling:
Hmm, I’ve had an interesting month in that I’ve been calmer than usual and my world has been more chaotic than usual. I’m feeling pretty good and I’ll give some of the credit to Journaling July! (I’ve also been meditating heavily and reading some helpful books.) The experiment was to spend a few minutes at the end of every day journaling and I managed to do it every single night in July! That’s my best success rate ever.

This challenge was a little easier than others have been but that’s a good tactic: to make habit changes small and achievable to begin with. I made myself write every night but allowed a page some nights and just a few words on tougher nights. If I had stricter requirements, I would’ve skipped it a few times. My entries weren’t as deep or emotional as they would’ve been if spaced out more but I did kind of track what was going on and how I was feeling about it. Again, with journaling, we tend to be kinder to ourselves, get more meaning from our experiences and simply get crap off our minds. As a creative, it’s one of the best ways to get new ideas!

Greg had a different experience. He wrote only about a third of the nights but had longer, more detailed entries. He also chose to write on his laptop which I think complicated things. It was faster for him to write but on certain nights, if he was already in bed, the laptop wasn't attractive. So, I think the choice of medium does have an impact on the practice. 

Overall, I’m a big fan of journaling every evening… with a few caveats! I found that on nights I was more pressed for time, journaling took the place of reading. Boo. I also think it’s most helpful if you tend to be a more emotional person… although I have a friend who journals invention ideas daily so there’s that. Like most things, you get out of it what you put into it so the deeper you delve, the bigger the shift. 

I’ll continue to journal when going through something difficult or processing my feelings. In the thick of it, it’s hard to remember the benefits but they are so there! (Still hoping it will help with my writing skills ;)