What Happened When I Stuck to a Bedtime Routine for 30 Days

10/07/2017

It wasn’t until the second half of my twenties that I started struggling with sleep. I can remember a time when I actually slept for 17 straight hours, and I only got out of bed because my alarm clock went off and not because I wouldn’t have kept sleeping. Suddenly, my lifestyle changed and kept changing and the occasional bout of insomnia started creeping into my life. So after years of resisting, I decided to stick to a bedtime routine to see what would happen.

I took it on like a challenge. I even did a bit of research to find out what is involved in getting started with a bedtime routine since I really hadn’t used one since childhood. The moment my mom stopped saying “get ready for bed,” I stopped watching the clock to dictate the moment I’d hit the pillow.

So for 30 days, I kept a strict bedtime routine to see if the difference would be as big as they say it will. Here’s what I learned:

• Consistency is the name of the game – I set both a bedtime and waking time and stuck to them every single day – even weekends. This was probably the hardest part of it all because I’ve become used to going to bed when I feel ready and waking up late on Saturday and Sunday mornings. That said, by the end of the 30 days, it was starting to feel very normal and it was far easier to do. I was getting tired by bedtime and wasn’t dragging myself out of bed when the alarm went off.

• Lighting is important – To help teach my body clock about bedtime and waking time, I started dimming the lights about an hour before bed. I also shut off all my screens – which was excruciating at first. That said, I did start reading books again which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. In the morning, the first thing I did when I got out of bed was throw open the curtains to get some daylight into the room. I firmly believe that light exposure played a large role in helping my body to adjust to the new routine.

• No snoozing was allowed – Until now, I’ve been a snooze button addict. However, with the new routine, I just pretended that the snooze button didn’t exist. The one day I did use it, it was a lot harder to get out of bed than any of the other days, so I started taking my rule very seriously. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to get up.

• Insomnia didn’t totally disappear – By the end of the month, I found that I was getting a better quality of sleep than I usually do. I also slept far more full nights than I had in years. Still, at the start, it was tough getting used to the new routine. It was as though I had jet lag. I used Somnaprin to make myself restful so I could sleep. Since this challenge, I’ve kept up my sleeping routine for the most part. I still have the occasional struggle with sleeplessness and will use that supplement when it happens, but those instances are now few and far between.

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