This productivity tip is simple and free. Yet I ignored it for years! This was a game changer for me, and it can be for you, too!
There have been times over the past few years when I’ve felt like I wouldn’t make it through the day.
I struggled to complete my to-do lists. Several times, I was late to (and even missed some) appointments. I was grouchy and short tempered with my children.
My productivity as a wife, mom, homemaker, and business owner suffered.
At first, I blamed it on new-mother syndrome. Birthing three babies in four years meant I spent six and a half years either pregnant or breastfeeding. This translated into late nights, early mornings, and uninterrupted sleep for years on end.
There was a clear, logical reason why I spent so much time wandering around like a zombie.
But what I didn’t realize then was that bad habits I had started in my teenage and college days only escalated in this new season of motherhood and even worsened–instead of getting better–when my children exited the baby and toddler stage and (hallelujah!) began sleeping through the night.
Simply put, I was sleep deprived.
And it was all my fault.
No joke: My mother claims she would keep me up until midnight when I was an infant, so I would sleep in until noon the next day.
I didn’t have a bedtime as a teenager, and I would stay up until the wee hours of the night, devouring novels and writing bits and pieces of stories in my journals.
In college, I chatted away with friends during the daylight hours, and I pulled all-nighters to complete my school work.
For the first few years I ran this blog, I treated it similar to my university assignments: I thought I could care for my family by day and write and run a business by night.
But there was a problem: The 35-year-old Erin simply cannot make it through the day on less than seven hours of sleep.
(Yes, I know some people can survive on less, but I’ve learned that I have poor energy levels with fewer than eight hours of sleep per night, and I simple can’t function on less than seven.)
Everything came to a head about a year ago, when I realized I was dangerously close to crashing. Diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, I took a long and hard look at my health and realized something absolutely had to change.
The number one change was simple: I had to get more sleep. The only way to do this was to get to bed earlier.
While we were in Costa Rica this past summer, I got more sleep than I had in years, and something miraculous happened. I felt like a whole new person.
Whereas, before, my judgement clouded and I had trouble focusing throughout each day, I began to think clearly again and experienced a renewed energy.
And it didn’t cost me a penny. I simply went to bed at a decent hour.
Although I still fight my natural tendency to stay up later than I should, I now have a much firmer grasp on my limits. Since my children don’t have to be at school until 9 a.m., I am able to sleep in until 7 or even 8 a.m. if I slip up and stay awake past midnight, but I’ve learned that it’s just not worth it.
Most nights, you will find me in bed between 10 and 11 p.m., which is a huge improvement compared to my previous bedtime of between 1 and 3 a.m.
The Key to this Productivity Tip: Accountability
Just seeing the results of how much better I feel with more sleep hasn’t been enough to keep me from staying up too late at night.
The key has been accountability.
A dear friend and one of my blogging “BFFs,” Beth of Red and Honey, and I have both struggled with adrenal fatigue and sleep deprivation.
Although we live thousands of miles and a country apart (she’s Canadian!), we talk almost daily via text message, and we have both encouraged each other to break our bad sleep habits and go to bed earlier.
Beth has taken it a step further and has recently started a FREE Go-to-Bed Challenge on her blog.
Her readers can sign up for the 21-day challenge, which includes daily email encouragement and an accountability group on Facebook.
Knowing I am not alone in this challenge has been half the victory, and winning this battle with sleep deprivation has been oh.so.sweet.
Want to sign up for Beth’s FREE challenge? You can do so here.