Eight Hours

I know a good goal is supposed to be measurable, be written down, have an end date, be specific, and all that. And generally speaking, my goals are.

But for the last two years, I’ve made a goal that had none of these qualities. Each year, it was just a small thing I wanted to do to change the way I live my life daily.

Last year, I wanted to start eating breakfast. I have not been much of a breakfast eater. I tend to feel pretty sick in the mornings (it was particularly bad in high school, when I would be curling my hair or putting on makeup and then suddenly have to spend five minutes laying on the tile floor to avoid throwing up all over myself; in the last couple of years, it has become fairly rare, to my great joy), and food didn’t appeal to me at all.

Now, I eat breakfast virtually every day. I can’t think of the last time I’ve skipped breakfast. I feel better in the mornings; my eating throughout the day is more regular. It’s fantastic.

This year, Bart and I both decided we wanted to get more sleep. We are kind of terrible at staying up late, doing nothing, and then cursing ourselves the next morning. We often joke, when the clock is ticking towards midnight on a weeknight, “Is tonight the new Thursday?”

Over Christmas vacation, I read an article (thanks to Ashley for the link) saying that your happiness would be increased more by an extra hour of sleep than by a $60,000 raise (and you know me and money; can you even IMAGINE how happy an extra $60K would make me?). I thought, “I could really do with some more sleep. I’m sick of feeling exhausted all the time, of waking up and thinking, ‘how soon can I get back to bed?'” and I decided that this would be my life-style changing goal for the year.

Since the beginning of the year, I have gotten 8 hours of sleep most nights. I feel kind of stupid that it’s taken me so long to put a priority on sleep. That I’ve let mindless Facebook or Google Reader browsing take away hours of sleep.

It’s easy to feel like going to bed makes the day too short, that I get less time to do the things I want, but when I wake up and don’t want to die, when I wake up and can get ready, make lunches, straighten the house, do the dishes, and get my stuff together before leaving for work on time, it seems a small sacrifice to make.

And when a giant crash from the apartment above woke me up at about 5:00 a.m. this morning (no idea what it was), I didn’t think “ACK! I’m only getting 5 hours of sleep tonight and you’ve now robbed me of 15 minutes of it!” and then hyperventilate about not being able to get back to sleep. I just thought, “Six and a half hours down, ninety minutes to go.”

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  • Reply Jessica January 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I've been going to bed around 10 since November, and I love it.

    You nailed it right on the head: it's not like you DO anything with those precious latenight hours anyway. Might as well bank them in bed and get up early with more motivation!

  • Reply RA January 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I just finished The Happiness Project, and the author's very first resolution on her way to becoming happier was to get more sleep. She cited a study that suggested, "getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for a person's daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise." To that, I say, WHOA.

    Good on you!

  • Reply Tara January 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I have to get my 8 hours or the world is in trouble because I am a grumpy toad. I usally try to be in bed by 9 so I can read for an hour and go to sleep at 10. Spence has insomnia or something and can't settle down until midnight most nights plus he does homework after we all go to sleep. We set our alarm for 6 but don't usually wake up until 6:30. That was my doing because I need to prepare myself to wake up. I am not a morning person.

  • Reply Jennifer Lee January 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I agree with you and all your comments–getting enough sleep is vital to my success during the day. Having a baby ruined my sleep for many, many months, but I think that now that we are on track with a full night of sleep that I am a noticably happier person and can enjoy my family more.

  • Reply Lady Susan January 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Getting enough sleep is something (thank goodness) that I have never had to struggle with–meaning, it has always been a priority. I just *don't* function on anything less than 8 hours. Period. For a long time, I wasn't sure if this was a blessing or a curse, it seemed as though people were able to get much more done than I was. However, I ended up being less stressed and happier.

  • Reply Emily January 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Great goal! I realized a long time ago that sleep is vital to my happiness, particularly 9 hours if I can get it. What can I say, I'm a sleeper! Right now I get the best of both worlds as a pregnant, jobless wife because I get to stay up late and still sleep. But don't worry, that life of luxury is about to come crashing down in three months. I'm kind of terrified of what sort of monster I will become when deprived of quality sleep…

  • Reply Packrat January 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Wow – I can relate. Always got up feeling sick and often passed out (usually almost did). (Still do sometimes, and I'm over fifty.) When I was high school, Mom made me eat breakfast. It was all I could do to choke it down. Before I got married, I told my husband-to-be that he was on his own for breakfast.

    Some of your schedule of staying up late and wanting to sleep in is your biological clock. It will probably change as you get older.

  • Reply Jeanelle January 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I love this goal idea. I am very hit and miss when it comes to sleep (mostly my own fault but every so often, I just can't fall asleep.) But last night was heavenly because I was in bed and reading before 8 PM and asleep by about 8:45 PM. Loved it. And if you make those cookies from the blog you recommended yesterday, tell me!

  • Reply Lisa January 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Sleeeep! I love sleep. But I don't love naps. I can happily go to bed at 8:45 every night and not feel like I'm missing anything, but an hour nap on Sunday and I feel like I totally wasted that time. I usually get 8 or 9 hours a night as it is, and I wouldn't trade it.

  • Reply Meg January 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    GASP! I didn't know other people went through the whole, "I feel sick and throw up in the mornings," thing in high school! That IS my story! I'd eat breakfast and then go down to get ready and boom. Throwing up.
    I feel like we're somehow kindred spirits.

  • Reply Jess January 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    What a crucial thing to prioritize! So glad you've been able to do it. Now that I work from home I get so much more sleep than I ever did before and it makes everything SO much better.

  • Reply Julie Anne January 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Janssen you always inspire me so much with your goal setting. I love that you share about them because it motivates me so much! I have learned a lot from your posts!

  • Reply TheMoncurs January 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    You're staying up too late talking to meeee

    Back when I was really sick I was going to bed at 7 or 7:30 to avoid the late night nausea kick and, even though I still felt like barfing in the mornings, I still got tons accomplished and life felt so much more ordered and lovely somehow. Enough sleep makes ALL the difference.

  • Reply Ari January 23, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Oh that is so good that you get your 8 hours of sleep.

    I need 8 hours of sleep, no one really gets it, I had an ex that used to give me a hard time for wanting to go to sleep early but I'm cranky when I get less than the whole eight hours.

    But lately I've been spending far too much time playing on the computer instead of getting sleep. I really need to quit that. I think you just motivated me, thank you!

  • Reply G January 23, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Sleep is one of M's and my new goals this year too! In addition to other obvious benefits, I find that I eat better when I get enough sleep. Being short on sleep seems to trick my body into thinking it is hungry all the time and it makes me crave sugar more too. Anyway, good luck to us all!

  • Reply megan January 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Now that is a goal even I could try to live up to, assuming my sleep isn't interrupted by my SIX year old (not baby) waking me up several times a night. When that happens (REGULARLY) my only comfort is that even though I've been awake for an hour here and an hour there during the night, I still get 2 more hours sleep than my husband, who wakes up about 4. Why I rejoice in knowing I have more sleep than him, I don't know. I'll have to make a goal to be more well-wishing.

  • Reply Jaclyn January 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    It really does make a world of difference getting more sleep. I've woken up ahead of my alarm three days ina row. Magical–

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