Sometimes, in life, you just have to take one for the team... Well, being the team player I am and because I care about my readers I decided take this challenge head on!! Now, no one could blame me for sleeping on the job! Oh, the things I do for you all... So, when deciding to become a mini Rip Van Winkle I had to determine what the most accurate amount of hours were adequate for me considering my age and level of health. Since I was not pregnant or a toddler I could get by with less hours than most. According to the Mayo Clinic, as an adult (in age only) I needed approximately 7-8 hours a day to fulfill my requirements.
As much as I liked this idea I found it difficult to believe I could actually make it happen. First off, I am a night owl and held the belief that I was more productive as the evening progresses. By committing to 8 hours I would have to most likely cut my evenings a little shorter to account for the hour or two I would need to make up. Secondly, being self diagnosed with "Restless Body Syndrome" I wasn't convinced I could actually sleep eight hours straight. In the past, if I got 6 hours consecutive I would rejoice.
Understanding the challenges above, I still chose to commit my focus on getting 8 hours of rest each day in hopes of answering these 3 questions.
1) Could I consistently get 8 hours each day? - As I mentioned above, being a 'night owl' and having "ants in my pants" could possibly make it harder than I originally thought.
2) How would it effect my concentration? - From the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in addition to playing a big role in immune function, studies have linked adequate sleep with improved memory and concentration. Learning this great tidbit of sleepy trivia I was eager to put that evidence to the test. Over the last several months I had noticed that I was experiencing small but noticeable memory slips with simple information like names, song titles, to-do lists etc... This was a little off putting considering I have made a living on teaching others techniques to improve their memories.
3) Would I "feel" healthier? - I understand this is a bit subjective, but before committing to this experiment I noticed that I was not as energetic as what I would consider my typical David Shoup self to be and I was extremely interested in changing that observation.
In order to make this happen I considered doing these 3 things:
1) After reading www.healthyfashionista.com I chose to take advantage of a couple of her "Sleep Hygiene Tips" like unclutter my bedroom and stop using my computer 1 hour before going to bed.
2) In order ensure I got my daily hours I gave myself a curfew each evening that I tried to keep. This would almost certainly guarantee I made it happen each day.
3) Some mornings I was not able to get all the hours in consecutively so I was open to the idea of taking naps during the day to compensate for the missed time. This wasn't too bad since there are some really nice benefits of napping.
I know that you are sitting on the edge of your seat and waiting for the results of this experiment so, here are the answers to my above questions:
I am very proud to say that I was able to (for the "team") keep my commitment and sleep well for an entire 30 days!! I am not surprised, but my concentration has significantly improved. Ironically, it was during this restful month that I decided to commit to several experiments at a time. Now, rather than a couple a month, I focus on six to ten 30 Day Experiments each round and as a byproduct have accelerated my productivity exponentially. Lastly, I really do feel much better and thanks to this experiment my focus has greatly improved and my memory seems to be sorting itself out again. Who knew that a good / great month of sleep could have such a profound effect.
Lesson: Health, clarity and focus is only a good night's sleep away