Over the years working for myself, and setting my own schedule, I’ve watched my sleep patterns get all out of whack time & time again. I’ll be on a good rhythm for awhile, but then I’ll travel, have a major deadline, or simply be totally in my groove and in the creative flow, and next thing I know I’m only getting only a few hours of sleep every night, or I’m on some crazy 3am to 10am sleep schedule.
Now a 3-10am sleep schedule may be fine for some, but as I’ve matured, both in life and in my business, I’m more acutely aware of how my sleep schedule affects my energy, mood & productivity; all three of which are crucial when you’re supporting yourself doing what you love!
When I notice patterns, I like to explore and get curious as to what’s driving the behavior.
– What am I really longing for?
– What am I afraid of?
Instead of allowing a self-defeating pattern to play out and affect my life, how can I get clear on what I want–effectively coaching myself–to create the experience I desire. Easier said than done! But I’ve created awesome new habits before, and I’m up for the challenge.
Step One: Clarify your intention
My goal is to integrate new habits that support me in feeling awesome physically (energy), emotionally (mood), and mentally (productivity).
Step Two: Identify the pattern
One of the key factors that plays into my late night, self-sabotaging cycle is that I actually don’t like going to bed early. Knowing that, my self-coaching process went something like this:
Me: I don’t like going to bed early.
My inner coach: “Why?”
I don’t want to wake up early.
I don’t know. I don’t really want to be awake in the morning when it’s dark and cold. Something about it seems boring and I’d rather be snuggled in bed.
“What time would you like to wake up?”
I’d like to wake up at 7am every day.
“Is that happening right now?”
No, because I keep staying up till 2 or 3am.
“So what time do you wake up when you stay up till 2 or 3am?”
If I’m lucky I can sleep until 9 or 10 to at least get 7 hours of sleep, but that usually never happens, because of noise, or light, or early morning meetings, so then I’m only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
“And that’s not working for you?”
Because I wake up groggy and tired. I feel behind on my day already. I have less energy to get up and get things accomplished (exercise, projects, housework, etc.).
“And how does that make you feel?”
Behind. Tired. Fuzzy. Mad at myself for not getting myself to bed earlier.
“Why didn’t you go to bed earlier?”
I didn’t want to go to bed.
I guess because I had gone out, or worked all night, and I just wanted some time to chill.
“Even though you knew it might mean sleeping in later the next morning or not getting enough sleep?”
Well, at the time I don’t really care. I just want to watch some shows and not think about anything else.
“Sure. You’ve had a long day, so you deserve some time off, right?”
Ya. I want some time to myself… to feel “normal.”
Not having a million things to do… decisions to make, places to be, everything relying on me to make it happen.
“I can see how you need some down time to recover from that. It sounds like that time is also a little bit of an escape for you?”
Totally… except when I’m on this schedule I tend to do it all over again the next day… and I’m tired! So I don’t really feel like I’m recovering.
“So you’re seeing a pattern here that’s not really working for you… how does that make you feel?”
Out of control. Off my game. Mad at myself for not being someone who can get myself to bed earlier.
“What kind of person do you want to be?”
I want to be someone who crawls in bed with a book and goes to bed at a normal time. I want to wake up early, feeling awake and amazing, and be super productive throughout my day!
“Have you experienced that before?”
Totally and I love it!
“So you actually like waking up early? Because earlier you said you don’t want to wake up early.”
No, I do… I guess I just don’t like going to bed early.
And herein lies our pattern.
Patterns are habits we’ve formed, most often through
unconscious thoughts, that then produce behaviors that stick.
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So, how do we produce new behaviors? We create new behaviors through uncovering our unconscious thoughts, and forming new pathways through conscious, intentional thought.
Step Three: Reveal your unconscious thoughts
For me, I make lists. I challenge myself to get clear on a belief by writing down 10 truths. In this case, I’m challenging the conflicting thoughts that are creating a pattern I’m not happy with:
– I don’t like waking up in the morning.
– I want to wake up earlier.
Which (finally) brings us back to the title of this post…
10 Reasons Why I Love Waking Up Early (and why I want to start loving going to sleep earlier)
If you’re interested in doing something similar, know that this exercise is just a stream-of-thought, get-everything-out process. Some may seem similar, but in writing these down, each of them are different enough to me to warrant a new line of feeling truth and exploration.
- I feel best when I wake up by 7am.
“Why?” I don’t like still being in bed at 9am, especially on a day I want to work and get things done.
- I love waking up feeling wide awake, happy, refreshed and alive!
“Why?” When I go to bed late, I wake up groggy, feeling behind, and stressed I didn’t get enough sleep. And that’s usually because my morning hours are always interrupted by noise and light!
- Waking up early gives me more time in the morning to do things I love, like go for a run, or hike. Do yoga or meditate. Journal, write or read. Just reading these gets me so excited to make time to do them! But when I wake up late or tired I don’t feel excited to do them. I almost forget my love for them entirely.
- I want to never feel like I need coffee! Sometimes when I get off on my sleep schedule I start craving coffee, and it’s a crutch. I’ve been off coffee, and I definitely don’t ‘need’ it. I want to feel naturally awake and bright-eyed! I want to juice instead.
- I will make more money & be more successful. I will be more productive from the get-go, and have more working hours to get stuff done.
- It helps me stay healthy, physically. I am able to stave off colds and sore throats. Plus my skin is clearer and healthier, vs dry/sallow/unhealthy looking skin & breakouts.
- When I get enough (good) sleep, I am mentally clearer, and more emotionally stable. I don’t get caught up in my own mental cycle of feeling behind, or beating myself up for feeling groggy/lazy/tired. I can make better decisions, faster.
- I feel more in control of my life. I have choice. I’m taking an active role in my life/future.
- I feel like I’m on top of it. Ahead of the game. Peak performance. Cutting edge. Kicking ass.
- I love the idea of crawling into bed with a book and reading a little bit every night. I don’t read as much as I’d like, and this would be a way for me to get through more books; fill my mind and heart with knowledge, insight and spiritual/emotional perspective. My dreams would be more intentional and on track with the thoughts & concepts I want to focus on vs TV (e.g. Breaking Bad or Newsroom political drama).
The Weird Fears that Stop Me
Where there is light, there is darkness, and in my quest for clarity around this behavior I wanted to uncover the fears – irrational or not – about what was holding me back.
“What are some of your fears or dislikes about going to bed early?”
(Note, these are things to be compassionate about.)
- I like proving to myself I can. Because I’m an adult.
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
“I don’t wanna!”
- When I was a kid, I didn’t really having anyone putting me to bed early, or at consistent times.
- I want to check out. Watch another show. Escape/avoid responsibility. Feel like a normal person.
- I’m afraid if I go to bed early, I’ll always be the girl who gets tired early. And then I’ll never be able to stay up late again. This challenges my own perception of who I am: “I like to party, and stay up all night. I’m the energizer bunny! You can count on me to stay until the end. I’m a night owl.”
- I’m afraid of change. I identify with being a night owl who sets my own schedule and can sleep till whenever I want.
- I don’t like feeling tired, so I fight it. I don’t want to give in to it. I want to win.
Try to list out 10 truths/feelings on your lists, and feel free to list out more if they keep coming. If you’re not able to get to 10, that’s fine too. You can always add more later, as you’ll find once you start listening and clear some of the surface ones off the top, you may open the space for a few deeper-seeded thoughts to arise.
Step Four: Integrating & Creating Change
As I said earlier, creating change is way easier said than done. We are creatures of habit, and we’ll always have an underlying conviction, or persona, that wants to hold on tight to the way it is.
In step one we set our intention, which is really our WHY. In step three we dug deeper into that why. Not only why it’s happening, but how we feel about it. What we like, what doesn’t feel good, what we REALLY want, etc. Our minds have a funny way of conveniently forgetting what we really want when faced with stepping out of our comfort zone.
The Best Life-Hack I know: Listening & Compassion
After you’ve revealed some of the unconscious complexities at the core of your pattern, you’ll want to implement triggers that bolster your accountability. These can be as simple as:
- Posting a large post-it or sign on your wall or TV, with your key why’s that you can glance at [to remind yourself] when you feel the hesitation or old tapes playing
- Setting an alarm on your phone, with a detailed reminder of your intention & why’s
- Having an accountability buddy to check in with
- Creating a routine that supports your plan (e.g. hot tea > jammies > book)
Most importantly, however, is that you keep listening & have compassion for yourself! I go into this in great detail in my “How I Found My Way Back to Running” post. Essentially, you must stay conscious to the tapes that are playing, and not beat yourself up for having a hard time in the beginning.
Take baby steps. Watch where it feels hard. Befriend yourself through the process. Change won’t happen overnight, but with patience and determination, you can create the life you want!
Shining a light on unconscious thought patterns
is key to ensuring they don’t run your life.
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Do you struggle with funky sleep patterns?
What would support you in feeling awesome physically, emotionally, and mentally?
What’s the new habit you want to create in your life?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
I’ve written a number of posts about forming new habits, as a commitment to Creative Sustainability & self-care. This is my first where I reveal some of my own self-coaching process, and I hope by sharing my self-dialogue it helps others out there.
If you feel you’d benefit from having a coach walk you through this process, to clarify your goals and reveal some of your unconscious thoughts creating patterns that aren’t serving you, schedule a complimentary consultation with me and let’s talk.