I wanted to tell you a story about me, Africa, and a lesson that took a couple of years to sink in…
So in 2011, I visited Uganda, and during my time there, I taught a time investment class to local young leaders. (That’s me in the photo at right.)
I shared about all sorts of things from the reality of the Dynamic Priorities Model (those of you who have read chapter 4 of my book know what I’m talking about) to the importance of routines.
Then we got to the Q&A, which I found absolutely fascinating because travel opens your mind up to different ways of looking at the world and broadens your perspective. This experience in Africa was no exception. I appreciated many of the comments and questions. But at the time, I didn’t understand the validity of one person’s comments in regard to sleep. This is what he said: “We sleep when sleep comes.”
I didn’t say this out loud, but in my mind I was thinking, “What?! You sleep when sleep comes. That’s ridiculous. You must have a bedtime routine that goes by the clock.” At that point, my personal experience matched my perspective because like clockwork, I would start getting tired around 10:45/11 p.m., go to bed, and wake up at 6 a.m.
However in the last few months, I noticed that I wasn’t sleeping as regularly as usual–sometimes I would have trouble falling asleep or Iwould wake up feeling groggy after my alarm had been snoozing for 20 minutes. So I decided to experiment with a different strategy thatwas more aligned with the wisdom shared with me in Africa:
1) Instead of having a set time when I got ready for bed, I turn off all the overhead lights so that I just have dimmer task lighting on in the evening. Then when “sleep comes,” meaning I start yawning, I start getting ready for bed whether that’s 9:45 p.m. or 11:15 p.m. I’ve found that when I begin my wind down when my body says that it’s ready to sleep instead of a clock, I fall asleep much more quickly and deeply.
2) Instead of setting my alarm for 6 a.m. and having it go off every five minutes, disrupting the end of my sleep cycle, I’ve started to set my alarm for 7 a.m. This means I naturally wake up at the right time before it even goes off–sometimes that’s 5:45, 6:15, or 6:32 a.m.This has lead to waking up feeling much more rested and and not “off.”
Now over to you: If you’ve been struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, I would like you to experiment with the above two strategies for at least one night and leave a comment below with your results. Some of my time coaching clients have already been trying these strategies with success!
About Real Life E®
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of the Year by Stiletto Woman.