Sleep Habits : My Journey to Better Sleep


The History of My Sleep Challenges

It’s been a long journey to better sleep habits.

Over a period of 13 years, there have been several major events that have cauused me to have challenges with my sleep. While there have been other events, the following have been the most significant ones.

  • After the birth of my first son

Like every parent, the birth of my first child was a baptism of fire. I wanted to be an engaged parent and to make the most of the opportunities to bond with my son. So I took an active role in the feeding & changing routines whever I could.

  • When I started working on a side hustle in addition to my day job

After having my first son, I knew I had to quit my day job. I wanted be around and not miss out on his childhood. For me this meant working on my own terms. So I decided that I needed to be working for myself before he turned 3 years old.

  • When my wife died

The first 2 challenges were obviously planned for. To an extent, I was able to reconcile the sleep challenges based on the assumption that they would be finite in duration. With the death of my wife, my whole life got turned upside down. I was feeding our new born through the night, supporting my then 3 year old eldest son and trying to figure out what the hell just happened. I barely slept for the first 7 months and most of that was on a sofa.

Deciding to develop better sleep habits

3 years after my wife died, I started to intentionally focus on my well-being. The initial part of my focus included nutrition and movement. The one thing that I hadn’t really paid too much attention to was my sleep. But as I started to look into my well-being from a more holistic perspective, one of the things that kept cropping up was the importance of sleep.

As I read more of the research and examined my own sleep habits, it seemed that sleep was potentially one of the most significant contributors to maintaining a good physical, mental & emotional well-being.

I started to ask the following questions.

  • Is there really a global sleep epidemic?
  • If so, how much sleep do I really need?
  • What things can I do to ensure that I get enough sleep?

Following all my research, I decided to develop better sleep habits. To the extent where managing my sleep became a fundamental part of my daily well-being & resilience habits & rituals.

For the most part, the sleep experts agree on the fundamentals of the importance of sleep and on the things that we can do to improve it.

But like many things when it comes to well-being, sleep is a really personal thing. Our personal circumstances, work situation & family life etc, will have an impact on implementing suitable well-being & in particular sleep habits.

Building better sleep habits

For me, it hasn’t been about taking exactly what the experts have said and replicating them word for word in my life. It’s been about experimenting through trial & error and eventually finding something that sticks.

It’s taken me some time to figure out the right balance of sleep habits for me. Some of these things will indeed not be suitable for others, whose lifestyles and family circumstances are different to mine, and that’s just fine.

What I would encourage others to do, is to take a look at the sources of information for yourselves. Go through them & put together the simplest plan possible and give it a go. If something doesn’t work, fine. Try something else and keep going until you find something that works for you.

This is your well-being and so no one can really tell you exactly what it is that you should do. Only you can figure that out for yourself.

Here are some of the daily habits & rituals that I do most days to support getting a good nights sleep:⁠

  • I have a “power up” ritual at the start of every day which includes meditation, breathwork & yoga
  • I go outside as early as possible in daylight for at least 15 – 20 minutes
  • I nap or rest late morning or early afternoon for no more than 30 minutes
  • I move regularly throughout the day
  • I mainly don’t eat at least 3 hours before ⁠my bed time
  • I rest for short periods of 10 -15 minutes throughout the day
  • I have a “power down” ritual an hour before my bed time that includes yoga, journaling, meditation & reading⁠ – I don’t use devices of any kind during this time
  • As my sleep chronotype is a lion, I go to bed between 21:00 – 22:00, including weekends⁠
  • My phone has a do not disturb schedule from 22:00 until 2 hours after I wake up⁠
  • I wake up at the same time, including weekends and almost always before my alarm goes off⁠

Obviously things happen in life that sometimes mean I don’t follow this exactly and that’s okay. But for the most part this is what I stick to.

For those of you that have read James Clear’s, Atomic Habits, it’s the system and the environment I’ve built at home that has enabled me to implement and stick to these habits.

What bedtime habits are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep?

What could you do today to change that?


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