Thanks to a neuroscientist on a new podcast I’ve been listening to, I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep. There was plenty I didn’t realise about those important hours in bed! By making one simple switch to my sleeping habits so many things in my life have suddenly become a whole lot easier.
You might have heard a few people raving about Joe Rogan’s podcast since he had Elon Musk on the show—which by the way is a great listen if you’ve got a spare 3 hours—but, the other day I discovered Episode #1109 with Matthew Walker. Matthew is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology who specialises in sleep.
He talks about how sleep is actually an activity, despite what you may think, sleep is in fact a SUPER active time for our brain. While we sleep, our brain is preparing itself to to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite.
Left with a lot to ponder after listening to the episode, I walked away with one big lesson above all:
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday.
So for the last month, I have been going to bed at 9:30pm and waking up at 6am on the dot every day. This is what I’ve learnt:
#1 Waking up early gives me time to accomplish things before I even get to work
If you’re like me, you may struggle to fit your hobbies/friends/exercise into your schedule on top of a 9 to 5 job every day of the week. I find this particularly difficult to manage being a creative person who will wake up with a new idea or plan to make something only to realise I don’t have the time.
Waking up early means I suddenly have more time and it’s me time. The bonus is that all of my housemates are still asleep, so I get to potter around the house doing whatever I please and no one is around disturb me!
#2 I rarely feel unrested and I don’t need an alarm
Something I’ve always suffered from is anxiety that I’ll sleep through my alarm or maybe I’ll snooze while I’m half asleep a dozen times and be late to work. It’s especially nerve wracking when you have something important on like a job interview the next morning, an appointment or a flight to catch.
The good news is, now that I’ve been sticking to my sleep routine, my body wakes up at exactly 6am. It’s actually freaky how precise my biological clock has become.
It also means I don’t wake up feeling unrested anymore. I never wake up groggy, I hardly want to snooze another 10 minutes, and I feel super alert for the whole day. Another great way to harness this superpower is to leave all technology (including your phone) outside your room while you sleep — the blue light from screens can upset your the depth at which you fall asleep and how rested you become.
#3 I never skip breakfast anymore
Before I started this sleep routine I would usually just eat a piece of toast for breakfast once I got to work. This usually meant by midday I was starving and by 3pm my brain had completely checked out of the office and gone on a holiday to lounge in the sun and drink margaritas.
Having extra time to eat and energise before work means I can wake up and feel fully charged before heading into the office. Plus it’s a pretty tasty perk. I’ve got time to make dishes that rival the best Sunday brunches.
#4 My mental health has improved sooooooo much
Before getting my sleep pattern steady, my mental health had been pretty bad. I was depressed, suffering from stress and anxiety, and finding it really hard to feel excited or happy about anything.
While this sleep routine isn’t the only cure to that, I know I’ve been feeling lighter and less anxious since starting out. Having extra time to relax and focus on the things that make me happy feels like I am treating myself everyday. I’m crossing things off my to-do list before my working day even begins. I’ve seen so many benefits — I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my old ways again!
Sleep is so important for your health and wellbeing. Make time to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep one night make time for a nap later that day. Trust me! It’ll change your life.