I know your life. I used to live it.
You go to bed dog tired. Your alarm rings in the wee hours of the morning like a jolt of electricity. You force yourself out of bed and stare lifelessly at yourself in the mirror; convincing yourself to get motivated for another day.
You down a cup of stiff coffee to perk yourself up and finally the day doesn’t look so bad. Now you face the overwhelm, the deadlines, the demands.
At the end of the day you wonder if another life would have ever been possible. You have vague recollections of a younger you, that used to dream. Now you’re rooted in reality. This is your life. There’s no changing it. You scoff at those who say “if you just focused for 20 minutes a day, you could create a different life, a better life. Maybe you could influence change in the world. Do something. Write that book. Leave a legacy of lives you’ve touched behind”
Who are the people who say this anyway?
They don’t have your life. You barely have a moment to breath, and if you don’t get that precious relax time to watch a bit of TV at the end of the day, you’ll never fall asleep anyway.
I feel your pain. I used to live it.
As an influence expert, I often work with people who want to create something better, influence change. The most common complaint or barrier I hear is “How do I find the time to work on…?”
Here’s the kicker. Living the life of your dreams requires action. Otherwise you’re just dreaming.
What if you could write the book? … start the new company? … change your life?
So where do you find the time?
While I’m not a sleep expert, I do know that getting yourself out of bed in the morning is a great start. And it’s not just about getting yourself out of bed, but how you get yourself out of bed that makes the biggest difference.
The early hours of the morning are scientifically proven to be one of your most creative. Your left brain is not in full over-drive, allowing your right brain to come forth and create. I’m amongst many writers and business owners who aggressively guard my morning hours as my best creative time.
So that begs the question of how much sleep do you really need. OK, I can hear you huffing in exasperation and see you rolling your eyes.
“But Teresa,” I hear you say. “If I don’t get my full 9 hours, I’m a wreck all day!”
Consider that it’s not a question of how long you sleep, but on when you how you force yourself awake that makes you tired. There’s now overwhelming research to show that a person can function reasonably on a single sleep cycle (usually about 3 hours) and feels well rested after 2 good cycles. The proviso is that you must wake up and, more importantly, get up, in between your sleep cycles. Allow yourself to fall back asleep and force yourself awake in the deepest part of your sleep cycle and you’ll feel tired all day.
Creativity out the window.
Want more awake time? Here’s some important tips.
1. Invest in a Sleep Cycle alarm. The easiest way is to download one of the apps. There’s several good ones. They’ll monitor your sleep and naturally wake you between sleep cycles.
2. If you’re practicing waking up early, use the wee hours for something gentle and creative. My favourite early morning past-time is to pull my lap top in bed and write. OK, not so practical if your partner is a light sleeper. But alternatively try snuggling up on the couch with a throw and cup of Chai and see what pours forth from your heart to the keyboard.
3. Make sure your emotional state is clean. Unresolved issues or things left un-said that are festering will keep you from falling asleep. So get your emotions cleaned up and have those tough conversations before bed.
4. Finally, don’t give up. The first few times you try it you may find you’re needing to go back to bed. No matter what routine you’re creating, from exercise to a new job, the early days always require a bit of struggle. So give your body some time to adjust. You’ll find there’s an amazing world of creation on the other side.