This is a fantastic guest post by one of our readers, Nancie Ox, about how changing from a night owl to an early bird impacted her life.
Like many others probably reading this post, I believed I was a night owl for a long time.
And this term alone seemed to cripple me in many ways, it wasn't just a label. It wasn't just something that described the way I love the evenings, it eventually became like a barrier, limits which lead into my procrastination of sleep.
That's a weird thing to hear, procrastinating sleep?
It's odd because many people don't believe sleep is a thing that needs to be done in the first place, so how can it be procrastinated, but seriously, after starting university in a city that is 2 hours away on the bus, sleep becomes a very important part of your life. The same way that someone packs their rucksack or duffel bag for camping, I had to sleep for facing uni the next day, and making sure I could carry that energy with me productively.
I became so identified with this label of being a night owl that I started to live a life style of 'good enough'. Which in hindsight, wasn't even good enough! But I would continuously push the boundaries, believing to myself 'oh it's okay, I've functioned with 4 hours before', or because I only had a 2 hour class the next day I would allow myself to steal from the hours of the night with the mindset that I could always make up for it tomorrow.
Although it technically could work, I could come home and crash in my bed again, and go back to sleep, it was becoming so disrupting to my life that I just started feeling sluggish, lazy, unmotivated, and that procastination spread to all areas of my life. I put off homework, research, and this idea of 'good enough', of being just 'functional' was severely impacting on my life. I hadn't even noticed this!
When I finally became aware of it was when I had to go on a trip. For the purpose of this trip I had to wake up very early, but also because it was a trip I had to enjoy my experience and be 'all there'. So I naturally had this new priority which made me go to bed early to wake up early, and for the first time in my life I had surprised myself.
Because the commencing week, and weeks after even when I got back from the trip, I had found that my new sleeping routine had made me feel 10x, if not 100x, better in all areas of my life, and because of that it had stuck.
I am not joking when I say it not only made me feel lighter, more energetic, stronger, but it also immensely improved my mood and mental health. I could think better (in fact I noticed I thought efficiently and barely had any background chatter/worry), I could work better, I could get up and do things, and I had the brain power to even inspire myself.
So I definitely came to the conclusion that the idea of the night owl is not only full of myths, but is also a crippling label itself, and people who identify with it are letting go of their own power to enjoy their life. And to enjoy, that is an active verb, not a passive.
One of the things which I did when I changed my sleep routine to help me sleep earlier was I created a time limit for going on the computer. I told myself I could do anything else after, it didn't have to be 'bed time', but that I had to get off the computer at x time.
That way, I would learn to not associate getting off my most addictive distraction with the negative, daunting feelings of having to sleep. But that I could still stay awake but do other things which would naturally wind me down. Such as read, write, or listen to music on my iPod.
Another thing I did was I found this cool program you can download on your computer which naturally dims the light and gives it a sunset effect as it gets darker in the day; because the blue light on our screens force our brains to stay awake instead of naturally getting sleepy. This program is called f.lux and can be downloaded here: http://justgetflux.com.
I started having dinner earlier, also. It is important to eat enough so you don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night, but also eat early enough so you're not having a burst of energy just before you go to sleep.
Though I think the thing that helped me most was this realization that I am not a 'night owl' and I am not doomed to live an uncomfortable awkward life because of my 'disposition'.
And this shift in mindset helped me to harness back my own power to give myself the basic things I know I deserve, and everyone deserves.
Thanks for reading! This is a guest post by Nancie Ox.
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