Friday, April 27, 2012

Coming in May: Sleep Challenge

This is me with Ruthie in January 2007. I had an excuse for missing sleep back then.

A co-worker and I were talking a couple of years back about the little quirks and tics of some of the other people we work with. Most of the things we were coming up with were things that annoyed us. I asked her, "I wonder what they would say about us."

"Well," she replied, "you're kind of funny about sleep."

Funny is one way to put it. Obsessed is another.

I love sleep. I've never done any formal or informal testing to try to determine the amount of sleep that's ideal for me, but based on past experience my guess is somewhere around 8-11 hours in a 24-hour period, depending on how much I'm running.

Since I had my kids five years ago, I've gotten nowhere near that amount. At first, of course, with tiny babies, there really wasn't much choice in the matter. You get what sleep you can, when you can. But once my kids grew out of that newborn stage, they got to be pretty good sleepers pretty fast. Sure, we have lapses, when one is sick or when my son is on a bedwetting jag. Sometimes they have a nightmare or need help in the bathroom overnight. But mostly we can count on them to go to bed around 7:30 p.m. and sleep until 6:30 or 7 the next morning (my daughter, a morning person like me, gets up with the sun, so this time of year she's up on the earlier side of that).

So why am I still not getting enough sleep (my occasional problem with insomnia aside)?

Because I haven't made it a priority. Once the kids are down, I like to putter on the computer, hang out with my husband (a total night owl--this is the only way in which he and I are ill-matched), read or (lately) do physical therapy stuff that I didn't get done earlier. By the time I head to bed, it's often after 10 p.m. and sometimes pushing 11 p.m.

Now, I think, is a good time to start pushing my bedtime to where it really needs to be: 9 p.m., or 9:30 p.m. at the latest. This is the time that will allow me to rise comfortably for my workouts at 5 a.m. and give me a nice extra cushion on mornings where I don't have to do that.

So my challenge for the long month of May will be to go to bed by 9:30 p.m. on nights when I have to wake up early the next morning, which is usually three or four days per week. It will set up good habits that will carry over when I return to running and training for races, and it will be better for my health overall.

How much sleep do you need? Are you getting it, and if not, why not? Care to join me in May to try and change that?

All you have to do is email me your sleep goal (which may be different from mine) by the evening of April 30 (next Monday). I will check in with you via email every week to see how you are doing. At the end of the month, I'll have a small prize for the person who comes closest to meeting his or her goal.