Goodnight, Sweetheart.

As we continue together on this positivity adventure, I realize it’s time for me to ’fess up about my struggles with a positivity practice that’s turned out to be the most profoundly impactful tool I’ve ever used to increase my own positivity.

Ready for the big reveal?

It’s sleep—specifically, at least 7 hours of sleep consistently each night.

sleepOh, I always knew sleep was important. I’d read the studies proving that proper sleep is associated with health and longevity, higher well-being, increased creativity, and better relationships.

But for the first 50 years of my life, I had a hard time getting to bed at a decent hour. It’s only in the past 3½ years that I’ve finally developed good sleep habits.

Paying the price

pp-need-more-sleepAs a result of my nightowl tendencies, I suffered all the costs of sleep deprivation cited in studies by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research: reduced levels of EQI, self-regard, empathy, assertiveness, impulse control, and positive thinking. Hits to my sense of independence, and the quality of my relationships.

Plus, I felt cranky, anxious and easily overwhelmed. And I took way longer to accomplish tasks than I should have, which only added to my feelings of frustration and powerlessness.

game-onThen a few things happened. A health scare led to lifestyle changes (I started meditating), and a friend invited me to join a team health competition (called Game On) that focused on developing healthier habits, including, yes, sleep.

The structure and accountability of Game On worked for me, and because it lasted 4 weeks, I had time to build a new habit. Which fits completely with findings I’d read by Vital Smarts scientists—that people using four or more strategies to change bad habits are four times more likely to succeed.

Rebooting bedtime

I recently returned from our family’s annual summer holiday, a time when I (mostly) kept to my regular bedtime and slept as long as I wanted. It was marvelous.

hot-bathBut now that I’ve re-entered the “real” world, including all the work that piled up in my absence, I feel my nightly routine being tested. It’s time to review the experts’ advice on optimal sleep and reboot the tactics that work for me:

  • Establish a sleep routine I enjoy and look forward to, including socks to warm up my cold feet and sometimes even a hot bath. Delish.
  • Go to sleep when I’m tired. Sometimes I feel tired early in the evening. If I push through, I’m up for hours longer. But if I give in, I enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep and feel glad when I wake up refreshed that I took such good care of myself.

A happy habit

Every night I get my 7 hours of sleep makes me happier and more optimistic about my ability to make other positive changes. As I continually remind myself: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

What about you? Ready to add a good night’s rest to your positivity toolkit? Sweet dreams!

MEIn the meantime, continue to lead your life with a focus on G.R.A.C.E. [Grow Relationships & Choreograph Efforts]…enjoy yourself and the moment…and lead with confidence!

May the (positivity) force be with you.

.. Mary Ellen (ME)

Mary Ellen Sanajko
Leadership Coach & Trainer

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