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.
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
As 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.
Then 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.
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.
But 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!
In 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