My first Happiness Project activity was to go to bed earlier. Shutting down the computer, turning off my iPhone and leaving it in my study, resisting the urge to vegetate in front of mindless television, having an early warm shower and then going to bed read a book before sliding into a peaceful sleep was my goal. The thought of waking up without the assistance of my alarm clock, throwing back the covers and then bounding into the new day, revitalised and enthusiastic was definitely something I felt would kick start my course into happiness.
The first few nights I did need to make a conscious effort to go to bed earlier. I enjoy being able to get stuff done in the evenings without interruption. But my aim is to be happier not get stuff done, so I shut down the computer, turned off my phone, ignored the television and went off to shower by 9.30. By 9.45 I was in bed with my book in my hands and immediately I felt happy. I was asleep by 10.15 and then woke up around 6am. Close to eight hours of sleep and I must say, I felt good. Getting out of bed was easier, I was organised and unrushed, my children were greeted with their favourite breakfasts and there was no mad last minute rush out the front door. I actually did feel happier. I realise now that my mood is affected by time. If I’m running late, I can become quite stressed and agitated. And this agitated state could easily set the tone for my day.
But being able to get up easily after a good night’s sleep, I basked in my ability to get beds made, laundry done, hair blow dried and even make-up applied. I felt like a good mum with a clean home and good hair.
By night four I succumbed to watching a favourite show on television which put my bedtime back by one hour. I also needed to get up earlier to get my son to an early morning tennis lesson. I felt the ninety minutes or so less sleep for the entire day. Even though it had only been a few days, I had grown fond of my new earlier to bed routine and was keen to get back to it.
According to the results of one study, a bad night’s sleep was one of the top two factors that upset people’s daily moods (along with tight work deadlines). Another study suggested that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for your daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise.
I’m not sure about the $60,000 raise as I can’t yet quantify getting more sleep but what I will say is that I have certainly felt some benefit from getting more sleep. I have realised that I am a morning person. Give me a good night’s sleep and I am like an efficient machine – one day I even had dinner into the slow cooker before breakfast! Plus an extra benefit, I think better. My career is my writing so being able to sit at my computer with the words flowing has been incredibly exciting.
So, am I happier getting more sleep? Why yes, I think I am. Can I sustain it without falling back into old habits? Time will tell.
Tomorrow I start my week two happiness activity – exercise. That should be interesting. See you then.