If you’re tired of reading productivity articles that tell you to set your alarm for 5am every morning because that’s what the most successful people in the world do, don’t worry. This isn’t going to be one of those articles.
Today, I want to talk about a different kind of alarm. A ‘go to bed’ alarm.
Most adults, especially if they have kids, don’t get to collapse gratefully on the couch and finally have time to themselves, or hang out with their partner, until 8pm or 9pm.
And we all know how comfy couches are. Once on one, it’s really hard to get up. Especially if you’re watching Designated Survivor like we are. Combine a good end-of-show cliff hanger with a great couch and what you get is two people going to bed much later than they should.
The later ‘go to bed’ time is seldom offset by a longer sleep-in in the morning. Which means we’re entering the next day slightly sleep-deprived.
Slight sleep deprivation – getting an hour less than you need every night – leads to daytime drowsiness, hormone disruption (can cause weight gain) and impaired immune function (you get sick more easily).
As it’s very difficult to catch up on sleep, if we’re subjecting ourselves to slight sleep deprivation every night, this adds up to chronic sleep deprivation over time. And we all know the effects of long-term sleep deprivation. It:
- Impairs our ability to make good decisions.
- Impairs our ability to learn new things, and also gets in the way of consolidating the things we’ve learned into our memory banks.
- Makes us irritable and our brains feel ‘foggy’.
- Impacts our ability to get work done in an effective and efficient manner.
- Affects our ability to solve problems.
- Affects our approach to problems. (We feel victimised by problems instead of seeing them as part of life.)
The problem with slight sleep-deprivation turning into long-term sleep-deprivation is the effects are not sudden. They happen in a slow and insidious way. So much so, we start to think the way we are operating under their effects is ‘normal’.
We need to remind ourselves that it’s not normal to:
- Be increasingly forgetful.
- Be irritable and snappy all the time.
- Spend three hours on jobs that used to take you 90 minutes.
This is where the ‘go to bed’ alarm comes in handy.
Studies have shown that mindfully setting an intention, like ‘I will go to bed at 10pm tonight,’ makes it much more likely you’ll do it. Setting an alarm to remind you of that intention is extra reinforcement.
Again – it’s a mindfulness thing.
When the alarm goes off, it forces you to reflect on the ‘Why’ of going to bed at 10pm. You’re reminded that it helps you escape the undesirable effects of long-term sleep deprivation.
The coolest thing about the ‘go to bed’ alarm? If you decide to ignore it, you’ll be doing so mindfully too. You’ll be more likely to notice the effects of the later sleep time the next day. And less likely to ignore the ‘go to bed’ alarm two nights in a row.