I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that a bad night of sleep often leads to a bad — or at least a very difficult — day. Yesterday’s minor inconveniences — the slow driver ahead of you, the far-away parking spot, the lack of available treadmills at the gym — are today’s minor catastrophes, and I know that I at least am irritable, unproductive, and inattentive. It’s far more likely that I end a tired day feeling frustrated, crabby and unfulfilled instead of peaceful and accomplished.

Obviously this does not do much, long-term, for my happiness.

It is now past 7 p.m. and I have been awake since 3:00 this morning. I have the third trimester to thank for that — but it’s amazing to me how much harder it is for me to cope with sleep deprivation now than it has been in the past. (Cue all the just wait till the baby arrives! comments. — Well, yes, I know I’ll be tired then, but he’s not here yet!) It’s been a really long day.

(source)

Anyway, observing my reactions and behavior today vs. my reactions and behavior on a normal, well-rested day has reiterated to me (again) that it’s really important for me to be getting as much sleep as I can. Obviously, as the weeks tick by I’ll have more sleepless nights; I doubt I can prevent this. But I can do some things that will help to alleviate the misery I experienced today.

First, I said last month that one of my goals at the start of this year was to find a way to get up on time. So far, I’ve failed miserably — and I think I know why. It’s stupidly simple: I go to bed too late. I know that the easiest way for me to get up early is to just go to bed early, but I find this much harder in practice than in theory. If, during my pregnancy, I need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep, I need to be asleep by around 10 p.m. So why is it that I so often find myself watching TV or reading blogs at that hour instead?

I’m not going to bother getting into that (answer: because it requires so much less self-discipline). Being happier, it turns out, requires more effort than I often want to put in! So I’m going to try to give myself some help. I don’t think I will get very far when it comes to embracing joy if I’m irritable and constantly yawning.

  • First, I’m going to do something really basic that’s worked for me in the past, and set up a reward system for going to bed early. If I can be in bed by 9:30 every weeknight next week, I’ll choose a small reward for myself — another skein of sock yarn. With Presidents’ Day coming up on Monday, it’ll be a short work week, so hopefully this will be the easiest sock yarn I’ve ever earned.
  • Now, to make it a little easier for me to actually get to bed on time, I’m going to turn off the computer by 8:30 and the TV by 9. This way I can have a little time reading in bed instead of dragging myself upstairs exhausted at the last minute.

Admittedly, these things sound pretty simple, but there are times in life when we need to (figuratively) head back to elementary school and reset our habits. I know I have a lot of sleepless nights ahead of me, and I don’t want to head into motherhood more sleep-deprived than I need to be. So wish me luck in the next few weeks — and keep your fingers crossed that my insomnia doesn’t end up derailing all my efforts.

(Lastly, despite my fatigue today, I did manage to make progress on my least-favorite chore at work, and I finished a baby legwarmer! [Baby legwarmer!])

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