Setting a Bed Time Alarm (Science of Well-being Course Rewirement Week 4)

For Week 4 of the Science of Well-being course, the rewirement was to get more sleep, like maybe an extra half hour each night. More sleep, to some degree of sufficiency or a little excess, will boost your mood. Chronic lack of sleep also shortens your telomers, or ends of your DNA, that shortens lifespans, supposedly. It’s just not a good thing, let’s just say.

This is an area I struggle with, being a night owl and energetic enough to get away without sufficient sleep until the weekend when, without a morning alarm, my body gives in and I catch up on sleep. I used to be a marathon runner for a decade and a half so I generally far more physically tired than I am these days with just light exercise, but that’s why I can compensate for it so well with extra energy. Still, catching up doesn’t leave me with a good average, and the routine of being short on sleep until necessary to catch up isn’t healthy.

I try to get 7 hours a night in bed, which I aim for from midnight to 7 AM. Sleep is another matter. From my estimates, due to just starting to shut things down at midnight, or slightly after, I get about 6.5 hours a night in bed on Sunday-Thursday, getting up for work the next day. Of that time, I probably get about 6 hours of sleep between time to fall asleep and bathroom breaks from which I sometimes have trouble getting back to sleep. On the weekends, I may get an hour more of each.

I try to be aware of the clock late at night, but it never works very well, for some reasons. Something about I think that I can get something done in the time left before midnight, or start something to have momentum for the next time, or just enjoying whatever I’m doing, ruins my good intentions before long, and often. I needed something that was psychologically more meaningful.

Given Creativity is my #1 Signature Strength, I thought about it and came up with setting a “bed time alarm” on my Google Home Speaker! It goes off at 11:15 PM, reasonably quietly so as not to startle me if I were in the zone and had forgotten about it. While its relatively low volume means I can ignore it easily, it’s constantly there until I tell it to turn off, which I won’t let myself do until I have stopped whatever it is I am doing and start preparing for bed. It’s a nice balance between not having to disrupt my life much just to turn it off, nor put up with an unnecessary annoyance, and having it nag me until I shut down whatever it was that I was doing. I have already tested it with a 15 minute overrun last night to try and get something I wanted to have done, but I still got in bed by 11:40 PM and got about 50 more minutes of in bed time, and sleep, than what I was averaging before!

After only 4 nights, I definitely feel better at work already! While I am not usually tired at work despite this chronic lack of sleep that builds up during the week, I do sometimes feel like I have to get some adrenaline flowing to compensate for it. That’s not hard for me to do, but it’s a nice feeling when I don’t have to do it like on Mondays after having “caught up” on sleep during the weekend. I actually feel better overall than those Mondays, even, because I am running on excess sleep compared to before, never mind just caught up on it. I will definitely be keeping this “nudge” I have created for myself that is small in action, but huge in impact, to the point of being life changing in a subtle, but hugely beneficial way!


To see more posts related to the Science of Well-being course, please click here.

And click here if you want to register for the Science of Well-being course, by Professor Laurie Santos, free on Coursera!

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