A Couple of Sleepy Resolutions

After having shared my Resolutions Planning Workbook yesterday, I thought I’d show an example of how I use it through a couple of resolutions I just committed to in 2021.

These resolutions are about sleep, both going towards getting what I deem to be enough sleep, but done in a consistent way rather than binging catch-up sleep periodically. The body can’t fully catch-up on shortage of sleep to get the same benefit as if the same amount of sleep had been spread out evenly. Lack of sleep on many days also means one can’t be as fully alert and present as if with good sleep, to bringing the same energy to things, all else being equal, to life, whether to activities and/or to other people. That energy is about as fundamental a thing as a person can bring to life to live it best, and sleep is, without doubt, the most effective way to fuel that, even more important than the equivalent food deprivation. That’s how important sleep is once you understand what the latest research tells you, and that’s why it’s worth two resolutions to me, with that goal of sufficient sleep (around 7 hours a night to minimize cognitive decline) consistently, being my number one goal of the 2020s. So with that background in mind, here are my notes for the two goals. I will make the headers of one goal red, and the other blue, to denote the difference.

 

What’s your resolution idea?

Get at least 7.5 hours of “sleep” on at least 5 nights a week. Since I can’t measure actual “sleep” time, I will consider “sleep” to be time in bed, with eyes closed, intent on trying to sleep, or at least rest well. For this resolution, “sleep” will mean that rest time (but not put in quotes), which I deem to be sufficient to get the 7 hours of sleep, because I rarely lie around long after waking up, and usually fall asleep within half an hour of being in bed.

 

Why & for whom are you doing this?

I’m doing this for myself and my health (minimize cognitive decline, maximize recovery for hard workouts), but also everyone else who interacts with me in life so they will get the best energy from me in terms of what sleep can contribute to the energy I bring. See preface for all specifics.

 

How will you know when you’ve succeeded?

I’ll be able to show I got the minimum sleep threshold on at least 71.43% of nights, or 263 nights during the 365 “nights” of 2021. “Nights” is in quotes because it’s really mostly the hours of the morning of the day, so that the night of Dec 31, 2020 will be counted as results for Jan 1, 2021. I also have experience from 2020 where I had met my goal of at least 4 nights a week, so I feel I can up my game from a trial I am doing in December (2020).

 

Why did you choose the target you chose?

If I got at least 7.5 hours of sleep 5 nights a week, in general, I would really have to lack a lot of sleep on the other two nights to end up having to binge on catch-up sleep. It should be enough consistency to eliminate or minimize need to binge catch-up on sleep, in other words. Now, I don’t track this by the week, but with this goal on my mind all the time, it should end up being as if I tracked it by the week. Any prolonged stretch of insufficient sleep will have to be made with longer stretches of sufficient sleep.

 

What must you habituate to achieve success?

A bed time routine where I am in bed by midnight on Sunday to Thursday nights because I can sleep in longer on the weekend if I were in a creative mode and want to stay up late, since I am most creative later at night, being a night owl type but needing to get up by 730 to go to work weekdays.

 

How will you form the new habit needed?

I will have a quiet “bedtime alarm” that goes off at 1130 at night, telling me I need to wind down and get ready for bed, that I won’t shut off until I am ready to go to bed. I would cancel it for the night if I were going to bed earlier. It doesn’t take me long to get ready for bed. It’s more the winding down of whatever I might be engaged in at the time.

 

What exemption from your habit will you allow?

No exceptions, really. I know I can have flexibility with a few days a week, on average, when I won’t need to meet my target so I can shift around days. If anything, I will try to make sure I only miss the target marginally, like getting 7 hours that night, rather than something less like 6 hours that will build up catch-up sleep I will have to do later.

 

How will you track your progress?

I have a daily tracker that will calculate percentages of days I had the minimum sleep so data is up to date everyday.

 

How will you be held accountable?

I have the data to hold me accountable, and donate $5 for every night I fall short of the goal ($270 on this year’s performance) to an organization I’m not exactly fond of, thought I won’t name it here. The goal, after all, is not to have to give them money, right? So if I won’t be giving them money, why complicate things to name them? Manage expectations! 😉

 

What are your levels of success?

For percentage of nights with at least 7.5 hours of sleep:

  • Gold standard = at least 5 nights a week or 263 nights in year (71.43% or more);
  • Silver standard = at least 4.5 nights a week or 235 nights in year (64.29% to 71.42%); and
  • Bronze standard = at least 4 nights a week or 209 nights in year (57.15% to 64.28%).

 

Putting it all together (aka writing a clean, final copy)

I will get at least 7.5 hours of “sleep” on at least 71.43% of nights for the year (at least 5 nights a week equivalent for Gold Standard, with 4.5 nights minimum for Silver Standard, and 4 nights minimum for Bronze standard).

  • This is for my health (minimize cognitive decline and maximize rest for running workouts), and so I can bring my best energy (for what sleep can contribute to energy) to things I do in life and people who benefit from it.
  • I will have a “bed time alarm” to help me habituate;
  • I will have a daily tracker to track progress daily;
  • I will hold myself accountable, with consequence of $5 being donated to an organization I don’t like per night on the year below the Gold Standard ; and
  • There is no exception to nights counting towards the total.

 

 

What’s your resolution idea?

To average at least 7.80 hours of “sleep” per night on the year. See definition for “sleep” being “rest time” in previous resolution, due to my inability to determine actual sleep time.

 

Why & for whom are you doing this?

See previous resolution. This is just a different way to ensure I get sufficient sleep because I can fulfill the other resolution and not get this average amount of sleep, which would defeat the goal both resolutions are contributing towards of getting sufficient sleep.

 

How will you know when you’ve succeeded?

I will have averaged at least 7.80 hours of sleep per night, always rounded down to the nearest half hour so even 7.95 hours from a given night would be counted as 7.5 hours. Of course, if I ever realize that in the morning, I would make sure to rest up until I surpassed the 8 hour mark. I remember bedtimes by the quarter hour and always round up (i.e. 11:46 PM is midnight, not 11:45 PM) to remove any advantageous rounding.

 

Why did you choose the target you chose?

From my 2020 data, I am looking at averaging 7.57 hours per night (projected with three more nights), gotten from about 4 nights per week of at least 7.5 hours per night. That wasn’t a result of a lazy effort, Upping the frequency target to 5 nights a week mathematically gives me about 7.8 hours per night, if I solve for a similar sleep volume otherwise.

 

What must you habituate to achieve success?

See previous resolution. I should also make a better effort to see if I can either sleep in a bit more when I first wake-up on the weekends, or take a few more naps then. Every hour will count!

 

How will you form the new habit needed?

See previous resolution, and the nap mentioned in the previous paragraph.

 

What exemption from your habit will you allow?

No exemption as it’s an annual average so there’ll be plenty of wiggle room for flexibility when sleep isn’t happening well, to not exempt any nights, though the idea is not to even have to use that flexibility by consistently sleeping sufficiently.

 

How will you track your progress?

Daily tracker as with all my resolutions.

 

How will you be held accountable?

I will hold myself accountable as with the previous resolution. The penalty here will be $10 donation to another organization I don’t like, for every 0.01 hours below my goal ($240 if I repeated this year’s performance), but no cap! Money will be the least of my problems if I really fall badly short on average sleep!

 

What are your levels of success?

For average hours of sleep per night, based on 7.57 hours per night in 2020:

  • Gold standard – at least 7.80 hours per night;
  • Silver standard – 7.70 to 7.799 hours per night;
  • Bronze standard – at least 7.60 hours, to 7.699 hours per night.

 

Putting it all together (aka writing a clean, final copy)

I will get at least 7.80 hours of “sleep” per night for the year (with 7.70 hours per night minimum for Silver Standard, and 7.60 hours per night minimum for Bronze standard).

  • This is for my health (minimize cognitive decline and maximize rest for running workouts), and so I can bring my best energy (for what sleep can contribute to energy) to things I do in life and people who benefit from it.
  • I will have a “bed time alarm” to help me habituate;
  • I will have a daily tracker to track progress daily;
  • I will hold myself accountable, with consequence of $10 being donated to an organization I don’t like for every 0.01 hours per night below the Gold Standard ; and
  • There is neither exception to nights or hours counting towards the total.

 

For more posts on my resolutions for 2021, please click here.

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