Who’s a Good Adult?

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It is a little weird to think that as adults we need to go through sleep training. Like, is that not what we did as infants and throughout our entire lives? Sleep is not something that we could have just ignored through our life, it is vital to our existence. With that in mind, you would think that as an adult, we would be pretty good at it. As much of an expert as you may think you are, and that everyone else should be, you might be surprised to learn that about 27%of Americans have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

For as far back as I can remember I have not slept throughout the night without waking up. Usually, I am able to go back to sleep right away, but I do not think I have ever gone a night without waking up. As of recent, I have found that it has been difficult to go back to sleep once I wake up, and because of that I spend a good portion of my day complaining that I am tired. I hate waking up and not feeling refreshed and ready for the new day ahead, so I considered giving sleep training a go to see if it might help.

Now the most obvious thing to do when you are feeling tired after a long day at work and little to no sleep the night prior to is to get to bed a earlier than what you normally would, right? At least, that is what I tell myself – get to bed earlier than usual, I will have more time to sleep. Usually, I do not fall asleep no matter how tired I feel. I tell myself that is okay; I can just lie in bed and relax while watching some television until I doze off. As it turns out, this is not the best thing to do. If you get to bed early and fall asleep – that is great – however you are more likely to wake up much earlier than you normally would. It seems that you would be stretching your sleep out too much, which in the long run can cause you to lose more sleep. So again, sleep training crossed my mind.

Firstly, I just want to mention that if you are having trouble sleeping the best thing to do is consult your physician before trying any other alternatives. I am no expert, and I never want you to think that, so if I may – please take everything I say with a grain of salt. As of now, I am just doing research into this and actually have not actually started this process!

And now back to regular programming – I suffer from anxiety, so sometimes it is difficult for me to fall asleep. I think to myself, ‘go to sleep, you’re tired, this should be easy,’ or ‘you need to go to sleep, why are you not asleep yet!?’ I have tried the sleeping pills, and while that put me to sleep almost instantly, I still woke up a few times throughout the night. Recently, I was watching snapchat videos from one of my favorite makeup guru’s and she has going through sleeping training with her toddler daughter. It worked beautifully for her and her daughter, and that got me thinking – maybe I really should try this whole sleep training thing after all.

So it looks like this is a two step process. The first being you do what you normally do, except you keep a sleep diary. You are going to want to notate when you get into bed, at about what time you fall asleep, how many time your wake throughout the night, how long were you awake for, and finally when you wake in the morning. Create a schedule a stick to it – when you go to bed and when you wake up, it needs to be the same time each and every day. This is known as sleep restriction and it will help you in the long run. This method is supposed to gradually increase the amount of fatigue that you feel throughout the day and essentially train the body to sleep when you get into bed.

As you are sticking to the schedule that you set for yourself, you are going to then calculate your sleep efficiency score. You do this by first totaling how long it took you to fall asleep and how long you were awake for each time you woke up throughout the night. You then take the total and deduct it from the number of hours you spent in bed – meaning from when you actually got into bed to when your feet touch the floor first thing in the morning. Now you know the total number of hours that you were asleep for. Take that number and divide it by the number of hours you spent in bed, and the number multiplied by 100 will give you your sleep efficiency score. Continue doing this for the week, and at the end of the week add up the hours you spent asleep, divide by 7 and you have your sleep quota. Your sleep quota determines the amount of time you need to spend in bed, so plan your new bed time and wake up time around that.

The second part of the process is to stick to your sleep quota! It sounds easy, but when it comes time to actually put in the work, you may find yourself having trouble. Do your best to avoid naps throughout the day as it will disrupt your sleep schedule. If you wake up through the night and are having trouble going back to sleep, the best thing to do is to get out of bed and do something that helps relax you. Do NOT put on the television or hop on your computer to do some work or pay bills – that is completely counterproductive.

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From that point on, it is mostly trial and error – seeing if the process works or if it is a complete and utter flop. If you try this I would love to hear about your results, or if you have already utilized this tactic I would love any pointers that you can provide!


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