If you are like me, and can’t seem to get yourself to get to bed at a decent hour then this post is for you. In order to stay a sane parent you need your rest. This is especially important on weekends when you are spending 95% of you day entertaining your kids.
At night, after the kids have finally gone to bed, you want to relax and do the things you like. But sometimes getting that free time doesn’t come until its already late in the evening and you know that if you stay up any later you wont get enough sleep and you wont be able to function well the next day.
I am always struggling with getting myself to go to bed at a decent hour. For some reason whatever it is, my body refuses to go to bed before 12:30. Some nights I am up until 2am. I hate it. However, it’s the only time during the day that I get to read, watch movies, play time-wasting computer games, and so on. If I go to bed early, I don’t get to do those things.
On the other hand, the short and long-term benefits of going to bed early outweigh the short-term pleasures of staying up late. Here are just some of them benefits:
- More hours of sleep
- Feel better
- More strength and stamina
- Perform better
- Better attitude
- Think clearer
- Less stress
- And more
However, what if you are like me and for some reason you just can’t get yourself to bed early. You know that every morning you regret staying up late. You might get upset at yourself for not having any self-control. Why is it that you just can’t get yourself to bed on time?
You see, the whole issue of going to bed early has to do with accountability. Even if you tell yourself that you must get to bed on time at a decent hour there is nothing stopping you from staying up late again. It happens all the time with me. I wake up exhausted and get annoyed at myself for staying up late. I resent my behavior and decide that I am going to be in bed by 11:45pm the following night. However, when my bed time rolls around I simply push it off until 1:30 and wake up exhausted and annoyed the next morning.
Its all about accountability. Its not like you have someone standing over you making sure you do what you said you would. Why is it that if we have a meeting we need to get to by a certain time we have no problem being on time? You show up on time because you are accountable for your actions. You don’t show up, you will get in trouble with your boss. If you don’t come on time to work, you will lose your job. To get yourself to bed on time you need to do something that would cause you to be held accountable for your actions.
After searching the web for months and not finding any help in this area I put my mind to a solution that works most of the time.
I write myself a mini contract requiring me to go to bed by a certain time and I sign it. I take a small piece of paper from a notepad and write the following: “I, John Doe, will go to bed at 11:30 tonight.” Then I sign my name on the bottom. Sounds so simple yet its so powerful.
There are two reasons why this works. The first reason is that you write down that you want to go to bed at a certain time. The very act of writing it down may be enough to get you to do it. Writing things down holds more weight than making verbal declarations. The second reason is your signature. If you respect signed contracts, then that signature should hold you accountable for going to bed on time. Because you signed it, when the bed time draws near you are not going to push it off. You signed a contract with yourself. If you push off your bedtime then you broke the contract.
While this technique might work for you, there are some things to be aware of:
1. Don’t do this every day because it may become second nature and as a result you’ll slowly start to ignore it. If that happens it means you’ve fallen into a bad practice of ignoring your own contracts.
2. Make sure to write this contract in the morning or daytime. Otherwise, if you wait until the evening chances are you won’t want to write it and you’ll end up staying late and waking up lousy the next day.
3. In order to avoid contract violations, because of not going to bed at the time you’ve written down, consider changing the wording of the contract to allow for some wiggle room. Try writing something like “I will be in bed around 11:30″ This way if you go up to bed and still have to use the washroom and get changed it will be alright if you end up going to bed twenty minutes or so later. Just make sure not to make it a habit because twenty minutes could easily become thirty and then forty and so on.
This post was submitted to the August 6 2007 Edition of the Made to Be Great – Personal Development Carnival hosted over at Made to Be Great and the August 12 edition of the Personal Development Carnival hosted over at Shards of Consciousness.
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