I owe you a blog post. Several, actually, but let’s not get into that.
A few weeks ago I posted here about an experiment in personal change.
This was an attempt to change one of the things most ingrained in my daily life: my sleep patterns.
I’ve been a reluctant sleeper for as long as anyone can remember. My mom likes to say that I was born at 10:00 at night and ever since then it’s been my favorite time of day. She remembers sitting in the doorway to my nursery when I was a toddler to make sure I didn’t climb out of the crib as I stood, shaking the bars and screaming like an inmate who’s been denied parole. That’s a pretty good picture of how I usually feel about having to go to bed.
My dad has the same issues with sleep that I do. Even worse, actually. When Drew was born it was clear that he got his sleep gene from the LaGrone side. (Thank God!) My mom, when observing that we could put Drew down in his crib and he would peacefully chat with his stuffed animals and hold his blanket until falling asleep, said in a bewildered way: “I just didn’t know babies could do that!” The look in her eye showed a hint of PTSD at the memories of years of sleep deprivation that I caused.
I’ve come to the gradual realization that the time of day I like to be most awake and active (10 P.M. to 2 A.M.) doesn’t quite fit with specific times of day my baby and husband and my church need me to be alert and fully present, not groggy or crabby because I stayed up half the night. No matter how many times I’ve made goals of getting more sleep, those always seem to fall by the wayside around 9 P.M. when my adrenaline peaks and my need for alone time is met for the first time all day.
Motivating myself just wasn’t working. I needed some external help, some accountability and a daily reminder of my goal.
Enter loopchange.com, a tool that helps people make one change at a time. You pick a “mission” and post about it every day for 21 days, while other members cheer you on or give you gentle nudges when you’re not meeting your goal. You, in turn, keep posted on their missions and give them shout-outs of encouragement as well. I liked the community aspect, and found it helpful to post each night just before turning out the lights to stay on track.
I won’t say I met my goal every night in the 21 days I spent on loopchange, but I probably got more consistent sleep in those 21 nights than anytime since… actually I have no memory of a time in my life I’ve gotten consistent sleep for that many days. It felt good. And strange. Sometimes like I was missing the best part of my day. But sometimes like I was at my best during the hours I really needed to be.
I would love to say that I’ve been sleeping full nights since then. I’m writing this post at midnight, so that should tell you I didn’t automatically transform into a morning person. I’m pretty sure I never will. I did learn that I’m capable of the discipline it takes to act against my ingrained nature, to do what does not come naturally to me for the sake of the greater good, and I think that is an invaluable tool when it comes to making even more serious changes. I think it even gives me faith that I have the ability to resist the temptation to go with my flawed instincts rather than follow God’s instincts for what glorifies Him and benefits me and the people I love.
Sleep may not seem like a very serious subject to talk about changing, with all the possibilities for things that need change in people’s lives. Just know that no, it’s not the worst flaw I have. Ask my iHusband and you’ll find out there are many other things about me that could bear changing (but only if I get to ask your spouse or closest friend about yours and post it on the internet.)
This happens to be the area that needs change I’m willing to share about in this public forum. It’s the one I’m starting with in a desire to make changing things that need it a pattern. It’s the one that I think could be a tipping point, since discipline in one area of life breeds discipline in all areas.
I’d love to say more, but for now… it’s time to go to sleep. Good night.
Have you ever made a big change in your habits or patterns? Or do you know someone who has? What helped make a difference?