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A site by Josh Short

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Getting Better Sleep: Part I

The past two months (and realistically my entire life) I’ve been fighting sleep deprivation. It’s slowly spiraling out of control. It’s not that I only sleep three hours a night; I generally get about six hours. After months of this it really takes a toll on you. A week ago I finally got fed up with it and decided to do something about it. I couldn’t have expected the results I got.

I made a list on my phone called “Ten Ways to Get More Sleep” and told myself to start with a couple of them and see how it goes. Over the past week I’ve gotten more sleep than any week I can remember. By day four I realized I want to make this “a thing” for me, make it work and then share it with you.

For the next four days I’m going to go through one thing I’ve been doing to get better and more sleep. On Friday we’ll revisit everything and talk about next steps.

Today’s topic is on tracking sleep.

Tracking Sleep

Tracking your sleep was one of the more ridiculous things I had on my list. I thought, “how will that ever work?” Instead I realize now that this is the single most important part of getting more sleep. Having myself track each day when I went to bed, when I got up and some other information I’ll get to in a second encourages me to get more sleep. Last night when I was starting yesterday’s post I decided instead of staying up even later that going to sleep was going to allow me to write better today. I did not want to let myself down and write a lower total sleep hours than I needed to.

To track your sleep can be really simple. In fact, I encourage that. The less steps the better because you don’t want any excuses available to you so you have a reason not to track. I put mine in a Google Spreadsheet. This way I can pretty much always access it. I can log my sleep in the morning while I’m at home, during the day when I get a spare minute at work or when I’m pacing around HomeGoods with my wife looking at seasonal wreaths for the 8th time that month.

If you want to start super basic then make one column with the date and one with the hours you slept. I want just a little more detail for me.

Mine is broken up into these nine columns:

  1. Date
  2. Hours of Sleep
  3. Starting Time (when I fell asleep)
  4. Wake Time
  5. Ranking of Sleep (arbitrary number 1-10 of how I felt my sleep was)
  6. Mood Upon Waking
  7. Energy Level During Day
  8. Caffeine During Day
  9. Other Notes

Sleep Tracking

This gives me all the information I need at a glance to see what is affecting my sleep and what are my results from my sleep. My “Other Notes” column is crucial for me. Here I note down how I slept like how many times I woke up, was I restless, etc. I also note how my day went and any other note on how sleep affected my day or the other way around.

Starting to track your sleep is my number one tip on getting better sleep. It’s easy to do, doesn’t take much time and you see the results almost immediately.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the most no-brainer topic when it comes to getting better sleep and see if you’re doing it.

Have you tracked your sleep before? What do you do different? What do you like about my method?

– Josh