30 day sleep challenge the results

30 day sleep challenge results

In my last post, I promised I would write this post to wrap up the sleep challenge blog post series.

I expressed that I would tell you:

  • The one struggle during these 30 days that has been undocumented
  • The effects of the habits that I have tried on my life
  • What I will certainly bring from this experience to the rest of my life
  • An incredible story which will explain why I’ve been a little mysterious about the reasons for me staying up, researching online and working on my computer at night.

In this post: I’ll solely address these two questions:

  • The effects of the habits that I have tried on my life
  • What I will certainly bring from this experience to the rest of my life

At the bottom of this post is the link to the blog post about the other two questions. (Or here, for you impatient people)

In this post, we’re gonna dive deep into the habits, findings, insights and data of my 30 day sleep challenge.

The contents of this post

Here’s a couple of links that you can click in order to see the content of this post as well as skip down to the section you’re most interested in. Or just read all of it, from the top down, of course 🙂

Are you ready?

Let’s dive in:

The four fundamental habits during these 30 days

I created this challenge with 4 fundamental habit changes or patterns in mind:

  1. No more screens 1 hour before bed.
  2. No more coffee after noon.
  3. Rest more during the day: go for a 15 minute walk to relax, without your phone
  4. Use my thoughts consciously before bed to focus on the things I’m grateful for in my life.

The results: How did I do?

If I go over all of my days and create a graph of how many days I reached my 8 hour sleep goal and each of these “habit goals” we get this:

  • Got 8 hours of sleep: 27%
  • No screens the hour before bed: 43%
  • No coffee after noon: 87%
  • 15 Minute walk to relax: 57%
  • Being consciously grateful at night: 33%

FitBit sleep chart of the last 30 days

What you see here is the hours of sleep per night over the last 30 days.

Th first 4 days, I reached 8 hours on 3 of those. Then there’s a lot of “almost made it” and some more 8 hour nights (usually in the weekend).

Towards the end (around day 20) things started to go downhill.

I picked back up after august 20th before finishing with a couple shorter nights of sleep again. (But due to pretty cool reasons ;))
fitbit-30-day-sleep-challenge-results

Lessons learned from these 4 habitual changes:

Lesson 1: Being free of external impulses the hour before bed is the best thing ever for me.

The goal here was to be free of external impulses in my brain and just be with my own thoughts in order to calm my brain down before going to bed.

It’s incredible to notice how much more calmly I go to sleep after really taking a full hour at night to relax, mentally.

A lot of times I would close down my laptop, set an alarm on my phone for the next morning and go outside for a walk.

During this walk I would just let every thought run and bounce through my head for the first 1 to 30 minutes. (Depending on how excited or worried I was in my head.)

After that period of letting my thoughts run freely, I would start paying much more attention to the environment around me.

Then, I would sit down somewhere for about 5 to 10 minutes and start focussing on the rhythm of my breath. Four seconds in – four seconds still – four seconds out – four seconds still – four seconds in … et cetera.

Any time I would catch myself thinking about something I would just notice it and kindly direct my attention back to my breath.

Then, I’d walk back home.

At home, I’d sit down and read a few paragraphs of the book I’m reading right now.

I would go to sleep and feel so much more relaxed, so much calmer. Because what I’d usually do when I’d be laying in bed: Just letting my thoughts bounce back and forth, trying to calm down… I had already gone through, the hour before bed!

Lesson 2: Not having coffee after noon gives me peace of mind that I’m doing the right thing.

I was able to not have coffee after noon almost every day. It has actually been a habit of mine for much longer, because I know the effects of caffeine on the brain.

It was easy for me to stick to this habit.

Even though I don’t notice a huge change when I do or do not drink coffee after noon, I know I’m doing the right thing and that gives me peace of mind.

There’s factors that have a much bigger influence on my sleep, which I will get to in a moment, but it is no reason to discard the importance of cutting out coffee after noon.

Lesson 3: Taking the time to relax and stop being in a work-mode all day is really beneficial for being able to focus in the afternoon.

This is basically what (lunch) breaks are for 😛

But as some of you might recognise: You can still be “working” on your lunch break. Be it literally, eating at your desk, or in your brain, thinking, and worrying about stuff to do.

Really creating a 15 minute timeframe where I leave the lunch and/or work environment and go outside for a walk, without a phone and without a specific route or goal is very beneficial for my ability to stay focused, later on in the day.

It’s important to carve out this timeframe outside of the usual breaks to emphasise that this is a time where I’m really free. I don’t have to eat. I don’t have to work. I don’t have to get something from the store… et cetera.

It is a way of giving my brain a complete break during the day.

I admit: It is very hard to really take 15 minutes to be completely away from work. I can come up with so many reasons why I have no time! Meetings, deadlines… That’s why it’s so important to commit myself and be accountable. That’s why I announce it on my blog and social media that this is what I’m going to do for 30 days. So I’m much more likely to stick to it.

But taking a break in the middle of the day is a great way for me to return to work later with more focus and dedication.

Lesson 4: I can’t expect results if I’m not clear on my goal and I’m not consistent in the exercise.

So the last habit was: Use my thoughts to be in a grateful space before going to bed.

The result of this undefined goal was that I didn’t really know what I was going to do and how I was going to do it.

So I just created some rules along the way and had trouble estimating whether I was reaching my goal or not.

So the obvious lesson here is one of goal setting:

The clearer the goal or the habit, the easier it is to implement, stick to it, measure it and hold myself accountable.

It would have been better to commit myself to a certain type of gratitude exercise, with a certain timeframe. And there are tons of exercises available online.

All other 3 habits require some sort of physical discipline. “Go walk”, “don’t pick up your phone/laptop”, “don’t go and pick up a cup of coffee”.

This fourth one, however, is purely a mental discipline.

Regardless of the fact that this “gratitude habit” was not clearly defined, it was also the habit that required the most discipline to implement. (Because it happens at the end of the day, it’s easier to think “oh well I should better go to sleep now instead of taking time for this et cetera.)

So the lesson here was: Defining a super clear goal is vital if you want to be successful and hold yourself accountable.

The most important lesson I’ll take with me for the rest of my life

This was definitely the 1st habit: “No screens the hour before bed”.

Not only will I implement this as much as possible for the rest of my life.

I will also continue to keep going outside or to any calm place inside to relax, meditate and read at night.

It’s pretty vital for me to combine the screenless hour with positive behavior like meditating.

Because… I can easily spend an hour before bed, without a screen and still feel horrible.

It’s all about what goes on inside my head that counts…

The real reason for starting this 30 day sleep challenge

“It’s all about what goes on inside my head that counts.” – A great line to segway into my other blog post about the “undocumented struggle” and the “fundamental reason for me to start this 30 day sleep challenge”.

Go on, give it a read.

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