Day 14 – SLEEP


For years I’ve struggled with getting to bed on time and I’ve seen many clients do the same. Our active minds don’t want to release the day, and thus we find ourselves caught in thought unable or unwilling to rest.

Still I’ve known just as many people who struggle to wake up. Sleep seems to offer a refuge from the world, and so they hit snooze, roll over, and bask in the plains of slumber.

Sleep is an essential aspect of life. When you sleep, your mind processes everything you’ve learned that day and connects it with the vast store of data in your brain. If you’re trying to learn something new or gain greater clarity, it’s within the realm of sleep that the brain solves deep problems and looks for novel solutions.

Yet despite its importance many of us have a disordered relationship with sleep. We feel like we can never get enough or we feel like we can never rip ourselves from it’s grasp or a combination of the two.

Much like the breath, the power of sleep lies at the intersection of conscious and unconscious desire and thus becomes a playground for the many pulls and snags with in us.

So, what’s the solution to the quandary of sleep?
One simple practice has a powerful effect on your ability to fall asleep on time and wake up early: a bedtime or morning ritual.

When your body is tired either from a long day or from an early morning, your capacity to exert willpower is very limited, and it becomes difficult to force yourself into or out of bed.

But by having a ritual, willpower ceases to be an issue. Instead of willing yourself to get into or out of bed, you just start the ritual and let it carry you along.

So the challenge today is all about creating a simple ritual that will help you end your day with ease or rise with vigor.

Challenge #14 – Sleep Skills

1. Practice –

First you must decide whether your number one trouble is getting to bed on time/getting to sleep or waking up on time/morning motivation. So take a minute, figure it out, and the choose your practice accordingly.

Creating a Bedtime Ritual

Step 1: Envision – The best way to create a bedtime ritual is to think about what you do when you have lots of time to go to bed. Close your eyes and imagine the steps walking backwards from sleep.

For me it looks like this

  • Turn off lights
  • Set my alarm
  • Brush Teeth
  • Read in bed
  • Put desk in order
  • Feed cat
  • Review my day
  • Enter any missed tracking time

Step 2: Order and Sort – Next reverse the order of these items. As you do this, try to notice anything you can get rid of.

For example I used to check email after I reviewed my day. But when I did that, I answered email, which wasn’t that helpful. So I took email out of the routine.

Step 3: Calculate – After that you need to figure out how long it will take to do everything.

For example, it takes me maybe 90 minutes to do everything on my list because I like to read for a while. So if I wanted to get into bed by 10 p.m. I needed to start by feeding the cat at 8:30pm. If your start time is too early, then eliminate some items.

Step 4: Solidify –  Finally, create a physical bedtime checklist and set an alarm. Then when your alarm goes off you begin the ritual.

Creating a Morning Ritual

Step 1: Envision – To create a morning ritual imagine how an amazing morning would start for you.
Close your eyes and imagine the steps walking backwards from when you leave for work or start your day.

My list would look like this:

  • Set intentions for the day
  • Write my gratitudes
  • Write my vows
  • Make Coffee
  • Meditate
  • Wake up

Step 2: Order and Sort –  Then take your list and reverse it to get your ritual. If you see anything you don’t need get rid of it.

Step 3: Calculate –  Figure out how long it will take to do it all and set your wake up time. For example, my morning ritual takes me about an hour because I like to meditate longer if I can. If the wake up time is too early, either simplify your list or go to bed earlier.

Step 4: Solidify –   Finally create a physical checklist and set your alarm. Then when you wake up in the morning check each item off as you do it.

No matter which practice you choose, remember your lists will always be a work in progress. Try one routine for a few days and then change it based on your experience.

2. Reflect –

If you can, try the practice in real life at least one time before you do your reflection. If you were able to do this, then reflect on what that experience was like.

  • How did your list work?
  • What did you like doing?
  • What was hard to do?
  • Did this make waking up/going to bed easier or harder?

If trying the exercise won’t work right now, then just reflect on the ritual you created.

  • Is it something you would want to try?
  • What if any resistance do you feel?
  • Have you tried anything like this in the past?

3. Share –

As always please share your experience
1. Blog – Write a post about your ritual and what you learned from it. How did it affect your ability to wake up or go to sleep? What do you think would happen if you did it for a week? a month?

2. Post – Share one aspect of your ritual or any lesson you learned on social media with #30dayhappy or by posting in our Facebook Group.

3. Comment – Let me know what you thought of this challenge in the comments. Let me know if you struggled with anything or had any questions.


Make The Right Choice Later You Fool!

Let’s face it, making good choices is hard, especially when those choices ask you to do something that is challenging or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, these are exactly the choices you have to make if you want to change your life.

My Wake Up Early Challenge

Recently I decided to try and wake up earlier. But every morning I faced a dilemma. The alarm would ring, I would open my eyes, and in my head, I had to answer the question: To snooze or not to snooze? And pretty soon I’d be drifting back to la la land.

Despite all my resolve, I couldn’t get up on time and I was amazed with all the reasons I came up with to prolong my slumber.

I’d tell myself that five more minutes wouldn’t matter. I’d tell myself that I needed more sleep to be ready for my day. Or I’d tell myself that I just wanted to snuggle a few minutes longer.

At first, I thought the problem was my excuses, but then I realized the real problem was my decision. Each time I had to make the choice, I would pick the path of least resistance. It was easy to say I was going to wake up the night before, but much harder to do it in the moment.

Once You Start

With so many things in life, the hardest thing is to start. Whether it’s a run, a blog post, or a business before you start everything seems challenging. You think of how hot it is outside, how you don’t have anything to write about, or about how uncertain running a business can be.

But once you start, your resistance drops away. Instead of getting caught up on all the things that could go wrong, you get caught up in doing the thing you wanted to do. And before you know it you’re in the groove and so happy you make the choice you did.

But even though I knew this, I still had the problem of how to make the right choice when my energy and inspiration was low. So I decided to shift my decision point.

And I vowed to only make this decision after I’d already started.

How does this work?

Well for me it was simple. As soon as my alarm went off, I would get out of bed as quickly as possible. If the first thought in my head was, “maybe I should get some more sleep.” I would simply tell myself, “maybe you should, but you can always decide that after you get up.”

And it worked. Most of the time as soon as I got up I realized how silly my excuses were. This simple shift helped me change my default snooze into a default boost first thing in the morning.

Now there were a few mornings after I had stayed up to late that I got up but within 10 mins knew I needed to go back to sleep. But in those cases, I really did need more sleep so I was still able to make the right choice even after I got out of bed.

How you can put this into practice?

But Toku! I don’t have a hard time getting out of bed! No problem the best thing about deciding after you start is that you can use it for almost any choice you have a hard time making. All you do is delay the choice, until you’ve built some momentum.

If you have a hard time going to the gym, only decide whether or not to go after you’ve put on your shorts and walked out the door.

If you have a hard time eating healthy food, only decide after you’ve ordered one healthy thing off the menu.

If you have a hard time leaving late, only decide to do more work once you’ve gotten ready to go.

It’s just that simple.

And the best part is that when you use this technique you don’t need as much motivation. You no longer have to decide whether or not to run five miles or start a novel.

All you have to do is decide to run for five minutes, or write one page. Then and only then do you have to choose to keep going or to stop. But by then, you’ve already done the hardest part.

So to review:

Pick a time where you struggle to make a good choice. Then instead of choosing before you start, take one small step. And then decide. If you decide to keep going, GREAT! If you decide to stop, GREAT! It’s not about being perfect, it’s just about giving yourself the best shot at making a good choice and building trust in your ability to live the life you were meant to live.


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