Why consistency is the key to successful sleepJan 07, 2023
What does good sleep look like? Asking this question may result in a description of sleep perfection:
- I just want to go to sleep when my head hits the pillow
- I want to sleep all night, every night– no waking up!
- I want to wake up feeling amazing
Real talk: sleep perfection is a unicorn–it doesn’t really exist. At least not in adulthood. So when you have a bad night, you can tell yourself: “Nothing has gone wrong. This is normal.” Holding on to the idea of Sleep Perfection sets you up for failure.
But if MOST of your nights are bad nights, then yes, there is probably something you can do to improve your situation. I’ll bet you can think of a few ways to get started.
More real talk: when it comes to improving your sleep habits, nothing will change overnight.
Prepare to do a new sleep behavior for 2-4 weeks before you’ll see consistent results. Prepare to do a new sleep behavior for at least 3 months before it is a habit. Improving your sleep is more like evolving your sleep. Your brain needs time to adjust to a new setpoint.
The changes that stick are small and consistent. If you’re not reaching your sleep goal, make the goal smaller and be more consistent. Mark your progress and start building a streak. Consistency creates momentum. Momentum feels good– like a reward in itself. Momentum keeps you going. Every time you practice your goal, you are casting a vote for the person you want to be.
But. . . life happens and you break your streak. This is to be expected. This is another opportunity to let go of perfection. Research on habits shows a paradox: if you’re hard on yourself about breaking your streak then you’re less likely to start working toward your habit again. So you didn’t cast a vote that day, so what? Your new identity can still win the election if you keep at it.
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