Early RiserLast week I let you in on one of my life's big questions, “Why can't I sleep?” The more accurate question would really be, “Why can't I get to sleep?” Once I'm finally asleep, I can usually sleep like a log and never want to get up, but it's the getting to sleep — at a reasonable time — that has been a struggle since I was a baby.

With this on my list of New Year's resolutions, I took the first step by finding some good resources to help me get to sleep. I studied it out and decided to start with the How to Become an Advance Early Riser program. And that's where my good intentions came to a screeching halt. I intended to start the program last Monday. But I didn't. The idea of fixing this lifelong problem is overwhelming and I've procrastinated…again.

Today, I pulled the information back out and started reading. I'm determined. This could make a big difference in my life. If it works. If I do it.

Early Riser Quick Start Assignments

How to Become an Advanced Early Riser starts with some mental work. That may seem surprising, but I'd guess many sleep problems come when we struggle to quiet our minds. That is certainly one of my problems. I dove into these three assignments today.

Where Are You Now?

I printed out the Success Log and took the “Where Are You Now?” quick start quiz. It asks some basic questions surrounding your sleep habits and behaviors. I scored 45 out of a possible 105. (The book is wrong when it says the possible high is 100.) That's 43% —far below a failing grade. I'm not terribly encouraged. But maybe the fact that I really stink at sleeping means there are lots of relatively simple solutions. (How's that for looking on the bright side?)

Empty Mind, Tidy Mind

Next I took 15 minutes to write down my worries, dreams, fears, etc. At first I thought this would take forever. But it didn't take long at all because I realized that my biggest concerns all fall into a very few major categories like planning my daughter's wedding and losing pregnancy weight.

It was also easy to complete because the “mind sweep” is an idea from Getting Things Done that I've practiced for years.

Next, you are to note the things that you can act on and those you can't. (There are no columns in which to do this, though the course indicates there are.)

My biggest problem is that most of the things I'm concerned about are already things I can take action on. I owe that to Stephen Covey's ideas about the difference between your circle of influence and your circle of concern. Being overly concerned about things you have no influence over is an exercise in futility — and a huge stress-builder. So indicating which things I can't do anything about didn't really take much off my mental plate.

Prioritizing items is fairly easy, as some are time sensitive (like planning  a wedding). The biggest problems come when there is something I need to do, but some of the pieces are provided by others — and those aren't in place. The path to completing those items is unknown, but still a concern.

Knowing What You Want

The last assignment, to write down my dreams was easy. I didn't take the time to remake my lifelong goal list, since I've done that before. Instead, I took each of the goal categories (the lower navigation buttons above) and wrote a brief description about how I'd like that area of my life to look. For example, in the “for home” goal category, I wrote: “maintain a beautiful, organized, comfortable, loving home.”

Diary of an Advance Early Riser

Aitchison gives a sample daily schedule, given his new-found time with less sleep and an early morning wakeup time. He typically goes to bed at 11:30 pm and gets up at 4:30 am. Three thoughts occurred to me:

  • I have never been able to go to sleep before midnight on any regular basis. Hope he has some ideas for doing that.
  • His day seems positively leisurely given that he sleeps less and does so without being tired.
  • Why hasn't his wife implemented this program?

Tomorrow I'll begin with the section titled “The Truth About Sleep.” Then I should be ready to begin implementing the practical ideas in the program.

Have any of the above exercise been helpful to you in developing better sleep habits? What do you do to sleep well?

How to Become an Advanced Early Riser