I've been searching for a way to get myself to bed earlier for years, and I've finally found a trick that works for me. I just have to treat myself like a kid and make a deal I know will almost always work in my responsible side's favour.
Photo by Fernando Garcia.
I'm one of those people that feels like I never have enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. It's not that I'm terribly busy, I'm just hungry for experiences. I'm very aware of how short life can be, and I can't stand the thought of not getting to everything on my ever-growing list. There's always a little more work I'd like to get to, more books I want to read, more games to play and more things I want to watch on Netflix. Every night, instead of going to bed at a decent hour, I'd burn the midnight oil chipping away at infinity.
But sleep is important, for your mind and health, and I wasn't getting enough of it — especially with my increasing workouts. I figured the answer was going to bed earlier, but I knew I'd have to trick myself to make any headway. Here's what I did:
At the first sign of getting sleepy at night, I'd get ready for bed and make a deal with myself like, "I'll go lay down and honestly try to sleep for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes I can't sleep, then I can [insert thing you'd like to do]."
This tactic is similar to the "work on a task for five minutes" approach to beating back procrastination. If you do the task for five minutes, you'll probably get into a workflow and end up completing the task. And if you get comfy in your bed with the lights off for 15 minutes, you'll probably fall asleep before your time is up. This helps me avoid that second wind I usually get when I try to fight back that first wave of sleepiness. Your mileage may vary with this trick, but it almost always works for me.