Lifestyle · Study

Happiness | The Sleep Experiment

This semester at university I am taking a subject called Happiness: Investigating its causes and conditions. When I saw this subject as an option I thought, why not? It looks interesting, let’s give it a go and learn about happiness.

It turns out that one of the assessments for this particular subject could actually benefit my real life! Yep, a subject that doesn’t make you think ‘why do I need to know this*’?!

For the next five weeks I am going to be undertaking an activity that research says will increase happiness (aka well-being, I will use these terms interchangeably). I will also be documenting my experiences over the five weeks on my blog as a part of the reflective journal assessment component, and incase anyone happens to read this and decides to follow my journey towards being happier**.

So here is everything you need to know before as I began my first day!

Activity: Improving my sleeping habits

Duration: 5 weeks

Why? Over the past 2-3 years I have developed shocking sleeping habits. As my routine (or lack there of) currently stands, I get into bed around 10.30pm on average, I then proceed to surf the web, read blogs, watch YouTube, watch countless episodes of my favourite TV shows, eventually falling asleep around 12.30am-1am, admittedly sometimes later. In the morning, I then struggle to wake up with just enough time to get ready for wherever I need to be, usually 9am on average. But those days when I don’t have any where to go result in me sleeping until 10.30am-11am. Not only am I wasting hours a day being unproductive, I’m constantly tired at the most inconvenient times of day and lacking in energy. While initially I wouldn’t have associated this with making me ‘unhappy’, reflection has made realise how much it could be hindering my happiness potential. So, improving my sleeping habits and consequently my wellbeing, can only make it easier for me to be happy, right?!

How? Based on academic research regarding sleep and wellbeing (see this post), there are multiple things I can do to help improve my sleeping habits:

  1. Waking up earlier more regularly
  2. Increasing physical activity during the day
  3. Developing a night time routine to help ‘wind down’ before sleeping
  4. Cutting out the use of electronics before bed (this one is going to be tough!), as the blue light emitted from these devices actually stimulates the brain.

In light of this, I will be implementing a sleep and exercise routine for the next five weeks as this challenge also coincides with the Autumn Fitness Challenge being run by URAC that I will be participating in three mornings a week for 10 weeks.

Routine:

Routine

This is a work in progress and I will be evaluating my progress consistently, therefore this routine may change according to those evaluations.

Challenges: I work in hospitality at the moment which entails between 3 and 4 dinner shifts per week (Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun). This is going to present a rather difficult challenge, as some nights I may not finish work until 10.30-11pm at night, on top of this is the time taken to drive home and wind down after being extremely busy all night long. I will have to adjust my sleep and wake up times accordingly. As the goal will be to still have a solid 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night.

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* Actually, I rarely think this. I’m one of those nerdy people that loves learning and enjoys the subjects I am taking for my degree. I’m sure I’m not the only one?

** I’m mean, hopefully… because that’s what the research says.

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As mentioned previously, I will be documenting my progress and thoughts for this experiment on my blog over the next 5 weeks. Hopefully, I will gain some insight into sleep and its association with wellbeing/happiness and in the process improve my sleeping habits for the better and become happier.

Please comment if you have any thoughts on my undertaking or are going to follow along, maybe even try to improve your own sleeping habits.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 5.11.54 PM

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