I worked the early shift. Really early. People at work always marvel about how I come into work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for another day. I am not typically a morning person. I love to sleep in and I hate getting out of bed. But, going to work grumpy isn’t a great option either. So when the going gets tough, the tough make the hard decision to pull up the big girl panties and figure out what they need to change to make their future a bright one.
Here are 10 things that I’ve done to help me change my sleep habits and my morning routine so that I can be the master of my day and save the world one technical issue at a time.
Go to bed early
I have to be at work (most days) at 4 AM. To be well rested, you need 7-8 hours of sleep. It is just a physiological fact. Yes, you might be able to function on less – but you are developing a sleep debt that will come back and get you – usually on a day when you have something important to do. Sleep is one of the most important factors to healthy and productivity. Make it a priority!
To get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, I have to go to bed no later than 8 PM. I try to go to bed at 7:30, giving myself 30 minutes to fall asleep. I can’t say enough how much this has helped me. It sucks because I miss out on all the good shows (thank goodness for streaming internet tv to catch up!) and sometimes I miss events with my kids, but in order to be the best mom that I can be and in order to do the best at my job, which helps me provide for my family – I have to put me first.
Turn off ALL screens off 2 hours before bedtime.
The color of the light that comes from most electronics screens is a short wave blue light. This affects levels of melatonin more than any other wavelength of light, preventing the production of the necessary chemical that helps you fall asleep. Normally, the pineal gland in the brain begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime, and melatonin reaches its peak in the middle of the night. When people read on a blue light-emitting device (like a tablet, rather than from a printed book) in the evening, it takes them longer to fall asleep; plus, they tend to have less REM sleep (when dreams occur) and wake up feeling sleepier— even after eight hours of shuteye.
My life is lived in front of a screen. Between work, hobbies, and entertainment, most of it revolves around screens. My doctor kept telling me, turn off the screen 2 hours prior and I would roll my eyes and tell him that it was unrealistic for me. But when I did it, the change was almost immediate. Now, I keep all electronics out of my bedroom to avoid temptation to check my email and I turn it off around 5:30 at night.
Have a night routine that leaves you well prepared for the next day.
When I was a little girl, my mom would make me set out my clothes for the next day. She was an elementary school teacher and I had to get up early to go with her to school. She didn’t have time to find my shoes, socks or to tell me what to wear. So every night before I went to bed, I would lay out my clothes.
Fast forward to being an adult and there’s nothing worse than it being time to leave and looking for a sock or a shoe and knowing you are going to be late. It adds stress to my day that I just don’t need. So, I have a chair in the corner of my room. I don’t know if anyone has ever sat on it. But it is where my full outfit is laying, my purse with my keys and work badge sits beside it, and in the morning – if my husband is asleep, I don’t wake him up looking for things. WIN-WIN!
I have severe anxiety. And when my brain gets going, I often can’t fall asleep. In a period of pure desperation, I did a quick search on the Google App store and found a highly rated app – Buddhify. It has a beautiful design and hours and hours of guided meditations, as well as free meditation timers. I can’t recommend it enough.
Get up at the same time every day.
Even on your day off. It will get to the point where your eyes just open, a few minutes before your alarm clock sounds. Your internal clock will become automatic and it will make getting up easier, even at the worst hours of the day. (I really think it should be illegal for 1 AM to be a thing. I got up that early this morning for an early shift and… even for me, it sucks.)
Let There Be Light!
Put some light in your morning routine. I love the alarm clocks that have a light that simulates the sun, cuz the sun isn’t even thinking of waking up when I am. It gradually gets brighter and allows me to wake up a little easier everyday.
Count to 5, then get up.
Snooze is your enemy. It takes approximately 10 minutes for your body to “wake up” and drop the grogginess. This has to do with the circadian cycle that we go through all night, allowing us to dream, etc. And every time you hit snooze, you reset that 10 minute clock. But it is oh so tempting to hit snooze.
This really hit home for me when I read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. When I have to do something I don’t want to do… like getting up… I count to 5 and then just force myself out of bed. I don’t do it in my head, I do it outloud. There’s something about the outloud vocal declaration of “1…2…3…4…5” that helps me stop making excuses and rationalizing that 10 more minutes and pushes me to get my day started.
Make time for your priorities.
I always used to make the excuse that I had no time for prayer, scripture study, and exercise because I was always going. But the truth was, I just didn’t make these things a priority in my life. My priorities are the big things in my life that make a difference in how I feel or what I do. Prayer takes a couple minutes, scripture study can be just a verse or two for me (though I usually do more) and exercise is 30 minutes. So, that means, if I have to walk out of the house at 3:30, and it takes me 30 minutes to get ready in the morning (because I have everything set out already), that I need about 40 minutes for prayer, scripture study, and a quick workout.
So, I get up 40 minutes earlier. And I got to bed 40 minutes earlier. I make room for the big things that make a difference in my mood… and the little things find space between the big things and I get more done. It is such a simple concept but one that I find so hard to implement. Until I’ve done it, and then I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Fake It Til You Make It
So, let’s get to a realistic point. Everyday is not going to be sunshine and rainbows. For instance, last night I knew that because I was working an early shift today, I needed to be in bed at 5. I got home at 3. And my garbage disposal was dumping water. I had a ton to get done around the house and that just delayed me even more. So, when I went to bed at 6… already later than I wanted, my mind was racing with anxiety and frustration about what I didn’t get done and the fact that I had to be up so early.
I finally fell asleep – it felt like an eternity later… and woke up at 12:30 AM groggy and grumpy. I said my prayers as I drove, will read my scriptures at my lunch… and working out may just not happen today. But, I walked into work and forced a smile on my face and admitted to myself that today is a day where I’m gonna have to fake it… in order to make it a positive day.
Premade Breakfasts to the Rescue – Caramel Creme Brule French Toast
One of the benefits of sous vide cooking, which you all know I love, is that you can make large quantities of breakfasts in jars and store them in the fridge for a quick bite. I normally will make my Sous Vide Egg Cups recipe for a low carb, high protein breakfast, but sometimes you just need a sweet treat. Really, I make these for my kids as a hot breakfast before school. They are spoiled and I feel so bad for their future wives.
But hot breakfasts cooked perfectly sous vide and then stored in the fridge can simplify your day. Don’t have time to eat at home? That’s fine! Throw a jar in your bag and head out to work. 30 seconds in the microwave and your fresh and delicious meal is ready to go. No muss… no fuss.
The thing that’s great about the Caramel Creme Brule French Toast is it is part bread pudding (serve it for dessert!) and part breakfast. It is a perfect treat, especially on days when you are grouch and don’t want to be awake… treat yourself!Print
- 1 qt heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste (Buy Here)
- 1 cup sugar divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 8 slices cinnamon bread, cubed
- 1 jar salted caramel ice cream topping
- Preheat the water bath to 176 °F / 80 °C.
- In a blender, combine egg yolks, sugar, cream, and vanilla. Blend to combine.
- In the bottom of 8 ounce mason jars, spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of salted caramel ice cream topping. You want just a taste – the French Toast is plenty sweet on its own.
- Lightly fill the jar with bread cubes. You don’t want to pack it in, you want room for the custard.
- Slowly pour custard over the bread cubes, allowing it to fill the spaces between the bread. Let it sit for a few minutes then top it off, leaving 1/4 inch from the jar threads.
- Place jars into the sous vide water bath and cook for one hour. I use a canning jar lifter to add them to the bath and later to remove them.
- Remove jars from the bath and rest at room temperature. Once the jars can easily be handled (about room temperature), place them in an ice bath to cool the rest of the way, then tighten their lids and store in the fridge for up to a week.
- To serve hot, remove the ring and sealing lid and microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Serve with whipped cream or sprinkle with sugar and brûlée with a torch. Also delicious cold.