Habit Experiment: September Recap, October Kickoff

September Recap

I hung on—just barely—to my goals this month. Here they are, as a reminder:

1) Drive 785 miles or less for the month.

2) Experiment with car-free travel options to local destinations.

As we headed out to hike on Sunday, we realized that we’d only driven 89 miles since last weekend. That was pretty amazing, and is perhaps a sign that we’re getting into the swing of this less-driving thing.

When September began, the odometer read 118,716. As of this morning, it’s at 119,401. We still need to drive to our afternoon activities, which will add another 20 miles, bringing the total for the month to 705. I admit, I was helped a little bit by my mom’s visit since we drove her car to go camping, but even that would only have been another 50 miles round-trip, so I still would have met my goal.

For October, I’m going to increase my goal to 800 driving miles for the month because it’s a longer month and because we’ve got a couple of longer trips planned. We’re already taking the train for one of the trips, and I’m toying with the idea of taking the train for the other, but I doubt I’ll get buy-in for that plan from my spouse. He’s more pragmatic about car-light travel than I am and uses a broader definition of “suffering” than I do.

Oddly enough, even though I’m driving less I’ve not done very well with my exercise this month. I’ve only gotten more than 10,000 steps a handful of days, and I’ve not done any strength-training. And I’ve put on three pounds. We’ll see how I do in October.

Speaking of October…

October’s habit is:

Sleep More

Ah, my perennial, nearly constantly ignored goal of adequate sleep! I have such a pained relationship with sleep. I feel like I still haven’t quite recovered from the sleep deprivation that began nearly a decade ago when my daughter was born. According to Quiet by Susan Cain, introverts handle sleep deprivation better than extroverts, so that might explain why I’ve not felt compelled to make a commitment to better sleep now that I can no longer blame my kids for my night wakings.

Although I don’t do too bad on little sleep (my FitBit says I’m averaging a little less than five hours a night), I know I feel better when I’m not sleep-deprived. But I also have so few kid-free hours that I want to maximize my alone time by staying awake during their sleeping hours. If they slept 14 hours a day, this technique might work to get me both adequate kid-free awake time and adequate sleep time. But they sleep more like 10 hours a day, which leaves me either very tired or very peeved that I’m “not getting anything done” (which for me means that I’m not writing and reading as much as I’d like).

But this month, I’m going to try and not see it like that. I’m really getting a lot done, and the only reason it doesn’t feel like enough is because of my perspective and my inability to prioritize and say “no” when new opportunities arise.

In addition to shifting my perspective, which isn’t measurable so I’m not listing it as one of my goals, I’m also going to try to incorporate actions that will help me sleep more effectively. Based on my research, two things that I do frequently—use screens right up until bedtime and eat late into the evening—can disrupt sleep. So, I’m going to try and change those habits this month and see if I feel any more rested (and if my FitBit says I’m getting any better than 67% sleep efficiency). I’m also interested to see what effect, if any, more sleep has on my eczema and on my weight.

With that in mind, my goals for October are:

1) Get to bed in time to sleep an average of eight hours a night every night.

2) Avoid screens for at least one hour before bedtime.

3) Avoid eating after 7:00pm.

I’m being deliberately oblique about my actual bedtime/wake time because I’ve not yet figured out how to arrange my schedule so I can get to bed early enough to get eight hours before I need to wake up in the morning. Do I cut out my evening extra-curriculars? Do I make a rule that anything I do away from the house in the evening ends by 8:30? Do I need to find childcare for my kids so I can get my alone time during the day instead of at night? Or maybe I just need to arrange my schedule so I can get a midday nap?

It’s also not clear to me just how many hours I’ll need to be in bed to get eight hours of sleep since I wake up many, many times a night, but I’ll play it by ear and see what I can swing.

Onward into October, with cautious optimism!

Points to Ponder:

How do you make sure you get enough sleep? (Or do you get enough sleep?)

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