For most of my life, I've tried to master the process of falling asleep and staying asleep. And (not to brag) I've actually become pretty good at it. I don't check my email after 7 p.m., I use a white noise app on my phone, I wear a headband over my eyes, I keep a list by my bed and sometimes I try to meditate (keyword: try).
However, I still have an issue with sleep. It has nothing to do with falling asleep or staying asleep, it's about when I wake up. I'm going to take a guess and assume that most people are like me and set their alarm on their phone. I've gotten into this habit when my alarm goes off, I reach over and grab my phone to turn it off, and as soon as I swipe it open I go immediately into my email.
As an entrepreneur, I feel that I constantly need to be connected to my company from the moment I wake up. But this creates a heavy weight of anxiety from the moment my eyes open. My first thoughts aren't anywhere close to, "good morning." They're thoughts about work, and problems, and panic of what needs to get done today.
The whole idea of getting a good night's sleep is to wake up the next day ready to perform. But when I wake up (even if I'm well rested) in a state of panic, it defeats the purpose of getting healthy sleep.
I learned from a friend of mine, Antonio Neves, what his morning ritual is. He says his immediate thoughts when he wakes up are:
Don't hit snooze! From there, I tend to feel, and fight, an urge to check email and social media which 8 times out of 10 I'm successful. When I resist those urges, I give thanks for another day to create, love, and be useful. Then I ask myself, what's most important about this day?
As soon as I read this, I took it as a challenge. For the past week, when my alarm goes off, I shut it off and then place my phone back on my dresser. From there, I take a minimum of 10 seconds to think about what's important to me that day.
Sure, sometimes what comes to mind first is work related like, "make sure all catalogs are ready to go for the trade show this weekend."
But then I surprised myself and started to think about other important things like calling my grandparents, or trying a new pose in yoga that day, or spending time outside to enjoy the spring weather. I had no idea some of these things were important to me until I allowed the time for my mind to address them.
Ever since I've taken 10 seconds in the morning to prioritize my day and think about what's important, the little problems don't seem as big. I used to immediately check my email and if one thing was wrong then my whole day was off. But now, before I check my email, I've already prioritized what's important so those little problems aren't as heavy on my mind.
We can get all the healthy hours of sleep in the world, but if we don't wake up with an even healthier mentality to approach the day, we're not spending our new energy in a positive way. Try taking ten seconds when your alarm goes off to pause and think about the truly important things you'd like to focus on or accomplish when you get up. Ten seconds in the morning can make the rest of the 86,400 seconds in the day a lot better.