I recently began evaluating some of my beliefs and how they influence my daily routines. What I discovered wasn’t exactly shocking. I had developed some beliefs through the years that no longer serve me well, in that they were the basis for my daily routines.
One example of a belief that impacted my daily activity was my taking for granted that I’m a night owl and always will be. Some time in my past, maybe college, I concluded that was a good way to be, and the conclusion turned into a truth for me – that I’d always be a night person. There’s a longstanding debate on which characteristic or belief better serves us, being a morning person or a night owl. For many years, I lived as a night owl would. I rarely turned the lights out before 1 am and generally got out of bed around 8:30 am.
As a serial entrepreneur and small business owner, I’ve had the flexibility in my schedule that allows for my chosen bedtime routine. I’d accepted and followed the “night owl” routine and believed the behavior pattern was in my nature. Recently, however, I’ve come to realize that may not be the case. I can intervene on my own behalf. Interestingly, research has shown that self-identified night owls are about two-thirds as likely to have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes you to repeatedly stop breathing while you sleep.1 Tuck.com, a community for advancing better sleep, provides more in-depth information on the types of sleep apnea and treatment options.
Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in October 2016 and have been using a bedside device since November. Turns out, I had been waking up every two minutes, on average, as my body craved oxygen. My snoring drove my wife and kids crazy. Not to mention, I had no idea of the health implications until I checked it out. If left untreated, sleep apnea can shorten your lifespan. Ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and depression are among the serious repercussions of sleep deprivation.2
Now I sleep – really sleep, at least seven hours per night. Now I wake up two to five times per hour, the norm being five times per hour. I have much more energy and am reaping myriad other benefits for my circulation, brain function and so on. Perhaps as important to me, my wife now sleeps soundly through the night, because I don’t make a peep.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, CPAP therapy as treatment for sleep apnea can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and motor vehicle accidents. You will also reap numerous other health benefits such as improved alertness and concentration, increased energy levels, better mood and sleep quality, reduced snoring, and reduced medical expenses. I’m glad to be enjoying many of the treatment benefits listed above.3
If you think you may be locked into a particular routine and want to improve your life, begin by examining three areas of your thinking:
- Are my established daily routines and behavior patterns still serving me well?
- What are my beliefs about these patterns? Look carefully, as they may have been present so long they show up as unquestioned truths.
- If I want to improve these patterns or try something new, what new belief would I like to try on for a while? For me, I’ve committed to transforming into a morning person. I’ve also reassessed my beliefs about what and how much I eat and when, and have come to view daily exercise as an integral part of my routine for the sake of treating my back pain which so many of us eventually endure.
Remember that it takes time to routinize new patterns of behavior. So patience, repetition, and just doing the best you can, are essential.
Six weeks ago I committed to putting my body on the treadmill for a half hour each day. I don’t concern myself with form, speed, or anything besides just getting on the treadmill. Now I welcome it, because I know I feel better throughout the rest of the day. Some days I can only fit in twenty minutes, other days I can do 45 minutes, but either way I show up on that treadmill.
I’m a beginner. I’m making mistakes, learning, and doing. My moods, my pain levels, my weight and my view of the world are all changing for the better as I reap the snowballing benefits of quality sleep, routine exercise, and a healthier diet.
Start with one belief and have some fun. It’ll be worth it. If you’d like help getting started, call me.