Last week, when I was talking about making instant habitual change, I gave the example of turning of the computer at 11pm to avoid staying up late and sleeping in. This has been a pretty awesome change for me, so I want to go into a bit more detail.
The rule is simple. Computer is off at 11pm, even if I'm mid sentence in a conversation. No exceptions, no excuses. I've stuck to this 100% since starting 3 weeks ago or so. I'm definitely receiving the intended benefit of going to bed early, but along with it have come a bunch of other benefits that I hadn't counted on.
I used to believe in the idea that there are morning people and night people. I think it's much more nurture than nature, now. I wake up consistently before 9am, wide awake. I go to sleep tired around midnight. I was the epitome of a night owl, and now I'm definitely not. There are some downsides, like not being able to stay up all night to finish something, but they haven't had much of an impact on me. If you're a night owl and want to try being an early bird for a while, figure out what's keeping you awake and force yourself to stop it at a certain time every night.
On No Status Quo
Along with exercise and nutrition, sleep is one of the primary determinants of your happiness and wellbeing. If you don't get good sleep, you will not only be tired, but also pessimistic, unmotivated, lazy or even depressed.
Research has shown that self control is a limited resource that is greatly diminished when you're exhausted. If you don't get good sleep, you are less likely to be productive and stick to your good habits (such as exercise). You are also more likely to do things that you know are bad for you (such as eating sweets).
Good REM sleep plays a critical role in the development of long term memories. If you're trying to learn anything at all, you better make sure you get enough high quality sleep.
Proper sleep is also essential for maintaining a robust immune system. If you want to be happy, healthy, smart and productive, you have must make sure you get good sleep.
Do you think that your physical health and emotional wellbeing can be considered in isolation? Think again. They both come from the same body, and they both require that you sleep well.