My 672-hour Challenge, part 1: Sleep

I love my sleep. I am a horrible person when I don’t get enough sleep. Given that I have a 4.5 month old baby whose existence sometimes precludes restful sleep, I am kind of obsessed with the topic right now. Do I sleep enough? What could I do to get better sleep?

I decided to record my time for four weeks (April 20-May 17) to discover trends in my life. For my next book, I Know How She Does It (out in 2 weeks on June 9!) I had well over a hundred women log their time for 7 days. You see a lot in 7 days, but you see even more in 28. I wanted to know what I’d discover.

Here’s what I learned about my sleep habits. The mean for my 28 days was 7.66 hours (note, not 28 nights — I took some naps. It was 7.66 hours over 24 hours, logged from 5 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily) That’s really not that bad. When I logged my time last year before I became pregnant with kid #4, I was at about 7.4 hours/day. So I’m actually sleeping slightly more with a newborn than I am without one, but the quality is not nearly as good. There are wake-ups. Sleeping 10:30-4:30, and then getting an hour long nap during the day is not the same as sleeping 10:30-5:30.

The range was huge: 4.5 hours to 9.25 hours. That said, that 4.5 hour day was completely abnormal and was entirely my own fault. I was not even with the baby the night that occurred. I was in NYC, and I went out doing karaoke, and stayed out past midnight, and yet woke like a cow that needed to be milked before 6 a.m. As for the 9.25 hours? That was after running the Broad Street 10-Miler. If I strike my high and my low, the range makes more sense: 6.5 hours to 9 hours. I think that’s more in line with my regular experience. If I get less than 6.5 hours in 24 hours, I can’t function. More than 8.5 hours means I’m making up time for something. When I’m fully rested, I wake up pretty consistently 7.5 hours after going to bed.

Even with this more narrow range, though, I see that one of the crazy-making things of having a newborn is the unpredictability. Here’s the week of April 20, when I didn’t travel, but my baby was just over 3 months old: 7.5; 6.5; 6.75; 7.5; 8.25; 7.5; 7. Most nights there’s a difference of at least 45 minutes from one night to the next. One night the baby wakes up at 4:30. Another night he sleeps past 6.

The good news is that he was getting older during this month, and there is a difference between 4 months and 3 months (one reason to make maternity leaves at least 4 months, but that’s a much bigger subject for a much different post). The first week I averaged 7.28 hours per day. The fourth week I averaged 7.86 hours/day. That half an hour matters.

Hours are not quality, of course. I find I tend to wake up at some point in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I’d prefer not to, but I’m trying to stay hydrated enough with nursing, so it’s a fine line.

In any case, I’m trying to be good about going to bed by 10 p.m. I dislike doing so. I’d love to have more me time or couple time, and going to bed at 11 would give me that extra hour, but when I’m highly likely to be woken at 5 a.m., there’s a huge difference in functionality between getting 7 hours of sleep, and getting 6 hours. I can see that it’s the nights I stay up late when I suffer.

Note: Having just one day of 28 be under 6 hours was on par for the Mosaic Project as a whole. That comes out to 3.6 percent, and in the whole study of 1001 days, only 37 featured fewer than 6 hours of sleep. Only 14 percent of my days (4/28) featured fewer than 7 hours, which is not too far off the Mosaic average of about 19 percent.

In other news: I’ll be doing a Twitter chat tomorrow (May 27) at noon, eastern time. Just use the hashtag #IKnowHowSheDoesIt to follow along and ask questions about time management, work/life issues, etc. I will raffle off some book bundles of my previous books (168 Hours, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast) and some passes to a launch day event I’m doing with Savor the Success in NYC. There will be a widget up on this site before tomorrow to register for the giveaway. I need help from some people who are better at HTML than me, though, so stay tuned.

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