The importance of an individual’s character cannot be gainsaid as far as defining that person is concerned. Unfortunately, the character of an individual is, more often than note, shaped by some seemingly minute habits that he or she might have taken up. A habit is defined as any action that an individual has carried out so often that it evolves into an almost involuntary response (LeVert 1997). It is noteworthy that most of these habits are undesirable and, therefore, bad habits. In quite a large number of instances, individuals spend numerous hours and vast amounts of money trying to sever these unhealthy habits. Unfortunately, not many people are successful in breaking these small, unhealthy habits.
In my life, I have been struggling with one habit that many people would not categorize as a bad habit, but is an unhealthy habit nonetheless especially when one considers the implications. The habit that I have been struggling with is sleeping late. Like all other unhealthy habits, it did not crop up overnight. I cannot trace the exact time when this habit kicked in, but it must be some time before or after clearing high school. Before clearing high school, there were lots of books to read and a lot of preparation to be carried out to ensure success in the exams. After clearing, I suddenly had too much time at my disposal, time that I did not know what to do with. Naturally, movies, television and novels offered solace, not to mention sleepovers that would keep me awake for hours. Initially, this did not seem much of a problem. After all, I argued that it was all voluntary. If the effort that it has taken to shake off the habit is anything to go by, sleeping late may not be voluntary. Sleeping late has become involuntary even in my college life.
Like any other harmful habit, sleeping late has affected my ability to perform in school. It has had a negative impact on my ability to concentrate or even remember things (Claiborn & Pedrick 2001). On a number of occasions, I have headed to the grocery store only to forget some of the items that I needed to pick. In some cases, I have found myself to be losing my sense of direction, which has negatively affected my performance not only in school but also in my personal life.
In an effort to terminate this undesirable habit, I had turned to pharmaceuticals. It is noteworthy that there exists quite a large number of pills that would eliminate insomnia, in which case I was lost for choice. Unfortunately, research shows that most of these pills are habit forming and have potential for addiction. It is noteworthy that, most drug addicts started consuming their drugs of addiction in an effort to eliminate health problems or even unhealthy habits such as mine (Claiborn & Pedrick 2001). In fact, I realized that I could not sleep without these medications, which pointed at chemical dependency. Obviously, the pharmaceuticals’ option worsened my problem in which case I had to quit taking them. It is, obviously, more preferable to have one problem than two. It appears that the pharmaceuticals option was just a shortcut that promised to eliminate a problem that had taken long periods to overcome overnight. This, therefore, triggered my search for other solutions to the problem. These solutions had to incorporate clear rules that would undo this habit, essentially forming the habit of sleeping early. However, before implementing the rules, it was imperative that I eliminate the possibility that the sleeping problem emanated from a breathing problem that is known as sleep apnea.
In eliminating the habit, I had to identify the things that had brought in the habit in the first place. In my case, these items were television and movies. In essence, it became imperative that I set a certain bedtime, which established a routine that had to be maintained even on weekends. To enhance the effectiveness of this rule, I had to turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before the preset bed time. These include television, cell phones and computer. Research shows that they may incorporate a stimulating effect on one’s brain. In their place, I incorporated stretching, and meditation, calming activities that prepared my body and mind for sleep.
In addition, I realized that my life incorporated many inactive hours every day in which case I had tremendous energy at night, which kept me awake at night. In essence, exercising for at least 30 minutes every day before 3 p.m. gave my body an opportunity to burn up this energy thereby lessening the insomnia. This has been complimented by keeping off stimulants such as coffee, tea and soda at least six hours prior to bed time. In addition, I have had to clear off routine work before I get tired. Things such as taking a bath, brushing my teeth or wiping my face have had to be relegated to at least three hours before bed time as such routines may refresh me when sleep is creeping in, thereby keeping me awake (LeVert 1997).
All these efforts have been aimed at allowing me to eliminate the unhealthy habit and regain control of my sleeping patterns. It is noteworthy that starting out and carrying these things over has not been easy at all. It takes a lot of will to eliminate the urge to take coffee late at night. In addition, taking up activities such as exercising at 3 p.m. has been a bit hectic. There are certain instances when I have been forced to skip these activities due to fatigue, lack of morale or crash of schedules. In essence, getting a friend or colleague who likes such activities has been helpful keeping up with the activities.
This does not imply or mean that I have managed to eliminate the problem completely. In some cases, I have had to sleep late due to immense class work or even during sleepovers in friends’ houses. However, taking up these routines one at a time and evaluating how it fits has been imperative to eliminate the chances of exhaustion. While I may not entirely be off the hook as far as sleeping late is concerned, I must admit that I have made tremendous strides towards reaching the objective. I may have at times failed to keep up on exercises, but at least I have learnt one of the most valuable lessons; that consistency is crucial as far as the creation and elimination of a habit is concerned (LeVert 1997). In fact, the absence of thought predisposes a habit. Repeating these activities consistently for some time has ensured that they are drilled in a new, positive habit thereby enhancing the elimination of the bad habit (Claiborn & Pedrick 2001).
LeVert, S (1997). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Breaking Bad Habits. New York: Alpha Books
Claiborn, J & Pedrick, C, (2001). The Habit Change Workbook: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones. New York: New Harbinger Publications
(LeVert 1997) (Claiborn & Pedrick 2001)
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