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Sleep Challenge 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Coffee

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2010-01-07-091202_Huffington021_1.jpgGood morning. This is Day Four of our sleep challenge. I've got some good news and some bad news to report. Let's get the bad news out of the way first: I've yet to meet my challenge goal of getting 8 hours of sleep a night. But I've gotten close -- getting seven-and-a-half hours each of the last three nights.

And I'm already seeing the benefits, such as starting my day feeling like one of those horrible "rise and shine" people you normally want to throttle when you are among the sleep-deprived. And I'm hitting the ground running, minus the morning mental fog.

Here are some of the things that have helped me get within snoozing distance of my goal:

The Good
Emailing back and forth with Cindi, my sleep challenge buddy. "I do need support!!!!" she emailed me Tuesday night. "I got seven-and-a-half last night but it was VERY STRESSFUL to get myself to bed on time! I was rushing around like I was trying to make a train!" She really helped me identify that same feeling in myself. For example, I was talking with our editor, Roy Sekoff, at 10:30 last night and I started getting nervous that I was going to miss the train that Cindi had emailed me about. So Roy and I did what we had to do on the site faster and, most importantly, I was able to laugh at myself -- always a great stress-buster.

Another luscious sleep aid: the yummy pink silk pajamas I just got as a gift. Just putting them on made me feel ready for bed -- so much more than the cotton T-shirts I usually wear at night. These pajamas are unmistakably "going to bed clothes", not to be confused with "going to the gym clothes". Far too many of us have given up on the distinction between what you wear during the day and what you wear to bed. Slipping on the PJs is a signal to your body: time to shut down!

I also made sure I had my Blackberries (yes, I have more than one!) charging far, far away from my bed so I could avoid the middle-of-the-night temptation to check the latest news -- which these days usually includes word on which Democrat is announcing his retirement and which Republican is accusing Obama of being "soft" on terror.

Luckily, falling asleep has never been a problem for me. So I smiled when Cindi told me of her new trick: "counting backwards from 300 by threes -- it works like magic and you never get below 250." However, on the few occasions when I feel too wired to sleep, my panacea is a hot, hot bath with my favorite bath salts.

The Bad
So far, the biggest challenge for me has been that my older daughter is still home from college -- and the temptation to sit up talking with her late into the night is tremendous. She, of course, can sleep all morning if she wants -- I have to be up by 6:30 at the latest for early calls with New York, and to take my younger daughter to school. I've overcome this hurdle through good planning. For instance, on Monday night we had a chat-filled dinner before seeing An Education, then went to Coffee Bean for a nightcap -- and more conversation. But no coffee! I had herb tea instead -- and you have no idea what a sacrifice it was for me to have herb tea at a coffee shop.

The Coffee
My daughter is heading back east today, so my biggest challenge going forward will be my coffee consumption. All my friends know what a coffee addict I am -- and will appreciate how tough it's been to stick to my new vow not to have a drop of coffee after noon. So far this week I've tried and failed to keep my vow -- that's why I'm going public with it. Can you please be my Caffeine Police? If you see me drinking coffee after noon, you have my permission to take it from me -- even if you have to pry my fingers off the cup!

Cindi and I love reading everybody's comments, and hearing about your challenges and your successes. So keep them coming... and sleep tight!

P.S. Check back after 5pm EST to see how Cindi's doing with The Challenge!

Photo: Dan Hallman