I love certain analogies. One I use often is that of dominoes. I have to figure out which domino needs to be the first to fall, before I can start.
First domino: Sleep!
I have been desperately sleep-deprived for yeeears! Not insomniac. I have no trouble falling asleep. I have trouble going to bed. It started when our four children were small, and I rarely had a moment's peace...for years. I started staying up late to enjoy the quiet and the chance to do things I enjoy, like reading. They're not little anymore. The youngest is in eighth grade, so I now have time during the day to enjoy the quiet, and to do the things I enjoy. But I've still been staying up terribly late. It became an ingrained bad habit.
I have given a great deal of thought to the "whys" and "wherefores" of my sleep habits, and how to change them. After a great deal of pondering, I feel I've come up with a workable solution.
Factor 1: the two teenagers still at home have to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Until everyone has gone to roost, my brain stays on-duty. I need at least a little time people-free, with no chance that someone will need to tell me one more story about their day or ask me to do something for them, before my brain will gear down and relax.
Factor 2: I know that my judgment shuts down around 10pm. If I'm not pointed in the right direction by ten, all bets are off as far as sleep is concerned. If the wee darlings will go to bed by nine-thirty, then I still have a brain and am still able to make good choices. If they're still up at ten, there's a fairly good chance I'll be cleaning the kitchen at 1 am, or zoned out on facebook till two. If they go to bed, my brain revs down, I remember things to write down for the next day, and I still have enough brain left to not start a movie or turn on the computer.
Factor 3: No computer at night. It just doesn't work. I used to wait till everyone was in bed, then turn on the computer to check emails and cruise around facebook. No more. I cannot be online at night. I realized that I have a static time slot in the morning. After husband Lee leaves for work, there is an hour where I can't really get started on anything, because the kids are getting ready for school. That has now become my computer time.
Factor 4: Just do it! Easy sometimes, a challenge other times. But simple and straightforward. Just go to bed!
Since figuring this all out, and putting the pieces into place (deep thanks to the children for going along with it!), I have now gotten adequate rest for the past week. Eight hours would be ideal, but isn't actually practical for my life. I'm getting around seven hours a night, which is a dramatic improvement for me.
I think the reason I floundered already this year is that, even though I thought I started out slow, I was still trying to make too many changes at once. Back to square one, moving forward with careful baby steps.