Sleep and I have been elusive lovers.
I’ve always known I need more of it. I’ve always known that it’s good for me and I’ve had plenty of people in my life who continually remind me that I NEED to get my sleep. They remind me because they love me and they know how easy it is for me to avoid quality time with my love, Sleep. I do love it and at times spend entire days doing it in the form on naps. Or at least I used to. And there are still plenty of days I spend entire days missing it and longing to spend time with it.
I work with many clients who list sleep as one of their top three health priorities. I can tell you for sure, one person’s sleep issues are not another’s. But I do find that one person’s sleep issues fall into just a handful of categories. Maybe someday I’ll blog about them.
As a coach I make a point not only to walk my talk but to try things my clients are trying, fitness apps, eating styles, etc. I like first to be a guinea pig for my own wellness challenges but also I like to experience what they are experiencing. I decided it was finally time to put my actions where my mouth is in terms of this quality sleep time I talk so much about. Something really cool happened.
When I made a point to shoot for 7 hours of sleep which included allowing the half hour it takes to get ready for bed and starting the 7 hour count from when my head hits the pillow I didn’t notice much. But only because I was unaware. I was unaware that the great energy I had been experiencing was because of adequate sleep! I was unaware that my dedication to moving 10,000 steps a day or an hour of activity every day was coming easily with little effort BECAUSE of adequate sleep! My normal joint aches improved and my overall coping ability was incredible! It would be better said to say that I wasn’t “coping” because I wasn’t noticing any stress!
So when did I become aware? I let myself slip back. With the new ability to watch Sherlock on BBC (hey, have you seen that show? Pretty awesome!) I slipped back in a pretty big way, several days in fact. My overwhelm returned, my life concerns that I thought were my base line returned. Turns out, they aren’t my baseline. They’re another side affect of inadequate sleep, for the most part. My desire to skip exercise returned as did my aches and pains and slightly shortened temper.
My mom used to be a night owl. She stayed up all hours of the night, fell asleep in the chair, read newspapers in bed until she had made her way through a stack of a months worth of daily news. And… she had a saying, “Babe, you’re getting on my last nerve!” I’m sure there were a few contributing factors to my mom’s lack of patience but I’m also sure she was in a chronic state of sleep deprivation most of the time.
Our bodies are designed to get up with the light and go to sleep with the dark. It’s just the way we are made. I work with many second and third shift employees and we discuss strategies to help our bodies endure this “un-natural” path for our circadian rhythms. I can help you with that if you are interested but for the rest of us diurnal creatures, get your sleep! Get to bed and stop living in denial about how much sleep you need. You’ll eventually have an opportunity to see the truth of how it’s affecting you.
Signed yours truly,
a healthy living guinea pig.